The Response of Rabbi Moshe Zuriel ZT”L Against the Claims of the Opponents of Techelet 1) Is There Arrogance in This? 2) The Behavior of the Gedolim of the Generation 3) Messiah

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Hebrew Source:

Rabbi Moshe Zuriel

August 25, 2019 · (24 Av 5779)

White and Techelet Tzittzit StringsQuestion: It occurred to me to hang Techelet threads in my Tzitzit garment, because I saw several people who did so. But recently some Chareidi rabbis announced that this should not be done. [A] They claimed that there is arrogance in this. [B] They claimed that the great men (Gedolim) of the generation did not act like this. [C] They claimed that the Arizal said that the Messiah would come before the revelation that will restore the usage of Techelet. And he still hasn’t come. What should I do? Am I ruining something by doing this?

Answer: Definitely it is fitting to hang Techelet strings on your Tzitzit garment. [A] There is no arrogance in this, just as there is no arrogance in the fact that thousands of people place Tefillin of Rabbi Tam on their heads, every morning after the repeat of the Shmoneh Esrei by the Chazan, even though none of the greats of the generation do so. [See the words of the Chida quoted in “Shaarei Tshuva” to the Shulchan Aruch (O.C 34:2)]. He was concerned about arrogance only when there is one individual uniquely doing this, and not when there are thousands like him who do so. What does it resemble? A few hundred years ago, Mahari Bruna (responsa #96) wrote that a youth who wears a small tallit over his clothes on the outside, is guilty of arrogance “and he acts so, is nothing but someone who is acting bizarrely”. But at this time when hundreds of thousands of youths of Ashkenazi origin are acting like this, who will say that there is anything wrong with that? Which of the rabbis prevents them from doing so?

[Also Arizal who feared this because of arrogance (Shaar HaKavanot, the matter of Tzizit, end of Drush #6), this is only because at the time most people did not walk with their strings displayed outside. And he did not see the words of the Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 8, section 11) that one should wear a garment with Tzitzit above his clothes, because the Shulchan Aruch was not printed at the time].

[B] What they claimed that the Gedolim of the generation did not act in this way themselves, this is not an obstacle for those who want to fulfill a Torah mitzvah in the case of doubt. After all, the Torah ordered to hang both a white thread and a Techelet thread. In the Gemara, they gave advice on how to check if the color with which the thread was dyed is really Techelet (Menachot 42b – 43a) and since those producing these threads for sale [from the chilazon] checked the issues, they should be trusted.

I asked my teacher and rabbi, Rav Shreya Dublitzky ZT”L if I use Techelet threads and perhaps it is not the true Techelet, whether I have ruined the mitzvah, that not all the threads are white? And he answered me that the color does not change the fulfillment of the mitzvah. There is only a general custom that the threads be the same color as the garment, but it is not a hindrance to the fulfillment of the mitzvah. And he told me that since there is a doubt about the fulfillment of a Torah mitzvah each and every moment, it is appropriate to be strict and to fulfill the mitzvah with a garment also containing Techelet.

The fact that the Gedolim of the generation are not scrupulous in wearing Techelet is not proof. Just like the vast majority of them don’t daven “Vatikin” all year round, and just like vast majority of them don’t put on Tefillin all day long. Is it conceivable that a simple person does not deserve to fulfill these mitzvot, if he is motivated to do so?

In the name of Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin, who said in the name of the Gra on the issue of putting on Tefillin all day, they brought: “And we are not concerned about arrogance.” And would that it be, that the onlookers would do the same. And he said in the name of his Rabbi, the Gra, that at this time religious arrogance (Yohara) is not a relevant issue, and on the contrary it is appropriate to publicize it… and the main thing is that everything should be for the sake of heaven.” (Hanhagat Keter Rosh-Orach Chaim, in the Siddur of the Gra, Sec. 15).

[C] What they claimed that we are prevented from wearing Techelet because the Messiah has not yet come, by using a computer search, I searched in all the writings of Arizal, and I did not find that he said so. Rather in Shaar HaKavanot (the matter of the Tzitzit, Drush 4) it says that we had Techelet while the Temple existed. And he says “that we don’t have Techelet at this time”. But the simple meaning of his words is that he speaks of his time, nearly five hundred years ago. And he did not establish that we will not have it until the Messiah comes. Nor did he establish that there is a condition for the Temple to exist (first). Apparently, the opponents of Techelet made a mistake to say so in his name from their own memory, and today their words are quoted without any basis, neither in the Zohar nor in the Arizal.

The sage promised many good things to those that wear Tzitzit. If you check precisely, you will find that many of the promises belong precisely to those wearing Techelet. Regarding Scripture (Bamidbar 15:39) “And you will see it and remember all the commandments of Hashem” they said in Yerushalmi (Berachot Ch. 1, Halachah 2):

“And you shall see it, so that it will be recognizable among the dyed threads. It was taught in the name of Rabbi Meir ‘it is not written you will see אותה’ [a feminine pronoun, which fits together with the word Tzitzit], Rather and you will see אותו [a masculine pronoun] this it to inform us that everyone who observes the mitzvah of Tzitzit is as if receiving the Divine Presence in front of him. This is to inform us that Techelet resembles the sea, and the sea resembles the grass, and the grass resembles the sky, and the sky resembles the throne of honor. And the throne resembles a sapphire, as it says “I looked, and on the sky over the head of the cherub, there was something like a sapphire stone; an appearance resembling a throne.”

And in the Babylonian Talmud they said (Sota 17a) Rava expounded in the reward that Avraham our father said, “If from a thread unto a shoelace” (Breishit 14:23) his sons merited to receive two commandments, a thread of Techelet and the strap of Tefillin. It is understood well that they got the strap of Tefillin for it is written “And all the nations of the earth shall see that the name of Hashem is called upon you, and they shall fear you” and Rabbi Eliezer the Great says that these are the Tefillin of the head. But the thread of Techelet what is so special about this? For it was taught in a Braita, Rabbi Meir would say, “Why is Techelet distinct from all kinds of dyes because Techelet resembles the sea, and the sea resembles the sky, and the sky resembles the throne of glory as it is written (Shmot 24:10) And they saw a vision of the L-rd of Israel and beneath his feet was something like a sapphire brick like the essence of a clear sky (the color of heaven is definitely Techelet!); and it is written “there was something like a sapphire stone; an appearance resembling a throne.”

Who has seen all these promises and not longed to merit observing this precious commandment? So don’t listen to those who discourage you from this.