Sunday, June 10, 2007

How many strings of תכלת should there be for ציצית?

In this past week's parsha we have the mitzva of ציצית. The string(s) of תכלת are a central part of the mitzva that have been missing for between 1000 - 1500 years. In recent times there are those that claim that they have rediscovered תכלת. An interesting question comes up, how many strings of תכלת should there be.

There seems to be 3 different opinions in the Rishonim:
1. Rambam (הל' ציצית פרק א' הל' ו) writes that 1 out of the 8 strings should be תכלת
2. The Raavad there disagrees and says that 2 of 8 strings should be תכלת
3. Rashi and Tosafos in מונחות ל"ח hold that half of the strings (4) should be תכלת

There seems to be a fundamental dispute. Rashi and Tosafos seem to hold that תכלת and white are equal and together they make up ציצית. The Rambam however, seems to hold that תכלת is used to wrap around the white, there is a fundamental distinction between the 2, white are the strings and תכלת is the wrapper.Therefore, only 1 string is תכלת.

How do we pasken? Here we run into the same issue that I mentioned by Shemitta, we have no mesora of psak. We have a machlokes harishonim but no הכרעה. The Shulchan Aruch, Rama, Magen Avraham, etc. do not discuss the issue because it was not הלכה למעשה. Therefore, we now have to pasken with a 700 year gap.

What makes it worse is that the shitos seem to be exclusionary. If you do like the Rambam (1 string תכלת) then for sure you are not יוצא the din of תכלת according to Rashi and Tosafos as according to them you need 4 strings of תכלת. On the other hand, if you do like Rashi and Tosafos, according to the Rambam you may not be יוצא the din of white strings, because it would seem according to the Rambam you need 7 white strings.

It would be interesting to hear from those who wear תכלת how many strings they have תכלת and why.


It seems that more rishonim and acharonim then I thought dealt with the issue and most pasken like Rashi and Tosafos.

Almost all the חכמי אשכנז (Maharam MiRutenberg, Mordechai, Rid, Semak, etc.) pasken like Rashi and Tosafos as well as both the Rosh and the Tur.

The majority of acharonim (who discuss the issue) also seem to pasken like Rashi and Tosafos.

Taz - או"ח סימן ט' סעיף ב'
בזמן שהיה תכלת מצוותו שיקח שני חוטין וכו': דכתיב גדילים תעשה לך אין גדיל פחות
משנים - גדילים ארבע והיינו שני מינים וסברא שיהיו שני המינים שווים שני חוטים מהאי
מינא ושנים מהאי מינא

Gra - או"ח סימן י"א סעיף י"ב is משמע that he paskens like Tosafos (although some argue that he holds like the Rambam)

Mishna Berura - סימן ט' ס"ק ז paskens like Rashi and Tosafos (half techeles half white):

בזמן הזה - פי' דבזמן שהיה תכלת שהיה צריך להטיל ד' חוטין שני חוטי לבן ושני חוטי

The Aruch Hashulchan mentions the machlokes Rashi and the Rambam and is not מכריעה

Shulchan Aruch Harav - הל' ציצית סימן ט' סעיף ד'

י"א שאין ציצית של צמר ופשתים פוטרין בבגדים של שאר מינים אלא א"כ יהיו הציצית צמר
ופשתים יחדיו דהיינו ב' חוטין תכלת וב' חוטין פשתים...

The bottom line is that the majority of the Rishonim amd Acharonim hold like Rashi and Tosafos that there should be 4 strings of Techeles.

Based on this I am very surprised that most people who wear techeles wear only 2 blue strings.


Rafi G said...

I wear 2 strings per 8, or in other words 1 per four. That is what most people do. BTW, the mishna brura paskens on it even though it was not halacha l'maasa in his time and says to wear 2 of four....

bluke said...

Like the Raavad? The Mishna Berura paskens like Rashi and Tosafos that it is 4 strings? If so, how come people aren't noheg like the Mishna Berura?

bluke said...

I updated the post based on further research, it seems like the overwhelming majority of Rishonim and acharonim pasken like Rashi and Tosafos (equal number of techeles and white) including the Mishna Berura

Chanoch said...

RHS paskens 2 blue 2 white, like Rashi Tosfos, as we are Bnei Ashkenaz. Someone told me that they had asked him what to do with a begged that was tied like Raavad (1/4) and he said to untie and retie the front like Rashi Tos, and leave the back all white, and when you are able to get another 4 blue, to redo the back. Obviously, this is not to pasken, but to raise the issue for further investigation.

As to those who "hold" like the Raavad - without getting into individuals who wear 1/4 - it is probably worth noting that Raavad techeles is the cheapest, as it is half of Rashi Tos, and although "double" that of Rambam, is easier to make, as Rambam needs to dye half of one string. Perhaps this explains some of the populatiry with Raavads shita.

Ari said...

I assume the popularity of the "one string" shittah has to do with what is perceived as the pshat of the passuk. Also, I have not seen the Gr"a inside, but Rav Schachter quoted the Gr"a as being strongly against rashi/tosfot.

Ben-Yehudah said...

B"H I believe that the shitah of Amram Gaon is tied with 1 of 4 string dies tekheleth. In addition, the "wrapping" to form the g'dil is done alternating tekheleth, lavan, tekhelth, lavan...