OU’s Rabbi Weinreb To Be Featured Speaker At Jerusalem Conference on Tekhelet, December 30

December 7, 2013

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Orthodox Union Executive Vice President, Emeritus, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb will be a featured speaker at the conference The Rediscovery of Tekhelet: A Century of Research, to be held in Jerusalem on Monday, December 30. The conference, which will commemorate the 100th anniversary of Rav Isaac HaLevi Herzog’s dissertation on the Biblical commandment for blue dye in tzitzit, will take place at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.

Rabbi Weinreb will be delivering his presentation on the topic “Do not go astray after your eyes or heart: Tekhelet and life’s temptations.” The first part of the title is taken from a verse in Parshat Shelach and the third paragraph of Kriat Shema. Rabbi Weinreb will be connecting the symbolism of the blue thread with worldly temptations, particularly “temptations of the flesh.”

As Rabbi Weinreb explained: “The third paragraph of Kriat Shema describes the mitzvah of tzitzit. It speaks of a blue thread which is an essential component of tzitzit. The blue dye is procured from a creature known as the chilazon. For many centuries that dye was not available because the tradition of the identity of that creature was not known. So Jews ‘forgot’ about this Biblical commandment.

“In the 19th century, Rav Gershon Henoch Leiner of Radzin believed he had identified the creature as a type of squid, and this rabbi’s followers dye one thread of the tzitzit with a dye extracted from this squid to the very day. They are known as Radziner Chassidim.

“Rabbi Herzog, who eventually became Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, was educated at the Sorbonne and the University of London, where he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the subject of the identity of the chilazon. He disproved the ‘squid’ hypothesis, and instead identified it as a specific type of snail, Murex trunculus. His dissertation set in motion a flood of further research, corroborating and confirming his opinion.

“Several decades ago a group in Israel began to make available blue-dyed tzitzit commercially. Their “factory” in Kfar Adumim in the Judean desert is fascinating. I was convinced long ago, with near total certainty, that this was the ‘Real McCoy.’ Rav Hershel Schachter is among the prominent poskim who wears this tekhelet on his tzitzit. I do as well, as does much of my family. Many do not accept it, but I don’t understand why. Years ago I began advocating publicly for it, and often put up a comment about it either in my own blog or on the OU website, usually in conjunction with Parshat Shelach.”

Descendants of Rabbi Herzog include his son Chaim Herzog, past President of the State of Israel; Yaakov Herzog, influential figure in Israeli politics; and Isaac Herzog, Member of the Knesset as Chairman of the Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition.

Admission is free. Space is limited. Please RSVP to {encode=”conference@tekhelet.com” title=”conference@tekhelet.com”}.

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