investigating techeiles

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An investigation on the rediscovery of techeiles. A halachik and scientific perspective.

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INVESTIGATINGBY YONI MEHLMAN

ContentsIntroduction ................................................................................................................................ 2 Identifying the Chilazon.............................................................................................................. 6 ModernResearch ....................................................................................................................... 12 Comparing to Chazal ................................................................................................................ 16 Halacha ..................................................................................................................................... 20

Introduction There are three parts to any discussion. First, it must be clearly understood what

was. Did it come from a specific species and, if so, how is that species defined? How specific is the color? Furthermore, evidence from chazal and rishonim must be gathered to determine what color was used in the times of Chazal and what the chilazon was. After performing such an analysis, it must be determined what species known today produce similar dyes and fit with the descriptions of Chazal. In addition, archeological evidence as well as texts from other cultures should be considered a valuable resource in gaging the use of various dyes in the ancient world, particularly ancient Israel. Finally, this leads to a Halachic question: based on the evidence available, should the manufactured nowadays be worn? , how essential is it that one

Before attempting to precisely define the Chilazon and

conform to those definitions. The Torah merely says that there be a petiltecheilet. While may refer to a specific color (and more precisely, specifically colored wool) it does not obviously refer to the dye being extracted from a specific animal. However, the Tosefta identifies for us a specific species from which the Menachos (9:6) is most explicit originates from: the Chilazon. On this point, the Tosefta in is only kosher from the chilazon. This unambiguous

statement is made explicit by the bigdei kahuna.1MaamarHaTekhelet suggests a novel source for this requirement. The Yerushalmi learns a hekesh from shnitolaat to is wool. Maybe this hekesh could also be used to learn that to learn that even comes from a living

creature, which Chazal specified is the chilazon.2 While one could raise a doubt as to whether the same requirement of Chilazon applies to Tzitzis as well (although, the simple understanding

1

It is therefore particularly strange that the " does not offer even a mention of the chilazon by the making of the bigdei kahuna. 2 Yet, it is important to note that the Bavli uses a different limud to teach that must be wool. It may reject such a Hekesh in which case there would be no source for being Chilazon according to the Bavli.

dictates that Tzitzis states that dictate that

by Tztitzis is equivalent to

by the Mikdash), a nearly explicit Tosefta by

is only made from a chilazon. The simple reading of these two Tosefta

is only Kosher when coming from a Chilazon.

The TiferesYisroel may be considered the first to open the floor to discussion on this point. He points to an interesting Yerushalmi which states that there may be no of trapping

by the chilazon. The KorbonHaeida explains that this is based upon the opinion that since there were no chilazons captured in the making of the mishkan, there is no violation of trapping the chilazon. Apparently, the chilazon wasnt used for the mishkan, indicating that there is no requirement to use chilazon. The TiferesYisroel, therefore, concludes that there is no obligation to use a chilazon. Rather, the requirement is to have a specific color with certain qualities. The often references a fake known as kalailan. While in some locations it states that only

G-d can distinguish between them, in Menachos it offers a procedure to determine whether the dye is the fake or real . The tests involve seeing if the dye fades when subjected to certain

chemical processes.3 This naturally leads to the question: is this test a sign or a cause. It may be that only chilazon is kosher, regardless of the fastness of other dyes. Nonetheless, the other color would more readily fade while the

dye known to chazal which could imitate the

chilazon dye would not. Yet, it may be that the susceptibility to fading of the kalailan is the reason behind why it is . When the Tosefta states that a chilazon must be used it means only

that of the blue dyes known to them, only the chilazon produces the dye of proper fastness. Nonetheless, if a process could be engineered in later years to use an alternate source to produce an identical dye, it would be Kosher as well.

3

Maybe only G-d can distinguish between the colors.

The "

may be the earliest source to confirm such a view. Aside from leaving out the by HilchosTzitzis is

chilazon entirely from his HilchosKleiHaMikdash, his presentation of particularly intriguing. He begins by describing the color of cannot fade. Any fading color is which

and goes on to say that the color

. Only in the next halacha, when describing the process by

is dyed, does he mention the chilazon. The chilazon may be part of the technical

process, but just as the process is merely the scientific procedure at arriving at the desired color (and would hardly be considered meakeiv) so too the chilazon is the animal available that produces the proper color.4 Yet, the MishnehLMelech states by KleiMikdash that the " omits any mention of the chilazon there because he relies on what he said by Tzitzis.5 Apparently, he understood that the " required the chilazon by tzitzis. Further support may be comes only from the interesting phrase:

brought from Rav Avraham ben HaRambam who states that the chilazon. Additionally, the"

adds

an

tzarichsheteheitzviatatzviahyeduah. Does he mean by this phrase that the dye must be a specific dye or does he only mean that it must be a dye which is of a known color and quality, not that it comes from a specific species? Despite the " the simple view of " of the , the generally held view is that the chilazon is required. This is certainly , is the view of Rav Avraham ben Harambam, and also seems to be the by definition comes from the chilazon.6 The

who says in chumash that

4

5

One advantage of this view is that one not need be concerned about a source for requiring chilazon. This introduces another question as to whether the " differentiates between the mikdash and tzitzis. A careful reading of the " suggests that he only thinks that tzitzis have a requirement that the dye be fast. Assuming the " only requires the chilazon due to its fastness, this would explain the omission from kleihamikdash. However, this presents a difficulty: what is the " s source for such a distinction. The tiferesyisroel suggests the Yerushalmi quoted earlier. However, it is hard to understand why the " would go against an explicit Yerushalmi. 6 According to this, the source for the requirement of the chilazon is simple: it is the definition of . This would certainly apply to the bigdei kahuna as well.

Yereimgives a svara that chilazon be required: it helps remind one of the sea.7 Of course, one could easily argue that any sea creature should then be acceptable. Furthermore, it is unclear how seriously to treat the svara of the yereim. Nonetheless, most achronim assume that a chilazon is an absolute requirement. Even knowing what the chilazon is does not alleviate all concerns. Most fishes used for dying can produce a number of colors and certainly a number of shades. Therefore, it is essential to know the color of not only to determine what the chilazon is, but also to establish what

color to use from this dye. As will be discussed later, there are a number of different inferences which can be made regarding the color of the evvenhasapir. The . It is compared to the sea, the sky, the grass, and

also implies that it is close in color to a karti, which is generally

green. This leads some rishonim to say that it is a light blue, a dark blue, the color of the night sky, and green. Some have also suggested that it is a blue-purple. If the question were merely one regarding a machlokes rishonim then one need only find a psak regarding this issue. Yet it is nearly impossible to discern a precise color from the words of the rishonim and . What

exactly is the color of the evening sky? How green is green? Is it really turquoise? What is the color of the sea? Therefore, a pivotal issue surfaces. Without an extant tradition regarding the precise color, can we ever hope to accurately reproduce the correct color? This would be dependent on how precise the color really is. Already in the color. In one of the kalailan tests, the there is some range for the improves in

in Menachos mentions that the real

color after the application of the test. Therefore, there clearly are different gradations of color. Maybe one could argue that the different comparisons given by chazal really do reflect slightly different shades and all are kosher. Maybe there are a number of shades of blue which are7

Maybe then there would be no requirement to use a chilazon by the mikdash. This could present a third possibility in the " . He requires chilazon by tzitzis but not by the mikdash.

acceptable ranging from greenish-blue, to pure-blue, to purplish-blue. Additionally, one could argue that if the chilazon is required for by definition, any color stemming from the chilazon

may be kosher. Of course, this is not necessarily true. Thus we see that