We were going to touch on several concepts before we move on in our study. The first concept we will be looking into is who Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, really was. The the other concept is women and the tzitzit. We are not going to go into massive detail on these subjects, but we will give an opinion on them and give some research sources that will help you make up your own mind.
First, we want to deal with Caleb. There are some who believe that Caleb was a non-Jew, and he was first introduced to us by Moses when he sent out the twelve scouts (Num 13.1-6). It seems from these passages that Caleb was a member of the tribe of Judah, but not just a member, he was a prince (Num 13.2…”leader” is “nasi” in Hebrew). There is an article called “Caleb the Goy” by Dean and Susan Wheelock that puts forth their belief that Caleb was a non-Jew. This article can be read on the Internet at “Caleb the Goy” at “www.petahtikvah.com.” In our opinion, this is an interesting article but it has some problems.
Then there are those who believe that Caleb was indeed a Jewish man from the tribe of Judah, just as the Scriptures say he was (Num 13.1-6). He was also a leader of the tribe, or “nasi.” A good article in support of this view is called “Caleb the Gentile?” by Avram Yehoshua at “www.seedofabraham.net.” This article presents a refutation of the belief that Caleb was a non-Jew. Both articles are recommended for your study so that you can see both sides of this issue. These articles are too long to go into here, that is why we have given these sources here, but you will get some valuable information on this topic if you read them. You can decide which view is more accurate. There are many more articles covering both sides of this issue if you really want to get into it in the Internet and in commentaries. It is our opinion at this time that Caleb was Jewish and a leader (nasi) of the tribe of Judah, but there are some good arguments pointing to the other side as well.
The second concept we want to cover is women and the tzitzit. We will look at an article called “Women and Tzitzit” by a Messianic Rabbi named Rav C Yahkov Hartley of Malkaynu Shuvah Ministries in Lapeer, Michigan. This article has some good points and we will like to present it for your consideration.
“The idea that the talit is a gender specific garment is not based on any written Torah mitzvah. In the KJV, Numbers 15.37-41, “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, ‘Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue. And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that you seek not after your own heart and your eyes, after which you use to go a whoring that you may remember to do all my commandments and be holy to your God. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the Lord your God.'”
“The word translated as “children” comes from the Hebrew word “ben” can mean children, son or people (of a nation) depending on the context. When used in conjunction with “nation” it always denotes “people” and is thusly translated in the TaNakh as such. The last time that I checked, the women of Israel were considered “people” of the nation of Israel. The word “borders” can mean borders, ends, wings or corners and is translated as “corners” in the TaNaKh.”
“In the KJV, Deuteronomy 22.12, ‘Thou shalt make thee fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture, wherewith thou coverest thyself.’ The word “quarters” comes from “kanaph” which again means borders, wings, ends or corners. The word “vesture” comes from the Hebrew “kesooth” meaning covering, raiment, clothing. Neither of these two verses is directed to any specific gender. And as you will notice these mitzvoth directly involve only the tzitzit and not the garment on which they are to be affixed. What type of garment is left unspecified.”
“It is my conclusion that the “people” of Israel (men, women and children-as well as the mixed multitude) were (are) commanded to wear “fringes” or “tzitzit” in four places in the corners, borders or ends of their garments with a strand of blue. If a woman feels “uncomfortable” wearing the style and form of the traditional Rabbinic talit there are a variety of forms and options available to women, since any “for cornered” garment can be a talit.”
“Moreover it baffles common sense and logic to claim a rectangular piece of cloth a “male garment.” Men wear shoes, hats, gloves, scarves and coats, are these “male garments” and thus prohibited for women? Before anyone accuses me of being a “women’s libber” I am assuredly most keenly aware and sensitive to the erosion, in modern society, of the distinct roles of men and women vividly described in Torah; and no one is more opposed to the blurring of those distinctions than I. However, I do not consider women wearing a talit to be an overt or covert act of transvestism; such an act is clearly commanded against in KJV, Deuteronomy 22.5, ‘The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are an abomination unto YHVH thy Eloah.’ Not withstanding, I suggest that if the only way one can differentiate between men and women in any given congregation is the wearing of talit, then there are some much deeper problems in that congregation.”
“Traditionally or customarily in Judaism, Jewish men have worn the talit (four cornered rectangular shawl) for prayer and synagogue services with the understanding that men must wear it, but women are not obligated to do so: nor are they prohibited from wearing one (as is clear from the above Scriptural verses). The idea of what is a man’s obligation versus what is a woman’s obligation regarding Torah is also debatable. It has been a Rabbinic opinion (not supported by written Torah) that men are obligated to both the 248 positive commandments and the 365 negative commandments, while women are obligated only to the 365 negative commandments. Thus men have to obey 613 commandments (totality of Torah) but women only 365. Thus we have the “Man’s Torah” and a “Women’s Torah” according to the Rabbinic tradition or custom. Due to this concept, women don’t “have to wear talit or attend synagogue on Shabbat” among other things. I don’t see any evidence in the entirety of Scripture to support such tradition. I am certainly not opposed to all the men’s traditions, except where such tradition inhibits the perfect freedom under Torah.”
“It should be noted that the custom of men wearing the talit varies from community to community. In Orthodox synagogues only the married men wear them and in the Reform and Conservative all males past the age of Bar Mitzvah (13 years). In the Ashkenazi ritual, small children under Bar Mitzvah age dress in a talit made according to their size, whereas in the Polish-Sephardi ritual only married men wear them. In the oriental ritual, only unmarried men wear them. So, you can see there is no “universal” tradition about talit in modern Judaism-because it is based on a man-made tradition, not written Torah.”
“I suggest that in the Torah there is much freedom in this area of the talit, let us not receive the condemnation of Yeshua in the KJV, Mattatiyahu 23.13, “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” This whole issue of male/female talit wearing is as relevant as the issue of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
“Written Torah only describes the wearing of tzitzit on your garment and makes no distinction about gender and does not prohibit women from wearing them on their garments. Neither does it prohibit anyone from wearing a talit after sunset which is considered by most Jews to be a violation of the Torah (another Rabbinic tradition without support from the written Torah).”
We will pick up here with our next Torah portion called “Korach” (Korah) in Part 17.