Techeilet is a unique halachic case as it is the first, and so far only, commandment that was lost completely to the Jewish people, but that can now, according to many, once again be fulfilled. As such, it poses intriguing questions about the fundamental character of halacha, the priority of authenticity vs. tradition, and the nature of halachically valid reasoning and evidence.
Over the past 20 years, as techeilet from the Murex trunculus has become available, awareness of the mitzvah has grown tremendously. Over 100,000 people are wearing it on their tallitot in shuls around the globe from Melbourne to Mattersdorf, to Monsey, to Manchester. In yeshivot such as Mir, Lakewood, and Har Etzion lectures are given on the topic, and rabbanim and bochrim can be seen kissing the blue strings when reciting Shema. To some, this long forgotten mitzvah has undergone a renaissance, while others still wait and long for the day when they will be able to fulfill the Torah’s commandment.
Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav would recite a special prayer every time he put on his tallit: “Have mercy on us and rebuild Your city speedily in our days, and bring us peacefully to Your holy land. And grant us the merit that the chilazon again be revealed, so that we may fulfill the mitzvah of techeilet in the tzitzit.”
Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at [email protected].