שלשה מאמרים באנגלית על התכלת

מאמרים ושקו"ט סביב זיהוי התכלת, האפשרות וההמנעות מלקיים מצוה זו בזמן הזה
וכן על האפשרות ההלכתית העקרונית של הקרבת קרבנות בזמה"ז
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הצטרף: ה' פברואר 02, 2012 10:27 pm

שלשה מאמרים באנגלית על התכלת

הודעהעל ידי תוכן » ג' יוני 12, 2018 10:35 am

שלשה מאמרים הבאים, כוללים מאמרו של אפרים ויינמן פקפוקים בזיהוי התכלת. תשובתו של ברוך שטרמן, מתומכי התכלת, ותגובתו של אפרים ויינמן. סדרת מאמרים אלו אפשר לראות אותם בעצם כהמשך של מאמרו של הר' יהושע ענבל. בעוד שהר' ענבל דיבר באופן כללי על הקושי בשחזור מציאות עתיקה, מאמר זה מוכיח למעשה תוך כניסה לפרטי פרטים את הקושי בזיהוי מוחלט של התכלת. המאמרים באנגלית, ואת מלאכת התרגום אני משאיר לאחרים. כל מאמר יופיע בתגובה נפרדת.

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הצטרף: ה' פברואר 02, 2012 10:27 pm

מאמרו של אפרים ויינמן

הודעהעל ידי תוכן » ג' יוני 12, 2018 10:39 am

https://www.torahmusings.com/2017/06/te ... rehension/


Tekhelet: Color Perception or Apprehension?
Posted by: Efraim Vaynman in Journal, Musings, Posts Jun 9, 17 15 Comments
by Efraim Vaynman

Tekhelet, most say it is blue, others argue it is purple, and still others describe it as green. Let us reexamine the subject anew as we approach Parshat Shelah that contains the mitzvah of tzitzit and tekhelet.

A Scottish eye care company recently commissioned a study to “demonstrate just how our visual interpretations of the world around us can differ quite sharply, even on a very basic level.”1 Participants were shown a swatch and asked to determine whether it was blue or green. While most respondents (64%) correctly identified the color as green, almost a third (32%) identified the color of the swatch as blue. Much like the viral meme #TheDress2, the study exposes that differences in the perception of color are much more prevalent than people realize.

One can imagine that if in our modern globalized world there is such dissonance about the perception of color among people of the same country, there was probably little unanimity about color in the ancient world, especially amongst divergent countries, cultures, and languages.

The very concept of color in our western world may not even have had an exact correlate in ancient civilizations. We think of color in Newtonian terms, namely, as a mixture of base colors which form a particular hue, but color does not inform us of the other visual percept qualities such as depth, brightness, temperature, irradiance, opacity, and texture.

Color was not always so abstract. In ancient times colors were referred to by noting their similarity to other items in nature with a known particular visual characteristic. This is similar to the way the English language uses the word orange to refer to things that have the same color as the fruit. If one were to say today that a particular thing is orange colored, we would know that it’s hue is what we refer to as orange without imparting that it was similar to an orange in any other way. However, in ancient times this was not necessarily true. The ancient Greek term for color is khrôma (χρῶμα) which primarily meant surface, particularly the skin, and only sometimes was it used to describe things of color such as paint or dyes. The Latin word color had similar connotations. To describe the color was to describe the outside skin or surface of something, including but not limited to its color hue. To say that something has an orange-like color in ancient times could mean that this thing is similar to the skin or outside of an orange in a number of ways, including color, smoothness, or shininess.

This different perception of color in the ancient world is something we must keep in mind when trying to analyze and reconstruct colors based on the way they are described in ancient sources. In an effort to better understand this mitzvah, this essay will address the following pertinent question: what is the color of tekhelet and how did modern researchers determine the color after being lost for over 1300 years?

The Rediscovery of Tekhelet

The quest for tekhelet started in 1888 when Rabbi Gershon Hanoch Leiner, the Radziner Rebbe, stirred the European rabbinate with three books he authored in which he proposed to find the hilazon, the source of tekhelet, based on inferences from Talmudic sources. His search culminated with a visit to an aquarium in Italy where he identified a certain squid (Sepia officinalis) as the source of tekhelet from which he managed to produce a Prussian blue dye, which some Radziner and Breslover chassidim wear till this day. Rabbi Leiner’s suggestion was never widely accepted, and it was later discovered that the Prussian blue dye was a result of a chemical process rather something derived from the squid itself. He did, however, manage to spark the search for tekhelet.

In 1914, Rabbi Isaac Herzog, later the first chief rabbi of Israel, defended his dissertation, Semitic Porphyrology,3 about the search for tekhelet. This excellent work is still the most comprehensive treatise on the subject. While Rabbi Herzog did not come to a conclusive resolution for the source of tekhelet, he did feel that he had firmly proven its original color. In Rabbi Herzog’s words: “I believe conclusively, that if not actually so in the strictly scientific sense, the tekelet­-colour did not, at all events, appreciably differ from a dark pure blue, the nuance assigned to it by tradition.”4 Elsewhere he says it is what an English man calls “deep dark blue”.5

Though he very much longed to do so, Rabbi Herzog never did produce tekhelet from either of the two snails he strongly considered in his dissertation.6 He had doubts about both possibilities but his questions were not enough to conclusively dismiss either one as the source of the tekhelet. Problems with creating an actual dye were more practical because at the time scientist had not found a way to create a color fast dye from either snail.7

Despite his assuredness about the true color of tekhelet, Rabbi Herzog was not absolutely certain that tekhelet was a pure blue. He was willing to allow a degree of violet because “there are very persuasive reasons to believe that the species known as Murex trunculus is the hilazon of tekhelet. For one, the dye that it emits is sufficiently blue.”8 At the time it was not yet known how to produce a pure blue dye from the Murex trunculus. Although Rabbi Herzog would tolerate a blueish violet color, he believed that it was likely possible to create a pure blue dye from the Murex trunculus if we only knew the precise sub-species and correct way of dyeing.9

Eventually a method was found to create a pure blue dye from the Murex trunculus.10 In 1988 Rabbi Eliyahu Tavger managed to dye wool blue from the Murex trunculus and tie his tallit with the strings.11 A few years later, in 1993, the Ptil Tekhelet organization was founded to manufacture and promote the wearing of sky-blue12 tekhelet for the mitzvah of tzitzit.

The Question of Color

The question of the color of tekhelet is a modern one. From biblical times the colors of the Torah were a living tradition mimetically transmitted from generation to generation. There was no need to describe color because it was learned; if not as part of the language they spoke then at the very least tekhelet was something with which they were intimately familiar with from everyday religious life. When Jewish sources mention tekhelet they are almost always speaking of its symbolism or relationship to other things and not of its color which was well known and needed no description. It isn’t until tekhelet was lost or became too scarce to be familiar to everybody that there was an attempt to describe its color.13

Although a description of the color of tekhelet may not have been needed for Jews living contemporaneous with tekhelet, non-Jews were not familiar with the word. The earliest sources that describe tekhelet are translations of the Torah. The Septuagint, Aquila14, Symmachus15, Theodotion16, and the Vulgate17 were all translations that were written at the time that tekhelet was still in use. The translations are unanimous that the translation of tekhelet in Greek is ὑάκινθος18 (hyákinthos); the Latin equivalent hyacinthum19 is found in the Vulgate. The same translation for tekhelet is also found in Josephus’20 and Philo’s21 Greek writings.

The problem is that these translations are equally ambiguous to us. The word hyákinthos as the name of a colored fabric rarely occurs outside of the translations of the Bible and when it does it is still unclear the color intended.22 The color of hyákinthos fabric was probably similar to the flower and the precious stone which both bear the same name. Rabbi Herzog argued that the translation could not be used to determine the color of tekhelet because hyákinthos was variably used to describe both violet and blue.

Rabbi Herzog instead argued that the most reliable sources attesting to the color of tekhelet can be found in the Talmud, which in his opinion seem to clearly indicate that tekhelet was blue.

The best proof from the Talmud according to Rabbi Herzog is that in several places it warns against substituting dye from kla ilan (indigo)in place of tekhelet, which, according to Rabbi Herzog, clearly demonstrates that the color from the two dyes were identical.23 The Talmud even devises a test for one who is unsure if he has authentic tekhelet whereby subjecting the material to a chemical process one can differentiate between authentic tekhelet and imitation tekhelet made from kla ilan.24 The necessity to resort to a chemical test and not just visually ascertain the color with one that is familiar with the authentic tekhelet proves that kla ilan and tekhelet were the exact same color. Kla ilan was invalid for sacramental use not because of its color but because of its source.25

To this end, Rabbi Herzog obtained a sample from the famous Manufacture des Gobelins of authentic indigo which he planned to use as a representative template for the proper color of tekhelet.26 Rabbi Tukachinsky who saw this sample describes it as being “stronger than blue, turning to green, and a little black mixed in”.27 Rabbi Herzog himself remarked that “to the experienced eye a slight reflex of violet or reddish is visible.”28

The problem with this argument is that indigo itself can be found in several color variations ranging from purple29 to violet to blue. Natural indigo can contain up to 15% indirubin (red dye) as well as other impurities that can affect the color of the dye30. Effectively, this proof suffers from the same ambiguity as the linguistic argument that Rabbi Herzog rejected. Since it is unknown to which hue of indigo the Talmud refers we still do not know the true color of tekhelet.

Talmudic Descriptions of Tekhelet

There are several other descriptions of tekhelet which Rabbi Herzog thought corroborated that tekhelet was blue, though he admitted that they are inconclusive. Most famously the Talmud states: “Rabbi Meir used to say; Why is tekhelet so different from all other colorants? For tekhelet is like the sea, and the sea is like the sky, and the sky is like [Lapis lazuli31, and Lapis lazuli is like] the heavenly throne.”32 This statement at first seems to be describing the color of tekhelet, but upon further consideration, Rabbi Herzog contends that the gradations of colors here is actually more of symbolic significance.33 In fact, some versions of this statement expound that the “sea is similar to grass and grass is similar to the sky”34 precluding the understanding that this a simple color gradation. And why was a gradation necessary; was tekhelet itself not similar to sapphire?35 Rabbi Herzog suggests that this long chain of associations was meant to symbolize the similitude of the Throne of Glory throughout the universe.36

Other times it is implied that tekhelet is similar to the dark sky at night. The Talmud writes that the silver hooks in the Tabernacle appeared like shining stars set against the loops made of tekhelet.37 The word tekhelet is also homiletically explicated to be semantically related to the Hebrew word for bereave (תכל), because it was in middle of the night that God smote the Egyptian firstborns.38

Colors in Ancient Times

Throughout his dissertation Rabbi Herzog was quick to note that it is hard to be sure that the colors described in ancient sources are the same colors as we now know them. Not only have the names for the colors shifted along the color scale through history but ancient societies often had a much narrower color vocabulary. Still, Rabbi Herzog believed that the color descriptions were useful to broadly determine that a particularly described item was at least within a certain reasonable range of colors. It is based on this assumption that he analyzes much literature to best determine what the colors of argaman and tekhelet are known as in contemporary times.

Modern anthropologists have pointed out that the issue is actually much more complex. Whereas our own color system is primarily focused on hue, the ancients were sensitive primarily to such things as luminosity, saturation and texture, or even subtler variables such as smell, agitation and liquidity.39 Mark Bradley, a historian of Roman visual art, argues that the ancient sense of color can be described as being somewhat “synaesthetic”, that is to say, they experienced color not just though their visual sense but as an experience that involved multiple sensory systems. For example, color was sometimes used by the ancient Greeks to refer to other sensory experiences such as music’s chromatic scales. Much likes genuine synaesthetes, Greek musicians experienced some correlation of visual and auditory senses when playing music. It was because of this synaesthetic experience that ancients sometimes describe colors in ways which seem very odd to us.

The corollary of this is that when a color is described seemingly inaccurately in ancient sources it is not necessarily because the color scale has shifted or because they had an insufficient vocabulary to accurately describe the color. It might just be that the strange way in which the color is described is the experience that the color evoked or represented in the ancient observers. Sometimes we may need to look beyond hue to understand what is really being described.

Tekhelet is often described as being similar to the sky and sea.40 Interestingly, the sky and sea are reoccurring motifs in ancient literature. Most famously, Homer in several places describes the sea as being wine-dark (oinops pontos).41 Although there have been attempts to explain how the sea could have appeared red in specific settings,42 Michael Clark, professor of classics in the National University of Ireland, suggests that it is more likely that Homer’s usage here reflects the conceptual associations of wine, such as danger and frenzy, as well as the whole range of qualities identified with Dionysos.43 Pliny the Elder actually describes the color produced from the purpura, the purple producing Murex snails, in very similar terms when he decries the “mad lust” for the dye. “But what is the cause of the prices paid for purple-shells, which have an unhealthy odour when used for dye and a gloomy tinge in their radiance resembling an angry sea?”44

Homer in three places also describes the sea as the “purple-sea” (alipòrphuros [ali – sea, porphura]). The sea’s color is described as being purple, a reference to the purple color produced by the Murex snails. This description however seems to have more of an actual visual component than the previous term since Homer uses the term porphura which refers to a purple dye. According to Sandra Busatta, a Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Padua, “To Homer’s audience the word purphureos first referred to the play of the light that produces brilliance on troubled water and by extension any play of sparkling, glossy or shiny color, but it also referred to a negative sense of fear”.45 She suggests that it is for this very reason that Homer described the sky as being bronze, an apparent reference to the glare and sparkling of the metal.46

Arguments for a Violet Tekhelet

Thus far I have shown that the proof presented from the Talmud for the color of tekhelet is inconclusive. Moreover, I have shown that it is difficult to ascertain the hue based off textual evidence from archaic sources since they may be describing the other visual aspects. Furthermore, in this particular case it seems that the Talmudic allusions to the color of tekhelet are describing not its hue but its other visual qualities, namely the shine of fabrics dyed with tekhelet,47 a description of the Murex dye corroborated in many Greek sources. Is there any proof that can be adduced to prove the hue of tekhelet?

There are several arguments that can be made for identifying violet as the color of tekhelet.

First, it must be noted, that without proof to the contrary, the Greek and Latin translations of the Torah that translate tekhelet as hyacinth should be assumed to be referring to the well-known violet colored flower that carries that name. Although the flowers from the hyacinth family may occur in varying colors throughout the world, the dominant species Hyacinthus orientalis L. found in Asia Minor48 is violet. It can be fairly assumed that ancient authors from the Mediterranean are referring to this well-known species.

Secondly, there is a strong argument that tekhelet could not be blue. It is clear from Greek historians that the purple and reddish-purple dyes produced from the Murex snails were extremely expensive. The expensiveness tekhlet is also attested to in the Talmud49 which adds that non-Jews are not to trusted with transporting tekhelet because they are suspected of stealing it and substituting the authentic tekhelet with a fake made of kla ilan (indigo).50 Imitation tekhelet was so rampant that the Talmud requires that one only buy tekhelet from an expert to ensure its authenticity.51 Supporters of blue tekhelet point to this halakhic decree as proof that tekhelet is the same color as indigo. In fact, they claim that molecularly the two dyes are identical. Yet if they were exactly the same, the superiority of the authentic tekhelet is not understood. While Jews can be insistent that tekhelet they use for religious purposes come from the original Biblical dye source, why would the non-Jews prefer the molluscan dye to the molecularly identical plant sourced dye? If anything, we would expect that the blue dye from the indigo plant to be preferred since it did not have a strong fishy smell adhering to it. It wouldn’t make financial sense to use a Murex trunculus for blue dye when it could be used to create the more expensive purple dyes. Although there were fake purple dyes, they were of inferior quality,52 whereas the indigo blue dye was supposedly just as good as the blue tekhelet dye.53 The Talmud’s statement that non-Jews are suspected of substituting authentic tekhelet with imitation tekhelet made of kla ilan clearly suggests that the authentic tekhelet was vastly superior and therefore much more expensive.

The more likely explanation is that the imitation tekhelet made of kla ilan was a mix of indigo and some other red dyes, yielding an imitation violet dye. The Sifrei describes a deceitful person as making fake tekhelet from “pigments” and kla ilan.54 Other sources which refer to imitation tekhelet simply as “kla ilan” possibly did so because indigo was the predominant dye stuff or perhaps the imitation tekhelet was made of indigo from which the red indogotin was not removed.

Perhaps the strongest argument against blue tekhelet is that the debromination process, the process used to convert the Murex dye to a pure blue, would not have been performed in antiquity. The process currently used at the tekhelet factories utilizes synthetic chemicals to reduce the Murex dye to a water-soluble form so that the dye can adhere to the wool. After the dye has been reduced, the debromination is effectuated by exposing the dye to either a UV emitting light or to sunlight for over an hour. In antiquity, a more natural process was required to the reduce the dye to a water-soluble form. Several attempts were made to recreate this process, but it is likely that the ancients utilized the bacteria found in the snail itself to ferment the dyestuff and ready it for dyeing.55

Zvi Koren, the director of The Edelstein Center for the Analysis of Ancient Artifacts, argues that when using the natural fermentation process, it would not have been possible to create a blue dye since this particular fermentation has to be done in an anaerobic environment. Leaving the soluble dye exposed to the sun for considerable time by removing the lid would have caused the dye to return it its insoluble form because of the exposure to oxygen. He argues that the other attempts at natural dyeing were only able to succeed because they used a glass beaker that was sealed and exposed the dye to light without opening it. In ancient times, such glass would not have been used since the dye required large quantities and was heated on a fire for days or weeks.56 The Talmud itself says that the process involved putting the dyestuff into a cauldron and heating it.57

The color of tekhelet might be possible to discern from a comment by Epiphanius of Salamis, one of the church fathers who lived during the 4th century in Israel when tekhelet was still found. Epiphanius, commenting on a passage in Matthew in which Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for making “their phylacteries wide and their craspeda long”58; craspeda being the Aramaic word for Tzitzit. Epiphanius explains that the Greek word phylacteries does not refer to amulets like many believe, but to “purple woven”, which were purple strips woven into clothes in the Greek period.59 The strips to which Epiphanius refers are called clavi. These were strips that the Greeks and Romans used to put on their himations which denoted the rank and prestige of the wearer. It has been proposed that that these clavi are actually the source for the black strips that Ashkenazic Jews print on their tallit and that the tallit itself was originally a himation which the Jews living in lands of predominant Greek culture wore.60 Epiphanius explains that the Pharisees were being haughty by wearing wide clavi which denote a high rank and making their tzitzit long (presumably because the more purple fabric was used, the greater the cost). The very fact that he mentions both together seems to indicate they are of the same color, which he calls purple. Historically clavi, of which there are many existent samples, are purple, thus implying that tekhelet is purple.

Conclusion

Tekhelet was lost over one thousand years ago. Together with the loss of tekhelet we, as a people, also lost our mimetic tradition of what tekhelet was. Through our written records we preserved many details of what tekhelet is, where it comes from, and what it means to us, but piecing together all of these details after a thousand years in a world vastly changed is tricky business.

In this essay, I showed that what was assumed to be clear Talmudic descriptions of the color hue tekhelet are not necessarily so. Color in the ancient world meant something different than what it means in our modern western society. I attempted to demonstrate that the sea, sky, the lapis lazuli stone, all of which are likened to tekhelet, and even the Murex dye itself, were all chiefly known in the ancient world for their unique shine and glimmer and only secondarily for their hue. When the ancients speak of colors sometimes they intend to convey not how it is visually perceived but how the color is apprehended in the mind and what it represents.

Accordingly, I suggest that if we are to attempt to recreate the biblical tekhelet we should take the ancient biblical translations of tekhelet more seriously, since they are a translation and not a description, and they all unanimously declare tekhelet as violet. I also attempted to show that other proofs identifying tekhelet as blue are unconvincing and that there are several reasons why tekhelet couldn’t be blue.



https://www.opticalexpress.co.uk/magazi ... -illusions

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_dress ... phenomenon) ↩

Porphyrology is the study of purple. ↩

“The Dyeing of Purple in Ancient Israel”, Proceedings of the Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society 1919-1920 pp. 21-33, reprinted by the Israel Malacological Society and the Municipal Malacological Museum, Nahariya, 1981. See also Ir haKodesh v’haMikdash, vol. 5, p. 56, where he is quoted in a letter as saying, “And in regard to the exact color of tekhelet, I expanded and studied it as far as my hand can reach, and I am without doubt.” ↩

“ha’Hillazon Shel Tekhelet al pi haHakirot ha’Archiologiot b’Siyua Nisyonot Ma’assiyim.” Ha’Hed, 12 (1934), p. 17. ↩

Rabbi Herzog mentions in a letter to Rabbi Yechiel Michel Tukachinsky that he plans to conduct tests on the coast of Haifa to validate the “secret of the tekhelet snail” that he thinks he has uncovered. See Ir haKodesh v’haMikdash, ibid p. 57. ↩

I find this strange because already in 1810, The Belfast Monthly Magazine reported that the dye of a similar Buccmum snail was extremely colorfast. See “On the Tyrian, or Purple Dye”, The Belfast Monthly Magazine, 1810, 5 (25), pp. 93-95, available at <https://archive.org/details/jstor-30072679>. ↩

ha’Hillazon Shel Tekhelet, ibid. Many of the supporters of the Murex tekhelet deceitfully tell a different narrative where R’ Herzog biggest problem was with the dye not being completely blue. See for example, Baruch Sterman, The Rarest Blue, p. 130, “The primary argument against the trunculus, however, was the color. Tekhelet had to be sky blue. This was a long held Jewish tradition that Rabbi Herzog could not dismiss—but the blue obtained from the Murex trunculus appeared blueish purple.” Even Gadi Sagiv who wrote an article to expose some the fallaciousness of the Ptil Tekhelet narrative seems to embrace this falsity. See “Deep Blue: Notes on the Jewish Snail Fight”, Contemporary Jewry, 35:3 (October 2015), p. 290. ↩

ha’Hillazon Shel Tekhelet ibid. This belief is based on what he heard from Lacaz Duthiers who claims to have encountered through his experiments a murex trunculus which yielded a blue dye but at other times was violet. See Semitic Porphyrology (manuscript edition) p. 133. Rabbi Herzog also mentions the possibility of somehow removing the red elements from the murex dye. ↩

L. A. Driessen, “Über eine charakteristische Reaktion des antiken Purpurs auf der Faser”, Melliand Textilberichte, 1944, v. 25, pp. 66-69; J Van Alphen, “Remarks on the Action of Light on several substances, most of them containing halogen, in particular several Indigo Dyes, in a Reducing Medium”, Recueil des travaux chimiques des Pays-Bas, 1944, v. 63, pp. 95-96. Sterman includes both of the above citations in his bibliography but in his book, he inexplicably attributes the rediscovery of the blue dyeing process to Otto Elsner who independently rediscovered the method serendipitously by accidently exposing the dye to light in 1985 (p. 134). Sagiv, Deep Blue, p. 292, points that Elsner himself explicitly stated that this result was based on a study conducted by two German scientists. ↩

The Rarest Blue p. 207. ↩

Sky-blue is the color of the sky at noon. Sterman even claims that this was the view of Rabbi Herzog in an article in BAR. See “The Great Tekhelet Debate—Blue or Purple?”, BAR, 39:05 (September/October 2013). This is in contradiction to Rabbi Herzog own expressed opinion that is was “deep dark blue”. ↩

For example, Pesikta Rabati (circa 9th century), piska 20 (matan Torah) Ish Shalom edition. ↩

Ex. 35:23,25; Ezekiel 27:24 ↩

Ex. 35:23; Ezekiel 23:6 ↩

Ex. 28:6, 35:23,25; Jeremiah 10:9; Ezekiel 23:6 ↩

Ex. 25:4, 26:1,31,36, 27:16, 28:5,6,8,15,33, 35:6,24,26; 36:37, 38:18,23, 39:1,2,8,22 Ezekiel 23:6, 27:7 ↩

Alternatively, ὑακίνθινος. ↩

Jerome uses ianthinum (violet) in translation of תחש. This should probably be understood as the same as hyacinthum because his rendering of tahash is dependent on the LXX which renders tahash the same as tekhelet. ↩

Antiquities 3:8; Wars 6:6 ↩

de Vita Mosis 3:2 ↩

Herzog, Semitic Porphyrology, p. 93-94, 161, (manuscript edition) ↩

This is the proof Rabbi Herzog cited when pressed by Rabbi Yechiel Michel Tukachinsky to provide a definitive proof for the exact color of tekhelet. See Ir haKodesh v’haMikdash, ibid p. 59. ↩

Menahot 42b ↩

Tosefta Menahot 9:6 ↩

Ir haKodesh v’haMikdash idem. It is unclear to me if this was an actual swatch of indigo or a photograph of a swatch. He uses the word “temunah” but it is unclear if he intends it to mean a colored sample. If he had meant photograph at the time he showed it to Rabbi Tukachinsky it was over 40 years old and it would be unreasonable for him to use this as a source because it can be assumed that the color had faded and color reproduction in photographs at the time was not very accurate in the first place. ↩

Idem. It seems to me that Rabbi Tukachinsky’s remarks are not objective observations about the color he saw but are rather his comments that the color he saw confirmed his expectations he had based on his prior research. ↩

Herzog, Semitic Porphyrology, p. 217 ↩

Ctesias seems to be referring to the indigo plant when he says, “Near the sources of this river there grows a certain purple flower, which is used for dyeing purple, and it is not inferior to the Greek sort, but even imparts a more florid hue.” Ctesias makes no other mention of indigo, one of the prominent Indian exports at the time, and there is no known flower from India that can be used for dyeing purple. It therefore seems reasonable to assume that Ctesias is referring to the indigo plant. See Ancient India as described by Ktêsias the Knidia, translated by J. W. McCrindle, (London 1882) p. 22. Pliny also describes indigo as producing a mixture of purple and blue. He also mentions the existence of “scum of purple” which ostensibly produced some type of purple dye. See Natural History, Book XXXV, Ch. XXVII, §46, translated H. Rackham, W.H.S. Jones, D.E. Eichholz, (Harvard University Press, 1949-54). ↩

J. Merritt Matthews, Application of Dyestuffs to Textiles, Paper, Leather and Other Materials, (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1920), p. 410fn. Indirubin is reduced to a leuco in the same way as indigo though the reduction is slower. Dyers without knowledge of how to chemically remove the indirubin may see varying amounts of indirubin in the dyed fabric depending on the efficiency of the reduction agent and the length of the reduction process.

A friend of mine that is involved with the promotion tekhelet attempted to recreate a natural indigo dye so that he could subject the fabric to the tests the Talmud gives for the differentiation of authentic tekhelet and indigo (Menahot 42b). He theorized that although the molecular structure of tekhelet and indigo were the same and they are both vat dyes, perhaps, in antiquity the reduction process for the dyes differed and that is why it was possible to differentiate between them with a chemical test. However, his attempt to create a natural indigo dye resulted in a purple fabric. He later tested an ancient indigo sample and supposedly found his theory to be true. See also Meir Hellman, Levush HaAron, pp. 68-70.

Incidentally, I should note that this theory is probably correct because historically indigo was not necessarily used as a vat dye but as a mordant dye. Pliny, for example only mentions it use in painting and says that when mixed with water it creates a beautiful purple and blue which is not how it appears when vat dyeing. This is particularly true when indigo was used in conjunction with another red dye to create an imitation purple which necessitates a mordant for dyeing. See R. J. H. Clark et all, “Indigo, Woad, and Tyrian Purple: Important Vat Dyes from Antiquity to the Present”, Endeavour, 17:4 (1993), p. 191. See also footnote 53 below.

Indigo was exported from India as dried blocks and looked like a black clump before being dissolved in water. It is possible that the name for indigo in the Talmud is on account of this קלא – burnt אילן – tree, a description of what the item appeared to be. Being an imported item it is not surprising its exact source was not known, Pliny also has a mistaken understanding of the indigo plant (Book XXXV Ch. XXVII). I find this etymology more likely than the Sanskrit suggestion of Herzog or the identification with callanium (Καλλαιλαν). ↩

Missing in some texts. The Hebrew word ספיר is often translated as sapphire but sapphire in ancient text most often refers not to the modern gem known under that name but to Lapis lazuli. See Theophrastus on Stones, E. R. Caley & J. C. Richards, Ohio State University Press (1956), p. 136. Theophrastus (30) says there were two types of Lapis lazuli stones, a male and a female, the former being the darker variety. The stone’s color can range from deep violet blue and royal blue to light blue to turquoise blue to a greenish blue. The stone most often contains specks of gold-colored pyrite giving the appearance of a midnight sky with sparkling stars. It is probably this similarity to the midnight sky that is referred to here. Pliny (Book XXXVII Ch. XXXIX) writes that most Lapis lazuli are blue and only rarely are they tinged with purple. Epiphanius writes the sapphire of the breastplate was royal purple colored. However, in an epitome of the work it is described as “crimson purple, like to the red sheen of black velvet is its appearance” but it is later stated “They say that there is also a blue one like lapis lazuli”. See Epiphanius de Gemmis: The Old Georgian Version and the Fragments of the Armenian Version, R. P. Blake, Christophers, London (1934), p. 133, 201 Epitome B.

Based on the above I find it inconsequential to this debate that the Sumarian cognate for tekhelet was also the word used for Lapis lazuli and things of that color. Lapis lazuli occurs is both blue and violet shades and probably served as a name for both colors. See Benjamin Rusch, “’Biblical Blue’ Tekhelet (תכלת) Ecclesiastical Dye and its Archaeological Identity in the Ancient Near East”, pp. 3-4. https://www.academia.edu/15286548/Bibli ... _Near_East [accessed 64/17] Sandra Bussata explains that in Sumerian “uqnu was used to describe dark blue, dark purple and even black materials, but with associated notions of brilliance and splendor, reflecting the value of lapis lazuli in the ancient Near East because of its rarity and attractive luster, augmented by small traces of silvery pyrite and white calcite in the dark blue matrix, which gives the material a glittering quality perhaps connected to the night sky.” See her essay, “The Perception of Color and The Meaning of Brilliance Among Archaic and Ancient Populations and Its Reflections on Language”, Antrocom Online Journal of Anthropology, 10:2 (2014), p. 325 ↩

Menahot 43b, Sotah 17a, Ḥulin 89a ↩

Herzog, Semitic Porphyrology, p. 206, (manuscript edition). “R. Meir’s object in this instance, be it duly emphasized, is not to give a definition of tekelet but merely to explain its symbolic significance.” ↩

Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot 7b. Rabbi Herzog himself suggests that it still could be color gradations and the “grasses” referred to are blue types of greenery such as the hyacinth flower. See Semitic Porphyrology, p. 212. ↩

Mishnat Rabbi Eliezer, ch. 14 states, “tekhelet resembles Lapis lazuli, and the Tablets were of Lapis lazuli, to tell you that so long as the people of Israel gaze upon this tekhelet they are reminded of that which is inscribed on the Tablets and they fulfill it.” ↩

Semitic Porphyrology, ibid. ↩

Shabbat 99a. ↩

Sifrei, Parshat Shelah. See the explanation of R’ Moshe HaDarshan cited by Rashi in Bamidbar 15:41 s.v. ptil tekhelet. ↩

Mark Bradley, “Colour as Synaesthetic Experience in Antiquity.” Synaesthesia and the Ancient Senses, edited by Shane Butler and Alex Purves, Acumen Publishing, 2013, p. 127 ↩

Rabbi Meir above in footnote 31. See also Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book III, 7:7, where tekhelet is compared to the sky and the air. Cf. Midrash Raba Bamidbar, 4:13. ↩

Iliad 23.143; Odyssey 5.132; 5.221; 7.250; 12.388 ↩

See the literature cited by Bradley, Colour as Synaesthetic, on pp. 132-133. ↩

Michael Clark, “The Semantics of Colour in the Early Greek Word-Hoard”, Colour in the Ancient Mediterranean World, ed. Liza Cleland and Karen Stears with Glenys Davies, pp. 131-139; Oxford; 2004. Clarke in fact suggests that the Greek word for purple, πορούρεος, is rooted in this association with the sea which can be described as heaving and surging. “Diachronically the word seems to have been conflated from two distinct sources, the reduplicated verb πορφορω ‘heave, surge’ and the name of the purple murex, πορφορα.” (footnote 32). For the symbolic meaning of colors in antiquity see Frederic Portal, An Essay on Symbolic Colors: In Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and Modern Times, trans. W. S. Inman, London, 1985. ↩

Pliny the Elder, Natural History, Book IX, Ch. LX. ↩

Sandra Busatta, The Perception of Color, p. 316. ↩

Iliad 5.504, 17.424-5; Busatta, idem. The early Greeks believed that the sky was a sort of hemispherical dome made of metal that covered the earth, a view that is also found Rabbinic literature. See Natan Slifkin, The Sun’s Path at Night <http://www.zootorah.com/RationalistJudaism/TheSunsPathAtNight.pdf> ↩

Mark Bradley, writes that the purple sea dye “had unique physical properties, sitting on the surface of garments rather than within the fabric and reflecting and manipulating sunlight in a similar fashion to oil floating on water.” See “The Colour Purple in Ancient Rome”, p. 12-13 <http://www.saturatedspace.org/2014/05/the-colour-purple-in-ancient-rome.html>. ↩

See A. Horovitz & A. Danin, “Relatives of Ornamental Plants in The Flora of Israel”, Israel Journal of Botany, 32:2 (1983), p. 91. The Hyacinthus orientalis is indigenous to Israel where it commonly grows wildly on the limestone rock in the Upper Galilee. See http://flora.org.il/en/plants/hyaori/. Hyacinthella nervosa is also native to Israel and its flowers are similarly violet colored. http://flora.org.il/en/plants/HYANER/

Menahot 44a ↩

Avoda Zara 39a ↩

Menahot 42b ↩

Pliny discusses the quality of different purples at length. ↩

In footnote 30 I surmise that the ability to use indigo as a vat dye may not have been well known. There is however evidence that indigo was used for vat dyeing in the Stockholm Papyrus (recipe 105) which has directions for dyeing with indigo by using fermented urine which is a reduction agent. It is possible that this method of dyeing was known at the time of the composition (CE 300) and in the local (Eygpt) but not at the time of Pliny. It has been suggested that the Greeks and Romans had a particular disdain for the color blue and perhaps this contributed to the indigo dyeing methods not being well known. See Bussata, The Perception of Color, pp. 334-6. The kela ilan of the Talmud was probably a vat dye based of the prescribed tests (Menahot 42b) ↩

Sifrei, Parshat Shelah 73 ↩

See the history and citations in, Zvi Koren, “The First Optimal All-Murex All-Natural Purple Dyeing in the Eastern Mediterranean in a Millennium and a Half”, Dyes in History and Archaeology (20), Archetype Publications, London, pp. 139-140. Koren thinks that the use of a chemical reduction agent, even a natural substance such as tin is unlikely to have been used in antiquity. I personally do not find all of his arguments convincing. I believe that a chemical reduction agent was not historically used because the preparation process as recorded in ancient required several weeks. Had they used a chemical agent the process would have only taken several hours. ↩

Zvi Koren, “New Chemical Insights into the Ancient Molluskan Purple Dyeing Process”, Archaeological Chemistry VIII, ed. R. A. Armitage & J. H. Burton, ACS Symposium Series 1147, American Chemical Society: Washington DC; Chapter 3, pp. 51-52. See also his response to Sterman in BAR http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/dail ... -response/ . Koren also dismisses Roy Hoffman’s attempts, who besides using a glass vessel that was covered, also only received blue after a second dyeing in the same dye bath. Koren has shown that the red dibromoindigo (DBI) has a higher affinity to wool than the blue indigo (IND) and in the first dyeing DBI will adhere to the wool more readily than IND, see Koren, The First Optimal, p. 143. The second dyeing resulting in a bluer wool is explicitly disqualified in the Talmud (Menahot 42b). Based on Koren’s finding we can perhaps suggest that this is another indication that the desired color of tekhelet was violet (Cf. Rashi and Tosfot in Menahot ibid). Hoffman himself admits that natural blue dyeing was probably impossible on a commercial scale, thereby conceding that the dyeing process described in the Greek authors was not for a blue dye. See Roy Hoffman, “The Identity of Tekhelet: New Findings” (Hebrew), Bekhol Derakhekha Daehu (BDD), 27 (March 2013), p. 17. ↩

Menahot ibid ↩

Matthew 23:5. Craspeda appears in the Greek version. ↩

The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis: Book I (Sects 1-46), tran. Frank Williams, Brill (2009), Ch. 15 1.4, p. 41-42 ↩

See Erwin Goodenough, Jewish Symbols in the Greco-Roman Period. Volume Nine: Symbolism in the Dura Synagogue, p. 171 -174. For clavi as the source of the black strips on the tallit see Daniel Sperber, Minhagei Yisrael, vol. 5, Mossad HaRav Kook (1995), pp. 207 n. 5. Traditional sources suppose that the strips on the tallit were a remembrance for tekhelet and originally the tekhelet and the tallit strips were the same blue color. See R. Joseph Teomim, Pri Megadim to Shulhan Arukh, O.H., ch. 9, Eshel Avraham, no. 6. ↩

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הצטרף: ה' פברואר 02, 2012 10:27 pm

תשובתו של ברוך שטרמן

הודעהעל ידי תוכן » ג' יוני 12, 2018 10:46 am

https://www.torahmusings.com/2017/06/te ... erception/



Tekhelet Perception
Posted by: Baruch Sterman in Guest Posts, Journal, Musings, Posts Jun 19, 17 0

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by Dr. Baruch Sterman

While I am always thrilled to see the issue of tekhelet being discussed (Tekhelet: Color Perception or Apprehension, Efraim Vaynman), and certainly in such a thorough and thoughtful way, I feel the need to clarify my own position and correct several mistakes. Harav Eliyahu Tavger, the founder of our non-profit Ptil Tekhelet organization, has pointed out that the mitzvah of tekhelet was born in machloket. The very next thing that happened after it was given was that Korach used it to build his argument against Moshe. Rav Tavger has guided our organization with a very clear directive: to minimize machloket regarding tekhelet as best we can. We welcome advice, criticism, dissenting opinions, and even rejection of reinstituting the mitzvah of tekhelet, but we fervently hope that this be done in the spirit of machloket l’shaym shamayim.

The issues surrounding tekhelet are complex and nuanced. The sources, often contradictory, are vague at best and subject to interpretation. To suggest that there is any attempt to white-wash the controversy or uncertainty regarding the color of tekhelet, and moreover, to state that I try to “deceitfully tell a different narrative,” is out of place, to say the least. In my book, The Rarest Blue, I write:

“Throughout this book, we will describe the color of tekhelet as sky blue or azure. As will become clear, this is not a universally accepted position, and it certainly wasn’t the consensus opinion among scholars before the 1980s. Some scholars maintain that the hue tended more toward violet, a blue purple. The depth of the color is also debated, with some claiming it was a darker shade of blue. The reasoning that leads to the opinion that tekhelet is the color of the clear, cloudless, midday sky will appear later in the book.”1

Moreover, Ptil Tekhelet has no vested interest in promoting one shade over another. Our goal is to provide murex-dyed strings for tzitzit. We do not have the luxury of leaving the issue of the color of tekhelet unresolved. At the end of the day we are the ones who are making the actual strings available for the hundreds of thousands of Jews around the world who tie it onto their tzitzit. We have had to make decisions and settle on a target color, not only hue, but depth as well. This we have done according to the direction of Rav Tavger, in consultation with numerous Rabbinic authorities. The motivations behind our organization should not be in question.

I am glad that we are in agreement with Efraim Vaynman regarding most of the issues at hand. We both accept that the Murex trunculus is most likely the hillazon source of ancient tekhelet. No one can deny the fact that it is possible to obtain a sky-blue dye of lasting quality from the Murex trunculus snail using only methods and ingredients available to the ancients. Ancient dyers appear to have known that this was the case, as indicated by the Wadi Murabba’at textile and the Pazyryk saddlecloth (and even the Masada piece). Furthermore, it is highly likely that over the more than 2000 years of murex dyeing, here and there the wool would have come out a sky-blue color. Mr. Vaynman presumably concedes that the dyers knew they could tweak the color (by photodebromination or other means) and is simply asserting that the tekhelet dyers did what they could to make murex dye blue-ish, but were not exacting in the requirement that their tekhelet be 100% violet-free. Mr. Vaynman believes that the target color was a dark blue with a violet tinge, and I lean towards what we call sky-blue.

I would like to turn to specific points relating to Mr. Vaynman’s position:

Halachic Considerations for sky-blue: Leaving aside for the moment what the ancient dyers sought to achieve, the trend among halachic authorities throughout the ages heavily leans towards sky-blue. This is the position of the Rambam (taking the plain and straightforward reading of his words) in both Hilchot Tzitzit (2;1), “דמות הרקיע הנראית לעין השמש בטהרו של רקיע” and Hilchot Kli Hamikdash (8;13), “כעצם שמים שהוא פתוך מן הכוחל”. Although the Rambam elsewhere talks about “shachor”, his son nonetheless, interpreted his father’s position as presented here.2 Likewise, this opinion is shared by the Radak,3 Rabbenu Bahya,4 Saadia Gaon,5 and many others. Among the later halachic sources, the Tiferet Yisrael, who had a profound influence on the Radzyner in his quest to rediscover tekhelet, states the matter clearly and unequivocally. Referring to Wilhelm Gesenius’ identification of tekhelet with the color violet, he writes:
אמנם במה שכתב שבדם החומט צובעין “פורפור בלויא”, דהיינו “דונקעל בלויא”, בזה לא נשמע לו, דעל כרחך זה שלא כקבלתינו, דהרי חז”ל אמרו תכלת דומה לרקיע (מנחות מ”ג ב’), וכך כתב הרמב”ם שהבאנו שצבעו כטוהר הרקיע נגד זריחת השמש, והיינו “העללס היממעל בלויא”.6

However, with respect to what he [Gesenius] wrote that the blood of the mollusk dyes a “purple blue”, that is “dark blue”, in this we will not heed his [opinion]. For this is certainly against our tradition, as our sages said that tekhelet is similar to the sky (Menachot 43b), and so wrote the Rambam that we brought before, that the color is as the pure sky opposite the shining sun, and that is “light sky blue.”

These sources form the basis for our halachic decision to seek sky-blue as the ideal shade and hue for tekhelet. This decision was made in full awareness that there are many who hold differently, and the spectrum as to the color of tekhelet varies widely from green to violet to midnight blue and, of course, sky-blue. It may well be that the exact color/shade is not mi’akev – invalidating the fulfillment of the mitzvah.7 Again, it could certainly be the case that the ancient dyers had different criteria, but given the fact that we are able to obtain this exact color from the murex, it makes sense within the halachic framework to aim for that outcome.

Regarding Rav Herzog’s objection to the Murex trunculus as the tekhelet hillazon, a pertinent fact must be elucidated. I would like to invite readers to compare two tufts of wool dyed from the Murex trunculus under precisely identical conditions, differing only in that one was exposed to sunlight and one not. Here is a picture: link. The tuft of wool on the left is what everyone before 1985 would have known to be the color that is produced by the Murex trunculus snail. The question, especially with respect to Rav Herzog’s work, is would that color have been called tekhelet. As previously mentioned, the Tiferet Yisrael railed against the identification of the hillazon with Gesenius’ snails because those snails produce purple and tekhelet must be blue. Furthermore, Rav Herzog received these unequivocal assertions from his most trusted authorities: Paul Friedlander – “I also consider it impossible to produce a pure blue from the purple snails that are known to me.”, and the Goeblins Laboratory – “I don’t know of any natural blue colour other than indigo that is capable of solidly dyeing textile fibers.”8 While Rav Herzog may have entertained the fact that tekhelet was a darker blue, he was certainly skeptical about whether the murex could provide even that as opposed to purple.On this point, I would like to note that Rav Herzog’s use of the term “dark blue” is probably not what Mr. Vaynman assumes – namely a midnight blue with hints of violet. He specifically states in his doctorate the contrast between “light sky blue (helles Himmelblau)” and “dark sky blue which is the color of the cloudless Palestinian sky in bright sunshine.”9 It is precisely that color that we aim for in our tekhelet strings.
It is easy to get blue from the murex: We have been dyeing tekhelet for over 25 years. Hundreds of thousands of sets. Once you know about using sunlight and steam it is in some ways easier to get blue (maybe with a hint of violet here and there) than it is to get purple. I have enough respect for the ancient dyers to assume that they would have recognized the influence of sunlight during the more than 2000 years of murex dyeing. There is no doubt in my mind that they would have noticed the fact that subsequent batches of wool dipped in the same vat would produce sky-blue. To assume, as Mr. Vaynman does, that the ancient Tyrian dyers who provided the tekhelet for Shlomo Hamelech’s Bet Hamikdash would never dare to double dip, being worried about a machloket in Menachot regarding Maareh Sheni, is an anachronism to say the least. But were one to take that position, the matter is still not closed. Perhaps the ancient Phoenician poskim held like the Tanna R’ Yochanan ben Dehavai who permitted Maareh Sheni. Or maybe they adopted the shitta of Tosafot or the Rambam who likewise permit it under certain circumstances. Even if those sages held like Rashi, then maybe they understood his opinion as did the Tshuvot Hameyuchasot L’Rashba, or as the Radzyner explains it.
Evidence for dyeing blue with Murex: Mr. Vaynman makes no mention of the Pazyryk saddlecloth which has a sky-blue murex dyed border dating back to the 4th-5th century BCE. The murex can produce a sky-blue dye, and it seems clear that the ancients had the knowledge and technology to realize that. One can assume that Chazal knew what the dyers of their time knew as well.
Elsner’s part in the discovery: Mr. Vaynman takes umbrage at our “narrative” in that I “inexplicably” attribute the discovery of the debrominating effects of radiation on the reduced vat to Otto Elsner instead of to Driessen. Indeed, in footnoting the serendipitous discovery that Elsner made I write:
“This is one version of the apocryphal stories of the serendipity that led to Elsner’s discovery of the photochemical processes that debrominate snail dye. It may not have been completely accidental, though, and Elsner may have been looking for such effects. As an experienced indigo dyer, he knew that dyeing in direct sunlight could change the color somewhat. He also may have seen the paper by Driessen, who first suggested this phenomenon (Driessen, “Uber Eine Charakterische Reaktion Des Antiken Purpurs Auf Der Faser”).”10

The reasons I favor the version giving Elsner the credit are:

I have not found any indication (though Mr. Vaynman and Gadi Sagiv make this claim) that Elsner himself gives credit to “2 German Chemists”. Furthermore, to the best of my knowledge, he never cites Driessen’s work.
In his original paper (1985) Elsner shares his thought process. “It is a known property of some vat dyes to change their color when exposed to solar radiation when reduced to their leuco state.” He then goes on to quote the work of Weber, Goldstein and Gardner who showed that “halogenated vat dyes may lose their halogens when exposed to solar radiation.”11 All this led Elsner and Spanier to suspect that this might work for the brominated indigo of the murex dye. Then they tried it, and the rest is history. This first-hand account describes innovative thinking, cross-reasoning, and thoughtful application to different circumstances – all sprinkled with a bit of luck. This is not simply repeating someone else’s experiment.
Driessen’s work, to the best of my knowledge, played no part in the foundational tekhelet research done in the 1980s by Dr. Israel Ziderman, Rabbi Bezalel Naor, Rabbi Menachem Burstein, and Rabbi Eliyahu Tavger. Elsner’s work did.
Kala Ilan and indigo: Mr. Vaynman proposes that when the Talmud equates the color of tekhelet with that of Kala Ilan (= indigo), it means a violet indigo. After all it is possible to obtain that color from the indigofera plant under certain conditions. Keep in mind that Isatis (= woad) is also equated with the color of tekhelet. Again, presumably, the argument would be that this could also be dyed violet. All true. But there are countless examples of blue indigo-dyed fabrics dating back to the time of Tutankhamun. The Talmud is most likely comparing tekhelet to the common color that indigo dyed, not one achieved by some atypical recipe. As we know from myths around the world, from art, etc., indigo was widely associated with the color of the sky. Mr. Vaynman wonders why anyone would use murex to dye blue when they could obtain the same color from the cheaper indigo plant. This is like asking why someone would want a genuine diamond when he can get a synthetic one for cheaper. Furthermore, this question still stands even according to his proposal that both indigo and tekhelet yield violet.
The Mesopotamian/Accadian context of the word takiltu (= uqnu) cannot be ignored. It is translated as lapis-lazuli colored wool. True one might argue that lapis can range from light to dark blue, but it is important to note that in the Mesopotamian cosmological myths as well as in art, lapis forms the lowest side of the heavens, and is what we on Earth see as the sky. Thus it would be more correct to associate that word with sky-blue.
Eye-Witness Account: The 4th-5th century paytan, Yossi ben Yossi lived in Eretz Yisrael, was a Kohen, and undoubtedly saw tekhelet firsthand. In his poem recounting the service on Yom Kippur, Azkir Gevurot Eloha, he describes the M’eil of the Kohen Gadol which was made of pure tekhelet as follows:
עטוי מעיל תכלת כזהר הרקיע
Wrapped in a coat of tekhelet as radiant as the sky

It would be a stretch to call violet or midnight blue, “as radiant as the sky”, and rather this implies a mid-day sky-blue.

Which brings us to the crux of the matter: Was tekhelet associated in the eyes of the ancients and in the eyes of Chazal with the sky? Maybe at times it came out more violet and at times more blue, a little lighter or darker, but ultimately we would like to know what they thought about when they looked at their tekhelet strings. What did tekhelet evoke? Countless midrashim and drashot over the past 2000 years testify to the notion that tekhelet reminds one of the sky. I can entertain the possibility that the ancient eye was less exact in its perception than ours is today, and that Jews in earlier times were more inclusive and assumed a wider spectrum in their definition of “sky-colored” than we do. But the important thing is the association with the sky. Today we have a relatively narrow definition of what we would call sky-blue, and it is possible to obtain that very color from the Murex trunculus, the legitimate chillazon and authentic source of tekhelet. The ample support indicating that sky-blue was included in the definition of tekhelet by the ancients, along with the preference shown for that color by so many halachic authorities, more than justifies Ptil Tekhelet’s decision to target sky-blue as the color for tekhelet strings used in order to fulfill the commandment today.



The Rarest Blue, Lyons Press, CT, 2012, p. 222. ↩

ר’ אברהם בן הרמב”ם עה”ת (פ’ תרומה) “תכלת הוא ממוצע בין כחול העמוק ללובן”. וכן בס’ המספיק לעובדי ה’ לר’ אברהם בן הרמב”ם, “יהיה מצמר כחול, זך, הדומה לצבע הענן הנדמה לעין שהוא צבע השמים. ↩

ספר השרשים לרד”ק תכל – פתיל תכלת (במדבר טו, לח.), ותכלת וארגמן (שמות כה,ד), הוא העין שקורין לו בלע”ז בל”ב [אזורו אולטר”ו מארי”ן.] ↩

רבינו בחיי שמות פרשת תצוה פרק כח (ו) ועשו את האפוד. – …ה”תכלת” הוא הצמר הצבוע כעצם השמים. ↩

פירושי ר’ סעדה גאון על התורה (תירגום ר’ קאפח) פרשת תרומה כה (א) ותכלת – ‘אסמאנגון’. ובהערה של הרב קאפח – כצבע של השמיים בבהירותם שהם תכולים מאד ונוטים לשחרות ↩

תפארת ישראל כללי בגדי קודש של כהונה ↩

שו”ת רדב”ז חלק ה סימן מח וי”ל שיש גוון תכלת שהוא שחור הרבה ויש שאינו שחור כל כך. ↩

Most people overlook the importance of these correspondences, and usually skip them altogether since Rav Herzog left them untranslated in the original German and French in his doctorate. ↩

Herzog, The Royal Purple, Keter, Jerusalem (1987) p. 62 ↩

The Rarest Blue, p.239. ↩

Elsner, Otto, The Dyeing with Murex Extracts, an Unusual Dyeing Method of Wool to the Biblical Sky Blue, Proceedings of the 7th International Wool Textile Research Conference, Tokyo, 1985 Vol. V

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הצטרף: ה' פברואר 02, 2012 10:27 pm

תגובתו של אפריים ויינמן

הודעהעל ידי תוכן » ג' יוני 12, 2018 10:47 am

https://www.torahmusings.com/2017/06/te ... -tekhelet/

A Testament to the True Tekhelet
Posted by: Efraim Vaynman in Journal, Musings, Posts Jun 26, 17 0

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by Efraim Vaynman

I welcome the comments of Dr. Sterman to my recent essay “Tekhelet: Color Perception or Apprehension”. There were many issues I did not have a chance to address in my original article and his critique has given me the opportunity to address those remaining issues and present a fuller picture of why I believe that tekhelet was violet colored.

But first, I must agree with the sentiments of Rabbi Tavger and Dr. Sterman that tekhelet since its inception has always engendered conflict. In particular, the modern renaissance of tekhelet exposed a deep epistemological division between the supporters and the detractors for the revival of tekhelet. Those differences bubbled up right from the very beginning when Rabbi Gershon Hanoch Leiner first raised the idea of reviving the mitzvah of tekhelet, a mitzvah that had been lost for over a thousand years. Many opposed the idea fundamentally. Midrash states emphatically that God had taken tekhelet and hid it away. Who then are we to find it? Any such attempts are futile. Others contended that so as long as we don’t have a living tradition of what the Hilazon snail was and how to produce the tekhelet dye the mitzvah could never be revived.

Rabbi Leiner and those that supported the search for tekhelet were less deterministic. They believed that God had caused tekhelet to be lost but that it was our job to find it, particularly as we are of on the eve of messianic times. However, Rabbi Leiner himself had his own epistemological limitation. He believed that the rabbinic corpus held within it all of the knowledge needed to bring back tekhelet. After surveying and analyzing the rabbinic corpus all that was left to do was to go to the aquarium and pick out the sea creature that best fit the description found in the Talmud.

Rabbi Herzog took a dramatically different approach. He analyzed the topic from every which way he could, philologically, historically, archeologically, and textually, using every body of knowledge to best inform his opinion. Supporters of the tekhelet from the Murex trunculus adopt this approach and have built on it by adding research in various fields such as chemical analysis. Those that oppose it question not just if it is possible for us to revive the mitzvah but even if theoretically possible question if these methodologies can be admitted into the halakhic discourse. There remain deep epistemological differences between those that support tekhelet and those that don’t.

Supporters of Murex trunculus-derived tekhelet can generally be assumed to be supporters of the academic approach of Rabbi Herzog. I find it ironic that these very supporters are bringing proofs that tekhelet is sky-blue which are not academically sound.

Rambam

Dr. Sterman was careful with his words. He writes that by “taking the plain and straightforward reading of his [Rambam’s] words” it is clear that Rambam believed tekhelet was sky-blue. He further claims that this position is also stated by Rambam’s son. However, this simple reading of Rambam has long been discredited by Dr. Zohar Amar.1

Dr. Sterman does not translate Rambam’s words, leaving the reader to translate them roughly as “the middle of blue”. He also quotes a defective version of Rambam that adds the word שמש, which is absent in the most reliable versions of Rambam.2 Dr. Amar writes at length to prove that Rambam thought tekhelet was blackish-gray or perhaps a very dark blue with a grayish tinge. It is impossible to summarize the entire article in a few lines but the crux of it is that כוחל does not mean blue but a dark colored eye pigment.3 פתוך, which in Rambam means a mix of colors, is used to describe the shade of grayness. Dr. Amar also addresses the comments of Avraham the son of Rambam in their original Arabic and similarly concludes that the color to which he refers is a dark gray, the color of clouds on a stormy day.4

Tangentially, I should mention that Rabbi Herzog wrote that his conclusion that tekhelet is deep dark blue is based mainly off of the description of Rambam for whom he had great respect.5 Had Rabbi Herzog seen the convincing arguments of Dr. Zohar Amar it is possible that his conclusion about the color of tekhelet would have been different.

Other Medieval Descriptions

Dr. Sterman quotes other medieval authors as saying that tekhelet was sky-blue. An academic approach to tekhelet would dictate that these descriptions not carry as much weight as eyewitness accounts of the tekhelet, of which we have many. Moreover, there does not seem to be any reliable tradition about the color, with Rashi describing it a green6 and Rambam, a blackish-gray. Radak, as Dr. Sterman quoted in a footnote, says that it is azoro (Azure?) ultramarine which is a very deep blue. Similarly, in the footnote to Saadia Gaon’s commentary you will find “אסמאנג’ון”, which in fact simply means the color of the sky, (which, by the way, in classical Arabic poetry the sky was called green.)7 Finally, he quotes Rabbenu Bahya as saying it is sky-blue but if you look in the footnote you will find that all that he says is that it was כעצם השמים, which is the same language used by Rambam.8

Dr. Sterman proceeds to quote from Rabbi Israel Lipschitz, author of the Tiferet Yisroel, who, based on an incorrect version of Rambam and a “plain and straightforward” reading, insists that that tekhelet is blue. I do not think this reference adds anything of substance to the discussion. There were other noted rabbis who explicitly rejected blue. For example, Rabbi Yair Chayim Bacharach writes “In my novella I wrote that the blood of the Hilazon with which we dye tekhelet is not blue, rather it was a purple color that was made of a fish that was called purple.”9

Rabbi Herzog’s Opinion

Dr. Sterman invites the reader to take a look at a sample of wool dyed with the Murex trunculus that has not undergone photodebromination and consider if Rabbi Herzog would have really considered using it, especially in light of Rabbi Israel Lipschitz’s comments. This is misleading, because it has been known for many years now that even without photodebromination it is possible to obtain dark blue hues from the Murex trunculus, as I noted in my original essay. Moreover, Rabbi Herzog was completely sure that a blue hue can be obtained from the Murex trunculus because he quotes Henri de Lacaze-Duthiers who said that he obtained exactly that!10 I object to the quotation of only those passages in Rabbi Herzog’s dissertation that negate the possibility of producing blue from the Murex trunculus.

Dr. Sterman proceeds to claim that I probably did not understand Rabbi Herzog’s intention when he wrote, “deep dark blue” and that what Rabbi Herzog really meant by “deep dark blue” is “dark sky blue”. This is incorrect. Rabbi Herzog writes: “That the colour of tekelet or hyacinth is likened to that of the sea or of the sky only proves that tekelet was not easily distinguishable from deep blue: a deep dark violet-blue would be classed by the ancients, as indeed by most people to-day, as a deep-blue.”11 In this passage Rabbi Herzog says tekhelet which is “deep dark violet-blue” is not the exact same color as the sea and the sky but is nevertheless likened onto them because the ancients and modern day people would call both colors “deep blue”.

Getting Blue from the Murex trunculus

Dr. Sterman claims that it is so easy to get sky-blue from the Murex trunculus that it is unreasonable to claim that the ancients didn’t know about it. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, to this date nobody has been able to obtain a sky-blue dye through a natural dyeing process that would actually have been employed by the ancients. Roy Hoffman, who most recently attempted the natural dyeing process, had trouble producing any sort of blue. Even after he steamed the purple wool, the wool remained purple. He eventually got a blue color when he dipped a second piece of wool into the same vat, but as I noted, such a dyeing is explicitly invalidated in the Talmud. I agree with Dr. Sterman that this phenomenon was probably recognized by the ancients. In fact, I believe that this very phenomenon is exactly what led to the Talmudic invalidation of such a practice. An academic approach to this issue would recognize that the significantly bluer hue obtained in a second dyeing is probably the motivation of the Talmudic decree, despite what Rashi or Tosafot may have explained the reason is. According to this reading the Talmud explicitly invalidates sky-blue dye for tekhelet.

Evidence for Sky-Blue Dye

I am puzzled by Dr. Sterman’s mentioning of the Pazyryk saddlecloth. Dr. Zvi Koren expressed reservations about the chemical analysis done on the saddlecloth after he contacted the authors that did the analysis.12 In short, according to Koren, the claims of the researchers that chemically analyzed the sky-blue part of the saddlecloth are not scientifically valid and the light-blue color on the saddlecloth is probably not from a molluscan source. To my knowledge there are no ancient textiles that are dyed sky-blue from a molluscan source alone.

Kla Ilan

In his response Dr. Sterman asserts that when the Talmud says that tekhelet is similar to indigo it was referring to the most commonly produced blue color and not to “some atypical recipe”. Dr. Sterman does not address the arguments I made for believing kla Ilan to have been a purple color. For one, it is an historical fact attested to by Pliny that indigo produced “a marvelous mixture of purple and blue”.13 Secondly, getting purple from indigo is not some “atypical recipe”. Indigo naturally has indirubin (red) and other impurities which if not removed by a special process will come out in the dyed fabrics. Most importantly, I claim that indigo was probably used in conjunction with some type of other red dye to perfect the color, as implied in the Sifrei. Archeologists in Israel have found many examples of imitation purple made with indigo. In fact, most of the ancient purple textiles found in Israel are imitation purples.

Dr. Sterman doesn’t think it is a question why the supposed sky-blue Murex trunculus was used for blue when a cheaper alternative of indigo blue was available. He claims it is analogous to buying a real diamond when imitations are available. While I think the analogy is probably a bit anachronistic as I am doubtful that ancients necessarily had this modern bizarre sociological convention, I specified another reason why this was probably not true. Historically, molluscan dyes were known to have had a terrible stench that could not be removed with washing. I find it hard to believe that there would still be a preference for the “authentic” blue when the wearer had to endure a terrible smell whenever the clothes were worn.

According to Dr. Sterman tekhelet had no inherent superiority to the imitation kla ilan, it was simply the original and authentic one. Furthermore, he claims that even if tekhelet and kla ilan were violet the question still stands; in which way was tekhelet superior to kla ilan? I tried to preempt this question in my original essay by pointing out that Pliny, who actually showed much contempt for the “mad lust” of authentic purple, writes that the authentic purples were superior to the imitation purples.14 Additionally, since, as I have suggested, kla ilan was produced by mixing indigo with other red dyes, this probably necessitated a mordant so that the red dye could adhere to the fabric, thus making the imitation tekhelet not as colorfast as authentic tekhelet which was a pure vat dye.

Tekhelet Cognates

Dr. Sterman repeats his claim that the fact that the word tekhelet is somehow related to the Sumerian word for Lapis lazuli implies that tekhelet is sky-blue. Now, whenever dealing with cognates one cannot always expect a word to mean the exact same thing in the related languages, particularly since the assertion here is that the word traveled through several languages from Sumerian, to Akkadian, (to Ugaritic?,) to Hebrew. I don’t think it is reasonable to assume that the particular hue associated with Lapis lazuli was transferred along with the word. It was more likely a broader spectrum of colors that was transferred, particularly since the original Sumerian word was probably just used as the word for blue-purple color range.

Moreover, as mentioned in footnote 31 in my previous essay, Lapis lazuli comes in a range of colors. The stone’s color can range from deep violet blue to royal blue to light blue to turquoise blue to a greenish blue. I do not agree with Dr. Sterman’s assertion that the association of the Lapis lazuli stone with the sky means that the stone was known as sky-blue, mainly because the association is not with sky at noon but with the dark nighttime sky. I previously quoted Sandra Bussata who writes “uqnu was used to describe dark blue, dark purple and even black materials, but with associated notions of brilliance and splendor, reflecting the value of lapis lazuli in the ancient Near East because of its rarity and attractive luster, augmented by small traces of silvery pyrite and white calcite in the dark blue matrix, which gives the material a glittering quality perhaps connected to the night sky.”15

“Eye-Witness Accounts”

Dr. Sterman cites a poetic piece written by the fourth – fifth century paytan Yossi ben Yossi to prove that tekhelet was sky-blue. Now, as mentioned in my essay, we have many eye-witness accounts to tekhelet, most notably all of the Greek translations of the Torah, as well as Josephus and Philo, all of whom translate tekhelet as hyákinthos, which is the same word used for the violet hyacinth flower. Moreover, Yossi ben Yossi’s description of “תכלת כזהר הרקיע” does not imply that tekhelet was sky-blue. Dr. Sterman’s translation here is accurate: “tekhelet as radiant as the sky”. It is important to distinguish that tekhelet is not likened to the color of the sky when it is radiating i.e. noon, but rather that tekhelet is described as being as radiant as the sky. As I explained in my essay this is a reference to the well-known remarkable ability of Murex trunculus dyed fabric to reflect light in a way which uniquely attracts and fascinated the observer. For the ancients, this visual quality was more important than the hue of the item and was therefore the fundamental element that they tried to convey in their descriptions.

Conclusion

Dr. Sterman and I agree on more things than we disagree. We both agree that the Murex trunculus is the source of tekhelet and that it is absolutely possible to perform the mitzvah nowadays. We differ only in our opinions of the exact hue of tekhelet, which may not even be halakhically consequential. Dr. Sterman and his co-found organization Ptil Tekhelet have been instrumental in restoring the mitzvah of tekhelet and they should be commended for their efforts to educate the public of the importance of this mitzvah and for manufacturing thousands of sets of tekhelet.

Still, Dr. Sterman’s repeated insistence that the association of tekhelet with the sky somehow proves that tekhelet’s hue was sky-blue is lost on me. The theory I have proposed is that the ancient Jews, just like the ancient Greco-Romans they lived with, appreciated color in a different way than we do today. For them hue was not the main component of color. The brightness, depth, and reflectivity were more important than hue. It is these qualities that made them associate the color of tekhelet with the sea, sky, and Lapis lazuli.16

Zohar Amar, “Givan haTekhelet al pi haRambam” HaMa’yan, 52:2 (5772), pp. 77-87. He later published an expanded version in a chapter of his book, haArgaman, ch. 6, p. 175-205. ↩

Oxford manuscript (Hunt. 80) ad loc. ↩

Not to be confused with כחול (which appears in some versions), the word used in modern Hebrew for blue. Even כחול means a blackish pigment and it was only under Arabic influence that it took on a new meaning for blue. Amar writes that Rambam himself refers to the כחל eye pigment that was dark and not blue. ↩

The description is found in his Hamaspik leOvdei Hashem (Ktav Kephia Ela’avdin), ed. Nissim Dana, Ramat Gan (1989), p. 273. Amar is unsure about Avraham’s comments in his Torah commentary. He entertains the possibility that here he disagrees with his father. ↩

“ha’ Tekhelet b’Yisrael: Ma’areh haTekhelet” Ha’Hed, 14 (1935), p. 18. ↩

Bamidbar 15:38 ↩

See Sanda Bussata, “The Perception of Color and The Meaning of Brilliance Among Archaic and Ancient Populations and Its Reflections on Language”, Antrocom Online Journal of Anthropology, 10:2 (2014), p. 313. ↩

Rabbenu Bahya seems to simply be quoting Rambam. How he understood Rambam is unknown. Rambam himself seems to use this phrase to mean the middle of the sky as a reference to the brightness and/or intensity of the color. Cf. Rambam, Hilchot Yisodei haTorah, 3:3 where implies that the sky has no color. ↩

Commentary of Havot Yair to Shulahan Arukh, O.H. 18. ↩

See the manuscript edition of Semitic Porphyrology p. 35. Lacaze-Duthiers also said that at other times it yielded violet. Dr. Zvi Koren notes that Lacaze-Duthiers did not actually dye any fabric with the dye but simply smeared it. There may be slight variations between the color obtained in a smear and the resulting color of a fabric after dyeing. ↩

Semitic Porphyrology p. 194 ↩

See the video here https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B067a ... mxGdXJxdEU

“mixturam purpurae caeruleique mirabilem”. Natural History, Book XXXV, Ch. XXVII, §46, translated H. Rackham, W.H.S. Jones, D.E. Eichholz, (Harvard University Press, 1949-54). ↩

Pliny implies that the superiority was visually discernable. This brings to question the dispute in the Talmud if there is a test for authentic tekhelet. The implication seems to be that it was not visually or otherwise discernible therefore necessitating a chemical test. Furthermore, we might ask that if kla ilan was from a plant source then authentic tekhelet should be discernible simply by its fishy smell. The answer to the later question might simply be that kla ilan was dipped in a fishy liquid to give it an authentic smell. As to the former question, I contend that an academic reading of the Baraita, תכלת אין לה בדיקה ואין נקחת אלא מן המומחה implies that only experts were able to reliably discern authentic tekhelet from the kla ilan imitation. This reading is particularly true according to Yuval Blankovsky who believes that the idea of lishma is only found in the Bavli. See his, עיון בדין “לשמה” בהכנת תשמישי קדושה, Sidra, 31 (5776), pp. 7-31. ↩

“The Perception of Color and The Meaning of Brilliance Among Archaic and Ancient Populations and Its Reflections on Language”, Antrocom Online Journal of Anthropology, 10:2 (2014), p. 325 ↩

As a last note I will address Dr. Sterman’s acceptance of the “apocryphal” story of Elsner finding he could turn Murex trunculus dye blue. I do not want to address this issue in the main text of my rebuttal being that this issue is inconsequential to the actual debate at hand. Let me first state that I only quoted Gadi Sagiv who claims that Elsner’s finding was no accident but was rather based on the research of two German chemists; I myself never looked into this. I recently wrote to Sagiv for clarification. Sagiv clarified that his claim in not based on what Elsner wrote but what he heard from Dr. Irving Ziderman in an oral interview. I have also been told by Dr. Koren that “Elsner definitely based his photodebromination process on the work of “German chemists”, and it was not “by accident”.”

I will also admit that at the moment I do not remember reading the endnote (not footnote) Dr. Sterman quotes. However, Dr. Sterman’s claim that Driessen’s research played no role in the foundational work in the 80s can be called to question by simply googling “Driessen” and “tekhelet” upon which you will find that Dr. Ziderman already quoted him in 1986. Ziderman was in contact with Spanier and Elsner since at least the early 80s. Ziderman himself (“The Biblical Dye Tekhelet and its Use in Jewish Textiles”) attributes the discovery of photodebromination to Driessen. ↩

בתבונה
הודעות: 752
הצטרף: ו' אוגוסט 12, 2016 3:58 pm

Re: שלשה מאמרים באנגלית על התכלת

הודעהעל ידי בתבונה » ג' יוני 12, 2018 5:50 pm

טענתו של וינמן במאמריו
1. בעבר לא ידעו לתאר צבעים בצורה נכונה, ולכן לא גוון התכלת ולא ניתן להסתמך בקשר לגוון התכלת על כל הקדמונים (היוונים וגם קדמונינו כולל חז"ל)
2. הוא טוען שאינדיגו לפעמים מעט יותר סגלגל ולפעמים פחות- [נ.ב. בדיוק כמו התכלת מהפורפורה]
3. שמא הקלא אילן דומה לתכלת רק בתוספת צבע אחר - טענה ישנה (בניגוד לדברי הרמב"ם דברי היוונים ופשטות דברי חז"ל)

בן מיכאל
הודעות: 515
הצטרף: ד' ינואר 04, 2017 2:19 pm

Re: שלשה מאמרים באנגלית על התכלת

הודעהעל ידי בן מיכאל » ג' יוני 12, 2018 7:39 pm

בתבונה כתב:טענתו של וינמן במאמריו
1. בעבר לא ידעו לתאר צבעים בצורה נכונה, ולכן לא גוון התכלת ולא ניתן להסתמך בקשר לגוון התכלת על כל הקדמונים (היוונים וגם קדמונינו כולל חז"ל)
2. הוא טוען שאינדיגו לפעמים מעט יותר סגלגל ולפעמים פחות- [נ.ב. בדיוק כמו התכלת מהפורפורה]
3. שמא הקלא אילן דומה לתכלת רק בתוספת צבע אחר - טענה ישנה (בניגוד לדברי הרמב"ם דברי היוונים ופשטות דברי חז"ל)

כפי שאתה מסכם זאת, זה לא נשמע רציני, השאלה אם יש עוד נופך לדברים.

מלבב
הודעות: 666
הצטרף: ד' אפריל 17, 2013 4:48 am

Re: שלשה מאמרים באנגלית על התכלת

הודעהעל ידי מלבב » ד' יוני 13, 2018 8:40 am

בתבונה כתב:טענתו של וינמן במאמריו
1. בעבר לא ידעו לתאר צבעים בצורה נכונה, ולכן לא גוון התכלת ולא ניתן להסתמך בקשר לגוון התכלת על כל הקדמונים (היוונים וגם קדמונינו כולל חז"ל)
2. הוא טוען שאינדיגו לפעמים מעט יותר סגלגל ולפעמים פחות- [נ.ב. בדיוק כמו התכלת מהפורפורה]
3. שמא הקלא אילן דומה לתכלת רק בתוספת צבע אחר - טענה ישנה (בניגוד לדברי הרמב"ם דברי היוונים ופשטות דברי חז"ל)

ומה הוא טוען לגבי מה שהרמבם ועוד ראשונים כותבו שהוא כצבע הרקיע?

סמל אישי של המשתמש
אוצר החכמה
מנהל האתר
הודעות: 15055
הצטרף: ב' מאי 03, 2010 5:49 pm
שם מלא: משה דביר

Re: שלשה מאמרים באנגלית על התכלת

הודעהעל ידי אוצר החכמה » ד' יוני 13, 2018 8:51 am

מה הכוונה לא ידעו לתאר צבעים בצורה נכונה? למה הם לא ידעו?

מלבב
הודעות: 666
הצטרף: ד' אפריל 17, 2013 4:48 am

Re: שלשה מאמרים באנגלית על התכלת

הודעהעל ידי מלבב » ד' יוני 13, 2018 12:03 pm

אוצר החכמה כתב:מה הכוונה לא ידעו לתאר צבעים בצורה נכונה? למה הם לא ידעו?

לכחול הם קרו שחור, לצהוב וכחול הם קרו ירוק, לחום כתום וורוד וסגול קרו אדום.


חזור אל “תכלת ודין הקרבה בזמה"ז”

מי מחובר

משתמשים הגולשים בפורום זה: אין משתמשים רשומים ו־ 2 אורחים