by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
We are SO adverse to change. This trait has generally stood us in good stead, protecting the Torah core from attacks by Xianity, Islam, false messiah's, and the enlightenment.
But today, this tendency to build higher walls is hampering us from dealing with several fast moving (in social terms) situations...
Many of us (almost the majority of world Jewish population) live in Israel. So much so that the core of Jewish learning, the major sphere of influence, has moved from the Diaspora to Israel in the last 5 years. But, we have issues being dealt with on crazy terms, such as Shemittah, where it's now preferable to buy produce from those trying to kill you than working out heter terms acceptable to all. (This situation has gotten so bad that Shemittah supervisors are having to have web cams installed in Arab fields due to the heavy risk of going personally.)
Techeles, the blue string of tzitzit, is another example. There is a great thread (the comments are the best) on Hirhurim dealing with this. Many specialist rabbi's have reviewed the blue-string/blue-dye research done and ruled it kosher. BUT, the leading rabbi's of the generation, the Gedolim, won't touch the issue. They won't say it is, they won't say it isn't.
This mitzvah is stunningly beautiful. It's a stark change from the plain white tzitzit of the past. Which is exactly the problem, it's a change. And all change is suspect.
So we are left with more junior rabbi's, when asked whether the mitzvah of the blue string is required or not, answer "well, we have no rulings (they don't actually anwser this first part, BUT THEY SHOULD), but you can take a lesson from seeing what the Gedolim are doing." What the gedolim are doing is maintaining the status quo, building a solid wall around Torah.
That's a good thing in defense of community standards. But we stand in a time with the (mass) return of Jews to Israel, potentially in the chevlay Moshiach (the time of the birth pangs of Moshiach), in an information age and wave engulfing us, in a time of recovery of mitzvot long unavailable.
It behooves our community to deal with this issues head on.
A few notes: Breslev gedolim are regularly seen wearing techeles. Chabad shluchim are never seen wearing techeles. Interestingly, the majority way of tying techeles is the Radzyner fashion, which is an Ari'zal/Chabad style knot with the outer loop and humps being the blue string (as pictured above).
Picture courtesy of RemarkableMaven.Com, a techeles selling store.
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BS"D - בסיעתא דשמיא