Hadassim and Tekhelet

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Excerpt from: A Solution to Fundamental Problems Regarding Tekhelet

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.
hadassim 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}.

tzitzitOne 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.