On the Fringes

She had no business being there, and she knew it.  By law and custom, she should be at home.  Not just at home - alone.  As she had been for the last 12 years.

He was a famous rabbi.  So popular, large crowds followed him everywhere he went.  He was particularly well known for being a faith healer.  If I can just get near him, she thought…

The Greek New Testament was translated and interpreted by men - that much is obvious.  They argue about the exact nature of the woman’s condition.  One noted Biblical scholar that I recently read referred to it as “internal bleeding.”  Internal, my foot.  It’s not really hard to diagnose, even at a distance of 2,000 years.  Endometriosis, possibly, or uterine fibroids.  Difficult to treat today, except by surgical means.  Impossible then.  

And so she lived her life on the fringes, denied regular human contact, lest she spread her uncleanliness. 

There’s a word for what she did next - chutzpah.  Braving the crowds, pushing to get close to him, trying to touch - not him - but the hem of his garment, but not really the hem (that’s another poor translation), the fringe.  The tzitzit.

And she did.  And he felt it.  He turned around.  “Who touched me?” he demanded.  That was crazy talk!  The crowd was literally pressing in on him on all sides!  But she knew who he meant.  Because she had been healed, and she felt that.  

“Daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.”  Not the tzitzit, not even him.  Her faith.  

Tzitzit are important.  They are a reminder of the Jewish law, and an outward sign of faith and faithfulness.  But they are not the same thing.  Not at all. 

Winding the shammash thread around the tzitzit.

Winding the shammash thread around the tzitzit.