On Widespread Divisiveness on Tying Method and String Ratio

On Widespread Divisiveness on Tying Method and String Ratio

On Widespread Divisiveness on Tying Method and String Ratio 150 150 Israel Ziderman

Date: June 3-7, 2020

Email correspondence between Dr. Israel Ziderman and Rafi Hecht.

 

IZ to RH: The widespread divisiveness in tying, encouraged largely by PETIL, should not be considered the main issue.

But I myself believe that each individual should feel obliged to retaining his pre-tekhelet tying pattern [Ashkenazim 7-8-11-13] as a personal and communal tradition/minhag, with the addition of 2 cords tekhelet, with chulyot 3-3 and with first top and last bottom kerikhot in white.

RH to IZ that started a thread:

  1. It’s not only by Ptil. R’ Hershel Schachter advocates doing Chulyos/tying “like Rambam” since his advice is the oldest, and the older the better.
  2. Also, the 7-8-11-13 method is when we didn’t have Techeiles.
  3.  This contrasts with your take that the latest authority is who we should go by. And as you mentioned, 7-8-11-13 with Techeiles Chulyos was adopted by the Radzyner Rebbe. (I’m aware of the letter you wrote to R’ Schachter. Did he write back to you?)
  4. FWIW speaking of “older is better,” I personally wanted some other tying methods on the Ptil site such as Baal HaIttur who was a Rishon, but that method only has the desired effect when Tosafos ratio is used, contradicting Ptil’s agenda that Ptil means one string.

IZ to RH:

1. It’s not only by Ptil. R’ Hershel Schachter advocates doing Chulyos/tying “like Rambam” since his advice is the oldest, and the older the better.

1a. Rav Schechter invented a new tying pattern, previously unknown to any Rishon, basing himself on a novel Talmudic pilpul.

1b. R’ Schachter invented a new tying pattern. What do you mean by a “novel Talmudic pilpul?” His was an attempt to be Lechatchila on all counts.

1c. THAT IS WHAT I MEAN: IT WAS A NEW SHITAH THAT HE MADE UP,  AND NOT KNOWN PREVIOUSLY.

 

2. Also, the 7-8-11-13 method is when we didn’t have Techeiles.

2a. Is one permitted to change one’s mesora of a traditional tzitzit pattern of 7-8-11-13?

Halakha lemaaseh, the first to consider it necessary to tie as would be required for tekhelet was the Alter Rebbe of Chabad. When Radzin blue was available, Radzin did the same. I feel that halakha lemaaseh outweighs theoretical disputations of Rishonim.

2b. The Alter Rebbe of Chabad may have considered it, but he wasn’t the absolute authority for everyone. Even during the Alter Rebbe’s own time there was a huge Chassidic/Misnagdic split. The GR”A who lived in the same era as the Alter Rebbe, for instance, developed his own method for Chulyos. Perhaps if Radzyn blue was accepted in Vilna you would see a lot of Jews with the GRA’s tying method as well. 

2c. BUT THE ALTER REBBE AND THE GRA PRECEEDED  THE RDZINER.

MY POINT IS  THAT THE ALTER REBBE DID PASKEN THUS AND INTRODUCED THE PRACTCE IN PREPARATION FOR THE REINTRODUCTION OF TEKHELET, AND HE IS AN ACCEPTED HALAKHIC AUTHORITY – SHULHAN ARUCH HARAV, רש”ז  IN THE MISHNA BERURA. NO ONE ELSE PRACTISED A DIFFERENT TYING. SO LET”S FOLLOW THE LEADER!

This contrasts with your take that the latest authority is who we should go by. And as you mentioned, 7-8-11-13 with Techeiles Chulyos was adopted by the Radzyner Rebbe. (I’m aware of the letter you wrote to R’ Schachter. Did he write back to you?)

 

3. This contrasts with your take that the latest authority is who we should go by. And as you mentioned, 7-8-11-13 with Techeiles Chulyos was adopted by the Radzyner Rebbe. (I’m aware of the letter you wrote to R’ Schachter. Did he write back to you?)

3a. No reply received.

3b. He’s a difficult person to reach.

4. FWIW speaking of “older is better,” I personally wanted some other tying methods on the Ptil site such as Baal HaIttur who was a Rishon, but that method only has the desired effect when Tosafos ratio is used, contradicting Ptil’s agenda that Ptil means one string.

4a. This argument that the word petil is singular and thus means  “one cord” is unfounded. All the authors who wrote this have, in the languages they know, an indefinite article “a” and “an”, which distinguishes singular from collective material, e.g. “a cord” from “cord” . But in Hebrew there is no indefinite article, whose presence or absence would unequivocally distinguish between these two usages. It is mistakenly assumed that petil is “a cord”, but it is in fact ambiguous and equally translated “cord”. So the argument that petil is singular is irrelevant. Together with Rashi on the tzitz, the conclusion is clear: the word petil is just as much “cord” as “a cord”, and so we should translate petil tekhelet as “tekhelet cord”. To unambiguously designate “one cord” in Hebrew, one should say “petil tekhelet echad”.

4b. That’s an interesting Chiddush. Petil definitely sounds singular. Also, while the Torah could state “Hakanaf Petil Tekhelet Echad,” it could ALSO have stated “Hakanaf Petilei Tekhelet.” We see earlier that Petil is used to translate as “wick” when setting up the wicks for the Menorah. Which leads me to understand Petil as one of the following:

  1. A wick can have multiple strings twined together. Granted, each cord itself has 8 threads, but the Ikkar is in the number of cords per corner rather than the number of threads per cord. Therefore, multiple CORDS are needed for a Petil of Tekhelet.
  2. There’s the ancient Assyrian definition of Patalu (which I personally really like), which means a “weaving.” That shows that it can be a singular final product consisting of equal partners of cords!

The above stated, lots of people still refer to the Rambam and Raavad in that Petil is one cord used for wrapping. And the folks at Ptil aren’t the only ones to blame: lots of Acharonim have posited that it’s one cord. Notably, R’ Shamson Rephael Hirsch, Aryeh Kaplan, Ohr Chaim, AR”I, Zohar, etc. Also, look at all English translations for the end of Shelach. “Petil Tekhelet” usually is translated by them as “a cord of blue” or “a thread ot blue,” or “a string of turquoise,” “a cord of blue-purple,” etc.

Going the less traditional route, Moses Mendellsohn (who was a Rambamist) translated Ptil Tekhelet as “eine schnur von dunkelbau” (one cord of dark-blue) and JTS (conservative) posits the same: http://www.jtsa.edu/a-cord-of-blue-fringe

I’d personally love to see the term translated as “a weaving of blue-purple wool” and note the reaction from people reading it as such.

As an aside, here’s something interesting: an online multi-commentary on Tanach, this link focused on Shlach: http://mg.alhatorah.org/Full/Bemidbar/15.38#e0nf

4c. THE TRANSLATIONS YOU REFER TO ARE ALL BASED ON THE MISTAKE THAT THE  WORD PETIL IS  LITERALLY PESHAT ONLT A  SINGLE CORD, BUT IT JUST ISN”T. IT IS EQUALLY A COLLECTIVE NOUN FOR ANY QUANTITY OR COUNT OF THE MATERIAL, JUST AS ALL SIMILAR NOUNS ARE IN ANY LANGUAGE THAT HAS NO INDEFINITE ARTICLE. AS I POINT OUT, THIS IS A GENERAL MISUNDERSTANDING THAT SHOULD BE CORRECTED. BETTER LATE THAN NEVER!

4d. This is an interesting one: Onkelus of all commentaries translates Petil as Chuta (string)!

תרגום אונקלוס במדבר ט”ו:ל”ח
מַלֵּיל עִם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְתֵימַר לְהוֹן וְיַעְבְּדוּן לְהוֹן כְּרוּסְפְּדִין עַל כַּנְפֵי כְּסוּתְהוֹן לְדָרֵיהוֹן וְיִתְּנוּן עַל כְּרוּסְפַּד כַּנְפָא חוּטָא דִּתְכִילְתָא.

Israel Ziderman

Scientific Director, Tekhelet Foundation
Chairman, Union of Civilian Research Scientists in Israel
Scientific Editor, Yalkut Journal of the Israel Textile & Fashion Association

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