Tuesday, October 09, 2018

String Theory in the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Strings Attached. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study, two schools of biblical thought diverge over the ritual clothing fringes. Plus: Does a dead man get to wear tzitzit?
Yet here is an example of change as well as continuity, since today’s tzitzit do not include a sky-blue thread; the fringes are all white. That is because the “sky-blue” mentioned in the Torah is not simply a color, but a specific dye—tekhelet, made from a particular species called hilazon. In the ancient world, this was an expensive luxury, and at a certain point after the fall of the Roman Empire, the technique of making it was forgotten—indeed, today no one knows for sure exactly what a hilazon is. (The most likely candidate is a kind of snail.) So we are no longer able to fulfill the Torah commandment completely.

The question arises, then: Can the mitzvah of wearing tzitzit be performed in part, using white strings without blue strings? ...
For past PaleoJudaica posts on tekhelet dye, start here and follow the links.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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