The ATID Fellows visited the factory of Ptil
Tekhelet in June 2001. The Association for the Advancement and
Distribution of Tekhelet is under the direction of Joel Guberman, an
ATID Fellow. Joel and three colleagues have been responsible for the
renaissance of the lost mitzvah of tekhelet.
ATID Fellow Joel Guberman, diretor of Ptil Tekhelet
Tekhelet is one of the colors mentioned in the Torah,
traditionally associated with a shade of blue. It is mentioned frequently
alongside gold, silver and silk as a precious commodity. There is a
Biblical commandment to tie a thread of Tekhelet around the tzitzit
(fringes) of cornered garments.
Hashem spoke to Moshe saying: Speak to the Children
of Israel and say to them that they shall make themselves tzitzit on
the corners of their garments throughout their generations. And they
shall place upon the tzitzit of each corner a thread of tekhelet...
And you shall see it and remember all of the commandments of Hashem
and you shall do them. (Num. 15:37-39)
In addition, Tekhelet is required in the garments of
the High Priest, as well as for the coverings of the holy vessels. The
Talmud describes Tekhelet as coming from a sea-creature called a chilazon.
In a homiletic passage, the chilazon is characterized as "similar to
the sea, being similar to [but not] a fish, and coming up from the sea
once in seventy years [rarely]." Chilazon in modern Hebrew means
"snail". Rabbinic, historical, archaeological and chemical
evidence point to Murex trunculus snails as the source of Tekhelet.
Recently much has been accomplished to reestablish the tekhelet
dyeing process. In 1985, Rabbi Eliahu Tavger of Jerusalem began
researching and writing a book about ritual fringes - the tsitsit -
and became convinced that authentic tekhelet had been discovered.
Determined to actualize his newfound knowledge, and after much trial and
error, he succeeded in applying the process according to the halakha
from beginning to end. Based on Rabbi Tavger's pioneering work, P'til
Tekhelet was formed in an effort to provide tekhelet to the
general public. Today, after more than 1,300 years, tzitzit are
again being made with the elusive thread of tekhelet.
P'til Tekhelet is a non-profit organization based
in Israel, comprised of a small group of individuals who devote their time
to obtaining the snails, extracting the dye, and dyeing quantities of fine
quality, pure Merino wool. All their work is done by hand and lishma
- for the express purpose of making tzitzit as the halakha
requires. The wool is then spun (again by hand and lishma) into
pure blue strings by a foremost tzitzit maker in Jerusalem.
For more info go to: http://www.tekhelet.co.il/