Q: What is the correct way to tie Techeilles?
A: Interestingly enough, there is actually no source found in the meforshim, commentaries, to tie techeilles the way we currently tie lavan (regular white tzitzis). The reason for this is because the way regular white tzitzis is currently tied was invented after techeilles was lost, aproximately 1,300 years ago! This is because the way techeilles is tied is intrinsically connected to the color blue and is symbolic of the different reki’im and levels of shamayim, heaven; such symbolism simply doesn’t apply to the color white alone. Therefore, when we now have access to techeilles once again B”H, it makes the most logical sense to tie techeilles in accordance with a source for how techeilles can be tied as it’s now available once again!
As there are no prescribed minhagim, customs, that one must follow with techeilles (because it has unfortunately been lost from practice for so long), all different ways to tie techeilles that are suggested by the different poskim, halachik opinions, are all kosher and valid. Nonetheless, we would encourage you to try to follow the opinion of the posek based upon your Ashkenaz, Sephardic, or Chasidic assosciation. Please note that this is just a suggestion and doesn’t have any particular “authority.” One of the most important parts of the mitzvah of tzitzis is seeing it – “וראיתם אותו”, and therefore choose a shita, method of tying, that is aesthetically pleasing to your eye!
Q: There is another much cheaper version of Techeilles on the market (not carried by M.W.) that is labeled “Radzyn Techeiles.” I know that it’s made from a squid, as opposed to the techeilles produced by “P’til Tekhelet” that is produced by a murex trunculus, however is it still kosher?
A: Radzyn Techeiles is made using the ink from a cuttlefish. Rav Herzog, who corresponded with the Radzyner Rebbie about Techeilles, obtained the Rebbi’s formula directly from the Rebbie. He gave it to chemists for analysis and they told him that it was simply the formula for the well known synthetic dye Prussian Blue. They explained that the blue coloration comes from added metal filings, the cuttlefish ink being completely burned off and only supplying Nitrogen which could be obtained from a multitude of other organic sources such as Ox blood. As such, the Rebbie had apparently been duped by the chemists of his day because he writes explicitly that the color of the dye comes from the chillazon itself:
“And with the help G-d it has come to my hands to extract, from the blood of the cuttlefish which is] black as ink, the color tekhelet in a manner which nothing affects the color other than the blood of the chillazon; and the chemical additives are colorless and only work to extract the color from the blood” (Sifrei HaTekhelet, Ptil Tekhelet, p.168).
Another important point is the color itself. The Gemara (Bava Metzia 61) teaches that techeilles is identical in color to the forgery dye kela ilan – known as indigo (used in the past for many things, such as Levis jeans). The Radzyn dye is not even close to resembling this blue, whereas the dye from the Murex trunculus has been found not only to resemble it visually, but is molecularly identical to indigo!
It should be noted that none of this is to impugn the good name of the Radzyner Rebbie; on the contrary, he was undoubtedly the father of the Techeilles renaissance. He did much important work and investigation on a great many aspects of this issue which we still refer to today. And more importantly, he awakened in B’nei Yisrael, the Jewish people, the possibility of renewing this lost Mitzvah D’oraisa – not to speak of the awareness to work for the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash.