The Sceptic Blog

Random thoughts of a random chappy

Beyond the fringe – Techeiles Tzitzit

with 4 comments

1.  The new-fangled fashion for blue-threaded tzitzit continues to attract new adherents, both here and in Israel.

2.  There is no sign that the general feeling of the gedolei Yisroel is moving towards acceptance that the blue dye presently on sale is indeed the chilozon dye required for techeiles.

3.  But there are certainly those who say that it is; and they are, of course, entitled to follow their opinion, or their rabbi’s.

4.  But one thing strikes me as clearly wrong.  I see many people wearing techeiles tzitzit on their tallis godol, but ordinary tzitzit on their tallis koton.  Either the new dye is techeilesn or it is not.  If I think it is, then I cannot perform the mitzvoh in any other way – so to wear a four-cornered garment (my tallis koton) without techeiles is to transgress a Biblical prohibition.  If it is not techeiles, then to put it on the tzitzit of my tallis godol is to colour the tzitzit inappropriately (we use white not as an alternative colour but as the absence of colour, in default of techeiles).

5.  Let people either wear or not wear the new dye; but each person should be consistent.

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Written by Daniel Greenberg

December 28, 2007 at 1:33 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. Well said! In fact, I could understand someone who would wear techeles on the tzitzit of the Tallis Koton – and does not go around with his tzitzit on the outside. This would indicate that there is a belief in something but that I, the wearer, am content to keep this to myself. My job is NOT to go around showing everyone that I am “holier than thou” but to internalise my understanding of the Mitzvah. When we have the reverse situation as you describe, it very much reminds me of the Chazir, the Pig who goes around holding up its hooves “See they are split – I must be Kosher” whilst forgetting that inside he is far from being Kosher.

    May I raise with you – and I do so with some trepdation – the following. That is the fashion which has grown in recent years for those who wear their Tzitzit on the outside, to ensure that they are long and flowing and that everyone around cannot fail to notice. This is opposed to what was the practice previously which was to put the tzitzis on the outside but to put them in ones pocket. They can still be seen but the wearer does not need to convice the world that he is religious.

    Mr Secretary

    December 30, 2007 at 5:06 pm

  2. Fair point. I can see why some dislike the ostentation of tzitzis outside. Those of us who do it have a posuk to rely on – ur’isem oso. But that is not to say that the posuk necessarily requires it. I agree that there is a holier-than-our-fathers issue here, and one should depart from the family minhag only with trepidation and rabbinic consultation.

    Daniel Greenberg

    December 30, 2007 at 5:17 pm

  3. I have heard that the colour is definitely the right one as they have done chemical research and find the formulas the same. the reason suggested for the lack of universal approval is that some people feel that it is not right to wear techeilet until moshiach comes. Is this the main reason?

    avi greenberg

    January 14, 2008 at 10:22 pm

  4. Sounds like nonsense to me. We do mitzvos in the best way we can now, without waiting for Moschiach. If we had never lost the chilozon to begin with, we would all still be wearing techeiles.

    Daniel Greenberg

    January 14, 2008 at 10:27 pm


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