Misnagdishe Techelet
The work of Amutat P'Til Tekhelet

May G-d grant me the wisdom to choose my words carefully
in writing this section.

In the last two years a wave has been created by a small, dedicated group of people to promote an alternative source for Techelet.

Their endeavor has culminated in the formation of a non-profit organisation called Amutat P'til Tekhelet, which has set out to promote the observance of the Commandment of placing a "blue" strand in the Tzitzith we wear on the corners of our garments (Number 15:37-41).

Their endeavors have succeeded in attracting the attention of a large segment of the Orthodox world who were totally apathetic to the cause of restoring the Commandment of Techelet. And for this alone, their work is worthy of praise.

For those who need the Hechsher, (Certificate of being Kosher), of a scientist, rather than that of a Tzaddik (A Righteous Saint), the work of Amutat P'til Tekhelet fits the bill.

In the last few months, a growing number of Rabbis have been lobbied by activists on behalf of the organisation, to give their backing to the Techelet being produced by the Amutah. Likewise, a number of articles have begun to appear in Jewish publications, printing the information provided by the Amutah without checking its veracity. The fact that its provided by scientists backed by Rabbis obviously makes it sufficiently Kosher to print, without the need to question its content, of which most editors are as ignorant as the readership which imbibes it.

If one looks at the list of Rabbis that have added their names in support of this "new Techelet" it becomes immediately apparent that they are all Misnagdim (those who oppose Chasidic teachings). That led me to the realization that what we were talking about here was a replay of the old Misnagid vs. Chasidic game, and I therefore named their Techelet "Misnagdishe Techelet" as opposed to the "Chasidishe Techelet" produced by Radzin, the Chasidim. The Chasidim will never wear their Techelet, and the Misnagdim won't wear the other's Techelet (except when no one is watching).

The only thing missing from the case of the supporters of the Amutah's theory is one little detail: logic. There is no way under heaven that the Murex Trunculus, the marine animal used by Amutat P'Til Tekhelet to produce Techelet, was the Chilazon, (the name that the ancients used to refer to the marine source of the dye), that our ancestors used to produce Biblical Techelet. No way. What is produced from the Murex Trunculus is Biblical Argamon (Purple). What the Amutah is producing from the Murex Trunculus is blue Argamon -- blue purple. Blue purple is not Techelet!

Everywhere, and I mean everywhere that the Talmud speaks of the source of Techelet, the sages always, and I repeat, ALWAYS, relate that Techelet comes from the Chilazon. Nowhere does our tradition bring down that Argamon comes from the Chilazon. If they both were produced from the same source, the sages would have at least once mentioned the connection. Therefore, the Murex Trunculus, the unquestioned source for Argamon, could not have been the Chilazon.

Techelet was produced for all of Israel, for all its uses, by one family. In fact the sages cursed the family for keeping the secret of the identity of the chilazon to themselves, thereby losing it and preventing us from fulfilling the Commandment for all these centuries.

How can a thinking person imagine that the many, many dying sites, with mounds of millions and millions of shells found scattered throughout the region (purple dying was a major industry in this area two millenia ago) was all the property of that one family? Since the good scientists at the Amutah want us to believe that those sites produced Techelet, they would all have to be of that family mentioned it the Talmud. Not!

One of the foundations of the Amutah's theory rests on the research of Dr. Israel Ziderman. In my first meeting with Dr. Ziderman in 1984, it was immediately apparent how important it was to him to be the "Baal HaTechelet". As soon as he discerned I was wearing Radziner Techelet, he launched into a fit of insults and snobbery which really woke me up. I knew right away that whatever he was selling, I for one wasn't about to buy it.

Some years ago, Dr. Ziderman ran tests on a piece of 7th century purple burial shroud and came to the conclusion that its dye source was the Murex Trunculus. He then went on to say that the burial shroud was dyed with Techelet and he has therefore rediscovered the source for Biblical Techelet. That makes sense, doesn't it? Did anyone else catch that?

We will continue to add to this discussion with time. With this much said we feel better about linking up with the Amutah's website. After all, we wouldn't want to mislead you by linking up without a disclaimer. Happy diving!

You can have a look Amutat P'Til Tekhelet's web site.

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