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Tallit: Tekhelet and the differences between them

Tallit: Tekhelet and the differences between them

Some 1,300 years ago, the secrets of Tekhelet, this wondrous blue color, and the identity of the mysterious sea creature, the Chillazon, which produced the dye, were lost. Over the past half century, a convergence of research and discovery by rabbis, scientists, archaeologists, and others has led to the conclusive identification of the sea snail, Murex trunculus , as the authentic source of Tekhelet.


Types of Tekhelet

There are three opinions among the Rishonim regarding the ratio of white strings to Tekhelet strings:

There are three opinions among the Rishonim regarding the ratio of white strings to Tekhelet strings:

  • Rambam La half a string (when bent it becomes one of the eight strings) is Tekhelet. The Rambam understands the pasuk in Bemidbar as follows: place on the edge of each corner (= white) a Tekhelet thread. Only the windings (ptil) around the white core (k'naf) must be Tekhelet (Hilchot Tzitzit 1; 6)
  • Raavad and Aruch, based on the Sifre in Shelach hold that a complete rope (when bent becomes two out of eight strings) must be Tekhelet (Hasagot, Hilchot Tzitzit 1; 6)
  • Tosafot Rashi Two full strings (when bent they become four out of eight strings) must be Tekhelet (Menachot 39a and 41b "Bet Shammai").


Cheese or thin tzitzit?

It's a matter of personal preference, in general. Thin tzitzit Thin tzitzit) will be a better fit for Tallit Katan (Small Tallit), while on Tallit Gadol (Large Tallit), both are fine. Thin tzitzit are often machine-spun (machine-made) while thick tzitzit are hand-spun and are also called 'Avodat Yad'. The most important aspect of making tzitzit is the intention, since wearing tzitzit is a Torah commandment, the intention when making tzitzit plays a key role in making it kosher and meaningful. Thin tzitzit that are usually made using a machine are often considered less 'Kosher' as the machine lacks the human ability to infuse the process with special meaning and intent. Therefore, in traditional Orthodox congregations, thick tzitzit are the norm. Among the Modern Orthodox, you will see both, although thick tzitzit are probably more common.

The choice between pre-tying or tying them yourself is your choice, but the choice between the Razdyner, Rambam or Raavad methods of tying the Tekhelet tzitzit is up to your community.
The Tekhelet is mentioned 49 times in the Torah and is a blue-dyed string attached to the corners of the tallit, along with the white tzitzit. The tekhelet was used on the clothing of the High Priest, the hangings in the Tabernacle, and the tzitzit attached to the four-cornered tallit's or Taliot.

There are four sets of four threads that are threaded through a small hole in each corner of the garment. In the middle of these sets of threads, they are folded over and then tied, creating eight threads at each of the four corners of the garment. The length of the ropes must be twice the length of the knots, that is, the proportion of the ropes must be 1/3 knots 2/3 ropes. Tzitzit are kosher even if the tzitzit do not have this ratio. There are three main shitot (methods) of how to wrap the ropes: Ra'avad, Rambam and Radzyner.

Ra'avad Tradition: Can be linked in HaChinuch, Ra'avad, and GR”A methods: 2 of 8 chains are tekhelet, according to Rabbi Avraham Ben-David, 1120, Provance, prevalent among Ashkenazi communities
3 of the 4 length strings are white and one is blue.

Tradition of the Rambam: following Rabbi Moshe Ben-Mimon, 13th century , Spain. This method is prevalent in Yemenite Sephardic Jewish communities. 1 of 8 strings tekhelet.
3.5 of the full length strings are white and 0.5 is blue.
Each knot has three turns (forming a chulya) that stay in place without any double knots. 7 or 13 chulyas are made, depending on the custom that is followed.


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