With The Assistance of Heaven

A Solution to Fundamental Problems Regarding Tekhelet

Contents of the Article

  1. The Identification of the Chilazon by Chavot Yair and the Author of Shiltei Hagiborim
  2. On What is the Identification Based
  3. The Use of the Language of the Gentiles in Halacha
  4. The Position of Rabbi Herzog
  5. The Color of the “Blood” of the Chilazon
  6. Does the Chilazon Have a Shell? Should We Define the Chilazon as a Worm or a Fish?
  7. Is it Possible to Press the Chilazon With Your Hands Until Its Blood Comes Out?
  8. Miphkad Pakid – Stored Blood
  9. The Capture of the Chilazon
  10. Is the Chilazon Found Also In the Kinneret?
  11. It Goes Up Once Every 70 Years
  12. Its Body Resembles The Sea
  13. Sources in the Talmud, Rishonim and Achronim on the Subject of the Test for Tekhelet
  14. What is Kala Ilan?
  15. The Tests For Tekhelet That I Made
  16. Renewing an Object of a Mitzva Without Tradition
  17. The “Damage” of Putting On Wrongly Identified Tekhelet
  18. If Other Generations Didn’t Merit to Have Tekhelet What is Different About Our Generation Than Other Generations?
  19. The Shade of Tekhelet That is Kosher According to Everyone
  20. The Viewpoint of the Vilna Gaon On The Subject of the Number of Tekhelet Strings That One Should Put On
  21. A Discussion of the Viewpoint of the Rosh on Tying Tzitzit With Tekhelet
  22. Is There An Obligation Not to Change The Tying Method Used For Tzitzit That Lack Tekhelet?
  23. There are Those That Oppose the Renewal of Tekhelet Because Tekhelet is in the state or status of “Nignaz”.
  24. Is One Allowed to Add Dye Chemicals to the Blood of the Chilazon?

Clarification: I am not able to bring this article to Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv.  But I can say that a Number of Rabbis That Saw My Words Were Convinced.

A Solution to Fundamental Problems Regarding Tekhelet
by Shlomo Moshe Scheinman

1] The strongest proof that the Trunculus mollusc [called in modern Hebrew, Argamoan Khei HaKotzim, and in ancient times the Purpur fish] is a kosher source for Tekhelet comes from Chavot Yair.
{In the past the scientific name for this mollusc was Murex Trunculus, but a leading scientist told me that the name Murex has now been dropped}
In Makor Chaim written by the author of Chavot Yair in Hilchot , Tzitzit Siman 18 the following is written: “in my innovations, I wrote that the blood of the Chilazon which is used to produce the Tekhelet dye, is not blue, just the purpur dye which is made from the blood of the Purpur fish”.
[Comment: Given the lack of clear vowel signs in the Hebrew text, it is theoretically possible to substitute the first u in Purpur with o and the second u in Purpur with any of the vowels of the alphabet, and it is even possible to substitute the “p” in Purpur with a “ph” sound, but based on the context, it seems that Makor Chaim is referring to Purpur. Furthermore, in order to prevent a misimpression, I stress, the “blood” {the dye material} of the Trunculus Mollusc in reality is not blue but rather Purpur, just the results of the dyeing process is Tekhelet. Now see also the solutions obtained from Argamoan Khei HaKotzim {Trunculus} in Rabbi Menachem Burshtein’s book on Tekhelet after page 304 in order to understand well that there isn’t a difference of opinion between Rambam {Maimonides} and the author of Chavot Yair.] molluscblood
As a second “witness” for identification, (which I found through the book Lulaot   Tekhelet of Shlomo Teitelbaum) is Rabbi Avraham the Doctor, Portalioni, in his book  Shiltei Giborim { that was printed in Mantoba in the Hebrew year 5372 or ~1612 according to the secular calendar} who wrote in the section, Matters of the Mikdash, chapter 79:

And this word Blatta has two meanings in accordance to the difference in languages, for in Latin, it has the meaning of a moth that eats a garment while in Greek, it means a crawling sea creature, that is called Purpura and this is the Chilazon {mollusc} by which one dyes Tekhelet.

Now one should add, that a non-Jewish researcher Diane C. Bonacci claims, “a standard purple was unknown to the ancient world. It simply meant any shade of dye that could be extracted from certain shellfish, notably the murex and buccinum” {comment: since the trunculus molluscs yields both a blue and purple dye, this includes Trunculus}. “Greeks called all such shellfish porphyry, or purpura in Latin”. In her opinion, “the root of  porphyry means to mix, to knead, or to stir violently”. Separately, as I will note later on, also Rabbi Tevger claimed that in our days, the Greeks call the Trunculus Mollusc by the name Purpiras. {Translator’s note, since I am transliterating the Hebrew version of the Greek word, it may be slightly different, than a direct Greek to English transliteration}
To make peace among the different sources, it would appear that we will have to say that in Greek the Chilazon of Tekhelet was called by a number of different names, precisely like in our times there are those that call the Chilazon mollusc, Argamoan Khei HaKotzim, and there are those that call it Trunculus, and there are those that call it murex, etc. and all of them mean the same thing.
Now one should note, that in my humble opinion (and so too, have I understood from Rabbi Tevger) that theoretically, all the molluscs that bear the names of the Purpur fish or Purpura, that are capable of giving us the fluid for the dyeing of Tekhelet and that withstand the Tekhelet tests {of Tractate Menachot} are kosher, for use in the mitzva.
But from various signs, it is reasonable to say that the main source for Tekhelet was the Trunculus mollusc.

2 Possible Sources For the Rulings of the Author of Chavot Yair and Shiltei Giborim

    Before I, G-d willing, will try to prove based on accepted methods in Halacha that the Trunculus Mollusc = the Chilazon of Tekhelet [ in the past scientists called this mollusc Murex Trunculus, but in our days they have dropped the word Murex from the mollusc’s name ], I will mention first an introduction from Rabbi Menachem Burshtein’s book, HaTekhelet page 248. Rabbi Burshtein brought a letter of the Roman, Gaius Plinius or, to use his English name, Pliny (who lived between year 23 to 79 on the secular calendar) who makes the following summary:
“The Tyrians sold their purple cloths according to their weight in silver. They extracted from the mollusc 14 shades of color, that were defined as being black as sparkling ink to purple and to red and between them  ranging from bright pink  and a sparking bluish color.
“For they would differentiate among the colors produced by the molluscs, especially, the  red dyes derived from the pupur mollusc and the purple dyes derived from the purpur mollusc (Violacae Purpura). However the two species both had different color and shades. The red dye of the purpur mollusc came from the mollusc that the Romans called purpura pelagia. The second dye, hyacinth is from the mollusc that hangs upon rocks and promontories {alternately translated as caverns}, which is called in Roman the horn or trumpet mollusc…The shells of both of them are

משרגות וככליריות [translators note: unable to translate term]

the latter mollusc is more ball shaped and the first is more sharply pointed.
It comes out from this that also Argaman was produced by a mollusc and not just Tekhelet.
And so too did Rabbi Herzog establish that Murex Brandaris (one of the types of Purpur molluscs) produces the Argaman dye. [And see also the words of Rabbi Kalisher in Drishat Tzion, page 137, and Kupat Harochlim by the author of Tifferet Yisrael].
Also in holy sources the word Purpur is linked to Argaman and Tekhelet.
For example, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan in his commentary to the Torah called The Living Torah, [edition of Jewish year 5745] on Exodus 24:4 deduced from the words of Raavia to Brachot 3b and from Mussaf HaArukh, Erech: Purpura – that the Chilazon had to be one of the types of Purpura Molluscs.
He established that the Septuagint’s translation of the Torah into Greek sometimes translates the word for Tekhelet as oloporphorus, which reveals in the opinion of Rabbi Kaplan that it was produced from a Purpura mollusc.
Rabbi Kaplan continues on by stating, that the Septuagint translation of the Bible translates the word for Argaman into Greek by the name porphura or porporeus.
Rabbi Kaplan established there also, that the word Porphura is not just the name of the dye in Greek but is also the name of the Purpura mollusc that is  called in our days in English, by the name, Murex.
I also asked an expert on History and Greek, Professor Daniel Schwartz [a religious man] what is the definition of the phrase olo, which comes as a prefix to the word, porphorus, in the Septuagint’s translation for the word Tekhelet.
He responded that to be more precise the prefix is holo and not olo, and that the implication of this prefix, is- “entirely” -.That is to say, entirely from the porporeus dye.
According to his investigation of the word holoporphorus, which appears twice in the Septuagint, it appears, once as the translation of Tekhelet to Numbers 4:7 and once  for Numbers 4:13 as the translation of the word Argaman. Usually, the word Tekhelet is translated to the word hawakinthos, which is the source for the modern English word, hyacinth which is blue-purple.
[Professor Shwartz also established that Josephus, the historian who lived at the end of the Second Temple period, used the word hawakinthos to describe the color blue or to describe some precious gem.] Afterwards I heard from Rabbi Menachem Slei, Shlit”a, that the great Poskim [those responsible for deciding Jewish Law] tend not to rely sufficiently upon the text of the Septuagint that is in our hands, to base upon it the Halacha {Jewish Law}. And I admit, that it is not clear to me if even we can rely a little bit on the Septuagint.
Therefore I will bring a proof from a more reliable source.
However, I should first note, that I found in the responsa of Sridei Eish, section 3, Siman 30 that he honorably relates to the position of the Septuagint and here is a translated quote:

“In the first chapter, we have proven that according to the sages the word, U’pharah is to be defined as the revealing of the head. Now also Unkelos, who kept to the tradition in his translation, translated this verse: and they shall reveal the head of the woman and so too other Hebrew translations. And so too other translations, such as, the Septuagint and the Peshitata translated this word with the connotation of revealing the hair of her head”.

And now to return to our subject, in the words of Esther Rabba (Vilna) Parsha 10:12 it is implied that the word Purpura is linked also to the concept of Tekhelet and also to Argaman (or at the   very least to Tekhelet)

“Now Mordechai went out from before the king in a royal wardrobe [Tekhelet and Chur, a large gold crown, a fine linen shawl and Argaman]: Rabbi Pinchas says, Mordechai ruled over the Jews, just as a king wears Pupurin, so too did Mordechai wear Purpurin, just as a king makes a crown to fit his entire head so too did Mordechai wear a large gold crown”.

And even though one can claim that not every garment of Purpurin has to be of Tekhelet or Argaman. And just by chance was the Purpurin of Mordechai of such material, it does not seem to me to be the case based on the words of Ramban to Exodus 28:2 which I will quote:

“Now the Ephod and the breastplate were royal garments, in accordance with the matter that is written: “and the chain of gold upon your neck” (Daniel 5:16)…
and it is written (Daniel 5:16) “and Argaman you shall wear and a chain of gold upon your neck”. Now Tekhelet even today no man will lift up his hand to wear it except for a Gentile King, and it is written (Esther 8,15) “Now Mordechai went out from before the king in a royal wardrobe Tekhelet and Chur, a large gold crown, a fine linen   shawl and Argaman and the shawl is the coat that he covers himself with”.

[From here it is implied that the Tekhelet of the Gentiles and the Tekhelet of Jews are the same, and this goes against Rabbi Herzog’s viewpoint.] In light of all of what is stated above, after Rabbi Tevger established that even today the Trunculus mollusc is called Purpiras,  without any link to the dye, for they don’t know that it is possible to extract a dye from it; there is a high probability that this mollusc is the mollusc from the Purpura family from which they made Tekhelet in the past.
Also the word, “Yakinton” a word, according to Arukh’s commentary, which Akilas the convert used to translate the word Tekhelet,  seems to be linguistically related to the word, hawakinthos of the Septuagint and thereby creates another link between Purpur, Murex Trunculus, and the Chilazon of Tekhelet.

3] Proofs That It is Possible Based on the Modern Definition of Words in Gentile Languages, to Also Define What Was the Definition of the Word Hundreds of Years Ago

I searched for proofs that it is possible based on the modern definitions of words in Gentile Languages, to also define what the word meant hundreds of years ago (for example, the word Purpur). And it has the equivalent of a legal presumption {until proven to the  contrary} that the meaning of the word hasn’t changed in the course of generations.
1] Rabbi Herzog [his words are brought in Rabbi Burshtein’s book on Tekhelet] attempted to identify both Indigo and the color of Indigo, [which is the definition for Kala Ilan according to the Arukh’s commentary], based on the modern definitions of the Gentiles for Indigo. [However, in truth I saw that Rabbi Yisrael Ariel argued against Rabbi Herzog on this point and in his opinion the Indigo of our times can not teach us anything about the Indigo of the Arukh. And therefore in his opinion we can’t prove from Indigo what is the color of Tekhelet.] 2] In Sanhedrin page 4 and in Rashi’s commentary to Exodus 13:16, Rabbi Akiva established that there are 4 compartments in the Tefillin {phylacteries} worn on the head {Totafoth [or Totafot depending on how you pronounce the letter ת ] in Biblical Hebrew}, because “Tot in a Caspian dialect denotes two and Foth or Poth in Africa denotes two”. Behold Rabbi Akiva relied upon the language of the Gentiles in order to explain a word that is written in the Torah centuries before his time.
Now perhaps, here too, there is no proof, for perhaps Rabbi Akiva didn’t rely at all on the languages of the Gentiles in his days, rather he had a tradition that at the time of Moshe {Moses} that such was how the Caspians and the Africans called the word two. However, according to this, it is a little more difficult to understand why Rabbi Yishmael argues against Rabbi Akiva, there in tractate Sanhedrin over the source of the law that the Tefillin placed on the head must contain 4 compartments.
And I saw a bit of a proof in the commentary of Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan on the Torah (Exodus 13:16) [The Living Torah] that Rabbi Akiva did not receive an actual tradition on this matter. For according to Rabbi Kaplan, “significantly in ancient Egyptian, ftu or fot means four, while tot can denote a gathering, , resemblance, divine or hard leather. Hence, totafoth may have had the connotation of a fourfold amulet, made of leather, as the Tefillin indeed are”. This being the case Rabbi Akiva should have used as proof from the Egyptian language to define, Totafoth since this was the language that the majority of Israel recognized at the time of the giving of the Torah; and he should not have used a proof from a combination of an African language and a Caspian language. Now if Rabbi Akiva nevertheless left aside the Egyptian language and used the Caspian and African language, it is implied because in his days, specifically these words were still in use and he used a proof from the languages of the Caspians and Africans of his days.
Now one should add that there was someone who commented on the matter of Totafoth that perhaps there is no contradiction between the explanation of the ancient Egyptian language and the explanation of Rabbi Akiva. That perhaps African and Caspian are two synonyms for the ancient Egyptian language.
Now one can answer back that at least according to Tosafot to Sanhedrin 4b it is written that Caspian and African are two languages (and not one language). Although perhaps the person who raised the issue holds like Shita Mikubetzet to Menachot 34b, see there.
3] Many times in Rashi’s commentary on the Torah, Rashi compares a foreign word to  a word in the Torah and he establishes that the explanation of the Torah word is similar to the word in a foreign language. Now Rashi does this, even though there is a possibility that the meaning of the word in foreign language might have changed since the time of the giving of the Torah until the days of Rashi..
Here are some examples:

The Torah Word Location of the Word in the Text Foreign Language Used by Rashi To Define the Word
אלון Genesis 35:8 Greek
חרטמי Genesis 41:8 Aramaic
צנמות Genesis 41:23 Aramaic
אברך Genesis 41:43 Aramaic
מכרתיהם Genesis 49:5 Greek
נא Exodus 12:9 Arabic
טמא Numbers 5:2 Aramaic
שניר Deuteronomy 3:9 Ashkenaz {German} and Canaanite
תתעמר Deuteronomy 21:14 Persian
חמר Deuteronomy 32:14 Aramaic

4] In Mishnat Shviit of Rabbi Yosef Leiberman, pages 112,113 a dispute,  is brought what is the position of Rabbi Saadia Gaon concerning the southern border of the land of Israel. And it seems to me that both sides were willing to rely on the Arabic language of their times to reveal what was the intention of Rabbi Saadia Gaon. Now here’s a translated quote:

Now what was written in the book, Eretz Yisrael (page 35) that Eilat is within the boundary of those that ascended from Egypt, based on what Rabbi Saadia Gaon translated for the Biblical name Maalay Akrabim as “Akaba-Akrabin”, and he wished to say that he meant Akaba which is by Eilat, his words are contradicted by the words of Tvuot Haaretz (page 25) who wrote that the intent of Rabbi Saadia Gaon was to the Maalay Akrabim in the valley of Algor (the Arava, located between the Dead Sea until Eilat) which is called in its entirety, Al Akaba on account of the Akaba city in the south, see there. Also the book Hamaaser V’Hatruma (chapter 5, page 43) makes a good critique of his viewpoint and also in his short article, “The Land By Its Boundaries”.

Later in his book, it appears to me that Rabbi  Leiberman also informs us that halachic researchers relied on modern Arabic to reveal the intent of Rabbi Saadia Gaon in his commentary to Parshat Masei; when the Gaon translated the river (or stream) of Egypt as “Wadi-El-Arish Mahser”.

5] In the Midot Vi’shiurei Torah, by Rabbi Chaim Beinish, page 69 we learn that

“the weight of the Derham which Rabbi Chaim Naeh used was the Turkish Derham that was in circulation in his days in the land of Israel, whose weight is 3.2 grams or to be more precise 3.205 grams. Based on his weighing it turns out that the weight of a “Riviit”, measurement of water according to the Rambam is 27 Derhams which is 86.4 grams, and it turns out according to the calculation based on the cubic measurements for a “Riviit” (10.8 cubic, etzbaot or fingers) that the etzba {finger measurement} of the Rambam was 2 centimeters.
See the next section in which he offers evidence that weight of the Derham has not changed since the days of Rambam. However, one should comment that even though in principle, Rabbi Chaim Naeh was correct, for major changes didn’t take place in the weight of the Derham coin, nevertheless it has been clarified to us that the Derham of the Gaonim and the Rambam was smaller than the Derham mentioned previously by 7 to 12 % and their weight ranged from 2.83 grams to 2.97 grams. See later, in chapter 30 sections 5,6, that if so the Riviit is 74-76 grams and the thumb measurement is 1.9 to 1.91 centimeters”

I do not know if for Halacha we accept the author’s words that the Derham slightly changed, but what is important to me, is the fact that Rabbi Chaim Naeh. was indeed willing to rely on what the Gentiles called in his days, Derham, as a method of revealing what was the Derham of the Rambam.
For the sake of truth, I will admit that there were additional reasons in accordance to what was brought in the book Midot Vi’shiurei Torah, by which Rabbi Chaim Naeh established the size of the halachic “Beitza” and “Riviit” . See the book for details.

6] I found two instances, where the Chafetz Chaim used terms in Gentile Languages to understand what our Rabbis had ruled for halacha. On Shulchan Aruch, O.C., siman 216, section 3, the Shulchan Aruch states that the blessing we make on 

“Or Hindi” עור הינדי

is a blessing over the fragrance for a spice tree, “Borei Atzei Bsamim”. Mishna Brura {written by the Chafetz Chaim} comments there, that “Or Hindi” is a printing mistake and the text should state


“Ode Hindi” עוד הינדי

There the Chafetz Chaim adds that Ode is a tree or wood in Arabic and Hindi is the land of India where it grows.
Similarly, in Be’ur Halacha, siman 302, with the section starting with the word “Mutar”, the Chafetz Chaim uses Greek and Roman Languages, to define an object, that teaches us that sometimes ironing or heating an object on the Sabbath can be considered a forbidden act of cleaning on the Sabbath, {which makes one liable for a sacrifice or the death penalty} if this is the standard method used to clean that object.
7] In the Responsa of Chatam Sofer, Section 1 (O.C.), Siman 3, Chatam Sofer brings a dispute by major Rabbis over the definition of “Dochsustus” and “Klaf”, which determines what type of parchment can be used for Tefillin and Mezuzot.
Both sides of the dispute, use foreign languages to try to prove what is the definition of “Dochsustus”.
8] In Tifferet Yisrael’s commentary on the Mishna, dozens of times he uses foreign languages to clarify concepts that appear in the Talmud. Here are some of the most blatant examples:


 Word In The Mishna Location of the Word Foreign Language Used by Tifferet Yisrael To Define the Word
אפרודיטי Avoda Zara, Chapter 3, Mishna 4 Greek
גמטריאות Avot, Chapter 3, Mishna 18 Greek
כי יוונית Zevachim, Chapter 10, Mishna 8 Greek
קיפונוס Middot, Chapter 1, Mishna 3 Greek
תרבוסין Keilim, Chapter 24, Mishna 5 Roman Language
פליון Keilim, Chapter 29, Mishna 1 Greek
פרכדיגמא Para, Chapter 1, Mishna 3 Greek
or according
to some texts
Yadayim, Chapter 4, Mishna 6 Greek

4] If it is So Clear that the  Trunculus Mollusc is Kosher as a Source for Tekhelet – Why Didn’t Rabbi Herzog  Come to the Same Conclusion?

The answer is that also Rabbi Herzog wrote that the hypothesis that Murex Trunculus is the Chilazon of Tekhelet is a very reasonable conclusion.
Just because he was left with no alternative, he chose the Janthina {sea snail} as the Chilazon, because in his opinion some of the signs of the Chilazon were lacking in Murex Trunculus. Therefore, if there was some way to explain why all the signs of the Chilazon of the Sages are in truth found in the Trunculus Mollusc [and that explanation wasn’t revealed or available to Rabbi Herzog], also Rabbi Herzog would admit that this mollusc has preference over other creatures.
Now one should note that in the opinion of Rabbi Shabtei Rappaport, what I said in regards to Rabbi Herzog is true both for the Rebbe of Radzin (but I have no proof one way or the other).

The Signs of the Chilazon

5] The Color of the “Blood” of Chilazon.

In one place, Rashi described the blood of the Chilazon as clear (Shabbat page 75) and in another place as the color of the sea (Chulin page 89)
Rambam in contrast to Rashi described the blood of the Chilazon as dark or black similar to ink (Hilchot Tzitztit 2:2).
If so, how can we decide the issue? For even if we find a creature whose blood fits the opinion of the Rambam, seemingly out of necessity the same creature can’t be the Chilazon according to Rashi, and so too, in the opposite case?
However, with the blood of the Argamoan Khei HaKotzim (the Trunculus Mollusc)  it is possible to make peace between all the different opinions.
Now this is a translated quote of Professor Elsner, whose words are brought in Rabbi Menachem Burshtein’s book on Tekhelet (page 303):
“Now upon us to recognize the color that is extracted from Argamoan Khei HaKotzim (Trunculus): After the shell of a live mollusc is pierced open, a clear solution is extracted exactly fitting in with what is described in Tractate Shabbat (75a). In the pale-yellow solution, there appears a green color that spontaneously transforms to turquoise and afterwards blue until at the end it goes to its final permanent state of purple that tilts towards black. This color we can describe as Blue mixed in with Argaman. It should be noted that this multiple gamut of colors
explains well the comparison of Tekhelet to the different colors of the sea, grass, trees, the sky, the brightness or glow {Noga in Hebrew}, and the rainbow [his intention is the words of Midrash Tehillim (Buber) Mizmor 90 (point 18}]

One should add that if someone might contend that the end product of the Chilazon when it is liquid, is still not sufficiently black to be called dark or black as ink, there is still the possibility to explain as Shlomo Teitelbaum did in his book, Lulaot HaTekhelet, page 260:
“All the words of Rambam are  fulfilled by the process of dyeing with the Murex  Chilazon {my addition: his intent is the Murex Trunculus – Argamoan Khei HaKotzim}. The chemical additives are for the sake of the chemical reduction of the dye material, and the blackness of the blood is from the high concentration of  Argaman {comment: my definition of Argaman is a little different than Teitelbaum’s} when it is dry and then dissolved in water and with chemical  additives and the light of the sun (or by vaporization) the Argaman is transformed to blue.

6] Does the Chilazon have a Shell? Should The Chilazon be Described as A Worm or a Fish?

Rabbi Herzog agreed that the Chilazon is similar to a worm that is enclosed in a shell that lives in the sea, and by virtue of it living in the sea it is also called by the description of a fish. Now also the Rebbe of  Radzin wrote that if not for his other proofs on behalf of a squid species (Sepia Officinalis) called the Diyunon in Hebrew (the species he chose as the Chilazon) he would have understood that the simple implication is that the Chilazon has a shell.
The Arukh brought a proof (Erech Chilazon 3) that the Chilazon has a shell {more literally a container}
based on the midrash Psi-, the words starting with “Vayehi B’shalach Paroah”. There it is written: “he said to them, the Chilazon all the while that it grows its container grows with it”. And see the book, Lulaot HaTekhelet, of Shlomo Teitelbaum, that proved that also Rashi, and also Radak, and also Rabbi Yaacov Emden, and additional Rabbis, established. that the Chilazon was similar to a snail that lives in the sea.
Rabbi Menachem Adler raised a point against the  possibility that Argamoan Khei HaKotzim – Murex Trunculus can be the Chilazon because Rambam in Mishna Torah describes the Chilazon as a fish.
At the beginning, I thought that the answer to his claim was simple. Namely, that the Rishonim had a wide  definition of what is classified as a fish that includes the Argamoan Khei HaKotzim {Trunculus}. For Rashi on the Talmud, tractate Bechorot 8a, on the words “Bnei Yama“, established there is a fish in the sea that half of it has the shape of a man and half has the shape of a fish and in a foreign language it is called Shreina. And so too on Tractate Chulin page 126b Rashi on the words, “Achbar Shebayam“, established that it is a fish that resembles a mouse, and it is called “Achbar” {the Hebrew name for Mouse}. Now similarly, Rashi on Sanhedrin 91a described the Chilazon as a worm, (the intention seemingly to a worm with a shell). While in tractate Shabbat 74b and 77b Rashi established that the Chilazon was a sort of small fish.
And so too, we learn, in Kupat Harochlim of  Tifferet Yisrael, which is printed before his commentary to Seder Moed, that in the opinion of the Arukh, the Chilazon has a shell {literally a container}. [And such an idea is also brought is Shir Hashirim Rabba (Vilna) Parsha 4, with the words starting with milk and honey: “the Chilazon all the while that it grows its shell {container} grows with it”. And so too is the idea brought in Psikta D’rav Kahana (Mandelbaum) Parsha 11 Starting With [21] R’ Lazar: and so too in Yalkut Shimoni to Parshat Eikev, Remez 850.] Now in combination with all the sources that state the Chilazon is a fish that lives in the sea, the author of Tifferet Yisrael, understood that we are dealing with a snail that lives in the sea.
Now by this, the author of Tifferet Yisrael seemingly agreed to the principle of Rabbi Kook in Mishpat Cohain:

“And certainly to minimize dispute is preferable as much as it is possible. And even if a somewhat forced answer is  needed to eliminate a new dispute {of the Rabbis}, there is no objection to this, and in a similar manner we have established that we reconcile contradictions between witnesses even by forced answers, so that there won’t be a dispute between them, and we ascribe to not-likely explanations, that he doesn’t know that an extra day was added to the lunar month and that he errs by two or three hours, depending upon the different explanations given in the Talmud, and that we conclude in Choshen Mishpat, siman 29 that we explain their words, by remote usages of language, in order not to make a contradiction or a dispute between the witnesses. and so too do we respond in all matters that we can make into a convergence of views and we don’t say that there is here a dispute”.

Now so too, in accordance with the viewpoint of the Vilna Gaon (Eliyahu Rabba) on Keilim, chapter 10, Mishna 1, we can describe a snail that lives in the sea, as a fish. There he states, we do not write the words, the bones of a creature of the sea, for all that is in the sea is a type of fish in all forms that it has.
And so too, Rabbi Ovadia of Bartenura on that same Mishna, on the words starting with “And the bones of fish”, writes, “if he made a vessel from the bones of the creatures of the sea, it saves {from impurity},  since they do not receive, spiritual impurity. As stated in the Mishna later on, in chapter 17, all that is in the sea is pure.
And so too, Rambam when he wrote about the things that do not receive spiritual impurity, both in his commentary to the Mishna and in his Mishna Torah, Hilchot Tumat Hameit, chapter 6 and so too in Hilchot Tumat Hameit, 21:1 he omitted any talk of creatures of the sea and just talked about fish together with all the other things counted  by the Mishna in Keilim chapter 10 as  objects that do not receive impurity.
And so too the Kesef Mishna on  Hilchot Tumat Hameit 6:1, explains that when Rambam wrote that one who makes vessels out of the bones or skin of fish, these vessels do not receive impurity, he understood as Rabbi Ovadia of Bartenura did, that the source of the Halacha is based on what is written in chapter 17 of Keilim, Mishna 13, “All that is in the sea is Pure” And in Torat Cohanim (Shmini) it is derived, from the words {in the Biblical verse} “or clothing or leather goods,” that just as the clothing {that receives impurity} is dealing with clothing from products grown on dry land, so too, the animal hide is dealing with something that grows upon the dry land”.
Notwithstanding all that was stated above it is not so simple that Argamoan Khei HaKotzim, namely, the Trunculus mollusc is considered a fish according to the Rambam based on what Rambam wrote in Hilchot Maachalot Asurot 2:12

    “One who eats {non-kosher food} the size of an olive from that which swarms in the water is liable by the Torah, to lashes, for it was stated: “do not  make yourselves disgusting [by eating] any small creature that swarms, and do not impurify yourselves on their account”. Behold included in this prohibition is the creature {Sheretz in Biblical Hebrew} that swarms on the land and the creature that swarms which flies in the air and the creature that swarms from the sea.
What is the creature that swarms in the sea? These are the small creatures such as, worms and leeches of the water and also the very large creatures, which are the creatures of the sea. The principal is that whatever does not have the shape of fish, neither a non-kosher fish or a kosher fish, such as a seal and a dulphan {Rambam La’am’s commentary, a creature that looks, half like a man and half like a fish} and a frog and things similar to this:”.

Perhaps from here it is possible to claim that if a worm is not a fish, so too the Trunculus Mollusc, which is a worm within a shell, is not a fish. Especially this question is strong, in light of what Aruch Hashulchan {Rabbi Yechiel Michal Epshtein} on Yoreh Deah, chapter 83 understands to be the position of the Rambam. Namely, based on the above stated Halacha, we see that Rambam greatly limited what can be defined as a fish.
Two answers to this problem.
A] Rambam in Sefer HaMitzvot – negative commandment 179 testifies that all those that came prior to him, called a creature that didn’t have the shape of a fish by the name of an unclean fish – see there.  Therefore when Rambam calls the Chilazon a fish, his intents is what the world calls a fish.
B] Mishbatzot Zahav’s commentary to Yoreh Deah, siman 83, comment 2, argues with Aruch HaShulchan {Rabbi Yechiel Michal  Epshtein} and he established that we should not, even according to the Rambam, limit our definition of what is a fish. See there and see Chazon Ish, to Bechorot, siman 16, point 12 to answer a side issue raised against  the Mishbatzot Zahav’s commentary.

Now I have support for the viewpoint of the Pri Megadim [author of the Mishbatzot Zahav commentary], that one should not restrict the concept of what is an impure fish, based on Rambam’s commentary to Keilim 12, Mishna 1 (according to the translation of Rabbi Kapach). There Rambam explains that the Chilazon Ornament is a Sea Shell {or from a sea creature with a seashell} and the older translation of the Rambam, defines it as a creature that swarms [Sheretz in Biblical Hebrew] of the water.

There is A Blemish That is called Chilazon-Snake. Can We Prove From Here that the Shape of the Chilazon is Like the Shape of a Snake?

    In my humble opinion based on the words of the Arukh, the blemish that is called Chilazon-Snake has the characteristics both of a Chilazon and a snake. However, since my purpose is just to find a creature that it is possible to use if for the mitzva of Tekhelet, it wouldn’t be so awful in my opinion, if there is someone who holds that there is some type of snake in addition to the Purpur fish of Chavot Yair {namely, the Trunculus} that can be used for the mitzva of Tekhelet [As long as the dyeing with the blood of a snake is not really practical]; and once I saw that Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, Shlit”a wrote similarly to this.

7] Is it Possible to Press the Chilazon With Your Hands Until Its Blood Comes Out?
Rashi to tractate Shabbat 75a on the word “Hapotzo” established that it is possible to press the Chilazon with one’s hands until its blood comes out. The shell of the Trunculus is hard, and if so, how can we fulfill the words of Rashi, with the Trunculus Mollusc?
Now one can answer base on an article that I saw on the internet http://phoenicia.org/industry.html  that in ancient times they had the knowledge to make a hole in the shell of the Trunculus Mollusc and to take out the worm inside, alive. Now if this is the case the words of Rashi are aligned towards the worm inside the shell of the mollusc.
Or else, maybe they had a way to dissolve the shell of the Chilazon, because I read that there are molluscs that you can dissolve their shells by adding the proper chemicals to the water that they are found in.

8] Miphkad Pakid – Stored Blood
Scientists claim that the Trunculus, excretes the liquid of the Tekhelet dye in order to draw other molluscs for reproduction. Just at the time of reproduction there is a large concentration of molluscs in one place.
It appears to me in my humble opinion, that after we have found a situation that the Trunculus can excrete the liquid of the Tekhelet and continue to live, then it fits in with the demand of Rabbeinu Tam in Tosafot in tractate Shabbat 75a and here’s a translated quote of Tosafot: “And Rabbeinu Tam responded that the blood of the Chilazon that is fit for dyeing is Miphkad Pakid- Stored Blood, and one is not liable on account of this specific blood for the labor of the removal of life {on the Sabbath day} while other blood that also comes out with it, {when it is extracted by a person} he is not liable for this, for he is not pleased [with the removal of life of the Chilazon] because the blood is better [or clearer] for dyeing purposes, {while the Chilazon lives}.

9] The Capture of the Chilazon
I asked Baruch Sterman of “The Association for the Promotion
and Distribution of Tekhelet” {Agudat P’til Tekhelet} if one can capture the Trunculus Mollusc by use of a net in accordance with the words of the Talmud, tractate Shabbat, He answered, “definitely yes”.
Now one should note that Tosafot understood from the Yerushalmi that there is no Torah prohibition of hunting on the Sabbath, regarding the Chilazon and if so upon us is the need to explain the contradiction between the Talmud Bavli and the Talmud Yerushalmi.
Now it is reasonable to assume that there is not really a contradiction, but rather the Talmud Bavli relates to the normal way of gathering the Chilazon, that in this situation there is a Torah prohibition of hunting on the Sabbath, while the Yerushalmi relates to a rare method of gathering the Chilazon that doesn’t have within it a Torah, Sabbath prohibition. Now the reason that there is no Torah prohibition is based on the words of the Rabbinic genius, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in comment 145 to chapter 27 of Shmirat Shabbat Kehilchata,

“which is not the case with an ant and things similar to it, which easily can be taken, even if its way is to hide, nevertheless, this does not fall into the category of hunting. And not just to animals that are present among people do we say this, but rather, we also say this regarding animals that are not present among people, such as a turtle, if their manner is not to run away and it is easy to grab them, and it is reasonable to say that there is just the prohibition of Muktza {comment by Scheinman: which is not a Torah prohibition} that prevents us from capturing them and not the Torah prohibition of hunting”.

Now also see what I have written on the topic of “It Goes Up Once Every 70 Years” and you will see that there are rare occasions when the Chilazon is even tossed onto the dry land in the areas close to Rosh Hanikra, and then their status is definitely like the status of turtles {as far as the Torah prohibition of hunting on the Sabbath, not applying}. And in the opinion of Rabbi Tendler, this is also the law regarding molluscs that are present in shallow water, that it is possible to hunt by one easy movement, that they are exempt from the Torah prohibition of hunting on the Sabbath. [Now I don’t know enough about the laws of Sabbath to establish if the halachic ruling of Rabbi Tendler’s is accepted by all, and I don’t really require it that much to be the case].
In summary, usually they hunt the Chilazon by effort and by difficulty, therefore the Talmud Bavli makes one liable for a sin offering for accidentally hunting the Chilazon on the Sabbath. The Yerushalmi, that exempts a person is specifically in the case where it is easy to grab them.

10] Is the Chilazon Found Also In the Kinneret?
According to Rabbi Yehuda in the Zohar [Zohar, Volume 1, (Breishit) Parshat Vayechi, page 241b] the Chilazon is also present in the waters of the Kinneret:

“Rabbi Yehuda stated, Zvulun and Yissachar {Zebulun and Issachar} made an agreement. One would sit and be totally involved with the Torah and one would go out and do business and he would support Yissachar, as it is written: (Mishlei, {Proverbs} chapter 3) “And happy are those that support her”. Now he would go off to the sea to do business and his portion was such, that the sea was his inherited lot and for this reason he is described as a thigh, for it is the way of a thigh to go out and for this reason it is written (Deuteronomy chapter 33) “Rejoice Zvulun in your excursions and Yissachar in your tents”; “he shall settle by the shore of seas” {Genesis  49:13}. He travels the sea to do business by the sea shore; even though he has only one sea in his inherited lot, in two seas is he present”..

And so too it seems to me, is also the opinion of Rabbeinu B’chayei that the Chilazon is present in two seas, for Rabbeinu B’chayei on Numbers 10:2 established that the “Chilazon is a fish that is present in the Sea {or Lake} of Kinneret”. And in his commentary to Numbers 15:38 Rabbeinu B’chayei brings in the name of Ramban that the Chilazon is “a fish whose appearance resembles the sea and whose blood is dark as ink, and in the salty sea it is present”.
Now when I asked R’ Aharon Racklin, if he could explain why the Zohar noted that the Kinneret is the habitat of the Chilazon, he explained that the intent of the Zohar is not the sea of Kinneret, but rather some Kabbalistic concept that is connected to the Sephira of Malchut {Kingship}
Now I do not accept his words.
And yet one can still claim that there are two species of Chilazon that produce Tekhelet. Which is a similar idea to what Rabbi Takutzinski stated in Ir Hakodesh V’hamikdash, namely, that “the name Chilazon is a general name that includes a number of different species”. And at least according to the Zohar, there is a species, that lives in fresh water {suitable for drinking} that is kosher for Tekhelet, and one that lives in salt water.
Regarding what Rabbi Tevger wrote, “that it is not likely that the dye from any mollusc is Kosher for Tekhelet. What matter does the Torah have a need for molluscs?”
I answered him two answers:
A] To provide the tribe of Zvulun financial assistance to fulfill his blessing, “Zvulun shall settle by the shore of seas” ( based on Tractate Megilla page 6).
B] Rashi at the end of Parshat Shlach wrote on the words “P’til Tekhelet”
On account of the bereavement of the first born, the Targum translation associates the word bereavement with the word “Tikhla” {and holds that the word Tekhelet is linked to the concept of “Tikhla”, bereavement} and their plague was at the night time. And so too, Tekhelet is a color that resembles the sky when it darkens at the time of the evening and the eight strands upon it, in parallel to the eight days that Israel delayed from the time that they left Egypt until they said a song of praise on the sea“.
If so, it is possible to say that there is a matter of importance to receive Tekhelet specifically by killing a living creature, namely, the Chilazon, as a remembrance of the bereavement of the first born of Egypt, just as the rest of the things in Tzitzit recalls to us the exodus from Egypt (Rabbi Tevger liked the second explanation better than the first).
And it is not reasonable for me to conclude that there is only one species of Chilazon, that lives both in salt water and fresh water, for if so, why didn’t Rambam and all that preceded him, omit this unusual sign to identify the creature that is a Chilazon and just pointed out less blatant signs.
Now I asked Asaf Shtein (one of those who produces the new Tekhelet) does he know whether the Murex Trunculus or any other species of Murex can live  in fresh waters such as the waters of the Kinneret?
He responded that until now they have discovered in Mexico a species of Murex (not Murex Trunculus) that lives in fresh water and that it is possible to dye cotton but not wool with it.
Now if this is so, in my opinion, it is reasonable to assume that in the days of the Rabbis who authored the Zohar, they found another type of Murex that lives in the Kinneret and they extracted both from that Murex species and also from Murex Trunculus Molluscs, dye material that is kosher for Tekhelet (And I will admit that a non-Jewish expert on molluscs in the land of Israel by the name of Mienes, told me that he doesn’t know about any mollusc that exists in the Kinneret that can provide dye material.)
Now I looked for a precedent to prove that the same word in Hebrew can include both a species that lives in the salty sea and a species that lives in fresh {drinkable} water. And an indirect proof I found in the Talmud tractate Chulin page 126b where there it states, when it {Scripture} states a mouse, it is implied even the mouse of the sea, whose name is Mouse, {“Achbar” in Hebrew}. And there Rashi explained that it is a fish that resembles a mouse and it is called by the name, mouse, “Achbar”.
And so too on the next page we learn that the Rabbis taught:

” ‘the turtle after its kind’ {Leviticus 11:29; see Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s translation for other interpretations of the Hebrew word, Tzav, here}- this is to include the species, ‘Arod’ and so too the ‘Nefillim’ and the ‘Salamandra’. {comment: I’m not clear about how these species are called in English} When Rabbi Akiva would reach this verse he would say, ” how great are your works, Hashem! {G-d} You have large creatures in the sea and you have large creatures on the dry land. Those in sea, if they would go up to the dry land, they would immediately die. Those of the dry land if they would descend to the sea, they would immediately die; you have creatures that grow in extreme heat, and you have creatures that live in the air. Those in extreme heat if they would ascend to the air would immediately die, and those in the air – if they would descend to the extreme heat they would immediately die. How great are your works, Hashem. Our Rabbis taught: all that is present on the dry land, is also present [has an equivalent] on the sea, except for the “Chulda“.

Just as we find that among the 8 names of creatures that swarm of Leviticus 11:29 and 11:30 [except for the Chulda] that their names in fact stand for several species, those that live in the sea and those that live on the dry land, so too, it is reasonable to assume that the name Chilazon includes a species that lives in fresh water and another species that lives in salty water.
Now after this I found a much better explanation to explain why the Zohar, established that the Chilazon is found in the Sea {or Lake} of Kinneret. But in order to explain, I first have to quote from a section of the Zohar (Section 2 page 48b):

It is {literally} written: “Zvulun shall dwell by the shore of seas”. Now behold only one sea was within his appointed lot, rather, what is by the shore of seas. Definitely, our Rabbinic Colleagues have established the verse as an allusion to a secret, most high. “And his thigh is upon Tzidon {Sidon}” , as what was stated, “those that descended from the thigh of Yaakov {Jacob}”. Zvulun was the right thigh of the body; and the Kinneret was in his appointed lot and from there Chilazon for Tekhelet is found”.

From here we see that, the same opinion (the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda) that established that the heritage of Zvulun did not reach till the Mediterranean Sea, is also the opinion that holds that the Chilazon was in the Sea of Kinneret.
And why? For we learn in tractate Megilla page 6, that there was a tradition that Zvulun received the Chilazon in his allotted heritage. Now if the heritage of Zvulun did not reach to the Mediterranean Sea, we are then forced to say that the Kinneret contained the Chilazon.
Not because they saw this with their eyes, that Chilazon was in the Kinneret, but rather, in order to maintain the tradition {that the Chilazon was in Zvulun’s allotted heritage}.
Now according to this, we, who hold like the Vilna Gaon’s viewpoint to the book of Yehoshua {Joshua} 19:14 “that we have to say that the border of Zvulun cuts through the middle of Asher’s boundary, and goes to Tzidon Rabba {Greater Sidon} and there it expands a bit in its width like the shape of a thigh“, we then do not have to accept the words of the Zohar that the Chilazon is present in the Kinneret Sea.
In addition the Zohar itself also contains opinions that argue with Rabbi Yehuda’s viewpoint  that the heritage of Zvulun did not reach till the Mediterranean Sea. In the very same place that Rabbi Yehuda’s opinion appears, the Zohar brings the following viewpoint:

    “Rabbi Acha said there is one sea and it is called seas, rather in the sea there is a place that has clear waters and there is a place that has in it drinkable water and there is a place where it has biter waters. For this reason it is called seas {in the plural} and on account of this it is written {Zvulun shall dwell} by the shore of seas”.

The Zohar also brings there the opinion of Rabbi Yosi who seems to be saying that the blessing of “shore of seas”, stems from the fact that the Mediterranean Sea is connected to a number of other seas and the tribe of Zvulun was heavily involved in the shipping and trading industries.
According to this when Rambam and Smag  and Sefer Hachinuch ruled that the Chilazon is present in the salty sea in accordance with the viewpoint of the Talmud, we do not have to say that they have a dispute with the Zohar, but rather they just have a dispute with Rabbi Yehuda’s opinion in the Zohar.
One should also view Rambam’s commentary on the Mishna, Keilim 15:1 for a proof that when, Rambam mentioned the Hebrew expression, “Yam Hamelach” as the place where the Chilazon is found, his intent was the Mediterranean Sea and not the Dead Sea. And also it isn’t possible to explain that the blessing of Zvulun, as pointed out in tractate Megilla page 6 was in regards to the Dead Sea, for the allotted heritage of Zvulun according to all opinions didn’t reach there. And so too does Sifri recount (regarding the blessing of Zvulun) that the Chilazon is found in the sea, that is by Jaffa, Tyre, and C’ziv [a place not far from Haifa].

11] It Goes Up Once Every 70 Years

Rabbi Herzog held that even though one should not demand, based on the words of the sages, of blessed memory, that “it goes up once every seventy years” [ a different textual rendition says once every  7 years ] that the candidate for the Chilazon of ,Tekhelet goes up precisely according to this rate of time, nevertheless, one should require that the Chilazon be  rare in most years and just for a small bit of time it is present in abundant quantities. Therefore, Rabbi Herzog, did not deem the Murex Trunculus as fit for the mitzva, for he thought that this species lacked this sign (together with the sign of “its body resembles the sea”).
Moshe Raanan, an expert on the subject of molluscs (he is religious), sought to answer the demand of Rabbi Herzog, thus:

By comparison with other species that are subject to fishing, one can suppose that in the past, there were drastic fluctuations in how frequently available was the Argamoan, [Trunculus] molluscs by the waters of the coasts of the land of Israel. Perhaps this is the explanation to the saying, that “the Chilazon goes up once every seven years (or seventy)”. After a period of intensive collection, the Chilazon became rare, and therefore they were forced to gather at coasts of other lands until the revival of the local population {of molluscs}. This phenomena is unique, by the way to the Argamoan Khei HaKotzim {Trunculus}. In light of familiarity with the biology of the Chilazon, it is clear that the result of reckless collection is drastic and local. In species where the larva stages are like Plankton [Veliger] there isn’t a great impact by local collection. Even total elimination of the local population doesn’t harm in the long run its availability, for immediately after the season of reproduction, a new settlement of larvae comes with water currents from other shores, be they near of far. But in contrast to species that have the swimming stage, Argamoan Khei HaKotzim, hatch from the eggs of molluscs as crawlers that do not swim, rather they complete their life span in the nearby vicinity. Reckless collection eliminates the local population, for new members are not able to quickly resupply the numbers of those that were collected. The restoration of the population is liable to take many years.
The fact that the Argamoan Khei HaKotzim {Trunculus} does not produce a dense population mass close to the shores of Israel during the course of many years does not stem from the seasonal fluctuations described in the paragraph above, rather they are linked in my opinion, to large scale geological processes. Until the building of the Aswan Dam, there took place a deposition of sand, that was carried from the Nile from the heights of Ethiopia, at a fast pace, primarily to the southern part of the land of Israel. This sand provided the coastal shore with its  characteristic shape, that is to say – wide sandy shores in the south that become more and more narrow, the more we move northward. This fact that the sand is swept from the direction of the south not only influences the quantity of sand that is deposited but also on the size of the particles. In the south of the land, which is near to the sources of the sand, the particles of the sand are big, and the more we move northward the particles become smaller in size. As a result of these processes, the south of the land of Israel developed a shore of accretion (shores where sand collects and the sea retreats to the west). While in the north, erosion shores (rocky shores pierced with holes where erosion of the rock occurs). In all the region where it is present in abundance the Argamoan Khei HaKotzim shows a strong preference for being on a rocky foundation (rock or gravel) {Spanier-Kadmon, and personal observations}. An expression of the difference between the rocky and sandy shorelines of the land of Israel as far as the population of the Argamoan is already found in {rabbinical} sources and indeed the main fishing of the Chilazon of Tekhelet was in the north of the land by the rocky shores – “Yogvim – these are the people that fish {or capture} the Chilazon from the Sulamot of Tzor {literally the Ladders of Tyre} until Haifa” (Shabbat 26a). “He {the Holy One Blessed Be He} said to him {said to Zvulun} all will have need for you, on account of the Chilazon…” (Megilla 6a). The types of Molluscs called Argamoanim {plural of Argamoan}in Hebrew still dwell today by the shore of the tribe of Zvulun (between Tyre and Haifa); therefore in this region is found huge mounds of their shells since they are a by-product of the production of Tekhelet and Argaman in ancient times. It is therefore feasible that the response to this question is linked to the fact that most of the north of the land of Israel is not under our control, and most of the region of the traditional hunters of the Chilazon are found beyond the northern border. In addition the strengthening of the sandy nature of the shores of the land of Israel ever since the time that the use of the Chilazon was frequent; is also an attribute that adds extra support to the opinion that Argamoan Khei HaKotzim {Trunculus} is the source for  Tekhelet, because of its association with the rocky shores (of the tribal lot of Zvulun}

An additional direction for a solution to this issue is likely to come from archaeological testimonies that describe the spread of the Tekhelet and Argaman dye industries around all of the Mediterranean Sea. It appears that the Phoenicians wandered to different places in order to engage in dyeing. The popular opinion is that they had to change the place of their dye industry because of the development of bothersome odors as a side effect from the production of the dye. In my opinion it is possible that there was an additional  factor and perhaps more important one, namely the increasing scarcity of the Chilazon population around the areas close to the dye industry centers. It is possible that demand for the dye was supplied for, not just by the population of the molluscs near the shores of the land of Israel, rather also by imports from all the Mediterranean Sea basin. The Chilazon “rises up once every seventy years” and the rest of the time there is a need to import them, and therefore, “their blood is expensive”.

One should note that the understanding of Rabbi Herzog that it goes “up once every seventy years” is not like the understanding of Rashi in tractate Megilla page 6. Therefore the explanation of Moshe Raanan is good specifically according to the viewpoint of Rabbi Herzog
Now if we want to explain in accordance to Rashi on Megilla page 6, starting with the words “Al Yaday Chilazon” namely, that the Chilazon rises up from the sea to the mountains, we will explain thus:
For in the {Hebrew} book Nof V’atarim (published by the Defense Ministry) pages 112 and 113 it is  written:

Another phenomenon that necessitates a visit  in the winter to Rosh Hanikra at the time of a storm is the shattering of the waves.  In strong storms, when the speed of the wind reaches up to 60 to 80 kilometers per hour and more, there are cases when the shattering of the waves will lift up the water with the help of the wind beyond the edge of the cliff, that is to say about 35 meters and even more. Waves that raise a man to a height of 20-25 meters are not rare at all.

If so, it is possible that at the time of the Baraita which is brought in tractate Menachot, the Chilazon really did go up to the mountains in that region of northern Israel or on the nearby islands, by force of the sea waves.
And an expert on the region, Mr. Yoram Hadar told me that he saw many [several dozens] of molluscs of Argamoan Adumat Hapeh {the Hebrew name for Purpura Haemastoma} that were thrown on to the shore from the sea, and Moshe Raanan told me that he found one or two Argamoan Khei HaKotzim {Trunculus Molluscs} in the region.
In the Midrash Tana’im to Deuteronomy 33:19 [and the same general idea is found in Sifri to Deuteronomy, Piska 354 with the words starting with, Davar Acher]  it is written:

    Another interpretation, “For the abundance of the seas, they shall suck” {the literal translation of part of Deuteronomy 33:19} – this is the Chilazon. Rabbi Yosi said, once I was going up from Acco to Jaffa [in Sifri the text states from C’ziv {a place not far from Haifa} to Tyre and  an old man met up by chance with me and inquired after my well-being and then I recognized him and said to him, “my son, how do you make a living”?
He answered by this Chilazon.
I said to him, “is it really present”?
He responded, “Rabbi, By heaven, I state, that there are many places in the sea that it is cast up upon them to the mountains and the creatures called Samimayot encompass it and all that come to take from it, they bite him and he dies and withers away on the spot”.
(Rabbi Yosi answered) “My son, it is apparent that it is set aside for the benefit of the righteous for the future”.

From here we see that the Chilazon goes up not by its own power to the mountains but rather by the power of the sea and this matter definitely changes in accordance to the strength of the sea in different regions.
And regarding the demand that the Chilazon goes up precisely once every seventy years in great quantities, it is possible that this blessing existed specifically in the time when the blessings of the book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 33 are in force. And just as in regards to the tribe of Asher, the blessing is not exactly in force today, for it is recounted by the words of Rashi (Deuteronomy 33:24) “that his land would draw forth olive oil like a spring, and there was an incident that the men of Ludkia needed oil and they appointed for them an agent called a Pulmostus [see there in tractate Menachot page 85, for the type of quantities involved), so too, one should assume that the blessing to Zvulun “Nations to the mount shall he call forth, for there, they will sacrifice sacrifices of righteousness, for the abundance of the seas they shall suck and by what is hidden in the secret treasures of the sand” (Deuteronomy 33:19). That is to say that the Chilazon will go up once in seventy years in great quantities in his portion. A blessing which is not precisely fulfilled in our days. And so too did the Radbaz establish that in our time we don’t have the blessing in regards to the Chilazon that it goes up once every seventy years.

12] Its Body Resembles The Sea

The Sages of Blessed Memory established in tractate Menachot page 44 that the body of the Chilazon resembles the sea.
Rabbi Herzog wrote:

To our disappointment behold this species [ my addition: his intention is the Trunculus ] is not at all aligned to Its Body Resembles The Sea. The color of its body is whitish, dirty, spotted with brown and yellow”. [my addition: according to the Tifferet Yisrael on tractate Bechorot chapter 6 mishna 2, the worm that is inside the shell of the Chilazon is spotted with spots. and so too did the Arukh write and so too it is slightly implied by the words of Rabbi Ovadia of Bartenura, tractate Bechorot chapter 6 mishna 2, and now let us return to the words of Rabbi Herzog] “If we will explain, Its Body Resembles The Sea as a description of its its shell, behold its shell is white to tan.
When I asked Baruch Sterman (one of the experts at Amutat P’til Tekhelet, The Association for the Promotion and Distribution of Tekhelet) about this sign,he answered the following.
He claimed, that this is dealing with the biological growth, that is attached to the shell of the Chilazon (for sometimes but not always, the biological growth has a blue or green color) and he explains that the intent of Its Body Resembles The Sea = its body resembles the floor of the sea. For behold in reality the Trunculus mollusc resembles the environment that it is found in and Sterman claimed that in the Hebrew of the Bible and the Talmud, the Hebrew word “Yom” means {at least sometimes} floor of the sea [that is to say, the body of the Chilazon resembles the floor and not necessarily the water of the sea}. He also explained that Rabbi Herzog was not aware of the appearance of the Chilazon when found in nature, rather he saw the shell only after they had removed the biological growth from the mollusc’s shell.
Now by telephone I asked him for proof that the word “Yom” could also be the floor of the sea and he stated two. A] that in the Biblical book of Yishaya 11:9 {Isaiah} it is written “for the earth is filled with the knowledge of G-d like the waters to a sea floor {in Hebrew, Yom} cover”. B] When we talk of the “Yom” of Shlomo, he said the intent is to the framework that holds the water similar to a regular sea, where the sea floor serves as a framework to hold the water.
And similarly I found in the words of Rabbeinu   B’chayei to Genesis 1:10 “the name Yom is not called so, on account of the water, rather it goes on what was dug out, and this is what Unkelos translated: to a house for the collection of water, that is to say  what is dug out, which is the receptacle for the water that gathers there. And so too did scripture state: “like the
waters to a sea floor {in Hebrew, Yom} cover”, for the waters that cover what was dug out, is called “Yom”. And so too,  regarding the blessing to the fish and the great sea monsters on the fifth day of creation, the Bible states: “And fill the waters in the sea floors”, it is explained that the waters stand in the sea floors. And an additional proof is the “Yom” that Shlomo made, of which it is written “And the Yom he lowered from the oxen” (II Kings 16:17).
And similar to Rabbeinu Bachayei’s words I found in the words of Ramban (Genesis 1:10).
“Because the ground of the collection {of water} (a second  text substitutes water instead of collection) is called Yom, as it is written “like the waters to a sea floor {in Hebrew, Yom} cover“. [However, one should note that at least the Malbim did not explain the word Yom in the way that Ramban did.]

Now I will admit the truth. The Chafetz Chaim’s version of the text is that the body of the Chilazon resembles Tekhelet and the Chafetz Chaim did not use the text that says it “resembles the Yom, {sea or sea floor}”. However Rabbi Yosef Kapach testified (in his comment to Hilchot Tzitzit chapter 2, Yad Chazaka, the edition of Machon Mishnat HaRambam) that all the old manuscripts of the Rambam have established that its color resembles the sea (or sea floor). As so too did the author of Sefer HaChinuch write that “its body resembles the Yom {sea or sea floor}.
Afterwards I thought of a question against the explanation that I wrote that its body resembles the Yom= the sea floor. For we find that the Talmud also states that Tekhelet resembles the Yom and also the sky. This implies that the intention of the word Yom, there in the Talmud is to the color blue specifically and if so, there is more room to claim that also regarding the body of the Chilazon the Talmud is talking specifically about the color blue.
Now I found in Tractate Tzitzit, [that has a version of the text which opposes the text that is found in Tractate Menachot, on the issue of whether the sages hold that the lack of Tekhelet holds back the usage of white {non-Tekhelet} threads] “the Chilazon, to what does it resemble? Its structure {or origin} resembles a fish and its body resembles the sky”. According to this version of the text, it is clear that we should demand that the Chilazon have the appearance of the color that appears in the sky and not just the color of whatever appears on the sea floor.
Sterman responded to me that there is no creature in the world that can fulfill all the different opinions. For example, he said that according to the Zohar, the Chilazon is found in the Kinneret (water that lacks salt) but according to Rambam it is found in salt water {of the sea}. I understood from him that he holds that the correct textual version and the majority opinion of the sages fit with the characteristics of the Argamoan Khei HaKotzim {Trunculus}.
Now if, despite the opinion of Sterman, we wish to explain that the Chilazon resembles the water of the sea, just as Tekhelet resembles the water of the sea, we should still discuss whether the color of the Chilazon’s body is so vital that anything lacking this color is invalid for the commandment.
For behold the raven, is described by the Talmud, tractate Nida 20A, as a bird with a certain type of black color, which can be used to determine whether something is pure or impure, regarding the laws dealing with a menstruant woman. And so too did Rambam rule (Issurei Biah 5:9). Yet from the words of the author of “Torah Temima” on Leviticus 11:15 we learn that there is a type of raven which has a deep white appearance. From here we see that the Talmud can describe a creature as being black even though a minority has a different color. Now perhaps this is so for the Chilazon. That even though the majority has the color that resembles the sea not all of them resemble the sea.
Rabbi Tendler wrote explicitly in “Tekhelet Mitzvah B’hitchadshuta” [page 28], that there are only 2 signs that hold back the mitzva from the Torah. 1] The ability to produce the color similar to indigo 2] That the Tekhelet comes from a sea mollusc.
Further one should add, that Rabbi Nachum {Norman} Lamm wrote (“Tekhelet Mitzvah B’hitchadshuta”, page 22) “perhaps that which is invalid for Tekhelet is that which does not come from a mollusc at all, such as Kala Ilan; however, when it comes from a mollusc even if it doesn’t come from the mollusc of which the Torah intended, nevertheless, it is Kosher, for behold it still comes from a Chilazon (mollusc). And on page 25 book of Rabbi Burshtein’s, “HaTekhelet” comment 3, the Rabbi wrote that “perhaps from there {Yerushalmi Kila’im 9:1} we just need a living creature and not specifically a Chilazon or any other special type of creature”. And on page 433 the words of Rabbi Takutzinski author of Ir Hakodesh V’hamikdash are brought: on the topic:

    “And so when the rabbinic genius, the chief Rabbi, (Shlit”a) [ZT”L] has the color of Tekhelet by virtue of the unique finished look of Kala Ilan, and if the Chilazon becomes clear that it is the true one (in his words that he said to me in one of his letters that the name Chilazon is a general name that includes different molluscs, that by means of this one can settle the differences of the texts that we find in regard to the reality of the Chilazon, in accordance to our words previously in section 5) – it is possible to assume that a solution will be found also  for the question of the Avneit that I have had so much difficulty with…”

Now it is possible that all the discussion that I have brought above is hypothetical; for my hypothesis based on the research of John Edmonds who attempted to reconstruct the old method of dyeing with the blood of the Chilazon, is that in reality the body of the Trunculus mollusc resembles the sea as simply understood.
In Edmond’s article, he explains that there are a number of colors for the blood [blood being an inexact expression used by me to describe the dye material] of the Trunculus mollusc (as I brought above a little bit concerning this subject). He explained that just when the blood of the Trunculus mollusc is in the green stage is it good by natural means for dyeing. However, since very quickly after the blood is extracted from the body of the mollusc it develops to a stage of a blackish color which is no longer good for dyeing (by natural means); and since on a commercial basis it was difficult to put large amounts of the Chilazon blood on the wool before it reaches the blackish stage, there was a need to process the blackish blood in some way to get it back to the green stage where it would be good for dyeing.
Edmonds took the body of a different species   of molluscs called Cockles and with the help of bacteria, the body of the mollusc at the end of treatment was used to affect the blackish blood of the Trunculus mollusc [which he received from “The Association for the Promotion and Distribution of Tekhelet” {Agudat P’til Tekhelet}] to transform it back to the green stage. And with the green blood he dyed Tekhelet on wool strings.
Based on his research I guess that in the distant past they took the body of the Trunculus mollusc and transformed the body with the help of bacteria to the color of the sea, and by virtue of the “body resembling the color of the sea” they were able to get green Trunculus blood [which is good for dyeing] from all the blackish blood that was in their possession.
Now I will admit that at this stage according to the tests that I performed, the Tekhelet produced by Edmonds is not so durable. [Either because he didn’t use the body of the Trunculus mollusc, but rather a different species of mollusc or because a stage of his dye process was missing or faulty). But nevertheless, I hypothesize that if we invest energy into researching the issue we can at the end reach a durable Tekhelet that somehow resembles the current dye process of Edmonds.
Now if the reader of this article is stubborn enough to demand blood from a Chilazon whose body is naturally [without the help of bacteria] the color of the sea, one can respond that I know that in some of the molluscs that were classified as the Purpur fish by the Greeks, there are molluscs that at least part of them have shells whose color resembles the sea and sky in a literal way.
Now if we can extract Tekhelet from them that succeeds to pass the Tekhelet tests of the Talmud, then even Rabbi Eliyahu Tevger [head of “The Association for the Promotion and Distribution of Tekhelet” {Agudat P’til Tekhelet}] admits that such Tekhelet would be kosher for use for Tzitzit [in addition to the Tekhelet from the Trunculus mollusc].
One should comment’ that the mollusc, which in the end Rabbi Herzog noted as the Chilazon mollusc for Tekhelet, namely, the Janthina, does in truth have a body that resembles the sea. However, regarding this mollusc, there remains at least three strong questions which makes it difficult to identify the Janthina with the Chilazon used for the Tekhelet dye.
1 When Shaul Kaplan who dyes with the Janthina, demonstrated his dye process before me, I saw that he succeeded to frighten the Janthina to release “his dark blue blood” for the needs of dyeing by means of a needle, without killing it. [The Talmud however, tells us that one who hunts or fishes the Chilazon and breaks it open {to extract the dye material} on the Sabbath is liable to one sin offering and not two, since though it is  inevitable that the Chilazon dies while removing the dye material,  since it is an undesired consequence, it is not considered as the prohibited labor of taking life {Psik Reisha D’Lo Neicha Lei}. If the Janthina is the Chilazon, the Talmud should not say that it is inevitable that the Chilazon dies when extracting the dye material.] 2 From Rashi to Deuteronomy 33:19 and so too in the Sifri, it is implied that the Chilazon of Tekhelet lives while it is covered and buried in the sand of the sea. The Janthina floats on the surface of the sea and can not live in the sand underneath the water [Kaplan responded that we are dealing with Chilazon molluscs that were washed up by a storm on to the sandy shore.] 3 I have no information that the Romans called the Janthina by the name of Purpur fish [however, Kaplan says that there is another non-Jewish name for the Chilazon, namely, the Yakinton, that he believes is somewhat similar to the name Janthina].
Rabbi Kosman at least, holds that it is possible to find answers to the questions I raised, and in his opinion both the Trunculus and the Janthina are Kosher {for Tzitzit} if the Tekhelet produced from their blood is durable and can pass the chemical tests for Tekhelet of the Talmud. He holds that just as there are several types of gold [see Yoma 44b], and all of them have the status of gold, so too, there are several types of Tekhelet.

Additional Explanations on the Subject that Its Body Resembles the Sea

    Regarding the color of the Chilazon mollusc I have already wrote that this is the weakest point, for those that wish to identify the Trunculus mollusc (Argamoan Khei HaKotzim) as the Chilazon of Tekhelet. Now I have already written that I hypothesize based on John Edmonds research, that they used the body of the Chilazon mollusc that rotted in order to affect the blood of the Chilazon to return to the state where it is good for dyeing, and that “its body resembles the sea” alludes to all this. However, since it might be years until I have proof, in the meantime, as “first aid” I will bring a number of other possible explanations for the Talmud’s statement that “its body resembles the sea”.
We can explain that according to the book of Rabbi Burshtein there were two methods of dyeing with the Chilazon. In the first method they removed the worm of the Chilazon from its shell before the dyeing and then they cut or ripped out the Tekhelet dye material from its body. In another, method, they would grind many Chilazons together at one time, without removing their shells and they absorbed as much Tekhelet as possible from this grounded mass of material.
In this second method – seemingly, much of the Tekhelet dye material was wasted and ended up dyeing the body of the Chilazon as the color of the sea instead of reaching the wool that we wanted dyed. Therefore, it is possible that in the time of the Baraita [which stated that” its body resembles the sea”] many used, for one reason or another, the second dyeing method stated above. And therefore the Baraita {of Tractate Menachot, chapter 4} explains that because the body of the Chilazon resembles the sea {during the dyeing process} and it goes up once every 70 years, etc., therefore the blood of the Chilazon for the purpose of dyeing Tekhelet is expensive.
Now if we want to explain that “its body resembles the sea” is talking about the shell of the Chilazon which naturally resembles the sea. It is also possible to explain, that at the time of the Braita {of Menachot chapter 4} the outward appearance of the majority of Chilazons [that were called by the Greeks by the name of the Purpur fish] had a color that resembles the sea. And in the course of time the reality changed and now just a minority of the “Purpur fish”, Chilazons in our days have the color of the sea. And an example of this, that the color of the majority of a species can change over the generations I found in the commentary of Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan on the Torah who deduced from Genesis 30:35 that at the time of our forefather Yaacov {Jacob} most of the goats in the region had a black look, (which seemingly is not the case in our days). In addition, see also Ramban to Genesis 30:32 which implies that also the average color of sheep has changed over time. And so too, there is a well known story related by scientists of a type of moth that started out mostly white but after a 100 years of heavy industry in England, most of the moths of that species were dark colored, because the dark color was better camouflage due to the conditions of air pollution, since this {dark color} helped the moths to survive.
[One should note that Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak argues against the explanation for the change in the appearance of the moths. But there isn’t anyone who argues that a change did indeed take place.] And in Yad Pshuta on the Rambam a historical testimony is brought, that they use to sell in ancient times the shell of the Chilazon, for reasons of beauty [and even today there is some market for this]. Now according to this, perhaps the heightened demand for the Chilazon’s shell also raised the price.
And would that it be, that the opponents of renewing the mitzva of Tekhelet based their opposition upon the question of “its body resembles the sea” and not around “ideological claims”. For claims regarding the identification of the Chilazon, quicken the effort to research the issue to provide answers.

A Solution to Fundamental Problems Regarding Tekhelet – PART 2

Clarification and Introduction: Here I will present my extensive research on Tekhelet including completely new information on the subject of the Tekhelet Tests that I arranged.
I had somewhat of a dilemma whether to present this information at this time, for it is possible that in future Tekhelet Tests that I might make, G-d willing, and without making a vow, I might change my conclusions on this subject. And just as one of the great sages of the generation cast a blemish upon the intensive study and research of Tekhelet because of the mistakes of the Rebbe of Radzin, I am somewhat worried that if there will be deficiencies in my tests, that same Torah sage will cast a blemish to invalidate all the improved testings that will come at a later date. On the other hand, perhaps I may never succeed on my own, heaven forbid, to arrive at the full truth on the issue of the Tekhelet tests and just through publishing this article will I receive the needed help to properly explain the Talmudic tests.

13 Sources in the Talmud, Rishonim and Achronim on the Subject of the Test for Tekhelet

Our Rabbis taught: there is no examination for Tekhelet, and it is only acquired from an expert; Tefillin has an examination and are only acquired from an expert. Scrolls and Mezuzot have an examination and are acquired from any person. But is it really so that Tekhelet does not have an examination? Behold Rabbi Yitzchak the son of Rav Yehuda tested it. He brought Magvia Gila and water {or fluid} of Shablilta and urine of forty days and soaked  it {the wool dyed Tekhelet} within it from evening to morning. If its appearance separates – it is invalid, if the appearance does not separate – it is kosher; And Rav Ada in front of Rava said in the name of Rav Avira: one brings “Chamira Arkasa of Barley” and bakes it {the wool dyed Tekhelet} within it. If it improves for the better, – it is kosher, for the worse – it is invalid. And a sign to remember this by heart: a change for falsehood, a change for truth! What then does it mean that it also does not have an examination as stated previously? {It means that we can not discern if the dye was previously used} for experimentation. Mar of Mashki brought Tekhelet during the years of Rav Achai. They tested it with Rav Yitzchak the son of Rav Yehuda’s test and the appearance separated {from the wool}. It was tested with Rav Ada’s test and it changed for the better. He thought to invalidate it. But Rav Achai responded: “rather this is not Tekhelet nor is it Kala Ilan! Rather we must conclude that the traditions that were stated {about the tests} go together. When it is tested with Rav Yitzchak the son of Rav Yehuda’s test and the appearance did not separate – it is kosher {for the mitzva}. If its appearance did separate – we test it with the test of Rav Ada in Chamira Arkasa. If it changes for the better – it is kosher. For the worse it is invalid.
{From the land of Israel} they sent a response: that the traditions that were stated {about the tests} go together. {the excerpt is translated from Talmud Bavli, {Babylonian Talmud} tractate Menachot 42b and 43a}

Various Commentaries on the Above Excerpt From Tractate Menachot 42b

Rashi’s View

Magvia Gila – Buysa and in the French language Alum.
Water {or fluid} of Shablilta – water that goes out from Tiltan which is called Fengaria or Fenugree {Fenugreek}.
Forty Days Old – from a baby forty days old. Another explanation that forty days went by from the time that it left the body of a person.
And Its Appearance Separated – Its appearance was damaged making it invalid for it is Kala Ilan.
Chamira Arkasa – hard {or strong} leaven
And A Sign To Remember This By Heart – which change is kosher and which change invalidates; a change of falsehood, one who changes his words for the worse, all know that he is evil [a change for the truth, one who changes his words to add upon them and to fulfill it, all know that he is good.] What Then Does It Mean That It Also Does Not Have An Examination As Stated Previously? For Experimentation – A man can not ascertain if the wool was dyed for the sake of Tekhelet or if it was dyed for the sake of taking a sample for the sake of experimentation. And they said previously that sampling for experimentation makes it invalid. Another explanation regarding sampling for the sake of experimentation. This is what it means to say, one does not check the vessel used for the production of Tekhelet with a sample {piece of wool} so as not to invalidate the contents of the entire vessel, rather one transfers a small amount to an egg shell {and there he checks the quality of the dye} as explained earlier.
Mar – the name of a sage.
Of Mashki – the name of a place.
It Is Not Tekhelet – For behold its appearance separated with Rav Yitzchak’s test and it is not Kala Ilan for behold it changed for the better in accordance to Rav Ada’s test.
The Traditions – of Rav Yitzchak and Rav Ada were meant to be used together. That is to say that by both of them together do we check and they do not argue one against the validity of the other. Rather when we check etc. And behold the test of Rav Ada is added on to that of Rav Yitzchak and clarifies it.. {Rashi on Tractate Menachot 42b-43a}
Rambam’s View
How do we check it until we know if it was dyed according to the law or not? We take straw and the mucus of a Shablul {which on the simple level indicates a snail, unless we consider this a corruption of the word Shablilta which Rashi defined as Fenugreek} and urine that was aged {literally left to sour} 40 days and we soak the tekhelet in all of it for a twenty four hour period. If it retains its color and did not weaken it is kosher. If it became weaker we take barley dough that is made moldy for the purpose of Muryas {which either means brine or a pickled concoction containing fish oil,  into which wine was sometimes added} and we put this Tekhelet that has changed inside of it and we bake the dough in an oven and then we take the Tekhelet out of the bread and we see if it has weakened from what it was previously and if it has, it is invalid. Yet if adds to its color and is darker than it was previous to when it was baked it is kosher.
{translated excerpt from Rambam,[Maimonides] Hilchot Tzitzit, chapter 2, halacha 5}

In the Yad Pshuta commentary on the Rambam page 842 it is explained why Rambam chose the ingredient of straw instead of Alum for the test for Tekhelet. In Menachot 42b, in our version of the Talmud it states Magvia Gila as one of the ingredients of the test. and in tractate Shabbat page 111: Gvia Gila, and Rashi of blessed memory explained in both instances that the foreign translation for this, is Alum. “Our Rabbi  {Rambam} explains in his commentary to the Mishna, Shabbat 14:3 that it is a type of plant and here he writes that the text states ‘Gila’, which is straw. And on page 843 the same author explains: “Our Rabbi explains Gila=straw. As Targum Unkelos translates, to gather straw= “to collect Gili” (Exodus 5:13) and he brings this Targum translation in his commentary to the Mishna, Keilim 17:1. However, Rashi and Rabbeinu Gershom explained it in different way for they read the text as ‘Magvia Gila’“.
Water or Fluid of Shablulita=the mucous of a snail. However, Rashi and Rabbeinu Gershom the light of the exile, z”l, read the text as Water or Fluid of ‘Shablilta’, which is the water or liquid of Tiltan.
Chamira Charsana of Barley = the dough of barley that is made moldy into muryas. Rabbeinu Gershom the light of the exile, and Rashi read the text as Chamira Arkasa of Barley. And Rabbeinu Gershom explained: Arkasa, hard {or strong} which soured greatly {or made into very strong leaven}. Nevertheless, why seemingly did our Rabbi {Rambam} recall, Muryas?
Rabbi E. Hilvitz (Lilshanot Harambam, Jerusalem, 5710, page 183) suggested a small change of the text and here is a quote: Now perhaps one should hypothesize that the text of our Rabbi {Rambam} was ‘Chamira Charsana’, and see in tractate Avoda Zara 38a: ‘Now if a gentile makes Kasa of Harsana, it is forbidden. This should be obvious? What would you have supposed {in order to be lenient} that Harsana is the important thing yet we conclude that the flour is the important thing’. And Rashi there: ‘Kasa of Harsana, fried with muryas, oil of fish with flour; Harsana is the important thing, and that Muryas is eaten raw as it is; we therefore conclude that the flour is in fact the main {or important} thing, and the law of cooked items of Gentiles applies to it for the flour isn’t eaten raw’. Behold in front of us that ‘Chamira Charsana’ and in the language of our Rabbi, barley dough, that we make moldy into Muryas. And look in Tosefta Keilim to Bava Kama, chapter 7: “Kefitin of Muryas” {which I believe Rabbi Hilvitz feels this means crumbs of Muryas}, end of quote of Rabbi Hilvitz and the words of the mouth of a sage find grace.

This hypothesis gains legitimacy in Sefer Hameorot (New York, 5627, page 371) where he writes the text as ‘Harsana’ instead of ‘Charsana’. Yet it appears that there is there, a different minor error. Thus is the text of the Meorot: “One brings wine and Harsana of barley and bakes it within it. Seemingly, one should not entertain the thought that the intent is ‘wine and Harsana of Barley’ for one should not bake with wine and one has to write, Chamira. Now see Dikdukei Sofrim to Menachot there (note 20) in the name of Rif, the Kushta edition, Chamira Harsanya of Barley. And according to this, the meaning is : dough to Muryas from Barley. {Here ends the words of the Yad Pshuta Commentary}
Baal Ha’itur
In Baal Ha’itur in Hilchot Tzitzit, I found that he brought the test for Tekhelet as something that can be relied upon. The text of the Baal Ha’itur in my hands is very faulty, but what appears out of his words is that the first test of the Tekhelet tests is by “Magvia Gila, a type of dye {or color} some explain it as Alim  and water or fluid of Shablulita, Tiltal and urine that was aged forty days”.

Rabbeinu Gershom’s Viewpoint
Magvia Gila. A type of dye (or color) Vaksoltar in a foreign language. Shablilta. Tiltan. And urine of a young child that aged 40 days: Its Appearance Separated. If its appearance was invalidated [Comment: It needs further  investigation if according to his viewpoint, Tekhelet where its appearance weakened but it remained with the look of Tekhelet, is this considered as a success for the first test] Arkasa that is hard, that soured very much{became strong leaven}: A Change For Falsehood. that is for the worse and it is invalid. And A Change for Truth. That is to say an improvement and it is kosher: On Sampling For Experimentation It Was Stated. That is to say since he dyed both for the sake of Sampling For Experimentation or For Tekhelet for Tzitzit: From Mashki. A name of place. Behold It Is Not Tekhelet. For its appearance separated, nor is it Kala Ilan for it changed for the better.

The Viewpoint of the Rosh in Hilchot Ktanot, Hilchot Tzitzit, Siman 16 (after Tractate Menachot)
But is it really so that Tekhelet does not have an examination? Behold Rabbi Yitzchak the son of Rav Yehuda tested it. He brought Magvia Galia and water {or fluid}of Shablula and urine of forty days and soaked it within it from evening to morning. If its appearance reverses {or changes} – it is invalid, if the appearance does not  – it is kosher; And Rav Ada in the name of Rava before Rav Avira said: one brings “Arkasa of Barley” and bakes it within it. If it improves for the better, – it is kosher, for the worse – it is invalid. And a sign to remember this by heart: a change for falsehood, a change for truth! What then does it mean that it also does not have an examination ? {It means that we can not discern if the dye was previously used} for experimentation. Mar of Mashki brought Tekhelet during the years of Rav Acha. They tested it with Rav Yitzchak the son of Rav Yehuda’s test and the appearance changed for the worse. It was tested according to Rav Ada’s test and it changed for the better. He thought to invalidate it. But Rav Achai responded: ” this is not Tekhelet nor is it Kala Ilan! Rather we must conclude that the traditions that were stated {about the tests} go together. When it is tested  according to Rav Yitzchak the son of Rav Yehuda’s  and the appearance did not reverse {or change} – it is kosher {for the mitzva}. And if not. – we test it in accordance with Rav Ada. If it changes for the better – it is kosher. And if not it is invalid.

The Viewpoint of the Arukh
Magvia Gila – There are those that translate this in a foreign language as Alumi and this is Al-shav {comment by Scheinman: Rabbi Shilat told me that “Al” is a prefix that means “the” and from Zohar Amar’s book in Hebrew on Tolaat Hashani, page 52 it appears that Al-shav is a medeival Arabic word which means, AlumAnd in the commentary on the Arukh (seemingly from Mussaf Haarukh) it is written: The Rambam in Hilchot Tekhelet, said it was straw related to the matter of collecting “Gili” {mentioned by Targum Unkelos} but this is a mistake. And there (chapter 2 of Hilchot Tzitzit) he {Rambam} explained Shablulita is related to the matter of a Shablul {which usually means a snail} yet this is Tiltan. [End of quote of Mussaf Haarukh].
For the word Shablilta in his commentary to Menachot page 42 the Arukh explained that it is the seed of the Tiltan.
Now in the commentary of Meir Meizlish there, he wrote: Shablulita – Tiltan Gargarnit, which is Triginella and in Arabic, Chulba a type from the Parparnian plant category, which is known by the name, “Chilba”; the leaves contain three leaflets and therefore its  name – Tri = three, and in our times in modern Hebrew (in contrast to ancient Hebrew), they call the plant Trifolium, Tiltan, which also contains three leaflets. Rashi identifies it as Rubia and RH”G as Lubia.

The Viewpoint of Hilchot Tzitzit (Apparently of the Rif)

But does Tekhelet not have an examination? Behold Rav Yitzchak Bar Yehuda checked it with G.SH.M meaning one brings Galia and water or fluid of Shablilta and urine of 40 days old, and it is soaked within these things from evening to morning. If the appearance separates it is invalid and if not is kosher. And Rav Ada in the name of Rava in front of Rav Avira said one brings Chamira Charsana of barley and bakes it within it. If it changes for the better it is kosher and if not it is invalid. And a sign to remember this by heart: a change for falsehood, a change for truth! What then does it mean that it also does not have an examination as stated previously? {It means that we can not discern if the dye was previously used} for the sake of experimentation. Mar of Mashki brought Tekhelet during the years of Rav Achai. They or Rav Achai’s Beit Midrash tested it in accordance to Rav Yitzchak the son of Rav Yehuda’s test and the appearance changed for the worse. They tested in accordance with Rav Avia and it changed for the better. They thought to invalidate it. Then Rav Achai told them: “rather this is not Tekhelet nor is it Kala Ilan! Rather we must conclude that the traditions that were stated {about the tests} go together. When it is tested in accordance with Rav Yitzchak if the appearance did not separate – it is kosher {for the mitzva}. If its appearance did separate – we test it with the test of Rav Avia. If it changes for the better – it is kosher. For the worse it is invalid.{From the land of Israel} they sent a response: that the traditions that were stated {about the tests} go together.

The Viewpoint of Nimukei Yosef
Gili. Alum in a foreign language. The water or fluid of Shablilta. Fenugreek in a foreign language. Forty Days Old. Rashi explained from a child who is forty days old and in addition that it stood in a vessel for forty days. A change for falsehood. That it changed for the worse. A change for Truth. That it changed for  the better  which is truth, a proof that it is kosher. The traditions that were stated go together. That we check with both of them. if it fails in the first for the worse and in the second it gets better it is kosher.

The Viewpoint of the Tifferet Yisrael (in his chapter Kupat Harochlim, printed before his commentary to the mishnas of Seder Moed)
Yet the matter that I have a doubt about is the following point,  whether in truth do we need Tekhelet from Chilazon specifically? For behold as it appears from the Rambam (Kli Hamikdash chapter 8) that Tekhelet for the wardrobe of the Temple priestshood {Cahuna} does not require the Chilazon; and I am astonished about the opinion of the Mishna Lamelech there, who wanted to say that the Rambam relied upon what he wrote in chapter 2 of Hilchot Tzitzit, that Tekhelet for Tzitzit requires Chilazon, and so too is the ruling here {for the wardrobe of the Temple priesthood}. For in my humble opinion, it is impossible to say this, for there in Hilchot Tzitzit in that very place that he derives his viewpoint, it is clear that Rambam makes a differentiation between the two matters, for he wrote “Tekhelet that is referred to in all places, etc…  Tekhelet of Tzitzit has to have dyeing that its beauty is durable and does not change. And if he dyed it with another dye, even if it has the appearance similar to that of the sky, it is invalid for Tzitzit”, end of quote. Behold what was stated that it is durable in its beauty, that means that the dye was made from the blood of the Chilazon, as stated in the Talmud that just the Chilazon has this attribute. However from his {Rambam’s} words it appears as clear as the sun that he differentiates between the Tekhelet that is recounted in every place in the Torah, and he holds contrary to the view of the Mishna Hamelech brought previously above. And so I found supports for the Rambam from the Yerushalmi (Shabbat, chapter Clal Gadol, 30a), that in accordance to the viewpoint of the opinion that hunting is not part of the 39 labors {for Sabbath prohibitions derived from the Mishkan} we are forced to say that they did not have Tekhelet in the desert for the wardrobe of the Temple priesthood from the blood of the Chilazon. And thus did the Koraban Ha’eida write there. And even though we do not rule in accordance to this opinion, it is not on account of the Chilazon …
But by Chilazon it is very unlikely that they brought it from the land of Israel…
And since we have proved that for Tekhelet used for the wardrobe of the Temple priesthood, Chilazon derived dye was not required specifically, if so this is the ruling too for Tzitzit that we don’t need the Chilazon specifically, for by both cases just the word Tekhelet {in the Torah} is recounted, and so too it appears from the words of the Talmud (Menachot 42b) that Abayei said to Rav and Shmuel, this Tekhelet how is it dyed? It is implied that it is very clear that even when it is dyed with something else if it just has a durable beautiful appearance, it is kosher even for Tzitzit, and so too is it also implied there (page 43a), that they tested the dyed material  with the test that Rabbi Yitzchak recounted and the color was damaged, and then they returned and tested it with Rabbi Ada’s test and it was restored for the better. Now they wanted to invalidate it.
Rav Achai said to them, it is not Tekhelet and it is not Kala Ilan [definition of the word, Kala is a clod, such as,  he took a Kala = clod of  Earth  in Tractate Rosh Hashana 25a and Ilan is the name of the color indigo in a foreign language. Thus is also the viewpoint of Nimukei Yosef’s commentary at the beginning of the chapter, Eizehu Neshekh]. This implies that if it is not Kala Ilan even if it was not dyed from Chilazon, nevertheless if it does not change in its beauty it is kosher both for Tzitzit and the wardrobe of the Temple priesthood.
However, also at Rambam’s opinion I am astonished, where it is implied by his words at the head of the second chapter of Hilchot Tzitzit that just for Tzitzit is it a requirement for the dye to be durable and beautiful which is not the case for the Tekhelet used for the Temple priesthood. And it is difficult what is written in one topic when contrasting it to what he writes for the other one; for when the sages recounted there, that for Tzitzit it is requirement that the appearance of the color doesn’t separate, we are forced to say that this is the meaning of the word Tekhelet that its color be Sky-Blue that doesn’t change. If so, why then is there a difference between the Tekhelet used for Tztitzit and the Tekhelet used for the wardrobe of the Temple priesthood? Furthermore, it is apparent from the Talmud there, that one should not differentiate between the two, for the Talmud there, derives that taking a sample for the sake of experimentation invalidates the dye for Tzitzit, from the {biblical} expression “Clil Tekhelet” {completely Tekhelet} which was stated {in the Bible} by the wardrobe of the Temple priesthood, which implies that the rules that apply to the two {topics} are the same.
The rule that we deduce is that both for Tzitzit and the wardrobe of the Temple priesthood we do not require specifically that it {Tekhelet} be derived from a Chilazon but we need that both of them be durable Sky-Blue whose beauty does not change by the test mentioned in the Talmud. Yet even so, we are not accustomed to use Tekhelet for Tzitzit for we are not expert about the chemical ingredients that the Talmud recalled that should be used to test Tekhelet, for Magvia Gila and water {or fluid} of Shablulita that the Talmud recounted are defined differently by Rashi and Rambam in their commentaries. Therefore since the lack of Tekhelet does not prevent the use of white strings for the mitzva of Tzitzit and there is a fear  {that use of false Tekhelet will lead to the prohibition}of Shatnez, during the age of the Gaonim the usage of Tekhelet was stopped entirely. And Rambam wrote at the head of the chapter Hatekhelet, that we do not know how to dye Tekhelet, and it is an innovation, since in his composition {Mishna Torah} he did not mention this. And now come and see how great are the words of the sages of blessed memory, for I made an investigation by the greatest dye experts and they told me that there doesn’t exist,  Labhafast-Blue {A Hebrew Transliteration of a German or Yiddish word that I can’t translate} which is also Dyerhafat-Blue{A Hebrew Transliteration of a German or Yiddish word that I can’t translate}. Behold these two characteristics which are included in the word Tekhelet, that is to say the beauty and the durability, is not present in any dye of blue; but just the blood of the Chilazon has these two characteristics, and this was what was lost from us, end of quote.

In tractate Nida 61b and 62a it is written:
“There are seven chemical ingredients that are placed on the stain {for the sake of removing it}. These are bland saliva, the fluid of Grisin, and urine and Natron, Borit, Komonia, and Ashlag… urine, being aged {or soured} and one is required to rub it in three times”.
And in tractate Nida 63a:
“And the urine that is aged (or soured): It was taught for what period time? For three days. Rabbi Yochanan stated all the measurements of the sages for the subject of stains have to be more precisely measured. Namely, is it from a child or an old person, from a male or female, covered or revealed, during the summer or the winter”?
Rashi on the words from a child or an old person comments there: that from an older person it is better. Rashi on the word, covered, comments there: that it too, is better. Rashi on the words, in the summer, comments there: that it too is better.
From here, we might deduce that it is possible also that there will be a difference in the results of the Tekhelet test (which uses urine) based on the type of urine used to test the Tekhelet.

In the book, Ein Hatekhelet of the {Chassidic} Rebbe of Radzin (Siman 33) the rabbi responded to someone who soaked a string of “Tekhelet” {dyed by the method invented by the Rebbe of Radzin} in urine and rubbed it strongly for a very long time. The color faded until it disappeared entirely. That person asked: why isn’t this a proof to invalidate Radzin Tekhelet?
The rabbi responded: this clothes-washer in truth grafted together the test of Tekhelet in Menachot 42b with the placement of seven chemicals to remove stains in tractate Nida 61b and this caused him to get meaningless results {literally he brought up pottery in his hands}. For in any case you can not derive a source for his actions; for if we derive it from the Tekhelet test of Menachot 43a there it is explained that it is soaked within it from evening to morning and if the appearance separates it is invalid; but behold there are additional ingredients of Magvia Gila and the water of Shablilta which are required together with the urine and their purpose is in order to weaken the cleaning agent in the urine and also it is only soaked without any rubbing of the material; and if even under these circumstances the appearance separates it is invalid. But soaking in urine alone and especially when accompanied by rubbing, in this situation even Tekhelet would be removed…
The Rebbe then goes on to conclude therefore that the test of that clothes-washer is irrelevant, being too harsh a test of the durability of the dye and our Sages only intended that Tekhelet be able to withstand a weaker test.

In my humble opinion the question raised against Radzin Tekhelet [a Prussian-Blue dye which is not derived from a mollusc] is better than the answer, but in any case according to the Tekhelet tests which I performed, seemingly, Radzin Tekhelet failed in both tests of Tekhelet as understood by Rambam and G-d willing, I will elaborate at a later point. And one should mention that according to the view of Yom Shel Shlomo to Baba Kama 93b Tekhelet is stronger than Kala Ilan in every way and the Talmud testifies that Kala Ilan can stand up against the cleaning agent called “Tzafon” and therefore we would expect that Tekhelet too can stand up to the cleaning agent in urine {which according to one interpretation of  the Rebbes words contains within it the power of “Tzafon”}.

14 What is Kala Ilan?
Rabbi Burshtein wrote in his book “Hatekhelet” that Arukh defined the term Kala Ilan as “Indico”. A matter which recalls to us the famous indigo dye that has lasted for an extended period of time. (In our days they create it mainly from synthetic materials). But the source of the indigo dye is not clear. They assume that two plants served as the source for the ancient dye: Isatis Tinctora and Indigofera Tinctora called Neel in Arabic.
The reasons to assume such:
1] Rabbi Burshtein brought that in the responsa of the Gaonim from the Geniza ‘Geonika Leginsburg‘ where it is written (Volume II, page 333 line 11) that Kala Ilan in Arabic is called Neel.
In addition Rabbi Burshtein brought a comment #180 in the Fysh Edition to Midrash HaGadoal, Numbers 15:38. That brings a translation that Kala Ilan is Neel.
2] Rabbi Ovadia of Bartenura [Bartenura is a place in Italy] to tractate Kilayim chapter 2, mishna 5 wrote on the word Isatis (or according to some translators, the word is pronounced here as Istis). “Its color resembles Tekhelet and they call it in Arabic by the name Neel and in a different foreign language by the name ‘Indico’ .And it is usual to cut it and it grows back again, and what grows back the second time is called ‘Sefiach’ “.
Now in the commentary to the Arukh of Meir Meizlish he explained that in the Italian language Indico is equivalent to what would be called Indigo in other languages.
3] Rambam recounts Isatis as an example of a substitute for Tekhelet: “And all that is not dyed with that type of dye is invalid for Tzitzit even though it has the appearance of the sky, for example, that they dyed it with Isatis or other dark dyes – behold it is invalid (Hilchot Tztitzit 2:1). And it is reasonable to assume that he didn’t use the expression of the Talmud, Kala Ilan, for in Rambam’s time they called the source for the forgery of Tekhelet by the name of Isatis.
4] Rabbi Burshtein brought two halachic responses of Rambam in the Blau Edition part 1, siman 91 that translates Indian Neel as Indian Isatis. This implies to me that there are at least two types of Neel. The regular Isatis and the Isatis from India corresponding to what Rabbi Burshtein brought earlier that “they assume that two plants served as the source for the ancient dye: Isatis Tinctora and Indigofera Tinctora called Neel in Arabic”.
5] In the Tifferet Yisrael Commentary to tractate Kilayim chapter 2 mishna 5, the author explained that Isatis – Weiderkroit [or Voiderkroit] that they make from it “Indig” [I assume that is the same as Indigo].
6] In the responsa of the Radbaz, part 2, siman 685, Radbaz writes, the dye that resembles Tekhelet which is very common, that is to say Isatis, which is called in Arabic, Neel and they dye it in the fashion of craftsmanship where it is not removed even when  ironed.{or cleaned thoroughly}.
7] Rabbi Burshtein brought the words of Rabbi Herzog who wrote: the word Kala Ilan, it appears to me, is testimony of direct commercial contact between our forefathers in the land of Israel and the countries of India. Kala in Sanskrit tells us:  the deep blue color which is called “Indiga” in European languages. Ilan is as it is understood simply {Hebrew for} a tree. The word tells us that it is Kala which is made from a tree, to exclude the deep blue that is made from non-living materials [such as “Ancient Blue”, “Egyptian Blue”, Alexandrian Blue”]. By paying attention to the fact that the plant that gives out the “Indiga Dye” reaches the height of 5 English Feet (about 1 and a half meters) we should not be astonished by the fact that the nation nicknamed it as a tree. (See for example: Succah 35, Rashi starting with the words “Vechayavim B’Orlah” and Yerushalmi, Kilayim, chapter 5, Halacha 8)”.
One must admit that a minority of the commentators wrote differently than Rabbi Burshtein’s opinion (such as, Sefer Haeshkol, that wrote that Kala Ilan comes from a living creature), but my underlying assumption is that Rabbi Burshtein was correct.

Dyeing with Isatis – The Dye Method Of Yehudit Safrai

She wrote:
Preparation of the material for dyeing

  1. I took leaves of the Isatis plant
  2. I crushed them very well.
  3. I made balls.
  4. In the balls there was fermentation
  5. After a month I crushed the balls and spread water on the material. Once again fermentation.
  6. When the material ended its fermentation and was completely dry, I extracted the blue dye and I used a vessel with urine (Vat). {end of quote}.

With samples received from her created in Jewish year 5759 (1999) the sample that was dipped in this dye material one time was blue-gray and very light. The sample that was dipped twice had a stronger blue color and the sample that was dipped six times had a very dark appearance. Most of the tests of wool dipped in Isatis were with wool dipped once or twice in the dye material, because of this I had a big supply.
With samples that I have from Y. Safrai of Indigo from Jewish year 5761 (2001) [that were pasted to a page of paper in order to show me the difference in color between one dipping in Indigo and 6 dippings] all the samples that were pasted to the page, even those that were dipped 6 times had turned white. [And there are other old samples that she sent me that today look green as leeks (called Carti in the Mishna).
In those samples that turned white over the years, she explained that she dyed them in the following way

  1. I took off the leaves
  2. I put them into water for 3 days.
  3. I strained the water to remove the leaves
  4. I put the wool into the blue water every time for about an hour
    She added: “This is a direct method. There are other methods to preserve the dye material. I am still not expert in them.

 15 The Tests For Tekhelet That I Made

    Those responsible for making the new Tekhelet of Amutat P’til Tekhelet http://www.tekhelet.com/ [in contrast to Radzin Tekhelet] claimed that since on a chemical level the new Tekhelet is very similar to plant indigo and since we know that the forgery of Tekhelet was Kala Ilan, that is to say Indigo (derived from a plant) was so similar to Tekhelet to the point where the Holy One Blessed be He {G-d} said: “I am the one that discerned in Egypt between the drop of a firstborn to one that is not a firstborn. I am the one who in the future will discern and extract punishment from one who suspends {Tzitzit strings dyed with} Kala Ilan on his garment and proclaims that it is Tekhelet” (Rashi to Numbers 15:41). Now since we know that the dye extracted from the Trunculus mollusc was available during the time of the Talmud, therefore one should conclude that the dye extracted from the Trunculus mollusc is Kosher for Tekhelet, for behold the purpose of the Tekhelet test was just to prove that the wool that appears to our eyes as Tekhelet was not dyed with Kala Ilan. And the sages of the Talmud were not afraid that there is a mollusc that produces a dye that  is similar to Tekhelet which is not Tekhelet.
Rabbi Yehonatan Adler holds a contrary view. He holds that if the Tekhelet from the Trunculus mollusc is so chemically similar to Indigo – it is possible that both of them fall into the category or term, Kala Ilan.
    Therefore even though there are a great number of opinions, what exactly were the Tekhelet tests, I thought that there would be value in trying to recreate the tests. A] For perhaps I will nevertheless succeed in recreating them B] At the very least if it were possible to show that Tekhelet derived from the Trunculus molluscs is more durable in my tests than indigo or Isatis, here would be a proof against Rabbi Adler, that the term Kala Ilan does not include within it Trunculus derived Tekhelet. C] If Rabbi Adler is correct I would expect that both Indigo, Isatis and Trunculus Tekhelet would fail in both of the tests. (Even though one could always cast doubt about the findings on the grounds that maybe I didn’t perform the examinations in the way that the Talmud intended).

Through the generosity of Yehudit Safrai, I received samples of naturally dyed indigo and Isatis. She dyed her “Kala Ilan” by methods that were available to the ancient world.

In the beginning I started to test in accordance to Rashi’s viewpoint.
I discovered that according to the more simpler understanding of Rashi, the first test of Tekhelet didn’t succeed to have an influence on the wool sample that was dyed with Isatis that I soaked in the materials of the test for twelve hours from evening to morning. The sample was covered after the test with some external dirtiness, that departed after I washed it lightly in water. And even without washing the sample at all, I believe that I once checked to see what would happen and the sample in fact improved after I checked it with the second Tekhelet test (baking it in barley dough that is hard and moldy).
To be more specific, I tested my samples with the urine of an adult that had aged 40 days and also on a different occasion with urine of a child aged 40 days (from the time it left the person’s body) together with Chilba [ Fenugreek ] Tea and also cold water mixed with Chilba/Fenugreek powder, together with Alum.
In one experiment, the test succeeded to slightly affect for the worse, the color of the Isatis sample and the Trunculus Tekhelet. This occurred on two separate occasions by using urine that came from a baby who was born 40 days earlier together with the other ingredients that I mentioned previously. However both the Isatis and the Tekhelet improved in the second test.
Before I gave up hope in trying to decipher the tests in accordance to Rashi’s viewpoint, I tried to test if by changing the type of Alum I used to Cubic Alum, hoping this might change the results of my tests. However, I saw that changing from regular Alum to Cubic Alum had no impact on the results and I should add that even when I checked a sample of Radzin Tekhelet (Prussian Blue) with this solution, it also passed the test.
It is self-evident, that perhaps I made a mistake during one of the stages of the experiment and perhaps there is a way to test Tekhelet according to Rashi’s viewpoint, however, this is above my capabilities.
Afterwards I decided to experiment using Rambam’s version of the tests, however, I had a doubt if the ingredient liquid or mucus of a “Shablul” in his test is to be interpreted in the most simple manner, that is to say as a snail or perhaps Rambam was referring to Chilba/Fenugreek tea, that after strong boiling in water, the tea looks a bit like mucus. I also had a doubt whether to use the urine aged for 40 days  from an adult or from a small child. I also had a doubt if the straw in Rambam’s test is to be interpreted in the most simplest manner (and if it so which part of the wheat stalk should be taken) or perhaps that this is referring to the stem of the Chilba / Fenugreek plant, which in the past they called by the name, Greek Hay.
In my first experiment to try to recreate Rambam’s version of the Tekhelet tests of the Talmud,  I used Chilba / Fenugreek Tea and water mixed with Chilba / Fenugreek powder, urine of an adult, aged  for 40 days and wheat bran [ I believe I also added a wild growing plant that appeared to me to be wheat ] .
In this experiment I placed all the ingredients together at the very beginning (when the urine was fresh) but I waited until day 40 until doing the Tekhelet test.
For this experiment I used 5 different samples

  1. A new sample of Trunculus Tekhelet which I bought from Amutat P’til Tekhelet {The Society for the Promotion of Tekhelet}. The sample was dark blue with a slight tint towards purple.
  2. An old sample of Trunculus Tekhelet which I bought from Amutat P’til Tekhelet {The Society for the Promotion of Tekhelet} that had already been washed with soap or detergent several times and at the very start was medium blue [ that is to say bright blue] .
  3. In addition I used a sample that I obtained from a non-Jewish dye expert, John Edmonds. His sample was dyed with the “blood” from the Trunculus mollusc, but not by modern methods. Rather by rotting the body of a mollusc called Cockles [because he didn’t have the body of a Trunculus mollusc available]. The rotted body of the Cockles mollusc changed the black or near-black “blood” of the Trunculus mollusc back to the color green, which is good for dyeing purposes. Go to section 5] The Color of the “Blood” of Chilazon for some more background information about the blood of the mollusc. I should also point out that John Edmonds Tekhelet dye weakens even when just boiled in water.
  4. I also tested a sample of Radzin Tekhelet.
  5. I also used a sample of Isatis.

After soaking all the samples for 24 hours I discovered that almost all the dye was removed from the Radzin sample, but after washing with water and exposure to air – much of the color slowly returned. John Edwards very light blue Tekhelet, the Isatis sample and my old Tekhelet sample {sample #2 on the list of 5 samples mentioned above} acquired a greenish-blue look to a certain degree, that didn’t go away with a mild wash in water. [The Edmonds sample was the worst of the three] Sample #1 remained blue but it appeared to me that the intensity of its blue color was weakened.
Afterwards I tried several possible explanations of Rambam’s second Tekhelet test.

  1. Baking in a liquid batter of barley dough that had gone very stale [in contrast to Rashi’s test where the dough is hard or has some strong leaven within the dough].
  2. I also baked the samples in barley dough mixed with fish brine or fish jelly.
  3. I also baked in dough kneaded with salt water (two parts salt and a third water).

The Isatis as well as both samples of Tekhelet by Amutat P’til Tekhelet {The Society for the Promotion of Tekhelet} improved. Radzin Tekhelet failed again and lost its color.
Afterwards on another occasion, I made another experiment involving the 5 types of samples mentioned above. However, this time I used urine of a 5 year old boy {aged for forty days} together with the other ingredients. On this occasion samples from Amutat P’til Tekhelet {The Society for the Promotion of Tekhelet} passed the first Tekhelet test while Isatis failed and of course, Radzin Tekhelet failed, but the Radzin dye did not fade to the same extent as it did when I had used adult urine {but on the other hand less color returned after exposure to the air}. In this test also the John Edmonds Tekhelet failed.
In still another experiment, I received from Moshe Raanan’s assistant in Michlala of Bayit Vegan, the mucus of a large snail called in Hebrew, “Shablul” Africani.
The following is a link to how the snail looked like, more or less http://www.ynet.co.il/PicServer2/20122005/967159/ngs26_0096_g_wa.jpg
In addition I used straw obtained from a straw broom and I used urine of an adult aged 40 days. The Tekhelet of Amutat P’til Tekhelet {The Society for the Promotion of Tekhelet} , and the Radzin Tekhelet strings as well as the Isatis sample all passed the first test after I soaked these samples in the ingredients for 24 hours.
On the next day I added Wheat Germ to the ingredients of the experiment {used the day earlier} and I soaked new samples within the mixture. This time the test made Radzin Tekhelet fail , but did not affect Tekhelet of Amutat P’til Tekhelet {The Society for the Promotion of Tekhelet} nor the Isatis {after a weak rinsing in cold water}.
After this test, I heard that Rabbi Yosef Rothstein had succeeded in making  Tekhelet from a combination of 91% “blood” from Murex Brandaris and only 9% from the “blood” of the Trunculus mollusc.
I tested his Tekhelet with urine from an adult aged 40 days and in a separate experiment with urine from a child. Together with the urine I used Chilba / Fenugreek Tea and water mixed with Chilba/Fenugreek powder and wheat germ. And it appears to me that also his Tekhelet was weakened a bit.
At this stage I want to make additional experiments before I come to definite conclusions.
I should note that in a different experiment  that I performed with urine from a child that left the child’s body 40 days earlier, together with Chilba / Fenugreek Tea and wheat germ, it seemed that even the Tekhelet of Amutat P’til Tekhelet {The Society for the Promotion of Tekhelet}was slightly damaged, that the intensity of the strength of the blue color weakened and in one sample, there appeared a small bit of green together with the general blue appearance of the wool.
Now it is possible that the reason for the change in results where sometimes Amutat P’til Tekhelet passes the first test and sometimes not, was because of the state of the urine in the various experiments (for example, change in the amount of exposure to light  during the 40 day period or the influence of weather conditions) as I somewhat alluded to previously by my quotation from tractate Nida page 63. Another possible explanation is that in this latter experiment I didn’t add wild wheat or pure straw to the mixture, but rather I just relied on the wheat germ by itself.
Another important point that for now I don’t have an immediate answer: Is the test which I call the Rambam test capable of weakening all samples of Indigo and Isatis that were dyed by natural means or perhaps a sample that was dyed several times with indigo and is dark blue might actually have the capability of passing the test?
I hope that my words will bring others to make a thorough examination of all these issues.
On the sixth of Nissan 5764 {spring of secular year 2004) I made one last attempt to try to answer some of the questions raised by my previous tests before publicizing the results. I performed three separate experiments testing a dark blue (but not very dark) indigo sample. In the first experiment I placed the indigo sample  in urine of an adult aged for 40 days which also had within it straw from a straw broom for a 40 day period. I added to this wild growing wheat [at least that’s how it looked to me] on the day of the test, Chilba / Fenugreek tea and ground Chilba {Fenugreek}. The Chilba was only coarsely ground, and I don’t know if all of it came from the seed of the Fenugreek plant or if part of my Chilba/Fenugreek material was also from other parts of the plant. The Chilba I should point out was also placed into the above mixture on the day of the test.
For experiment #2 I placed the indigo sample within the urine of an adult aged 40 days: wheat bran, and straw that I placed in the mixture just on the day of the experiment. This in addition to Chilba/Fenugreek Tea and Chilba/Fenugreek powder which was only coarsely ground, and I don’t know if all of it came from the seed of the Fenugreek plant or if part of my Chilba/Fenugreek material was also from other parts of the plant.The Chilba I should point out was also placed into the above mixture on the day of the test.
For experiment #3 I placed the indigo sample in urine from an adult aged 40 days together with Chilba/Fenugreek Tea and Chilba/Fenugreek powder which was only coarsely ground, and I don’t know if all of it came from the seed of the Fenugreek plant or if part of my Chilba/Fenugreek material was also from other parts of the plant. The Chilba I should point out was also placed into the above mixture on the day of the test. In this last experiment I didn’t add any other materials.
In all three experiments that I performed on the sixth of Nissan I soaked the samples for 24 hours.
The results in all 3 tests were that the indigo and the Tekhelet string from Amutat P’til Tekhelet {The Society for the Promotion of Tekhelet}became less purely blue and failed the first test.

An explanation concerning the materials in the Tekhelet test (According to my current Knowledge)

    Urine that left a person’s body several weeks earlier was widely used in the ancient world as a mordant – a material that aids the joining of the dye to the cloth.
Also Alum was widely used a mordant.
Among the elements that is found within the Chilba/Fenugreek Tea is a dye material for dyeing strings yellow.


16 Renewing an Object of a Mitzva Without Tradition

    Since there is no agreement among the Rishonim on the matter of how to exactly perform the Tekhelet tests and there isn’t full agreement among the Achronim concerning from which Chilazon did they extract the Tekhelet dye material in the past and so too there isn’t 100% on how to dye, perhaps someone might contend that if so the mitzva of Tekhelet has the status of an object of a mitzva without a tradition.
If so, I will relate as a matter of principle to the question, is it possible to renew the mitzva of Tekhelet or other mitzvas {or to be more loyal to the Hebrew plural of the word, mitzvot or in English commandments} without  a tradition.
In the responsa of Moharil Hachadashot, to Orach Chaim, siman 5 it is written that one can renew the Mitzva of Tekhelet based on the signs that the Chilazon fish has. This implies, that there is not a need for a tradition. And also in a general way I wish to bring proof that we are obligated to renew mitzvas that are similar to Tekhelet, even though we do not have an oral tradition passed down from one man to another.
In the responsa of Shvut Yaacov, part 1, siman 36 starting with the words “Ol Davar” the author informs us, which Hadassim should be used for the mitzva of Hadassim for the holiday of Succot when faced with several options. Option 1] Newly found Hadassim that grow in the city of Prague which are moist and have 3 petals emanating from the same height on the branch which do not crumble when a fingernail touches the leaves. But on the other hand there is no oral tradition about these Hadassim and there is a small possibility that these Hadassim were interbred with a different tree or bush, thus invalidating them for Succot. Option 2] To use the Hadassim that our ancestors have been accustomed to use, which are brought from a distant land and arrive in the state where the leaves are not yet white, but are indeed brittle breaking under the pressure of a fingernail. In this stale state there is a difference of opinion if the Hadassim are kosher for Succot and one would have to rely on Raavad and the Poskim, that as long as the leaves are green and haven’t whitened it is kosher.
Shvut Yaacov concludes that when option 2  and option 1 are both available, one must use option 2. He criticizes the haughtiness and too daring spirit of Chakham Tzvi for ruling in favor of option 1 because “do not depart from the Torah of your mother, ask your father and he will tell you, your elder one and he shall tell you” {quotations often recited by those who favor going by established custom}. Shvut Yaacov however, does admit that one should use option 1 mentioned above, if option 2 is not available.
Chakham Tzvi in siman 161, starting with the words, Tshuva B’ol held the opposite. He held that one is obligated even at great expense to prefer option 1, and it is forbidden for one to make a blessing over the Hadassim that have the status of “Shotim”  that come from Italy. He contended that the Poskim, Mahara’i and Maharik ruled leniently regarding the poor quality Hadassim only when kosher, option 1, Hadassim {mentioned above} are not available.
The accepted Halachic ruling about this dispute is decided in Mishna Brura , siman 648, siman katan 65:

    Regarding the matter of Hadassim, if it is known that they are hybrids one should not use them for they are invalid and they have the same {invalid} status as hybrid Etrogs {citron fruits}. However, when nothing is known about their origin it is implied by the Achronim that we should not be afraid about this {that they are hybrids} for typical Hadassim are not the product of interbreeding (see Pri Megadim, siman 649, point 11) And that which the Shvut Yaacov wanted to do, namely, to invalidate those Hadassim that grew in the gardens of the government officials, because of a fear that they are hybrids, Chakham Tzvi and Hapanim Me’erot argued against his {Shvut Yaacov’s) opinion and see in B’churay Yaacov, that he wrote that indeed the custom has spread, to view them as kosher {namely, option 1 Hadassim, mentioned above}.

One should emphasize that even Shvut Yaacov established that it is preferable to use Hadassim without a tradition if there aren’t any others available. Therefore, when we don’t have in our hands a Tekhelet passed down from tradition, there is an obligation even according to Shvut Yaacov to make use of the Tekhelet without a tradition, out of a doubt that perhaps we are indeed fulfilling the mitzva.
One should raise the question, perhaps we should not compare the law regarding Tekhelet to the laws relating to Hadassim with a possibility that they were interbred. Perhaps one should compare the law of Tekhelet to the laws regarding an Etrog that we have a suspicion that it might be a hybrid?
One should respond that even for an Etrog there is room to make use of it without a tradition {that it comes from a kosher source} as Be’ur Halacha, siman 648 starting with the word, She’domeh, explained:

See the Mishna Brura, what we wrote on the matter of Etrogs that are hybrids and this is a quote of B’churay Yaacov, ‘it is obvious that the Etrogs that grow by us in the country of Ashkenaz {Germany} in the gardens of the government officials are all hybrids. However, those that come from Italy and there is a doubt whether they are hybrids will seemingly be kosher if we can not determine {in what manner they were produced} for we will go after the majority and the majority of Etrogs in the world, it is well known that they are not hybrids. However, for a final legal ruling we have to further investigate the matter. And in any case when there is a doubt if it was a hybrid and he has no alternative {Etrog} he should take it but without reciting a blessing”, end of quote of B’churay Yaacov’. Now in my humble opinion it is possible to say that for this reason, several Poskim relied on signs {or properties of an Etrog, that we are seeking to validate} even though these signs aren’t that much of a proof as the latter Poskim have written, because when combined with the fact that there is a majority { which are not produced from interbreeding} the result is that we can not protest against someone who relies upon this and recites a blessing; so this appears to me in my {namely, the author of Be’ur Halacha and Mishna Brura, the Chafetz Chaim’s} humble opinion”.

And so too did he write there in Mishna Brura : “see in Be’ur Halacha what we wrote in the name of B’churay Yaacov, and as it is explained there, it appears that if someone had gone ahead and already bought an Etrog or one has no place that is known where it is possible to acquire those {Etrogs} that have a legal presumption of definitely not being hybrids, in such a situation one can rely on the two external signs of the Etrog {that somewhat testify that it is not a hybrid} and recite a blessing, as I have written above”.
For the sake of clarification, the Mishna Brura does indeed invalidate an Etrog that is a hybrid: “for it is not called an Etrog at all” (see Mishna Brura, siman 648, section 21). Therefore one should not contend that just when there is a suspicion of an invalid characteristic within a species that is known to us that the species is Kosher, do we say that we do not demand a tradition.
Now the fact that we are careful today to take only Etrogs that have a tradition {of being from a kosher source} is not a proof that the law is not in accordance with the words of the Be’ur Halacha, for also the Be’ur Halacha established that regarding an etrog (but not regarding Hadassim that we have a doubt if they are hybrids) that in order to recite a blessing with the approval of all the Poskim we need an Etrog that has a tradition {of being from a kosher source}. Furthermore, Rabbi Eliyahu Veissfish in his book, Arbaat Haminim Hashalem  page 208, wrote regarding the ruling of the Chafetz Chaim: “In our times it requires further investigation of the matter, for in light of the great development in the science of agronomy and our knowledge of how to interbreed, it is known today of methods and possibilities to interbreed two species of fruit trees without causing essential changes in the shape or the characteristics of the fruit. According to this, the typical Etrog that is present throughout the world, doesn’t have a status of having a tradition of being kosher. Neither does their external or internal resemblance to an Etrog, serve as clear proof that it is not a hybrid”.
One should also take note that in the opinion of Chatam Sofer [as brought by the Mishna Brura in siman 648] “for all practical purposes one can not rely on signs (of the etrog) to be lenient and the status of Etrogs is like the status of kosher species of birds which are only eaten if we have a tradition (that the species is indeed kosher).
On the other hand, the Chatam Sofer does hold that fish that have the proper signs can be deemed as kosher for eating, even when we don’t have a tradition that the species is kosher.
Rabbi Shabtei Rappaport wrote at length why one should compare the law of Tekhelet to the law of fish and not to the law regarding birds. But I will admit that his innovation depends on how you define Tekhelet according to Torah law.
In any case, it is difficult for me to believe that the Chatam Sofer would have held back the renewal of the light mitzva of Tekhelet after he ruled in siman 236 of his writings that it is possible to renew  the Passover Sacrifice in our days, which is a heavier mitzva [ this is the concept known as Kal-Vachomer for those adept in the ways of the Talmud ].
R. Dov Shtein offered another argument on behalf of the viewpoint that tradition does not always establish the Halacha. He said that the fact that we rely on ancient handwritten manuscripts of the Rambam and Tur etc. in contrast to the version of the text that we have in our hands (because what is in our hands has been censored, etc.) proves that we can prove points of Halacha not based on tradition.
Therefore if some of our Rabbis established that the Purpur (or Purpura) shellfish is the Chilazon (such as the authors of Chavot Yair and Shiltei Giborim as discussed at the beginning of this article)  the matter is similar to an ancient handwritten manuscript that we found from a period before censorship took place. But perhaps one might wish to push away this proof by stating that until we have a source from the time that Tekhelet was still produced, that calls the Chilazon by the name of the Purpur fish, the proofs on behalf of the Chilazon are not equivalent to the revelation of a new ancient handwritten manuscript from a period before censorship took place.
One should also add that on the subject of tradition, in the responsa, Meishiv Davar, part 2, siman 22 with the word “Ivra“, we see that there are exceptions to the rule that  we should not add birds to the list of kosher species without a tradition. There he informs us that  initially there were many who raised an objection when Turkey was imported from a distant land to Jewish communities, for the bird lacked a tradition of being kosher. He states that even today there are those who are strict and do not make use of this bird. Nevertheless, the Jewish communities are now accustomed to permit this bird and no one opens his mouth to object and this is because it now already has a presumption of being permitted and there is no proof to forbid these birds. And so too, did the author of Meishiv Davar lean to permit a certain species of large geese that also had no tradition.
Now here was an innovation to permit a matter, that is optional for use. If so, for the matter of a mitzva, is it fitting that all of a sudden we will be more stringent than we are for Turkey?
Now one should not contend that also the Chatam Sofer who demanded a tradition to classify species of birds as kosher, would allow the eating of Turkey for in the responsa of Chatam Sofer, part 1 (O.C.) siman 127 he writes explicitly, that the “Perlheihener” although it has signs of being kosher is not to be eaten because it lacks a tradition. Now in the responsa of Melamed Laho’il part 2 (Y.D.) siman 15 we learn that
Perlheihener” is Turkey.
    [Now if one has a doubt whether it really is permitted to eat Turkey {“Indik“,”Perlheihener”} see the responsa of Igrote Moshe, Y.D.4 siman 12. the words starting with “Hiney Inyan“, where Rabbi Moshe Feinstein allowed a certain person who asked him, to eat Turkey on the American holiday of Thanksgiving.]

17 The “Damage” of Putting On Wrongly Identified Tekhelet

    Rabbi Elyashiv raised an argument against renewing Tekhelet, based on the requirement to make the Tzitzit like the color of the Talit {prayer shawl}. The reason being: that we need for this to be “of the corner”. And in Pri Megadim there we learn that the Holy One Blessed be He wrapped himself with a Talit – and his garment was white as snow; if so of necessity one should make the Talit and the Tzitzit strings, white, see there for more details.
There are several responses to his argument:
A] It is implied in the words of Rabbi Elyashiv that there is an aspect of prohibition to use Tekhelet strings where we have a doubt about them being classified as Tekhelet. Now the implication is that this was not the opinion accepted by  the Gedolim {the great Rabbis} of the past. For behold the Chafetz Chaim ruled that the Tekhelet of the Rebbe of Radzin is not considered Tekhelet. For after that  Tekhelet had already emerged for use, the Mishna Brura {written by the Chafetz Chaim} explained without hesitation that we do not have Tekhelet. But Nevertheless, Rabbi Burshtein brought a quote from Rabbi M.M. Yoshor in his biography of the Chafetz Chaim {Hebrew Edition, pages 1000-1005) that the Chafetz Chaim didn’t relate to the Tekhelet of Radzin as a prohibition.
And thus Rabbi Burshtein wrote: “even though he didn’t wish to rule in the matter, namely, the refusal to bury a person with his {Radzin} Tekhelet strings (being that he didn’t get involved in controversies), nevertheless he made a strong remark about the controversy and added:

In a practical way there is no direct intent to directly insult the honor of the dead. The deceased was accustomed to this in his lifetime, and therefore it was his request that in such a Talit they would bury him”.

And so too Rabbi Yoshor related:

The son of a Radzin Chassid [adherent] who was a youth who feared heaven, asked the Chafetz Chaim, while he learned in Radin in Jewish year 5673 if he should be stringent to wear Tekhelet. The Chafetz Chaim commanded him to continue on with the custom of his fathers and to wear the same type of Tzitzit that he wore in his father’s house”.

Rabbi Burshtein in his book, “Hatekhelet” also brought Rabbi Kook’s response to Radzin Tekhelet. When Rabbi Kook saw that one of his major disciples, Rabbi Dovid Cohen – the Nazir, wanted to wear Tekhelet strings at the beginning Rabbi Kook gave a hint to “the Nazir” that he opposes but after a few minutes Rabbi Kook gave his consent.
Because of the words of Rabbi Kook, the Nazir decided to wait until Rabbi Kook died before he used Tekhelet.
Certain circles in Yeshivat Mercaz Harav want to point to Rabbi Kook’s initial [momentary] opposition to Tekhelet to prove that there is some type of “problem” to put Tekhelet strings on a Talit.
In a conversation with Rabbi David Bar-Hayim I learned what in reality transpired “behind the curtains“. Rabbi Bar-Hayim told me that Rabbi Kook never opposed use of {Radzin} Tekhelet but rather, initially he was afraid of the reactions from those who had already tormented him in the past, “for the changes from the ways of grandfather and grandmother that he permitted”. In the end he consented to bear the anger of these circles also on account of the Tekhelet of his disciple.
The Nazir didn’t want to make problems for his Rabbi and therefore he waited until Rabbi Kook died before using Tekhelet.
Rabbi Bar-Hayim received his information from the Nazir’s son, Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen and that very same Rabbi also told Rabbi Bar-Hayim that when he reached Bar Mitzva age the Nazir gave him a garment with Tekhelet strings with the expectation that he would wear it.
Rabbi Bar-Hayim also added that there was a basis for Rabbi Kook’s fear, for some years earlier , “zealots for the ways of old” attacked Rabbi Akiva Yosef Shlezinger on Strauss Street and tore his Talit to pieces because Rabbi Shlezinger had used Tekhelet strings in his garment.
B] It is implied to me that if there is a prohibition to use Tzitzit strings that are different in color than the color of the Talit, at least according to the majority of opinions it is only a rabbinic prohibition and not a Torah prohibition. For even the “Yeshuot Malko”  established that according to the majority, he who used {the counterfeit Tekhelet} Kala Ilan strings instead of Tekhelet, it as if he had used white strings.
And so too did Rabbi Tzvi (Hershel) Schachter establish that: “nevertheless it is clear that even if they dyed the strings with any dye, even if the garment was entirely white, if in fact this non ideal situation came to be, one would nevertheless fulfill his obligation; for behold it is explicitly explained in Tractate Menachot 40a, that one who dyes strings with Kala Ilan also has fulfilled his obligation, for it would be considered as if it was white”, end of quote.
And in the Mishna Brura on Siman 9 comment 15 the Chafetz Chaim established that one should make Tzitzit strings that are similar to the color of the Talit because of “this is my G-d and I will glorify him” (seemingly a rabbinical rule) and just as a secondary  opinion “there are those that say” he adds “because we require for this that it be of the corner“. And also one has to investigate if the intent is that it is a Torah law or a Rabbinical law for Rabbi Eliyahu Tevger told me that the simple meaning of the rule deduced from the Torah phrase, “of the corner” is to instruct us regarding the material of the corner and not the color of the corner.
Therefore if we assume that the rule about the color of strings is rabbinical then the Mishna Brura already established the principle, “that a doubtful fulfillment of a Torah law takes precedence over a definite fulfillment of a rabbinic law (see Mishna Brura on O.C. siman 595). And if so, it would seem that one should use Tekhelet of a doubt, even if we will be lacking the detail that the Tzitzit are similar to the color of the Talit. And similarly did Rabbi Schachter rule (Tekhelet, Mitzva Behitchadshuta, page 34).
C] On the Halacha in Shulchan Aruch that one has to make the Tzitzit strings to be like the color of Talit, Malbim writes in his work, Artzote Hachaim, “that if it is red he should make the Tzitzit strings to be red and if it is green he should make the Tzitzit strings to be green, “that is to say the two strings that come in place of the white should be the color of the Talit”, end of quote. However, definitely from the law of the Torah we do not care that the two strings that come in place of Tekhelet be similar in color of the Talit.
D]  The Mishna Brura comment 16 to Siman 9 on Orach Chaim writes: “it is fitting for one who is scrupulous about halacha to make 4 corners or a small Talit of white color in order to satisfy all opinions, when he makes the Tzitzit strings white, also because it is written ‘and his garment was white as snow‘ and the matter that the edge of garment has the color of Tekhelet in our Talit garments {is not problematical} because we go after the main color of the garment”.
Just as in Talit garments it is acceptable to make a bit of the Talit, the color of Tekhelet, one who is concerned about the words of Rabbi Elyashiv should tie and wrap his Tzitzit strings in a manner that the main external look of the strings is white.
E] Rabbi Nachum (Norman) Lamm wrote in the book,
Tekhelet, Mitzva Behitchadshuta: As a conclusion, even if we we were to say that this isn’t the true Tekhelet, and all the more so if we say there is a doubt, there isn’t an invalidation in the color of blue that looks like Tekhelet. And in regards with what the Rambam stated (2:5) that if it was dyed with other dark dyes that are not durable, it is invalid, this is just when it is possible to acquire Tekhelet, but if it is impossible what invalidation do we have in this matter. And so did Rabbi Chaim Dovid Halevi, Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, rule (Asei Lekha Rav part 8, siman 1).
And on page 19 of the same book (Tekhelet, Mitzva Behitchadshuta), Rabbi Lamm wrote that according to the “Pri Megadim”,  when it is possible to wear Tekhelet, it is definitely prohibited to wear a Talit that contains only white Tzitzit strings, for by doing this one pushes off the mitzva of Tekhelet with his very hands.
And on page 38 (of the same book) Rabbi Tzvi (Herschel) Schachter wrote “that if we have the understanding of that definition given by Turei Even on the prohibition of reducing from the commandments, that is to say that all who fulfill a mitzva in a faulty way, namely that he at the very outset intended to fulfill it only in a b’dieved fashion [b’dieved is when someone did not abide by the ideal conditions]; if so, one who uses white Tzitzit strings without Tekhelet will definitely violate the prohibition of reducing from the commandments…”
And even for those who claim that the tradition to identify the Chilazon already ceased to be by us (see what was written about this in the book Nefesh Harav, page 53) nevertheless they must admit that in any case the new Tekhelet has at least the status of a doubt and if so, according to the simple understanding, we should definitely use it when we have the opportunity out of fear of the prohibition of reducing commandments”. end of quote.

  18. If Other Generations Didn’t Merit to Have Tekhelet What is Different About Our Generation Than Other Generations?

    There is a correspondence between the six days of creation and 6000 years of history from the time of the formation of the first man until the destruction of this world, which will take place according to the Talmud in the seventh millennium as explained in tractate Sanhedrin page 97.

    Rabbi Ketina said, “six thousand years is the world and for one it is destroyed, for it was stated: ‘And G-d will be exalted alone on that day’. Abeyei said, two {millennium} it is destroyed for it is stated: ‘And he will bring us alive from the two days and on the third day he will raise us up and we will live before him’. It was taught in a Baraita in accordance to Rabbi Ketina’s view, just as the sabbatical year causes a cessation once in 7 years so too will the world cease {from development} for a thousand years out of seven thousand years for it was stated: ‘And G-d will be exalted alone on that day’. And it states: ‘a song of praise for the day of Sabbath, the day that is entirely Sabbath and it states, for a thousand years in your eyes is as yesterday when it passes by’. The Academy of Eliyahu taught: for 6 thousand years does the world last. Two thousand years is null, two thousand years of Torah and two thousand years – the days of the messiah and in our iniquities that have multiplied, it has been deducted from them  what has been deducted.”

Many of our rabbis understood that not just in a general way is there a parallel between the 6 days of creation and the six thousand years of history, but rather there is a perfect parallel.
And this is the preview of the book Kol Hator that was printed in the introduction section at the end of the book Hatekufa Hagdola of Rabbi Menachem Kasher:

    The period of the revealed time of the end, which is the period of the beginning of the redemption (Atchalta D’geula) opened and continues from Jewish year 5500. This thing was known to sages based on the principles of the wisdom of the Kabbalah. For there was a tradition in the hands of the sages of Israel that the six thousand years that our  world stands in its present fashion is parallel to the six days of creation, each millennium corresponding to its parallel day [in the six days of creation]  starting from the first millennium which parrallels the first day until the sixth millennium which corresponds to day six of the creation. Now there isn’t a large or small detail in the six thousand years of this world that its principle is not rooted in the six days of creation in a fashion that those of wise intellect that know how to arrange the actions that G-d performed in the six days of creation and comprehend their deeper meaning, knew from the outset all the future things that would come to be in the world, every thing at its proper time and even a small event and this is in accordance to the testimony of the Vilna Gaon in his commentary to Safra Dtsniuta (chapter 5).
Now behold the Vilna Gaon knew that the period of the footsteps of the Messiah, it and all its occurrences that will in the future occur, were created on the sixth day from the first hour of the morning and onwards until the time end of the day (evening). Now since during the 12 hours of the night, the Holy One Blessed be He didn’t perform anything, behold the calculation of the 12 hours of daytime, starts from year 5500, that is to say the middle of the millennium. This is the same way as 12 hours are in the middle of a 24 hour period. Therefore our Rabbi the Vilna Gaon, with great wisdom deduced the time of the creation of the footsteps of the messiah by their root in the six days of creation, that is to say from the first hour of the morning of the sixth day. From the emergence of the word he knew that the period of the footsteps of the messiah in an actual way has opened up from the year 500 of the sixth millennium [that is to say in 5500]. And so too will it be understood by this principle, that every hour from the hours of the sixth day brings to light in an actual way the actions that are rooted in it from the time of creation for the period of 41 years and 8 months [comment by me: the intention is 2/3 of a year] for you find if you divide 12 hours of the day into 500 years, the time of their control, is as stated previously. {End of Quote }

    One should note that in a general way also the Chatam Sofer [Responsa of the Chatam Sofer Volume 6 , Siman 61] as well as the Ohr Hachayim [to Leviticus 6:2] agreed that there is a hint about the development of the redemption by what is described as being created on the sixth day.
In order to prove that there is  truly a connection, between what took place in history and the six days of the book of Genesis, I will note the following examples.
Rashi on Genesis 1:4 on the words: “And the L-rd saw the light that it was good and he separated…” – he saw that it wasn’t fitting for it to be used by the wicked and he separated it for the righteous in the future”.
And similarly in the first millennium, G-d separated the Garden of Eden for the future. And so too at the end of the first millennium, there was something similar regarding Chanoch that lived 365 years which corresponds to the days of a solar year (a matter of light). Now this is the terminology of Rashi in his commentary to (Genesis 5:22) on the words of “And Chanoch walked” – “he was righteous but was easily susceptible to be influenced to return to do evil, therefore, the Holy One Blessed Be He hurried and removed him and made him die before his time. But according to some of our sages, G-d separated Chanoch by transforming him into something similar to an angel and put him into the Garden of Eden alive. In either case, there is here a matter of separation from the wicked.
On the second day of the creation “And the L-rd made the firmament and separated between the water under the firmament and the water above the firmament” (Genesis 1:11).
In my opinion, here is a hint to the great flood that took place in the second millennium, and also to the generation of the division at the time of the tower of Bavel/Babel. The division of the waters on the second day hints at the generation of the division, for behold, the gentiles are compared to water as it is written in the book of Psalms chapter 144 verse 7 “rescue me and deliver me from the great waters, from the hand of the sons of the stranger”. [And in accordance to the Targum commentary there, “save me from the populace who are compared to great waters from the hands of the sons of the strangers”.] Based upon all that was said above it is possible to discover a hint in the Torah when we will have special assistance from heaven for the proper identification of the creatures of the Creator (such as the Chilazon). For behold according to tractate Sanhedrin page 38 in the sixth hour of the sixth day, Adam {first man} called the creatures of the Holy One blessed be He, by names. Just as it is written in Genesis 2:19 “And Hashem the L-rd formed from the earth every creature of the field and every bird of the sky and he brought {them} to the man to see what he would call each one and whatever it would be called by the man, {for}each living creature, that is its name”.
Now according to what I have brought previously in the preview to Kol Hator the sixth hour of the sixth day corresponds to the period which began within the year 5708 and ended at the beginning of 5750. [5*41.66 +500 = 708.33 and 6*41.666 + 500 = 750].
Now according to this, Prof. Otto Elsner, of the Shenkar College of Fibers, who discovered a few years before the year of 5750 the secret of how to dye Tekhelet with the Trunculus mollusc and thereby solved the central problem that disturbed us in the matter of the identification of the Chilazon and renewing the mitzvah of Tekhelet, merited to receive special Diving Assistance, because of the period in which he acted. Namely, the period of “he called each creature by names”. And according to this, it is not correct, to compare between the merits of earlier generations to our generation – for they did not have the Divine Assistance for identification, that we had. A Divine Assistance that is not dependant upon our good deeds that much, but rather by a plan set at the very beginning by the Holy One Blessed be He.
And perhaps one should add that as far as materialistic striving is concerned, it seems that Elsner exerted himself in the matter of renewing Tekhelet more than the majority of the people of the earlier generations, that lacked this mitzvah. As explained in chapter 5 of Kol Hator “Divine Assistance in a general way and in particular in a miraculous way comes measure for measure. In accordance to the measure that a person puts out, so, they measure for him from heaven, that is to say, that to the same degree that the action of a mitzva is performed in an actual way by natural strivings, to the same degree comes to him Divine Assistance from heaven.”
Now I felt an obligation to mention this matter, because as I see things, the outlook of the great Rabbis on the subject of the development of the redemption has had and continues to have an effect on the readiness or lack of readiness of these great Rabbis to renew the mitzvah of Tekhelet.

#Section 19 of this article has not yet been translated from Hebrew into English but sections 20, 21, and 22 are available.
20 The Viewpoint of the Vilna Gaon On The Subject of the Number of Tekhelet Strings That One Should Put On

An Introduction

There are Rishonim, such as, Rambam, that ruled that one thread out of the eight (after it has been tied) will be Tekhelet and the rest will be white (or other colors).

    There are Rishonim such as,  Meiri, who held that two out of the eight threads be Tekhelet.

    Rashi, Rabbeinu Tam, Rosh and Baal Ha’itur, and more, held that four out of the 8 threads be Tekhelet.

    Rabbi Tzvi (Hershel) Schachter established that for practical halachic purposes the ruling is four out of eight threads.

    As sources for  his opinion he brought Mishna Brura, Chapter 9, siman katan 7 and the author of the Shulchan Aruch, to chapter 12, siman 1, on the matter of torn threads, who brought the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam*, as halacha, that we always use two threads of Tekhelet and two of white [before tying them into 8]. And so too, see the Mishna Brura, Chapter 9, siman katan 14, in the name of the Malbim, that with two threads [before tying] that are like the garment  and two threads that are made from wool, he has done properly, for there are two separate parts to the commandment regarding Tzitzit, two strings of white and two strings of Tekhelet.

    *In my humble opinion, although Mishna Brura rules that two out of four strings be Tekhelet, he leans more towards Rashi’s view on why  two Tekhelet strings should be used and not Rabbeinu Tam’s view [see comment #11 of the Mishna Brura to O.C. chapter 12].

    Also the Tur and the Chazon Ish (and in the view of the Beit Yosef {Rabbi Yosef Karo}, even the Raavad) stated that we should make the strings of Tekhelet in accordance to the amount mandated by Rashi and Tosafot {Rabbeinu Tam was one of the Tosafot} and so too does the author of Aruch Hashulchan {Rabbi Epstein}  lean (but not in an absolute way). However, I must admit the truth, that currently, from what I see on the street, the majority (who are in actual way using Tekhelet) seem to be going by Meiri’s viewpoint and in accordance to the textual version of Raavad’s critiques of Rambam that we have (namely 2 out of 8). And some important Rabbis (for example, Rabbi Dov Lior, Shlit”a) act in accordance with Rambam’s viewpoint.

Rabbi Eliyahu Tevger, Shlit”a wrote:

    On the question of the position of our Rabbi, the Gaon of Vilna, on this issue, we seemingly have a great confusion. In three places our Rabbi relates to the subject, regarding the number of strings of Tekhelet, and in each one, he expresses a different opinion. In his commentary to Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 12:5) he holds like the view of Rashi and Tosafot and shows support for their views from various sections of the Gemara and Sifri. In his commentary to Safra Dtsniuta (chapter 5, on the words Shiva Rehitin) he explains in accordance to Rambam, and in his commentary to the Zohar, Yahel Ohr (Parshat Pinchas 228b), he explains according to Raavad’s opinion {comment: that in his critiques of the Rambam, it is written in the texts that we have, that we use 2 Tekhelet strings out of the 8) and he writes that viewpoint that should be accepted is as he {Raavad} says.

For Rabbi Eliyahu Tevger’s explanation for the contradiction within the words of the Vilna Gaon, see the internet article in Hebrew at http://tekhelet.com/pdf/hagra.pdf . But in my humble opinion, there is another way to explain the words of the Vilna Gaon.
In the commentary of Tifferet Yisrael to Menachot Chapter 4, the author of Tifferet Yisrael establishes:
“That it is a mitzva to put on the each corner 4 strings. One or two strings of Tekhelet and the rest white. But if all of them were white or all of them were Tekhelet, he has fulfilled his obligation”.
Now it appears to me that in the opinion of Tifferet Yisrael there is an option either to use one Tekhelet string or two. For in his opinion, from the verse “G’dillim {a Hebrew term defined by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan as, bound or doubled tassels} you shall make for yourself”, we learn just that there is an obligation to put 4 strings (before tying into 8) on every corner. But we don’t learn from this verse at all, how many strings out of the 4 have to be Tekhelet.
And if so it is possible to fulfill the obligation of the verse “and the corner is a P’til {a Hebrew term to be defined later on}of Tekhelet”, either by one string of Tekhelet or by two.
Now many ask, how is it possible that P’til  of  Tekhelet be more than one string, for seemingly, there would have been a need to write P’tilei {which denotes the plural form of P’til} if the intent was for two?
Now one can respond that this is an ancient dispute. For Beit Hillel and seemingly Targum Unkelos to Numbers 15:38 indeed held that P’til= a string. However, Beit Shammai (and the halacha is in accordance with Beit Shammai on this matter) and the Targum Yerushalmi explain that P’til = a twisted ply as shown in the attached picture (and does not instruct us on the amount of Tekhelet strings that we should use).

unraveled string I partially unravelled a Tekhelet string for this picture to show that each Tekhelet string is a twisted ply.

And so too, Rashi in his commentary to the Torah (Exodus 39:31) proves that the term P’til Tekhelet is not limited specifically to one string. Now here is a translated quote:
“And do not be surprised that it didn’t say {in the text that discusses the strings that fasten certain garments of the Temple priesthood} P’tilei Tekhelet {which more simply denotes multiple strings} since they are multiple {strings}, for behold we have found regarding the breastplate and the Ephod –‘They laced the breastplatewith a P’til Tekhelet‘ (Exodus 39:21) and you are compelled to agree that there were not less than two, for behold at the two edges of the breastplate were two rings of the breastplate and on the two shoulders of the Ephod, that were opposite them, and according to the way of tying, there were four strings, but in any case less than two is not possible”, {end of quote.}

One should further add that also the Hebrew word Oto {or Oso depending on your accent}spelled אותו

that appears in the section describing the mitzvah of Tzitzit (Numbers 15:39)

 And it shall be for you for Tzitzit and you shall see  אותו

where the word Oto is either defined in English as the word, it or as the word, him, although it is in the singular form, still is not a proof that one should use only one string of Tekhelet, for our Sages used  this word to derive the Torah’s viewpoint on other issues regarding Tzitzit {not connected to the issue of how many Tekhelet strings to use}.
Therefore it appears to me, that as far as the absolute truth is concerned, the Vilna Gaon held that it is sufficient to use one string out of the four {before tying} for Tekhelet, however because there is an option similar to the viewpoint of the Tifferet Yisrael to use either one or two, for practical halachic action, we are obligated to be stringent in accordance to the views of Rashi and Tosafot (who demand that two out of the four strings be Tekhelet).

   21 A Discussion of the Viewpoint of the Rosh on Tying Tzitzit With Tekhelet

In the commentary of the Rosh on the Torah in the book Hadar Z’kainim, at the end of Parshat Shelach it is written:
And I heard that the windings for each corner be 3 sets of 9 windings and the last set of 12 windings. The three sets of 9 windings and the 1 set of twelve windings = 39 which has the same numeric value as the words G-d is one. Furthermore I have heard that the sum of all the windings and sets of windings called Chulyot and knots and strings = 248, like the limbs of a man, and check and find if you are proficient in numbers: 4 * 39 = 156, and 5 knots and 4 Chulyot and 8 strings behold this is equal to 23***; if so if we multiply 4 * 23 we arrive at the sum 248.
*** Now this needs further investigation for we need another 6 to reach the number 23; now it is possible that we can complete the number in the following manner: 5 double knots which behold is 10 + 8 strings + 4 chulyot + the hole in the garment to which they are tied = 23 or perhaps one can reach the number 23 by counting the G’dil (the upper third of the strings of the Tzitzit) instead of counting the hole.
Now in Hilchot Ketanot, Hilchot Tzitzit of the Rosh, printed in the back of tractate Menachot in point # 15 it is written:
“Tekhelet wrapped around the majority of the length of the strings is kosher. And even if he just wrapped one Chulya {singular of Chulyot} it is kosher. And the beautiful fulfillment of the mitzvah of Tekhelet is a third Gedil and two thirds Anaf {that is that one third of the length of the strings are tied and wrapped together and two thirds of the length is loose as separate strings}. Now, what is the measurement for a Chulya {set of windings}? It was taught that Rebbe says, so that one can wind {around the other strings} and repeat this a second time and a third time. It was taught in a Baraita one who wishes to do less should not do less than 7 and one that wishes to add should not do more than 13. One should not do less than 7 in correspondence to the 7 heavens. and one should not add more than 13 in contrast to 7 heavens and the 6 spaces {or atmospheres} between them. It was taught in a Baraita, one begins with the white and ends with white, one goes up in holiness and does not lower it. Now it seems that specifically when there is Tekhelet do we have to be scrupulous about the number of Chulyot. For the Tekhelet is recognized by the Chulyot and resembles the heaven {or sky} and the white resembles the spaces {or atmospheres} between each heaven. However in our times that we lack Tekhelet we do not have to be scrupulous about the number of Chulyot {as defined by Rebbe earlier, these are sets of three windings} and for this reason we do not have to knot  the strings to differentiate between each of the Chulyot, for such or knotting is to recognize the number of Chulyot. And as far as making 5 knots, we have not found a support for this; for in the days of the sages they would make at the very least 7 knots. As it was stated, “one who wishes to do less should not do less than 7” and upon each Chulya {set}, a knot. But if we will explain that the obligation to tie that was stated,  refers to one set of white together with one set of Tekhelet, then we will find a basis for the 5 knots. For at the beginning one ties a knot close to the corner of the garment and then wraps a Chulya {set} of white and a Chulya of Tekhelet and then ties another knot, behold there are now 2 knots. Then another white and another Tekhelet which is then tied with a knot, behold there are now three. And still another white and another Tekhelet, which is then tied with a knot, behold this is a total of 4. Then one ends with white alone and ties a knot and behold there are 5. Now Rashi commented that in regards to what they said that the mitzva of Tzitzit is equivalent to all the commandments, the reason being is that the Gematria {numerical value of the letters} of the word Tzitzit equals 600 which together with 8 strings and 5 knots comes to the value of 613 {the total number of Torah commandments}.
Now on first glance there is a contradiction between the words of the Rosh in Hadar Z’kainim {which I quoted at the beginning} and his words in Hilchot Ketanot.
Now in my humble opinion one can explain this in one of two ways.
If the words of the Rosh on the Torah were stated after his words in Hilchot Ketanot, one could explain that the Rosh discovered that indeed there is a strong basis for the words of our sages that one should tie Tzitzit with 5 knots (also in the time that Tekhelet exists}. For behold the Zohar and so too the Targum, Yonatan Ben Uziel \ Targum Yerushalmi on the end of Parshat Shelach, obligate us to tie 5 knots. And so too, did Midrash Tanchuma write in accordance with Rashi’s view that the Gematria of the word Tzitzit together with 8 strings and 5 knots equals 613.
After the Rosh saw that there was room to establish the custom of 5 knots, he decided that it is fitting to combine the custom with the simple wording of the Talmud. That is to say that the first and last Chulya {set} be white and that there should be a total of 7 Chulyot {sets} of Tekhelet, corresponding to the 7 heavens and 6 Chulyot {sets} of white corresponding to the empty spaces {or atmospheres}.
And it is possible to tie in the following way in order to fulfill all the required numbers:
1] A double knot close to the corner of the garment, a Chulya of white, a Chulya of Tekhelet and then another Chulya of white.
2] A double knot, a Chulya of Tekhelet, a Chulya of white, and a Chulya of Tekhelet.
3] A double knot, a Chulya of Tekhelet, a Chulya of white, and a Chulya of Tekhelet.
4] A double knot, a Chulya of Tekhelet, a Chulya of white, and a Chulya of Tekhelet followed with a final Chulya of white.
5] A double knot
Or else, even if we say that the words of the Rosh in Hilchot Ketanot come after his commentary to the Torah, it is possible to say that the Rosh himself, was not convinced that there is an obligation to tie with 5 knots. But his rabbis were convinced. So the Rosh, though he did not find a strong proof to support the words of his rabbis also did not find a reason to oppose the words of his rabbis.
קשירה עם תכלת

22 Is There An Obligation Not to Change The Tying Method Used For Tzitzit That Lack Tekhelet?

    The Mishna Brura in comment 70 to O.C. chapter 11 stresses  the Gematrias [numerical values of the letters] that one obtains by winding 7 windings followed by 8, 11, and 13 with 5 double knots to separate between them, when we tie Tzitzit without Tekhelet. He didn’t relate at all to the viewpoint that holds, “one should not do less than 7 nor add more than 13”  is a reference to the windings instead of a reference to the Chulyot [sets of three windings] that are to be used for Tzitzit. And afterwards the Mishna Brura adds “And in the Tzitzit of Rabbi Shlomo Molcho there was in the first space {between the double knots} 10 windings and afterwards 5 etc. which adds up to the numerical value of {the 4 lettered, Hebrew name for} G-d”. [M.A.] And see the Levush and Eliya Rabba for more on the matter of the windings” {end of quote}.
That is to say that in the opinion of Rabbi Shlomo Molcho certainly the requirement of the Talmud, “one should not do less than 7 nor add more than 13” is a reference to the Chulyot {sets of three windings} and not a reference to the number of windings between the double knots and we are not scrupulous regarding the Chulyot or  a specific type of winding at a time when we do not have Tekhelet, in accordance with the viewpoint of the Rosh and the majority of the Rishonim.
And afterward I looked in the writings of the Levush and Eliya Rabba and I was happy to find that they also accept the explanation of the requirement “one should not do less than 7 nor add more than 13” as a reference to the Chulyot {sets of three windings} and not as a reference to the amount of windings between the double knots; and in a time where there is no Tekhelet we are not scrupulous to tie in such a way.
The Levush even writes that even in an ideal situation it is possible to change from the way in which we tie, namely, 7 windings followed by 8,11, and 13 each one according to his intentions {about what the windings signify} and just to fulfill a rabbinic requirement, we should keep the use of 5 {double} knots which correspond to the 5 books {chumashim} of the Torah.
And Eliya Rabba adds that Rabbi Shlomo Molcho tied 10 and then 5 etc. …
Now see also that in the Levush, the reason for the windings of 7,8,11, and 13 is to hint at matters of the heavens and the stars; for at the time when Tekhelet existed, they tied to recall the heavens. See there for an extended explanation.
In summary, it seems that the Mishna Brura rules that even in a time when Tekhelet does not exist, it is permissible at the outset to wind with less than 7 windings in accordance to the viewpoints of Levush and Eliya Rabba.
The viewpoint of Beit Yosef {written by Rabbi Yosef Karo} is slightly different. The majority of the Rishonim that the Beit Yosef brought supported the explanation that one should not do less than 7 Chulyot {sets} nor add more than 13. However, the custom in his opinion, is to act in accordance to the viewpoint that we should not do less than 7 windings {between the double knots}.
Now one should ask is this custom just a stringency to be adhered to only for the time that Tekhelet does not exist or was this a ruling also for a time when Tekhelet does exist, and this matter requires further investigation.
And one should point out that the Beit Yosef wrote that one should wrap 7,9,11,13 and not 7,8,11, and 13 windings.
Now one should point out that according to the viewpoint of Rambam one should wind with one winding of white, followed by 19 windings of Tekhelet in the middle, followed by one winding of white at the end. Therefore one who ties 7 windings of white, followed by 8 of Tekhelet, 11 of Tekhelet, and 13 of white together with 5 double knots, will arrive at results that are not that far from Rambam’s viewpoint, for 8+11=19.

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