Photo Credit: Courtesy, Ptil Tekhelet
Tekhelet tying methods on display at the Ptil Tekhelet conference.

How do we know that for a fact? Because the Gemara actually tells a story that Jews were killed, that Jews were attacked by Roman soldiers for wearing tekhelet.

Do you know that for a period of about 100 years, there were all of these edicts, Roman edicts, that you were put to death if you were caught wearing the Roman purple color? It’s obvious to us now.

Advertisement

The question is why don’t we [wear tekhelet]? That’s the real question.

So there are many reasons. One reason is people are ignorant, meaning how many Haredi guys can digest this information? It’s a language that doesn’t speak to them. That’s number one.

Number two, even the ones that aren’t ignorant which is a great proportion of Haredi leaders, they’re hesitant. There is chadash assur min haTorah. Which is not real either and they also know that it’s not real because they allow you to eat machine matzoh. With the exception of a few extremists.

I think the smart thing to say, and this is what I always feel, is that halacha is slow-moving and it’s very healthy. If halacha flip-flopped every time there was some new tschachke, halacha wouldn’t be resilient. Halacha would be gone. And halacha, like any legal system, but particularly the halachic legal system, for it to be healthy, has to move slowly.

V: But it’s a mitzvah to wear tekhelet?

Ari Greenspan: So yes. There are those who say—the Baal Hameor, who is a rishon—he appears in the Gemara—says that if tekhelet exists, you are forbidden to wear your white tzistzis if you don’t put it on! Rav Herschel Shachter invokes safek d’orayta l’chumra. What does that mean? It means that if you have a doubt on any sort of Torah commandment, you have to be machmir.

How does it work? You have a safek on Shabbos whether you’re allowed to do it or not allowed to do it? You’re machmir: you don’t do it.

When it comes to a mitzvat aseh,what do you do? You have your lulav and esrog, you have your aravos, but you’re not sure if your hadassim are kosher. Okay, so you do the mitzvah, you don’t make a bracha, you don’t say shem Hashem. That’s being machmir in a positive way.

So Rav Shachter says it’s a mitzvat aseh d’orayta. It’s a safek d’orayta. Why not do it? There’s no downside. What’s the worst case scenario? You wore colored strings. You’re allowed to wear colored strings. What’s the downside? Nothing.

Your son is a tankist and he’s wearing his tzistzis, okay? And he happens to be cleaning the tank and they dip in oil and they’re black. He doesn’t make a bracha on them? Of course he does. Okay. Should they be black? Should they be white?

Okay, so the medieval sources talk about tzistzis being white. Yafeh. But everybody understands that tzistzis are gray most of the time. If you look at them. If you really want to look at them, okay?

What happens if you’re wearing your tzistzis or your tallis, you’re wearing a brand new coat and you go in the rain and your coat drips and your tzistzis become brown, red, green? You’re allowed to wear colored tzistzis. And the minhag is not to, ein hachinami, and so therefore Rav Shachter says, if there’s a reasonable doubt, that this is the real thing. And he feels it’s a very reasonable doubt. Even the people who are against it, it’s very hard to say that there isn’t a reasonable doubt: therefore one has an obligation to wear it.

V: I was watching the clip about extracting the dye from the snail. Isn’t it tzaar baalei chayim to kill the snail in this way?

Advertisement

1
2
3
SHARE
Previous articleArabs Partners against Obama-Kerry ‘Land Swap’ Idea
Next articleBetween Barack & a Hard Place
Blogger and mother of 12, Varda Meyers Epstein is a third-generation Pittsburgher who made aliyah at age 18 and never looked back. A proud settler who lives in the biblical Judean heartland, Varda serves as the communications writer for the nonprofit car donation program Kars4Kids, a Guidestar Gold medal charity. The author's political opinions are her own and not endorsed by her employer.

6 COMMENTS

  1. You write incorrectly: “We know that the source of tekhelet was a snail”. This is untrue. We “know” that techelet comes from the chilazon, a marine creature. The question revolves around the identity of the chilazon, a mollusk; be it HaRav Herzog’s zt”zl janthina janthina, Radzin’s sepia officianalis, or the P’til’s trunculous murex.

    You write: ”Jewish men are commanded to wear tekhelet”. Women are permitted to fulfill the commandment of tzitzith/techelet and are equally required to include techelet.

    HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg zt”zl wore Radziner techelet secretly since 1989. I delivered it to him personally, as well as subsequently since.

    Today it is a matter of ratzon. If today you want to fulfill the commandment of tzitzith/techelet – you have who to rely on. If you don’t care, you also have who to rely on, there are plenty of rabbanim who don’t care. But why would you care not to, any more then you would care not to fulfill any other of HaShem’s commandments? What kind of Torah is “I find myself conflicted about the energy invested in the practice”? This is an absurd statement considering the effort you expend cleaning your home for Pesach. What energy is invested, retying your tzitzith? Are you serious?

    The resistance to geulah is passive. You can be the last to wear techelet, but you won’t match those of us working to get techelet into everyone’s tzitzith, hour for hour, to prevent us from getting the work done.

  2. Great come-back, about as intelligent as your article. The last set of techelet I delivered to HaRav Scheinberg zt"zl before he was niftar was on a Beged Ivri tunic especially designed for him.

  3. Reuven Prager, so here's the part I cut from the piece because it was too long. Maybe it will help you better understand my perspective. If not, so be it:

    "I keep thinking: first let’s wear clothes. Then we can worry what color they are.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I am an anomaly. I’m a Haredi woman who lives in a Modern Orthodox community. Very few, if any, women in my town are careful to wear socks, as I do, in the hottest months of the year. I cover my hair. All of it. I cover my collarbone, my elbows, my knees and feet. I wear skirts and dresses, not pants.

    This is an important focus for me as a religiously observant woman—this business of covering up. And so I come up against my own judgmental nature when I see people in my community getting excited about whether or not to wear a blue thread when so many of my female friends wear pants and sleeveless and don’t cover their hair.

    Dressing as I do seems basic to me. As basic as Adam and Eve, the snake and the apple. As basic as losing the right to live in the Garden of Eden and knowing the shame inherent in public nudity: perhaps the earliest example of epistemological particularism in which you know something but you don’t know how you know it.

    The focus on tekhelet then, seems from my particular viewpoint, misplaced."

  4. Varda Epstein 1- Your last statement: Trying to fulfill a Mitzva d'Oraita is misplaced? And you're Chareidi? 2- With any Mitzvah, you can either find a way or find a way out. Each says something about the person. 3- If HaShem meant for us to be naked, He would have created us without clothes. Said another way, HaShem's original intention was to hang out with naked vegetarians in a garden. 3- Time to get out of Golus and even more, get Golus out of your head. Time for Yetziat Mitraim – get out of your narrow places.

  5. Varda Epstein 1- Your last statement: Trying to fulfill a Mitzva d'Oraita is misplaced? And you're Chareidi? 2- With any Mitzvah, you can either find a way or find a way out. Each says something about the person. 3- If HaShem meant for us to be naked, He would have created us without clothes. Said another way, HaShem's original intention was to hang out with naked vegetarians in a garden. 3- Time to get out of Golus and even more, get Golus out of your head. Time for Yetziat Mitraim – get out of your narrow places.

Comments are closed.

Loading Facebook Comments ...