Rabbi Yisroel Barkin Response to Rabbi Shlomo Miller on Techeiles

Source: https://www.techeiles.org/library_main/teguvah-leharav-shlomo-miller-meharav-yisroel-barkin/

Rabbi Yisroel Barkin Response (Translated)

*** NOTE: This translation is very raw and is being worked on for better accuracy and flow. ~Rafi Hecht ***

I saw a letter from Rabbi Shlomo Eliyahu Miller Shlit”a, head of The Toronto Kollel and Av Beis Din of Beis Horaah of Lakewood, in the matter of the Techeiles that is made today from the snail of the purpura that’s called Murex, which is titled as such according to our Acharonim  (the Shiltei Giborim R’ Avraham HaRofeh Portlaona, the addition to the Aruch, and the Chavos Yair, and the Yaavetz, and the Gaon R’ Samson Raphael Hirsch, and the Toafos Re’em).  The Gaon R’ Miller apparently has raised some huge difficulties for this Chilazon, which is hidden from some explicit issues in Shas.

But I again saw lots of letters brought from some extreme Talmidei Chachamim that answer these problems, and I researched them intensely and the sources they brought,  and I thought it would be useful if I would collect all the answers to these problems with extra consideration [though the vast majority of what I write is taken from others]. I’ll stress that I’m dust under the feet of the Gaon R’ Miller Shlit”a, on this Torah and I need to continue to learn. But this with Hashem’s help has begun.

At the beginning of the letter, Rabbi Miller wrote “and they change the mucus until it is really similar to Kala Ilan.”

And it seems that he wrote this language to challenge the Gemara “Chilazon blood” where this mucus of the Murax is not blood (as is known today, but it is not clear if there is no basis for the blood that is excreted and becomes mucus). But, it really is not a problem, because sometimes also other mucus is also referred to as blood (Check out Nidda (41:2 “אמר רבי יוחנן מקור שהזיע כשתי טיפי מרגליות” – “R’ Yochanan said, if the uterus produced a discharge that perspired like two pearl drops” (Rashi: “two pearl drops means blood that’s white and clear”). And see in Rambam Hilchos Klei HaMikdash – the vessels of the Temple 1:3 regarding musk that’s referred to blood even though it’s not literally blood.) And we have already stated that in the language of human beings, mucus of the Murex is called “blood” in Josephus (Antiquities 3:7:7), and if Torah language is done in the language of human beings, Kal V’Chomer should the language of Chazal be in the language of human beings.

And it shouldn’t be a Kasha, for if the above is the case, what’s Tosafos’ difficulty on Shabbos 75:1 (Ki Heichi) “The R”I (R’ Yitzchak of Dampierre) has an issue because in any case, Netilas HaDam (extracting blood) is Chayav for the Melacha of Netilas Neshama,” and if it’s not the blood of a living animal, what’s the problem? For it appears that the text is answered by Tosafos as follows: “And Rabbeinu Tam replied that Dam Chilazon is stored up, and one isn’t Chayav on the same blood.” As if to say that the blood for dyeing isn’t the lifeblood, rather another type of phlegm called “blood.”

And it shouldn’t be a Kasha that this isn’t proof, since now it’s possible that the lifeblood will also be stored up, and Tosafos’ Kashas are certainly understood to be as lifeblood, for if this wasn’t the case this issue wouldn’t be brought up at all. And if it was the case, this isn’t proof that the answers resolve this detail. This is not, as the Medakdek will see in Tosafos’ Lashon that’s written “the appearance of the color is stored away”, and we see from here that the rest of the blood isn’t dye worthy, and only the blood stored away in a sac is. And if this is the case, it’s joined against its will after finishing up the rest of the blood. (???)

It should also be known that it can’t be called mucus, since mucus is Davka something pressed out, since at any rate Rashi (Shmuel A 21:14), on the Pasuk “ויורד רירו אל זקנו” (and [David] let his saliva run down upon his beard). “his saliva: (Heb. ‘riro’) his saliva. Anything which drips is called ‘rir,’ and so: “in saliva (b’rir) of health” (Job 6:7), and so: “whether his flesh run (rar)” (Lev. 15:3).”

Rabbi Miller further writes “that the Gemara and Rambam explained that there is a test to differentiate between Techeiles and Kala Ilan (indigo), and what is made, the “new Techeiles” is exactly Kala Ilan, except that it’s made from a species of “murex”, and they change the secretion until it looks exactly like Kala Ilan, and there’s no chemical difference between them, and therefore it’s impossible to do that test to differentiate between them, and all that they claim to reject this clear evidence has “neither taste nor smell in it.

And on what he wrote that “it’s impossible to do that test to differentiate between them,” the reality is this isn’t correct. Since Kala Ilan is mostly comprised of this ingredient called indigoten, and it’s also heavily mixed with indirubin, and there’s also a small amount of other ingredients. But, the color of Techeiles produced from the “murex” also has bromine, an item that’s not found at all in Kala Ilan, and there’s only a small amount of indirubin found in the Murex Chilazon compared to what’s found in Kala Ilan [1] (as an aside, there are those that say that indirubin is crucial to binding the dye [2]).

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Even if this was really true, this isn’t proof at all that the binding strength was similar between Kala Ilan and Techeiles, since it’s known that there are also several other factors for the color strength [3] And it’s clear in the Responsa of Radvaz (Siman 685) who in his time found a method how to dye Isatis (a.k.a. Kala Ilan) [where the dye fastness] is stronger, but didn’t change the final binding strength (which is weaker), and this is a clear proof against the relying that the Kasha is foundational on itself. For if the color strength only depends on its chemical composition, how is it possible that the strength of Isatis changes? (???)

And it’s well known that in ancient times, the dyeing method of murex was known to produce incredibly dye-fast wool, and further, the dye of Kala Ilan was known in ancient times to not be as strong [4].

I further saw that the Gaon Shlit”a wrote “What’s done today after breaking a little of the shell, is that they cut a little of from the living animal, and they claim that you can find many like this from archeological excavations dating from earlier days. Behold, the Gemara is clear that besides the Issur of Tzeida (trapping), there is no Issur of Ptziyas Chilazon (cracking/squeezing the Chilazon) and Netilas HaTzeva (extracting the dye), and in the way they do it, it is shearing an item from a living animal, which all the authorities pronounce as a Melacha min HaTorah on Shabbos just like removing the foreskin from a living animal, which would make him liable – either for Netilas Neshama (killing it), or for Gozez (shearing), according to the Shita Mekubetzes (לפי”ד הש”מ ?) in Kesuvos, and if so, it’s clear from there that what they are doing is not the way to make Techeiles.”

And here the truth is, this isn’t a proof that this is what was done in the times of Chazal, since it’s possible to extract the blood via a couple of other methods, such as making an incision and extracting the blood, or to break the entire Chilazon as one to its case with a sledgehammer. And Aristotle is explicit that there were different ways in his days to extract the blood. And we wee as a proof from excavations, it’s not understood, since the excavations also have murex of different types. In a few places, shells are found that are opened in the manner where it’s possible to leave a portion of the Chilazon we have today, and in other places there are shells that are completely smashed, and therefore it’s impossible to prove from this that there was only one way to extract the dye.

And the topic itself is a Kasha, even if they brought every specimen that was certainly done in antiquity, even done in this manner it’s apparent that this is proof that there wasn’t an absolute Chiyuv for either Netilas Neshama or Gozez.

Netilas Neshama wasn’t an issue here, since the Rishonim (Ritva Shabbos 75A, in the name of his Rav the Ramban, and what he was brought down from the Ran in Shabbos 107A, as well as the Raavia on Shabbos Siman 194, page 236) wrote that there is no Chiyuv of Netilas Neshama on the Chilazon, until it’s killed because it has an opaque body (גוף אטום ) . And there’s no Kasha since the Rishonim wrote this to answer Tosafos Kashas on Shabbos 75A (Ki Heichi) “The R”I has an issue because Netilas HaDam is Chayav Netilas Neshama,” and here, according to Rabbeinu Tam’s answer, that the blood is stored away, we don’t need to answer the Ramban, and if so, since the Purpura Chilazon is according to Rabbeinu Tam, again this isn’t a proof to the Ramban’s Svara. For this isn’t it, since here, the reality is we see how this was a big and correct Svara in the eyes of the Ramban, and the rest of the Rishonim were left to answer the Gemara’s Kashas. If so, there is no double that it was possible to rely on this Svara to answer the Gaon Shlit”a’s Kasha (if there was a Kasha at all in the Metzius, which we see there is none).

Gozez wasn’t an issue here here, since all the Chidushim of the Shita Mekubetzes are that Gozes was through cutting flesh from a living animal, is only in context of Mila, as there is a Chiyuv of Gozez on the foreskin. And the Avnei Nezer (Orach Chaim Siman 131, see “Tani”) already wrote that the Chiyuv of Gozez (even according to the Shita Mekubetzes) is only related to Mila, since there’s a commandment to remove it, and in this case, it’s more like a luxury to the body. But not with other cuttings. And through this was what the Minchas Chinuch wrote (Musach HaShabbos, Meleches Gozez # 8).

I further saw that the Gaon Shlit”a wrote “It’s also clear from the Gemara that the manner of Ptziya is the manner of killing, except one does not have intention, thereby making it Netilas Neshama, and it is either a destructive act or a Psik Reisha deLo Nicha Lei (he is not interested in the inevitable consequence) regarding Netilas Neshama. The dye that’s produced, according to them is useful after 1-2 hours after death, and if so this also is a proof that this isn’t the Techeiles of the Gemara.”

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And here, he only brings this with the word “דבריהם” (according to them), and so with my speech with the Gaon Shlit”a. He told me that this insight only comes “according to them.” And when I I spoke with the Amutat Ptil Tekhelet, and after intense investigation into the source of this rumor,  it turned out to me that it was the same research that said the dye is good and useful. And it doesn’t start to spoil until two hours after it’s death we say so from a Svara, and we don’t check the matter, and only on the basis of his Svara did he bring up the stuff from the writings of the Amuta as if it’s a clear matter, and therefore it’s impossible to contract to contradict this. (???)

[And perhaps there’s what to add here, that it appears how in truth, there’s no proof from the Gemara, and it’s not brought in an explanation, that destroying the Dan immediately through Ptziys, and it’s always possible that until 2 hours, the blood doesn’t start to get destroyed. But still it’s called Psik Reisha DeLo Nicha Leih, which requires that the blood is left in a better state than that, that now since the Chilazon is dead, one needs to speed himself up to gather the blood, and specifically when he does Potzea to a number of Chelzonos at once, since each labor takes a long time, he needs all the time available. And in truth, the Gemara also explains that iot’s possible to dye from a dead Chilazon, as we see there, “R’ Yochanan said, when doing Potzea on a dead animal…”]

I further saw that the Gaon Shlit”a wrote “There’s also the Ha’Ara from the Teshuva of R’ Avraham ben HaRambam in Birkas Avraham to settle/resolve his father’s opinion/conflict that Chovel and Cholev (דחובל וחולב – inflicting a wound milking ) is Chayav in Dash (threshing) even though there is only Disha in (בגדו”ק ומה”ט) Gedulei Karka, that which grows from the ground) and for this reason there isn’t a liability of Disha in the Chilazon as explained in the Gemera. And he explains that actual Disha specifically requires that the item grow from the ground but the Tolada of Disha does not require that the item grow from the ground. And apparently taking mucus from the Chilazon isn’t true Disha, and AT MOST it’s the Tolada of Disha which does not require the condition that the item grow from the ground as per the Rambam.”

And here, we don’t know what the Kasha is on the murex more than what Rashi writes (Shabbos 75A) that Ptziya is “he pushed with his hand to extract blood,” here also to Rashi’s understanding, this is the Tolada of Disha, and if so, there is a Kasha according to R’ Avraham ben HaRambam on Rashi’s words.

But in truth, the murex Chilazon obviously sides with the Shitta of R’ Avraham ben HaRambam, since it’s possible that he explained that Ptziya is the act of removing the Nartik (casing) (and not like Rashi) from the body of the Tolaas. And it’s logical that this is the Av Melacha of Dash which really resembles Disha of grain. And thus it seems from the words of the Responsa of Birkas Avrohom (Siman 19) that the writing of Ptziyas Chilazon is “crushing and cutting like Potzea of walnuts,” and Ptziya of walnuts is crushing in order to remove the walnut from its shell (see Beitza 34:a and Rashi there).

And Rashi who doesn’t explain it like this, it’s not a Svara that the Chilazon doesn’t have a casing. Rather, the Iglei Tal (Meleches Dash 160[7] Os 25-26) explains this matter that explains that according to Rashi, even though the Chilazon has a casing (in his Lashon KeAra – bowl), one isn’t liable for Dash when extracting it from the casing. It’s only when he removes the blood, since that when there is an item with two casings, there’s no Chiyuv in Disha, only with te removal of the inner covering, since in practice this will reveal the (desired) object. And R’ Avraham ben HaRambam states that it’s possibly reasonable based on R’ Hai Gaon and Rabbeinu Channanel, of whom the Iglei Tal explains there, based on their knowledge that there is a Chiyuv of Disha on each shell, and therefore based on that understanding, there is Disha on Ptziya of the Nartik, and “everything is ethical and pleasing.”

I further saw that R’ Miller was provoked by the Rishonim being divided on the number of Techeiles strings required, and if one does more than a half string, one enters the Chashash of Bal Tosif based on the Rambam. And without entering the Sugya of Bal Tosif, this very question is puzzling. For if we suppose that we have Techeiles today, how can it be argued that one should not wear more than a half a Techeiles string out of fear of Bal Tosif? What other choice is there? To wear only a half a string? So according to his own words, if we were to be concerned of Bal Tigra according to the rest of the Rishonim, we shouldn’t wear Techeiles at all? Even then, there is the opinion of Bal Tigra according to the Beis HaLevi (8:42) which namely for Bitul Aseh, which all hold is with Techeiles. And in fact, there are other reasons why one shouldn’t be concerned at all for Bal Tosif and Bal Tigra. Refer to the end of the Kuntreiss “Chotem Shel Zahav” what’s written there.

I further saw that the Gaon Shlit”a wrote “I have also seen that one of the supporters for the new Techeiles rejected the words of the (גר”ח) Gra”Ch (HaGaon R’ Chaim Soloveichik) ZT”L who said that from the perspective that Safek Mideoraissa Lechumra, there’s no obligation to do something that’s a Safek Mitzva… R’ Chaim’s Svara is with a Mitzva that’s Mechuyav in the Torah with a certainty, and there is a way for him to fulfill it in a doubtful manner, and after he will do so out of a Safek there still remains the fact he’s obligated in the matter based on the law of Safek Mideoraissa Lechumra. If so, he’s not obligated (מה”ת) Min HaTorah to do something that after even after fulfilling it the chiyuv to fulfill the mitzva still remains placed upon him … the Ikkar of this Svara is a straight Svara, and it’s impossible to simply reject it.”

With all due respect במח”כ (במחילת כבוד), these are very strange statements that have no rhyme or reason. After all, in practice it’s possible to fulfill Mitzvas of Hashem through a Safek. And what about the fact that he himself, in his opinion, with remain in a Safek? And there is no evident that R’ Chaim ZT”L said this, and we don’t find in any source from his writings or from any of his student’s writings. Nor was it given in his name by his esteemed grandkids. And there’s no doubt where a student who erred hung with R’ Chaim ZT”L on something absurd/far-fetched ( בוקי סריקי). And there’s no Safek that with a different Mitzva, one doesn’t rely on this reasoning of a son of a Jew. For example, if someone Chas V’Shalom remains during the holiday of Sukkos in a banished place like the middle of Russia or Africa etc., and he stumbled upon an Esrog which has a Safek of grafting, or some other Psul. Will it occur to any Gd-fearing person that there is no need to bother a little to get it, since with a Lav here we say according to R’ Chaim that there is no Chiyuv, from that logic, that since after one uses it, he still isn’t Yotzei the Sefak from himself, there isn’t a Chiyuv?

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And this reasoning goes against all the Poskim that always wrote clearly that there is a Din of Safek MiDeoraissa LeChumra even with a Vadai Chiyuv and Safek Kiyum. And I will not go into the Sugya: I will only point out the sources.

ת )שו”ת רע”א קמא סי’ ד’, הגהות רע”א על השו”ע או”ח סי’ תרמ”ח במג”א אות ד’, פמ”ג משב”ז או”ח סי’ ל”ו אות ו’, שו”ע הגר”ז או”ח סי’ ל”ט סעיף י”א, שם סי’ קצ”ד סעיף ג’, בכורי יעקב סי’ תרמ”ח ס”ק נ”ג, משנה ברורה סי’ ל”ט ס”ק כ”ו, שם סי’ קצ”ד ס”ק י”ג, ושער הציון שם בשם כמה אחרונים, מ”ב סי’ 5 תרמ”ח סעיף כ”א בביאור הלכה, אגרות משה יו”ד ח”א סי’ קס”ג עמ’ שכ”ח( . [5]

I further saw that the Gaon Shlit”a wrote “And regarding their claim that they found Murex snails in diggings, it’s very possible that this was the color of Argaman which until 24 years ago they didn’t know that there was a way to change the color and make it pure Kala Ilan. If so, one can also say that in earlier times they did not know from this rather they knew how to make a different color.”

Prior to 24 years ago, the whole world did not know how to make a light blue color from the Morax just because they did not try so much,
And most of the experiments were in laboratories [By the way, the truth is that already in 1944 there were researchers who discovered how to make blue from the Murex [6], and for some reason, their studies were not well known throughout the world]. But now, we see that it’s very simple to do, and there’s no Safek that this process was known in ancient times. For all that’s needed to do is to produce the dyeing outside so that the sunlight shines on it and nothing more, and you don’t even need direct sunlight; you only need that a little bit of ultraviolet light to be placed for a couple of hours. Only if there’s direct sunlight will the process only take a couple of minutes. but with the ancient method of dyeing, it wasn’t possible to dye it if they placed it in a vat for only a couple of minutes. Therefore, this (sunlight) is necessary to make the Techeiles dye from it.

And I saw a video of a researcher from England that showed the ancient murex dyeing process in the manner that took ten days, and he covered the vat for the duration of the days, saying that if it was exposed it would turn blue, and he wanted to make purple. We see from this that, on the contrary, special action needs to be taken to prevent the solution from turning to the Techeiles dye color.

And further, there’s the idea that the topic is explained in early sources, in a couple of places where they made the Techeiles dye in their days from the Murex. And one of them them is from the Book of Laws (during the times of the Gemara) of the Ceasar Justinian where it was prohibited by law for commoners to dye from the Murex snail, and there specifically were some shades which were made that he forbade. And one of these shades is hycinthina and this translates as Techeiles in the Septuagint.

And they also found in the caves near the Dead Sea an ancient garment dyed Techeiles, and it was tested that it had the same components as the Murex Trunculus. [7]

I further saw that the Gaon Shlit”a wrote “And we should refer to the Ben Ish Hai in his Sefer Ben Yehoyada on Bava Metzia 61a where it’s written based on the Kabbalah of the words of the ARIZ”L that the Sitra Achra has a hold on the color of Kala Ilan (and only with kosher Techeiles there isn’t “clinging “) and see [8] where he elaborates on this. If this is so, that in my opinion that this is Kala Ilan, there is a concern al pi Kabbala that one should not use this color which has this clinging of the Sitra Achara!”

A) Here in the Sefer HaKaneh, it explains that the Sitra Achara’s grabbing onto Kala Ilan is the reason that it grows in the ground. B) It’s also explained in the (פסקי הריא”ז) Piskei HaRia”z (R’ Yeshaya ben Elya di Torani) in Bava Metzia there that in the times where there wasn’t Techeiles to be found, it was permitted to dye the Tzitzis with Kala Ilan. C) And it’s clear that whoever fortifies himself by doing the Mitzva to the best of his knowledge does not receive punishment, and reward is very great to those that strive to do the Mitzva even if it’s not actually in his hand. And Chazal (Kiddushin 81b) said that whoever intends to eat pig meat and he instead eats lamb (which is kosher), the Torah says he (merely) needs Kappara and Slicha (and not worse), and Kal V’Chomer with (striving to do) a Mitzva which is a much greater Midda.

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I further saw that the Gaon Shlit”a wrote “Besides the reason according to the Halacha that this isn’t the color of the corner, that if this isn’t Techeiles, we require Lechatchila that the Tzitzis are the color of the corner and we only make white Tzitzis, as writes the Rema 9:5, even with other types of colored garments, and from this reason we are particular to make a Tallis only colored white since we only make Tzitzis from white threads.”

A) The claim isn’t understood according on my limited, weak understanding, since the author wrote that there are those that are Medakdek that the Tzitzis should be the color of the Beged, thus the Rema was Meikil on this, and wrote to do white Tzitzis even with a dyed Beged. After all, we’ve taken from the Ikkar HaDin that one doesn’t need to worry about the color of the Beged.  And what was brought from the rest of the Poskim (that are not the Rema) to be Machmir Lechatchila to make a white Beged for white Tzitzis, this is merely a Chumra, and how can a mere Chumra come and push off the complete and Machmir Mitzva of Techeiles, or even on the Safek Deoraissa of Techeiles. (?)

B) Besides all this, the Poskim have already written that there two strings of Lavan placed instead of Techeiles strings, and in general there’s no Din concerning the color of the Beged. To quote the Chazon Ish (Orach Chaim Simal 3 Small Seif 25): “However, only two strings need to be the color of the garment, but if there is no Techeiles and he puts on four strings of Lavan, there is no issue regarding the two additional (strings) whatever color they are. Proof to this is from the Gemara which asks “and it (kala ilan) should be no worse than lavan”. If all four strings are required to be the color of the Tallis, then a white sheet won’t have any Tzitizis (see Gemara, it has kala ilan). The Smag already brought this proof to counter Rashi, and the Smag holds that in a place where there is no Techeiles, and he makes all four strings white, all the four white strings have the status of Lavan. If so it must be concluded from the Gemara (above) that there is no requirement at all for Lavan to be the color of the Tallis. However, Rashi and the Rambam are forced to say that there is a difference between the two strings of Lavan and the two extra strings which are instead of the Techeiles.”

And thus rules the Artzos HaChaim (Siman 9 Os 5), and the Mishna Berurah (9, Small Seif 14) hold like the Artzos Chaim’s logic here.

I further saw that the Gaon Shlit”a wrote “And, in essence, that which the supporters refute this, is because it’s not known any other creature, and therefore it must be the murex, but this means nothing to anyone who knows anything, for they always finds things that they don’t know about beforehand , and specifically the Chilazon that already has been said it cannot be found today.”

The Metzius is that in the Chilazon is found in the Mediterranean sea, this is already after a number of years where no new species have been found [9], and this is only in our great days where we are still finding new species (in general). And I already wrote in the beginning of the Maamar that its identification is based on the Divrei Acharonim (the Shiltei Giborim of R’ Avraham the Doctor, and the Mosaf HaAruch, and the Chavos Yair, and the Yaavetz, and R’ Hirsch, and the Toafos Re’em), and there are other big, strong, huge proofs where the murex is the Chilazon, aside from the referred evidence, which has no place to elaborate here.

And referring to the quote which says that the Chilazon cannot be found now, I don’t know where it says this. Just the opposite, the Rambam (Tzitzis 2:2) writes that it is found, and in the ancient sayings of the Smag (Aseh 26) and the Maharil (Shu”t  HaChadashos Siman 5) learns that from the Smag that it possible to restore usage of Techeiles in all generations. And also the Radvas (Siman 785) writes “And perhaps until today it can be found, but we don’t recognize it or we don’t know how to dye from it.”

I further saw that the Gaon Shlit”a wrote “Bottom-line, according to my knowledge there’s more reason to be strict in not wearing the new Techeiles which comes from the murex.”

And I will conclude my insight with the words of the Yeshuos Malko (60a), who wrote on the Techeiles of the Radzyner Rebbe, to quote, “Although we have no choice but to come in fights and quarrels, that the Lavan Tzitzis are kosher, also when they are dyed, which is what the Gemara in Menachos 40 means.”

And I hope that the reader will accept the truth from what is said, from the side of what is said and not what “they say” (hearsay), and already Chazal said (Midrash Rabba Naso 14:4) “From where do you say that if a person hears something from the mouth of a Jewish minor, it will be in his eyes as if he heard from the mouth of a Chacham, etc. and not like hearing from one Chacham, rather like hearing from multiple Chachamim etc. and not like hearing from multiple Chachamim rather like hearing from the mouth of the Sanhedrin etc., and not like hearing from the Sanhedrin, rather like hearing it from Moshe etc., and not like hearing from Moshe rather like hearing from Hashem etc.”

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