Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fringes Of Royal Blue

In Parashat Teruma it is written" Make a sanctuary for me and I will swell within you" This is usually interpreted as meaning not that I will dwell within IT but I will dwell within you,  in your hearts. Rashi however interprets more literally Make a sanctuary for me:Make me a holy house and I will dwell therein.

But we must ask the question:How can G-d's presence be limited to one place? Does not G-d's presence imbue the whole world? The tabernacle was a microcosm symbolizing the whole world of creation. It was constructed from all the basic components of creation: 

Mineral-gold silver and copper
Vegetable-acacia wood and linen
Animal-wool and skins
Every component comes together in perfect harmony as in G-d's universe.

The great nineteenth century commentator MALBIM  explained that every detail of the tabernacle reflects a detail of the six days of creation. But it seems we have left something out, the most important component: Man the pinnacle of creation. This is the inner meaning of  “make me a sanctuary and I will dwell within you”  make me a place for my presence to dwell and you will be able to get in touch with the divine spirit within you.

Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch explained that the colors of the tabernacle were also illustrative of the building blocks of creation 
white linen-vegetable
scarlet thread- animal (a dye extracted from worms)
purple- human the color of flushed skin
and last techelet (sky blue) representing that which is above the comprehension of our senses - the Divine. The techelet dyed in the wool of the priestly garments and coverings represents the divine element which can be seen by our eyes. It is the divine which connects with the pure human spirit which looks upward to the blue of the heavens.

Techelet is also the royal blue as is described in Megillat Esther.  “And Mordecai was led out in royal attire of techelet...”

Of course there is the techelet of Tzitzit. We say in the kriat shema and you shall make fringes on the corner of your garments and you shall put on the fringe of the corner a thread of techelet you will see it and remember my commandments.
About twenty years ago a group of researchers and rabbis announced that they had discovered the source of the biblical techelet extracted  from the Murex snail found on the Mediterranean sea shore. 

There is much dispute among halachic authorities  on the matter of the newly discovered techelet. Some were against others said it is a mitzva to put a string of techelet in the tzitzit. There are two arguments against techelet one expressed by Rav J.B.Soloveitchik ZTZL who said it is impossible to renew a mitzvah which had been lost for over a thousand years since there is no chain of tradition. Rav Avraham Kahana Shapira ZTZL said that we can use science and technology to reconstruct the lost art of dying with techelet.  Another argument against using techelet was expressed by Rav Shlomo Aviner who said it is arrogant to wear techelet when so many torah luminaries have not accepted it. Rav Dov Lior answered Rav Aviner saying that Arrogance (yuhara) is a subjective concept determined by the the mindset of the wearer and the beholder and therefore should not be taken into account. Today important Rabbis such as R' Lior,  Drori, Simcha Hacohen Kook, Re'em Hacohen And Rabbi Herschel Shachter  all wear techelet.

Rav Kook ZTZL said that techelet is the color which intensifies and focuses our sense of sight. A few years ago scientists did a study on the nature of colors. They measured the frequency of light waves that were refracted through different colors and put them on a scale from 1 to 1000. The number of the color techelet was...613 corresponding to the number of commandments in the torah.

The Rebbe of Ruzhin who thought that he had discovered techelet at the end of the nineteenth century said that when the mitzvah of techelet is renewed  it is a sure sign that the mashiach is on his way. May Hasshem bring him speedily in our days!!!


  1. Have you seen this article?