THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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1) IDENTIFYING THE "CHILAZON"
OPINIONS: The Beraisa says that the "Chilazon's body is like the sea, its
creature is like a fish, it comes up once every seventy years, and with its
blood we dye [strings] Techeles. Therefore, its cost is expensive."
2) HALACHAH: WEARING "TECHELES" TODAY
The source of this Beraisa is Maseches Tzitzis (1:10). However, the text
there is slightly different. The text there reads that the Chilazon's body
is like the *sky* (and not the sea, as the Beraisa here says), and that it
comes up once every *seven* years (and not once every seventy years).
This Beraisa gives specific identifying features of the Chilazon. In
addition to these features, there are a number of other distinguishing
characteristics of the Chilazon mentioned in the Gemara, Rashi, and Tosfos
elsewhere. Based on these Sugyos, is it possible to identify the Chilazon,
and thus the Techeles dye? (For a more comprehensive survey of this topic,
see Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld's "Torah from the Internet," Shelach 5755, and
see the special TECHELES SECTION of the Dafyomi Advancement Forum.)
(a) To address this question, we shall first list the characteristics of the
Chilazon mentioned in the Gemara here and in other Sugyos.
The species: The first group of features describe the species of the
1. The Beraisa says that "its creature is like a fish."
2. The Gemara in Shabbos (74b) says that the Chilazon is captured with nets
lowered into the water.
3. The Gemara in Shabbos (75a) says that one is Chayav for Tzad (hunting)
when he captures the Chilazon on Shabbos. This implies that the Chilazon is
not a creature that is easy to catch, but rather it is a creature that runs
away when one tries to catch it. We know that the Melachah of hunting
applies only when one captures an animal that is able to flee and that tries
to run away when one attempts to capture it (Beitzah 24a).
4. TOSFOS in Shabbos (75a, DH ha'Tzad) infers from the Gemara that one who
removes a Chilazon from the sea on Shabbos is not held liable for killing it
("Netilas Neshamah") even if he allows the Chilazon to become partially dry.
This is in contrast to the Halachah that one who removes a fish from water
is considered to have killed it as soon as it becomes partially dry, since
it will certainly die (Shabbos 107b). Apparently, there is some difference
between the Chilazon and other sea creatures in this regard.
5. The Gemara in Shabbos (75a) discusses one who "smashes" ("Potze'a") a
Chilazon to extract its dye. The word "Potze'a" implies cracking or pounding
a hard surface, such as a person's bones or skull (Shemos 21:25, Sanhedrin
82a), or a nutshell or branch (Beitzah 34a), as opposed to "Kore'a"
(ripping). From the use of this word to describe what is done to the
Chilazon to extract its blood, it seems that the Chilazon has some sort of
hard shell which needs to be "cracked open."
The details of the Chilazon: The next group of features describe specific
traits of the Chilazon.
6. The Beraisa here says that that the Chilazon's body is like the sea
(according to the text of the Beraisa in Maseches Tzitzis, its body is like
the sky). This implies that the body of the actual creature has a bluish
7. The Beraisa says that "it comes up once every seventy years," or,
according to the text in Maseches Tzitzis, once every seven years. The
Beraisa mentions that the dye of the Chilazon is very expensive due to the
infrequent availability of the Chilazon.
8. The Gemara (Megilah 6a, Shabbos 26a) limits the locale in which the
Chilazon makes it appearance to the seashores of the tribe of Zevulun, "from
the cliffs of Tzur (Rosh ha'Nikrah) to Haifa."
The Chilazon's ink: The final group of features relate to the ink that the
9. RABEINU TAM, cited by TOSFOS in Kesuvos (5b, DH Dam) proves that taking
blood out of a creature is forbidden on Shabbos because of Netilas Neshamah
(killing). Tosfos asks that according to Rabeinu Tam, why is one not Chayav
for the Melachah of Netilas Neshamah when one takes blood out of the
Chilazon? Tosfos answers that the blood of the Chilazon is gathered in a
separate sack in the Chilazon and is ready to be extracted, and therefore
removing it does not diminish the Chilazon's life in any way.
10. The Gemara in Shabbos (75a) says that if the dye is extracted from the
Chilazon while it is alive, it is of a better quality.
11. The Gemara in Bava Metzia (61b) says that the color of Techeles that
comes from the Chilazon is indistinguishable from that of indigo ("Kala
12. The Gemara here (43b) says that Techeles is steadfast. It does not fade
with time nor wash out of the wool dyed with it.
(b) Having reviewed the characteristics of the Chilazon that can be derived
from the Gemara's statements about it, we shall analyze the various opinions
of the identity of the Techeles and examine whether these opinions are
consistent with the characteristics enumerated above.
1. Is it a Kosher fish?
TOSFOS in Shabbos (75a, DH ha'Tzad and DH v'Lichayev) implies that the
Chilazon is a type of fish that squirms around in the net after it is
caught, making it difficult to extract its dye. This, Tosfos explains, is
the difference between the Chilazon and the other fish of the sea with
regard to the prohibition of Netilas Neshamah on Shabbos (#4). Since the
Chilazon squirms about after it is removed from the water, one is not
considered to have killed it, and one has not transgressed the Melachah of
Netilas Neshamah at the moment that he takes it out of the water. Rather, it
*kills itself* by wriggling about.
2. Is it a squid?
It seems that the view of Tosfos, that the Chilazon is a fish, is based on
the Gemara in Shabbos mentioned above (#2) which implies that the Chilazon
is a fish like any other, and it must be captured with nets. The RAMBAM
(Hilchos Tzitzis 2:2) also writes that the Chilazon is a fish. They do not
discuss, however, the exact identity of this fish, nor whether it is a
Kosher or non-Kosher fish. The view that the Chilazon is a fish also
conforms with features #1 and #3 enumerated above. Although it seems to
contradict feature #5 since it does not have a hard shell and the word
"Potze'a" does not seem appropriate, Rashi (Shabbos 75a) avoids this
contradiction by explaining that the word "Potze'a" is being used
differently in this context. It does not mean to "smash," but rather to
"squeeze out" the dye-blood from the fish.
RABEINU BACHYE (Shemos 25:3) discusses the three dyes used in the
construction of the Mishkan -- Techeles, Argaman and Tola'as Shani. The last
of these three dyes is generally understood to mean "scarlet from a worm."
Rabeinu Bachye asks how this is possible, since the Gemara in Shabbos (28b)
says that only products that are permitted to be eaten were used in the
Mishkan. Worms and their secretions are not Kosher! He therefore explains
that the scarlet dye of the Tola'as Shani was not actually taken from worms,
but from some sort of berry in which the worms tend to live. According to
the approach of Rabeinu Bachye, it may be concluded that the Chilazon, which
is a sea creature, must be a normal fish with fins and scales, for this type
of fish is the only Kosher sea creature.
The approach of Rabeinu Bachye, however, is problematic. It seems clear from
the Yerushalmi (Kil'ayim 9:1) that the scarlet dye of Tola'as Shani indeed
was extracted from a worm (the Kermococcus vermilis, an insect that breeds
on a certain species of oak), and not from a berry. This has also been
verified from other historical and scientific sources.
Regarding how a non-Kosher creature could be used in the manufacture of an
item for use in the Mishkan, we must say that it was only the actual
materials used in the Mishkan which were subject to this rule, and not the
dyes that were used to color them. The dyes, which are not tangible objects
in the finished product, were not included in this prohibition. Accordingly,
we are not bound to assume that the Chilazon was a Kosher creature. (See
NODA B'YEHUDAH, Mahadura Tinyana OC 3.)
As we mentioned above, Tosfos maintains that the Chilazon is a fish. While
Rabeinu Bachye asserts that it had to be a Kosher fish in order to be used
in the Mishkan, other authorities assert that it did not need to be a Kosher
fish; a dye obtained from a non-Kosher fish was also permitted to be used in
3. Is it a snail?
In the late nineteenth century, Ludwig Lewysohn proposed in his book,
"Talmudic Zoology" ("Die Zoalogie des Talmuds," Frankfurt 1858, p. 284-5),
that the Chilazon is a type of squid, known as the cuttlefish. Lewysohn
based his conclusion on an inference from a statement of the RAMBAM (Hilchos
Tzitzis 2:2). Shortly afterwards (circa 1888), the brilliant and dynamic
Rebbe of Radzin, Rav Gershon Henoch Leiner, came to the same conclusion. He
carried the conclusion one step further by actually developing a process
whereby the sepia (inky secretion) of the cuttlefish, which normally
produces a dark brown dye, was transformed into a blue dye. The Radziner
Rebbe authored three large volumes intended to prove that he had indeed
re-discovered the lost Techeles (SEFUNEI TEMUNEI CHOL, PESIL TECHELES, and
EIN TECHELES), and he set up a factory where the dye was produced.
(It is interesting to note that the method used by the Radziner Rebbe to
produce Techeles consisted of boiling the sepia together with iron filings
and potash at extremely high temperatures to produce the pigment ferric
ferrocyanide. Dye chemists are quick to point out, however, that this
process does not make any unique use of the squid's inky secretion. In fact,
the sepia itself disintegrates and never makes it to the final product,
leaving behind only its nitrogen atoms. Any compound that contains nitrogen
will produce the same result when boiled with iron. In fact, a similar
process is used by organic chemistry students to test for nitrogen in
The approach of the Radziner conforms with #2, #3, and #4, since he
maintains that the Chilazon was a fish, as we pointed out earlier (b:1). (It
conforms with #5 as well, because squids indeed have a hard, shell-like
"bone" under their skin.) It also conforms with #9, because the ink (sepia)
of the squid is contained in a separate sack. The ink is the blood that the
Gemara mentions. It might conform with characteristic #10 as well. As for
characteristic #6, perhaps the body can be described as "looking like the
sea" since the cuttlefish is somewhat transparent, and changes color
according to its environment.
However, there are a number of difficulties with the Radziner Rebbe's
opinion. First, Techeles is described as absolutely indelible (#12 above),
but the Radziner's Techeles can fade (a process called "bleeding") when
scrubbed with common detergents. Second, the blue color that he produced was
not the blue of the sea, the shade of indigo (#11), but rather a more
metallic blue. Also, the squid he used is of a species that is relatively
abundant and equally common in all oceans, and thus it does not correspond
to the statements #7 and #8 about the rarity and limited habitat of the
RASHI in Sanhedrin (91a) writes that the Chilazon is a type of slug
("Tola'as"), which allows for the possibility of it being a mollusk.
Similarly, the RA'AVAD (Toras Kohanim Metzora 1:14) calls the Chilazon a
type of worm or slug that lives in the sea.
4. Is it the Janthina snail?
This is indeed implied by the statement of the Beraisa here in Menachos (#1
above). The Beraisa says that the body of the Chilazon looks "similar" to
that of a fish, implying that the Chilazon itself is not a fish. The Beraisa
also says that its "creature" is like that of a fish, which might refer to
the slug inside of the shell, while "its body is like the sea" may refer to
the color of the shell itself.
The YAD RAMAH in Sanhedrin (91a) implies that the word "Chilazon" refers to
snails in general, and the Chilazon of the Techeles is a particular type of
snail (see also ARUCH). This seems to be the way the RA'AVAD (at the end of
his introduction to Sefer Yetzirah) uses the word Chilazon as well. Indeed,
the word "Chilazon" is used in numerous places as a general term meaning a
snail or a snail-like object. The Chilazon mentioned in Shir ha'Shirim Rabah
(4:11) is clearly a creature that lives inside a shell. The Mishnah in
Bechoros (6:2) and in Kelim (12:1) calls an object with a spiral or twisted
snail-shell appearance a "Chilazon." In Sanhedrin (91a) we are told that
Chilazons appear on the surface of the earth after a rain. It seems clear
from all these sources that the word "Chilazon" is being used in the context
of "snail," and it is therefore logical to assume that the Chilazon that
produces Techeles is a particular type of snail.
This is a very strong objection to the Radziner's identification of the
Chilazon as a squid, as a squid does not live inside a shell. (The Radziner
Rebbe's attempts to resolve this difficulty are recorded in "Ha'Techeles,"
Identifying the Chilazon as a snail is consistent with the characteristics
#5 and #9. It also provides a simple explanation for why one is not
obligated for Netilas Neshamah when he removes a Chilazon from the water.
Removing a snail from water does not kill it, even if its shell dries out,
since it can remain moist within the shell for a long period of time.
The problems with the snail hypothesis are characteristics #2 and #3 (as we
mentioned before, b:1). The snail does not seem to require a net to be
captured (#2), and it is not difficult to catch, as it does not run away
One answer for the characteristic that nets are used to catch the Chilazon
(#2) is that historically and until today, the Greeks have hunted for snails
by lowering baited nets into the water, into which the snails crawl to eat
the bait. The nets are then lifted with the snails inside of them. However,
this answer is not entirely satisfying, since strings would serve this
purpose just as well. From the Gemara it seems that the knots of the nets
were important for the capture of the Chilazon.
Concerning the characteristic of hunting (#3), the Yerushalmi indeed states
that one who captures the Chilazon is *not* Chayav for hunting. This makes
sense only according to those who explain that the Chilazon is a snail
(which does not flee when one catches it). Tosfos (Shabbos 75am DH ha'Tzad)
indeed grapples with the Yerushalmi's ruling.
To explain why the Bavli *does* obligate a person for hunting the Chilazon
(if it is a snail), it has been suggested that since the snail hides itself
in the sand and is so difficult to find, capturing it is indeed considered
to be the Melachah of hunting, even though it does not flee when found.
Perhaps a more plausible approach to these two questions is that the Bavli
and Yerushalmi disagree with regard to the identity of the Chilazon. The
Yerushalmi, which noticeably avoids the Bavli's suggestion that the Chilazon
is caught in a net (Yerushalmi Shabbos 7:2), maintains that it is a snail.
Therefore, one is not Chayav for Tzad if he captures a Chilazon. The
Amora'im of the Bavli understood that the Chilazon was a fish, which is why
they suggested that it was caught in nets and that one is Chayav for
transgressing the Melachah of Tzad when one captures it. (M. Kornfeld)
It is interesting to note that Rashi here in Menachos (DH v'Olah) says that
the Chilazon comes up "from the land." This does not fit the description of
an aquatic snail. Indeed, Rashi himself in many other places (Sanhedrin 91a,
DH Chilazon; Megilah 6a, DH Al Yedei; Bava Metzia 61b, DH Kala; Chulin 89a
DH she'ha'Techeles) says that the Chilazon comes up from the ocean.
The TAHARAS HA'KODESH explains that Rashi is not contradicting himself.
Rashi in Megilah states that the Chilazon comes up "from the ocean to the
mountains." This means that Rashi understands that it originates in the sea,
and from there it finds it way to the land. The YA'AVETZ explains that Rashi
in Sanhedrin means that the Chilazon comes from the *ocean floor*, and thus
when Rashi says "land," he means the land of the ocean.
Can we identify which of the many species of snails is the one that produces
the Techeles dye?
5. Is it the Murex snail?
The theory that the Chilazon is a snail was researched in depth by Rav
Yitzchak Isaac ha'Levi Herzog zt'l, who laid the foundation for research
into the identity of the Chilazon. The Chilazon was the topic of his
doctoral thesis (at age 24), in which he combined his tremendous erudition
in Torah with his exceptional scholarship in eight different disciplines and
twelve languages. To this day, his thesis remains the most basic and
authoritative work on the subject, from both a Talmudic and a scientific
perspective. The Hebrew version of his thesis was reprinted in full in the
book "Ha'Techeles" (by Rav Menachem Burstein, Jerusalem, 1988, pp. 352-437),
an excellent work which summarizes all of the Techeles research done until
that date. The longer, English version of Rav Herzog's thesis was printed in
"The Royal Purple and the Biblical Blue" (Keter, 1987) along with other
works on the subject.
Rav Herzog proposed that the snail from which Techeles was derived was the
Janthina Pallida Harvey. It is found in the Mediterranean Sea, and has a
beautiful violet-blue shell. When excited, it discharges a secretion of the
same color. It is quite rare and lives in colonies that experience
population explosions every four to seven years, when large numbers of them
are washed ashore! This fits perfectly with characteristics #6 and #7, that
the Chilazon looks like the sea and is rare.
In recent years, research has been done to determine whether a blue dye can
be made from the Janthina's secretion. So far, the efforts have not met with
success. The secretion can produce a reddish-bluish color on a fabric, but
within a matter of hours the color turns black. In addition, the dye washes
right out of the fabric when brought into contact with water. The most
advanced modern testing has not been able to even reduce the secretion in
any chemical solution (the most basic requirement of any known dye). Instead
of dissolving in liquid, the Janthina's ink forms a suspension. In this
state, it cannot be induced to bind to a fabric. More research into the
chemical makeup of the secretion is necessary.
There are other problems with identifying the Chilazon as the Janthina
snail. First, like the cuttlefish, it is no more common along the shores of
Zevulun than anywhere else in the Mediterranean (#8). Second, as Rav Herzog
himself points out, no Janthina shells have ever been discovered in any
archaeological site, nor is this snail mentioned anywhere in the Greek or
Roman literature that discuss blue dye, indicating that it was not used in
the ancient world.
In the mid-1800's, archaeologists uncovered numerous ancient dye-producing
factories along the Mediterranean coast, mostly in the north-eastern area,
between Haifa and Lebanon, with large heaps of snail shells alongside them.
This is consistent with the Gemara's statement (#8) that the only place in
Eretz Yisrael where Techeles can be found is in the territory of Zevulun,
which runs along the Mediterranean coast from Haifa northward. These shells
have been identified as belonging to three distinct species of snails:
Purpura Haemastoma, Murex Brandaris, and Murex Trunculus. It is now accepted
that these snails were the source of Tyrian purple, the "Argaman" mentioned
in the Torah.
Rav Herzog points out that it is clear from a number of Torah sources and
historical sources that the Jews and the non-Jews extracted their blue dyes
from the same creature ("Ha'Techeles," pp. 426-427; see also Shabbos 26a,
and Rashi there, DH ul'Yogvim). Nevertheless, he rejects the suggestion that
one or all of these species may be the true source of the Techeles for
several reasons. First, the color of their shells is white, which
contradicts the Gemara's description (#6 above) that the Chilazon's body is
like the sea (a bluish hue). Furthermore, and more importantly, the dye
extracted from these creatures is purple and not indigo (#11). The
above-mentioned snails were clearly the source of Argaman, or "purpura" in
Latin. However, Techeles, referred to in Latin by Josephus and Philo as
"hyakinthos," may have been produced from another snail altogether --
perhaps the Janthina that he suggested (above, b:4).
Others (such as Alexander Dedekind in "Archeological Zoology," Vienna, 1898,
p. 467) suggest that the blue dye of Techeles did come from the snails found
near the ancient dye vats. Two of the species were used to produce Argaman,
while the Murex Trunculus was used to produce Techeles. This distinction is
based on the fact that not far from Sidon an ancient dyeing site was
discovered, with two separate piles of shells near it. One huge pile
contained a mix of shells of Purpura Haemastoma and Murex Brandaris, while
the other contained only shells of Murex Trunculus ("Ha'Techeles, p. 421).
Moreover, the Murex Trunculus produces a blue dye slightly more readily than
the other two.
Although he personally favored his Janthina theory, Rav Herzog himself
reluctantly admitted that, "The logical conclusion would certainly appear to
be that the blue pigment produced by the Chilazon was obtained using the
Murex Trunculus dye... it is highly unlikely that the Techeles Chilazon was
not the Murex Trunculus" ("Ha'Techeles," p. 421).
Rav Herzog's main objection to this position was that the shells of Murex
Trunculus are white and not similar to the sea (#6). Others explain that the
Gemara which compares the Chilazon to the sea is not referring to the
*color* of the snail, but to the wave-like contours on the snail's shell.
Yet others explain that it is comparing the snail's shell to the sea *bed*.
The shell is covered by sea-fouling and perfectly matches the rocks to which
it attaches itself. (However, neither of these explanations satisfies the
version of the Beraisa that is quoted in Maseches Tzitzis, according to
which the Chilazon is "similar to the sky." Another possibility is that when
the Beraisa describes the "Guf" of the Chilazon, it is describing the ink
which is used to produce its dye, and not its shell (-M. Kornfeld).)
Another objection Rav Herzog raised was that the secretion of Murex
Trunculus turns purple and not blue (#11). Rav Herzog himself raised the
possibility that "there might have been some scheme known to the ancients
for obtaining a blue dye out of this secretion" ("Ha'Techeles," p. 423).
Recent research has shown that when the secretion is exposed to sunlight
after being chemically reduced (a step in the dyeing process), the sunlight
breaks down certain chemical bonds in the resulting liquid and it
subsequently forms a blue dye. In fact, the resulting dye consists mostly of
components bearing the exact same chemical composition as indigo.
One major difficulty remains. What is the once-in-seventy-years cycle of
"coming up" mentioned by the Beraisa (#7)? Does the Murex Trunculus snail
show any unusual prominence every seventy (or seven) years? So far, no such
behavior has been observed in the Murex. Various explanations have been
offered (for example, the Beraisa is using the number "seventy" merely to
emphasize the infrequency of the appearance of the Chilazon, as the Mishnah
in Makos (7a) uses that number to emphasize the infrequency of Beis Din
carrying out capital punishment), but no answer has yet been offered that is
Today, there are two Techeles-producing factories. One, located in Bnei
Brak, produces the Radziner Techeles, worn only by Radziner and Breslover
Chasidim. The other, located in the Jericho area, produces Techeles from the
Murex Trunculus (see TECHELES SECTION).
RAV CHAIM VITAL (in Sha'ar ha'Kavanos, Tzitzis, Derush 4) writes that
Techeles represents Hashem's presence being clearly felt in the world. This
is why Techeles was widely accessible only during, and close to, the era
when the Beis ha'Mikdash was standing. At that time, Hashem's Presence was
manifest in the world for all to see. After the exile, and subsequent
hardships, when Hashem's Presence among His people is less evident, Techeles
became "hidden" as well. The "return" of Techeles may be an indication that
the manifestation of Hashem's Presence in this world, too, will be returning
to its former state. (See also "Ha'Techeles," p. 186, note 21, and Likutei
Tefilos 1:49). (M. Kornfeld)
QUESTIONS: Nowadays, there are organizations that produce the Techeles for
Tzitzis according to the various opinions (see previous Insight). None of
the opinions have yet been proven correct beyond a doubt. Nevertheless, it
is possible that one of them might be the same Techeles that the Torah
commands us to wear and that our ancestors wore.
(a) Since there is a rule that in a case of a doubt concerning a Torah
obligation, we must conduct ourselves stringently, should we wear Techeles
out of doubt?
(b) In addition, even if there is no obligation to wear Techeles because of
the doubt, is there any reason to specifically *not* wear Techeles?
(a) The BEIS HA'LEVI wrote a response to the RADZINER REBBE's question
regarding the Techeles that he was producing from the dye of a squid (the
cuttlefish). He wrote that in a doubt regarding matters that involve a
Mesorah, an oral tradition, the rule of Safek d'Oraisa l'Chumra does not
apply. This argument is understood in two different ways.
1. The Radziner Rebbe understood the Beis ha'Levi's argument to be that the
rule of Safek d'Oraisa l'Chumra does not apply, because we have a tradition
that contradicts the hypothesis of the Radziner Rebbe that the Chilazon is
the cuttlefish. The Radziner's squid was known and available throughout the
generations, and yet none of the Chachamim considered it to be the Chilazon.
This is tantamount to a negative tradition that this is *not* the Chilazon,
and therefore there is no reason to be stringent and wear Techeles from such
This negative tradition, however, does not apply to a species which was not
known by the Chachamim throughout the generations. The lack of any positive
tradition identifying this species as the Chilazon does not disqualify it.
Accordingly, the identification of the Chilazon as the Murex Trunculus, or
as the Janthina snail, is not subject to a negative tradition that it is not
the genuine Chilazon, and thus there should be grounds to be stringent,
following the rule of Safek d'Oraisa l'Chumra. (Indeed, some feel that it is
obligatory to wear Techeles from the Murex Trunculus in our time because of
2. The descendants of the Beis ha'Levi have a different tradition regarding
the Beis ha'Levi's argument (as recorded in "Shi'urim l'Zecher Abba Mori
z"l," by the Beis ha'Levi's great grandson, Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, vol.
1, p. 228). They claim that the Beis ha'Levi required a *positive* tradition
regarding the identification of the Chilazon. With no known tradition that
the Chilazon is the cuttlefish, or the Murex Trunculus, or any other
species, the possibility that this particular species might be the authentic
Chilazon is not considered a Safek d'Oraisa and does not warrant acting
stringently. The accurate identification of the Chilazon will have to wait
(b) The Poskim have given a number of reasons to suggest that Techeles not
be worn today.
1. RAV YOSEF SHALOM ELYASHIV shlit'a (cited in KOVETZ TESHUVOS #1) writes
that one should wear only white Tzitzis on a white garment. Regarding the
identification of the Techeles, he is quoted as saying, "It is known that
more than one hundred years ago, one of the great Admorim thought he found
the [identity of the] Chilazon... and he caused a great stir in the world,
questioning, 'Why are you refraining from doing a Mitzvas Aseh d'Oraisa [to
wear Techeles]?' However, the great sages did not agree with him, and after
some time researchers came and negated his findings. They decided that
something else was the Chilazon. After some more time, certain scientists
asserted that their predecessors' conclusions were inaccurate, and that only
*they* have discovered the true identity of the Chilazon. We do not know if,
after a few more years, other people will come and negate what these
researchers are saying.... The YESHU'OS MALKO (#1) points out that it is
written in the Sifri (Parshas v'Zos ha'Berachah), as well as in the
teachings of the Arizal, that Techeles can be present only when there is a
Regarding Halachic problems with processing Techeles, Rav Elyashiv is quoted
as saying, "The process of the dyeing has not been clarified, as Rashi holds
that only the blood of the Chilazon can be in the pot without any other
chemical agents, while according to the Rambam one puts other chemical
agents into the same pot. Who can decide this question today?"
Regarding Halachic problems with wearing Techeles, Rav Elyashiv is quoted as
saying that by placing doubtful Techeles on the Tzitzis, one neglects
fulfilling the Mitzvah of Tzitzis in the proper way. The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC
9:5) writes that it is preferable that the Tzitzis must be the same color as
the garment, and the BACH (OC 24), quoted by the MISHNAH BERURAH (OC 9:16)
writes that one's Talis and Tzitzis should be white like the "garment" of
Hashem (as depicted in Daniel 7:9). If the Techeles that one wears is not
actually Techeles, then, according to the Shulchan Aruch, the strings are
not the same color as the garment, and, according to the Bach, the string
are not all white (see Insights to Menachos 41:2).
2. RAV MOSHE STERNBUCH shlit'a (in TESHUVOS V'HANHAGOS 1:26) writes, "I
suspect that one who wears it (Techeles) in our community, where people have
not been accustomed to be stringent [to wear Techeles], is transgressing the
prohibition of 'Lo Sisgodedu' by acting differently [and wearing Techeles).
Even though there is no Halachic problem when wearing false Techeles (Kala
Ilan), because it is known that he is doing this with intention to fulfill
the Mitzvah of Techeles, albeit in opposition to our custom, nevertheless
one should be concerned from the prohibition of 'Lo Sisgodedu.'" (As Rav
Sternbuch himself notes, this concern applies only to people who live in a
community wear Techeles is not commonly worn.)
Rav Sternbuch adds that there is another Halachic concern: "Unlearned people
will think that they are definitely fulfilling the Mitzvah of Techeles, and
having such intentions may raise questions of 'Bal Tosif'" (see Rav
Sternbuch's Teshuvah at length). (According to this argument, it would be
permitted to wear Techeles in private.) (Y. Montrose)
(For arguments supporting the opposing viewpoint, see SEFER LULA'OS TECHELES
by Rav Shlomo Teitelbaum.)
3) POURING "NESACHIM" AT NIGHT
OPINIONS: The Gemara says that we learn from the verse of "u'Minchasam
v'Niskeihem," "their flour offerings and their libations," that Menachos can
be offered -- and Nesachim poured -- at night (see RASHI, DH Minchasam,
regarding which Menachos may and may not be brought at night). A number of
verses in the Torah say "u'Minchasam v'Niskeihem" (or "Minchasam
v'Niskeihem," as Rashi's text seems to read). Which of these verses is the
source for the Halachah in our Gemara?
(a) RASHI in Zevachim (84a, DH Nesachim ha'Ba'im) says that the Gemara is
referring to the verse written with regard to the Korbanos of Sukos
TOSFOS (DH Minchasam v'Niskeihem, #2) asks many questions on Rashi. One
question is that if the verse is in the Parshah of the Korbanos of Sukos,
then how does it imply that one may offer Menachos and pour Nesachim at
Tosfos also asks how can the Tana Kama in the Beraisa learn from that verse
that one first brings a Minchah and then Nesachim? The verse itself
continues, "la'Parim la'Eilim," implying that the verse is not telling us
any order of bringing parts of Korbanos, as it lists the Minchah and
Nesachim *before* the Korbanos themselves!
(b) Tosfos quotes RABEINU TAM who says that the verse to which the Gemara is
referring is the verse describing the Korbanos of Shavuos (Vayikra 23:18).
The verse lists the Korbanos of Shavuos, and conclude, "... and their flour
offerings and their libations as a fire offering, a pleasing aroma, to
Hashem." Rabeinu Tam explains that since the Menachos and Nesachim are
mentioned in the verse between the words "Olah" and "Isheh," which refer to
the burning of the Korbanos which may be done at night, we learn from here
that the Menachos and Nesachim may also be done at night.
The TAHARAS HA'KODESH answers the questions of Tosfos on Rashi. He explains
that when the verses discuss the Korbanos for each day of Sukos, the verses
describing the Menachos and Nesachim usually begin with the words,
"u'Minchasam v'Niskeihem" -- "*and* their flour offerings and their
libations." However, two of the verses start with "Minchasam," omitting the
"Vav" at the beginning of the word (Bamidbar 29:24 and 37). The omission of
the "Vav," which usually connects one subject to the next, shows us that the
laws of the Minchah and Nesachim are not always connected to the Korbanos.
Hence, the Gemara learns that these Menachos and Nesachim are different from
the others in that they may be brought at night, and they may be brought on
the next day. The fact that there is no "Vav" also enables the Tana Kama
learn that a Minchah should be brought before Nesachim.
The YAD BINYAMIN has difficulty with this approach. Rashi himself in
Zevachim (84a, DH Nesachim ha'Ba'im) says that this is learned from the
*extra* words of "u'Minchasam v'Niskeihem," and not because of any missing
The Yad Binyamin explains Rashi's intention as follows. It seems unnecessary
for the verse to state with regard to each day's Korban that the Menachos
and Nesachim must be brought with the Korban. It should suffice to say at
the end of the list of all of the Korbanos of all of the days of the
festival that on each day, one should be bring Menachos and Nesachim as
well. The fact that the Torah repeatedly tells us to bring the Menachos and
Nesachim with each day's Korban teaches that the Menachos and Nesachim are
individual items with their own laws that happen to be brought with these
Korbanos. The Gemara deduces from this that they have different times of
offering than Korbanos, and that they may be brought both at night and the
next day. This is what Rashi means when he says that we learn this from the
extra words of "u'Minchasam v'Niskeihem."
To answer Tosfos' second question (that the verse is not telling us any
order of bringing parts of Korbanos, since it lists the Minchah and Nesachim
*before* the Korbanos), the Yad Binyamin explains that Rashi maintains that
when the verse mentions the Korbanos, "la'Parim la'Eilim," after "Minchasam
v'Niskeihem," it is simply stating that these are the Menachos and Nesachim
for these Korbanos. The verse is not discussing the actual Korbanos again.