Tuesday, July 01, 2008

How many strings of תכלת?

Recently I have seen in a number of places people recommending to wear 1 string of techeles like the Rambam.

Regarding the number of strings of techeles 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

Those who wear like the Rambam make the following חשבון. They say that according to the Rambam if you put on more then 1 (out of 8) strings of Techeles, you are not יוצא the mitzva of ציצית at all while according to everyone else while you are not יוצא techeles (with 1 string) at least you are יוצא the mitzva of ציצית.

I don't find this argument very compelling. One of the arguments to wear techeles nowadays is that since it is available, if you don't wear it you are עובר בל תגרע. However, if you only wear 1 string you would still be עובר בל תגרע according to Rashi and Tosafos.

The fact is that 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

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

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 Ashkenazi psak would seem to be clearly like Rashi and Tosafos that you need 4 strings of techeles. The Taz, Shulchan Harav and the Mishna Berura are the עמודי ההוראה for Ashkenazi psak. Therefore, I don't understand how anyone can recommend to an Ashkenzi to follow the psak of the Rambam.

I have heard that this is how RHS and R' ZN Goldberg pasken as well, to put on 4 strings of techeles.


Rafi G said...

I have heard that of RHS as well, but I did not know that the Garzen recommends that. Hafuch - I spoke to a very close talmid of his about tcheiles (albeit not about what the garzen does) and he wears two strings, not four.
I wear two.

People like the Rambam and consider him more authentic than the average posek. If the rambam said something, many will do it regardless of other poskim.

bluke said...

WADR 2 seems to make the least sense. You are going against both the Ashkenazi poskim and the Rambam.

Josh said...

And what about the Aruch Hashulchan?
Is he not an amud?How sad.

bluke said...


The AHS does not pasken like the Rambam. He quotes Rashi and Tosafos that you need 2 (which is 4) strings, that Rambam that it is only 1, the Semag who seems to say either one. He then points out that from Tosafos it is clear that you need specifically 2. He does not offer a conclusive psak (as it was not relevant הלכה למעשה when he wrote the AHS).

bluke said...

Just to make it clear. The Aruch Hashulchan doesn't give a psak on this issue (because it was not relevant at that time). He quotes the various shitos and leaves it at that.