Friday, June 27, 2008


Blue Strings

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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Isaac said...

Smarter than the gedolim, nu nu nu. Appropriate for parshas Korach.

Baruch Hashem there's a Rebbe in the world. See Igros Kodesh 17

במש"כ ע"ד חלזון ותכלת בהנוגע לפועל עתה בציצית - הרי ידוע אשר הרעישו ע"ז והתנגדו לזה, וגם ע"פ נגלה, גדולי עולם בעת יצא חידוש זה מראדזין. וגם כ"ק אדמו"ר (מהורש"ב) נ"ע לא הסכים על החידוש בשו"א. ואין אתה תח"י מכתבו בזה. אבל זכורני שמביא שע"פ קבלה יהי' ענין התכלת רק לעת"ל. ואנו אין לנו אלא דברי כ"ק אדנ"ע.\web\otzar770\ocr_files\main\egrot\17\B0000232.tif&ilIF=G&ilSC=40

Anonymous said...

i looked on the website. yikes!

$75!! for tzitit? one pair?

are you kidding?

how do people afford this?

also, the point about respecting the gedolim is cogent.

ytba said...

I asked Rabbi Mendel Feldman about this about 10 years ago, and he said (I am quoting as accurately as I can) that the Ari knew what the real deal was, and so if he didn't reinstitute it, then there was a good reason not to. He then said that it didn't matter even if we did know the correct color now, because wearing it requires a person to be on a level we aren't even close to.

So, naturally I didn't pursue it. But I do look forward to the day a proper Beis Din will authorize it.

גילוי said...

The Ariza"l knew the sod of the development of human history. It is not relevant to say "if the Ariza"l didn't do it, neither should we". He understood the spiritual developments in the background which would bring its renewal, even in a generation which does not have its own Ariza"l.

Regardless of the deep truths of Kabbalah, it is not the universal decider of halachah. Chaza"l gave us simanim, and using these, we can find the proper techeilet. Such is the opinion of the rabbis on the website. Akiva, you visit the Old City fairly frequently, no? Then I'm sure by now you've seen the bachurim and avreichim from Zilberman's with their Tefillin on all day and their techeilet in their tzitziot. You can ask them for their svarah for not going by Rav Eliyashiv on this; they are definitely in the "Litvish" category.

Anonymous said...

"Regardless of the deep truths of Kabbalah, it is not the universal decider of halachah."

You aren't saying that the Arizal only based his behavior, and what he told (or didn't tell) us, on Kabbalah with no regard for Halachah, are you?

גילוי said...

That's not what I'm saying.

I'm saying that the teachings of the Ariza"l did not come in order to change halachic rulings for Klal Yisrael.

There is a ma'amar to this effect in Rav Shternbauch's sefer Hilchot HaGR"A uMinhagav. In the back of the sefer. It addresses this issue in depth.

Isaac said...

Igros Kodesh 17

Regarding what he writes about the chilazon and techeles and the practical implications for tzitzis in our time -- it is known that there was stormy objection to this and opposition, also according to the revealed Torah, by the Gedolei Olam at the time that this chiddush came out for Radzin. Additionally, the [Rebbe Rashab] did not agree by any means with this chiddush. I don't have his letter at the moment, but I recall that he brings that according to Kabbalah the inyan of techeles will only be in the time to come. And we have nothing else we rely on besides the words of the Rebbe.

גילוי said...

The techelet on my tzitziot are completely different from the Radziner techelet, and the time we are in is different from that time.

Mordie said...

I asked Rav I. M. Morgenstern about this, and he informed me that it is halachically very problematic. This is even before going into extra-halachic considerations.

He himself now wears it, by the way, and has a long chapter on the subject in one volume of his writings (don't expect me to understand or explain it).

Anonymous said...

The reason People do not wear it The Medrashim says it was "Nignaz"
meaning Hidden away untill Mosiach.

גילוי said...

And one reason people wear it anyway is because that is not halachah.

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