Dedicated in Honor of
Rabbi and Mrs.Yankel Warshavchik
Upon the Bar Mitzvah of Their Son
To Dedicate Please Contact: Hadrash Ve-Haiyun
Speak to the children of Yisroel and say to them that they shall make themselves tzitzis on the corners of their garments throughout their generations. And they shall place upon the tzitzis of each corner a thread of techeiles (Bamidbar 15:38).
In this week’s parsha we learn about the mitzvah of tzitzis. Ideally, each corner of the garment should include a thread of techeiles. Chazal teach us that this thread serves as an inspirational reminder. The color of techeiles is similar to the color of the sea floor, the color of the sea floor is similar to the color of the heaven and the color of the heaven is similar to the color of Hashem’s throne of glory. By gazing at the techeiles thread we enter a process that ends in being reminded of Hashem’s throne of glory.
Rashi (Bava Metzia 61b) explains that there are two way to produce the color of techeiles. The halachikally correct way is to extract the dye from a sea creature called the chilazon. The chilazon is a rare sea creature that appears on land only once in seventy years (Menachos 44a). Due to the fact that it makes its appearance on land only once in seventy years the dye produced from the chilazon is very expensive. The other halachikally invalid way to produce this color is through an extract of the indigo plant. Since the indigo plant is commonly found, the dye produced from it is relatively inexpensive. The Gemara warns that Hashem will punish anyone who hangs wool dyed with the extract of the indigo on his garment claiming that he possesses techeiles.
We may ask, if chazal teach us that the reason we place a thread of techeiles is so that we gaze at its color and be inspired to remember Hashem’s throne, what difference does it make as to the origin of this color. As long as it is the right color it will remind us of Hashem’s throne.
There are two ways to produce the color of techeiles, the hard way and the easy way. The hard way involves waiting up to seventy years for the chilazon to appear. The easy way is to extract it from a commonly found vegetable plant. Homiletically, we may say that when one performs a mitzvah it is as if he appears before the throne of Hashem and presents Him with a gift. When one performs a Mitzvah spontaneously without any thought or preparation it is as if he took a shortcut to appear before Hashem. He was come before Hashem with indigo. However, when one prepares to perform a mitzvah correctly it is if he took a long arduous road to come before Hashem. He has come before Hashem with techeiles.
When we look at the techeiles we are reminded not just of our destination to Hashem’s throne but of the journey as well. Just as one waits with great anticipation for seventy years for the chilazon to appear and appreciates its great value, likewise we are reminded that we must approach the performance of mitzvos with anticipation and appreciate what it means to have an opportunity to perform a mitzvah.
The contrast between techeiles and indigo teach us that it is not only the destination that counts but the journey as well.
© Efraim Levine 5760/2000 - 5763/2003