Why Blue and White?

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(א) וְאֶת־הַמִּשְׁכָּ֥ן תַּעֲשֶׂ֖ה עֶ֣שֶׂר יְרִיעֹ֑ת שֵׁ֣שׁ מׇשְׁזָ֗ר וּתְכֵ֤לֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן֙ וְתֹלַ֣עַת שָׁנִ֔י כְּרֻבִ֛ים מַעֲשֵׂ֥ה חֹשֵׁ֖ב תַּעֲשֶׂ֥ה אֹתָֽם׃

(1) As for the tabernacle, make it of ten strips of cloth; make these of fine twisted linen, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, with a design of cherubim worked into them.

(ד) וְעָשִׂ֜יתָ לֻֽלְאֹ֣ת תְּכֵ֗לֶת עַ֣ל שְׂפַ֤ת הַיְרִיעָה֙ הָאֶחָ֔ת מִקָּצָ֖ה בַּחֹבָ֑רֶת וְכֵ֤ן תַּעֲשֶׂה֙ בִּשְׂפַ֣ת הַיְרִיעָ֔ה הַקִּ֣יצוֹנָ֔ה בַּמַּחְבֶּ֖רֶת הַשֵּׁנִֽית׃

(4) Make loops of blue wool on the edge of the outermost cloth of the one set; and do likewise on the edge of the outermost cloth of the other set:

(לא) וְעָשִׂ֣יתָ פָרֹ֗כֶת תְּכֵ֧לֶת וְאַרְגָּמָ֛ן וְתוֹלַ֥עַת שָׁנִ֖י וְשֵׁ֣שׁ מׇשְׁזָ֑ר מַעֲשֵׂ֥ה חֹשֵׁ֛ב יַעֲשֶׂ֥ה אֹתָ֖הּ כְּרֻבִֽים׃

(31) You shall make a curtain of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and fine twisted linen; it shall have a design of cherubim worked into it.

(לו) וְעָשִׂ֤יתָ מָסָךְ֙ לְפֶ֣תַח הָאֹ֔הֶל תְּכֵ֧לֶת וְאַרְגָּמָ֛ן וְתוֹלַ֥עַת שָׁנִ֖י וְשֵׁ֣שׁ מׇשְׁזָ֑ר מַעֲשֵׂ֖ה רֹקֵֽם׃

(36) You shall make a screen for the entrance of the Tent, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and fine twisted linen, done in embroidery.

illustrations from The Tabernacle, Its structure and utensils by Moshe Levine, Soncino Press 1969

וְעָשִׂ֛יתָ אֶת־מְעִ֥יל הָאֵפ֖וֹד כְּלִ֥יל תְּכֵֽלֶת׃

You are to make the tunic for the efod
completely of blue-violet. E. Fox

(לו) וְעָשִׂ֥יתָ צִּ֖יץ זָהָ֣ב טָה֑וֹר וּפִתַּחְתָּ֤ עָלָיו֙ פִּתּוּחֵ֣י חֹתָ֔ם קֹ֖דֶשׁ לַֽה'׃ (לז) וְשַׂמְתָּ֤ אֹתוֹ֙ עַל־פְּתִ֣יל תְּכֵ֔לֶת וְהָיָ֖ה עַל־הַמִּצְנָ֑פֶת אֶל־מ֥וּל פְּנֵֽי־הַמִּצְנֶ֖פֶת יִהְיֶֽה׃ (לח) וְהָיָה֮ עַל־מֵ֣צַח אַהֲרֹן֒ וְנָשָׂ֨א אַהֲרֹ֜ן אֶת־עֲוֺ֣ן הַקֳּדָשִׁ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֤ר יַקְדִּ֙ישׁוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל לְכׇֽל־מַתְּנֹ֖ת קׇדְשֵׁיהֶ֑ם וְהָיָ֤ה עַל־מִצְחוֹ֙ תָּמִ֔יד לְרָצ֥וֹן לָהֶ֖ם לִפְנֵ֥י ה'׃

(36) You shall make a frontlet (Fox plate: Lit. “flower” or “gleamer,” perhaps alluding to its shining quality, or to its shape of some kind.) of pure gold and engrave on it the seal inscription: “Holy to יהוה.” (37) Suspend it on a cord of blue, so that it may remain on the headdress; it shall remain on the front of the headdress. (38) It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, that Aaron may take away any sin arising from the holy things that the Israelites consecrate, from any of their sacred donations; it shall be on his forehead at all times, to win acceptance for them before יהוה.

(לז) וַיֹּ֥אמֶר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ (לח) דַּבֵּ֞ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ וְאָמַרְתָּ֣ אֲלֵהֶ֔ם וְעָשׂ֨וּ לָהֶ֥ם צִיצִ֛ת עַל־כַּנְפֵ֥י בִגְדֵיהֶ֖ם לְדֹרֹתָ֑ם וְנָ֥תְנ֛וּ עַל־צִיצִ֥ת הַכָּנָ֖ף פְּתִ֥יל תְּכֵֽלֶת׃ (לט) וְהָיָ֣ה לָכֶם֮ לְצִיצִת֒ וּרְאִיתֶ֣ם אֹת֗וֹ וּזְכַרְתֶּם֙ אֶת־כׇּל־מִצְוֺ֣ת ה' וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֹתָ֑ם וְלֹֽא־תָת֜וּרוּ אַחֲרֵ֤י לְבַבְכֶם֙ וְאַחֲרֵ֣י עֵֽינֵיכֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁר־אַתֶּ֥ם זֹנִ֖ים אַחֲרֵיהֶֽם׃ (מ) לְמַ֣עַן תִּזְכְּר֔וּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֶת־כׇּל־מִצְוֺתָ֑י וִהְיִיתֶ֥ם קְדֹשִׁ֖ים לֵאלֹֽקֵיכֶֽם׃ (מא) אֲנִ֞י ה' אֱלֹֽקֵיכֶ֗ם אֲשֶׁ֨ר הוֹצֵ֤אתִי אֶתְכֶם֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם לִהְי֥וֹת לָכֶ֖ם לֵאלֹקִ֑ים אֲנִ֖י ה' אֱלֹקֵיכֶֽם׃ {פ}

(37) יהוה said to Moses as follows: (38) Speak to the Israelite people and instruct them to make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments throughout the ages; let them attach a cord of blue to the fringe at each corner. (39) That shall be your fringe; look at it and recall all the commandments of יהוה and observe them, so that you do not follow your heart and eyes in your lustful urge. (40) Thus you shall be reminded to observe all My commandments and to be holy to your God. (41) I יהוה am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I, your God יהוה.

(ט) תְּנוּ־צִ֣יץ לְמוֹאָ֔ב כִּ֥י נָצֹ֖א תֵּצֵ֑א וְעָרֶ֙יהָ֙ לְשַׁמָּ֣ה תִֽהְיֶ֔ינָה מֵאֵ֥ין יוֹשֵׁ֖ב בָּהֵֽן׃

(9) Give wings to Moab,
For she must go hence.-f
Her towns shall become desolate,
With no one living in them.

(כג) וַיְהִ֣י מִֽמׇּחֳרָ֗ת וַיָּבֹ֤א מֹשֶׁה֙ אֶל־אֹ֣הֶל הָעֵד֔וּת וְהִנֵּ֛ה פָּרַ֥ח מַטֵּֽה־אַהֲרֹ֖ן לְבֵ֣ית לֵוִ֑י וַיֹּ֤צֵֽא פֶ֙רַח֙ וַיָּ֣צֵֽץ צִ֔יץ וַיִּגְמֹ֖ל שְׁקֵדִֽים׃

(23) The next day Moses entered the Tent of the Pact, and there the staff of Aaron of the house of Levi had sprouted: it had brought forth sprouts, produced blossoms, and borne almonds.

מְכַלְכֵּל חַיִּים בְּחֶֽסֶד מְחַיֵּה מֵתִים בְּרַחֲמִים רַבִּים סוֹמֵךְ נוֹפְ֒לִים וְרוֹפֵא חוֹלִים וּמַתִּיר אֲסוּרִים וּמְקַיֵּם אֱמוּנָתוֹ לִישֵׁנֵי עָפָר, מִי כָמֽוֹךָ בַּֽעַל גְּבוּרוֹת וּמִי דּֽוֹמֶה לָּךְ מֶֽלֶךְ מֵמִית וּמְחַיֶּה וּמַצְמִֽיחַ יְשׁוּעָה:

Sustainer of the living with kindliness, Resurrector of the dead with great mercy, Supporter of the fallen, and Healer of the sick, and Releaser of the imprisoned, and Fulfiller of His faithfulness to those who sleep in the dust. Who is like You, Master of mighty deeds, and who can be compared to You? King Who causes death and restores life, and causes deliverance to sprout forth.

Bless the state of Israel, nascent flowering of our redemption.
ברך את מדינת ישראל ראשית צמיחת גאולתנו

This quote, representing the most powerful and controversial component of the prayer for the state of Israel, was coined by then chief Rabbi Herzog in 1948. It has become the mantra of the religious Zionist movement and the nemesis of the Haredi world due to its religious connotations.

(ו) וְאַתֶּ֧ם תִּהְיוּ־לִ֛י מַמְלֶ֥כֶת כֹּהֲנִ֖ים וְג֣וֹי קָד֑וֹשׁ אֵ֚לֶּה הַדְּבָרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר תְּדַבֵּ֖ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

(6) but you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the children of Israel.”

תניא היה ר' מאיר אומר מה נשתנה תכלת מכל מיני צבעונין מפני שהתכלת דומה לים וים דומה לרקיע ורקיע לכסא הכבוד שנאמר (שמות כד, י) ותחת רגליו כמעשה לבנת הספיר וכעצם השמים לטהר וכתיב (יחזקאל א, כו) כמראה אבן ספיר דמות כסא

It is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Meir would say: What is different about tekhelet from all other types of colors such that it was chosen for the mitzva of ritual fringes? It is because tekhelet is similar in its color to the sea, and the sea is similar to the sky, and the sky is similar to the Throne of Glory,

as it is stated: “And they saw the God of Israel; and there was under His feet the like of a paved work of sapphire stone, and the like of the very heaven for clearness” (Exodus 24:10), indicating that the sky is like a sapphire brickwork. And it is written: “The likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone” (Ezekiel 1:26).

אמר ליה אביי לרב שמואל בר רב יהודה הא תכילתא היכי צבעיתו לה אמר ליה מייתינן דם חלזון וסמנין ורמינן להו ביורה [ומרתחינן ליה] ושקלינא פורתא בביעתא וטעמינן להו באודרא ושדינן ליה לההוא ביעתא וקלינן ליה לאודרא
§ Abaye said to Rav Shmuel bar Rav Yehuda: How do you dye this sky-blue wool to be used for ritual fringes? Rav Shmuel bar Rav Yehuda said to Abaye: We bring blood of a ḥilazon and various herbs and put them in a pot and boil them. And then we take a bit of the resulting dye in an egg shell and test it by using it to dye a wad of wool to see if it has attained the desired hue. And then we throw away that egg shell and its contents and burn the wad of wool.
ת"ר תכלת אין לה בדיקה ואין נקחית אלא מן המומחה תפילין יש להם בדיקה ואין ניקחין אלא מן המומחה ספרים ומזוזות יש להן בדיקה וניקחין מכל אדם

The Sages taught in a baraita: There is no reliable method of testing sky-blue wool, and therefore it may be purchased only from an expert.

There is a method of testing phylacteries to ensure they were written properly, but nevertheless they may be purchased only from an expert. There is a method of testing Torah scrolls and mezuzot, and they may be purchased from anyone.

אמר הקב"ה אני הוא שהבחנתי במצרים בין טפה של בכור לטפה שאינה של בכור אני הוא שעתיד ליפרע ממי שתולה מעותיו בנכרי ומלוה אותם לישראל ברבית וממי שטומן משקלותיו במלח וממי שתולה קלא אילן בבגדו ואומר תכלת הוא

Rava explains: The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: I am He Who distinguished in Egypt between the drop of seed that became a firstborn and the drop of seed that did not become a firstborn, and I killed only the firstborn. I am also He Who is destined to exact punishment from one who attributes ownership of his money to a gentile and thereby lends it to a Jew with interest. Even if he is successful in deceiving the court, God knows the truth.

And I am also He Who is destined to exact punishment from one who buries his weights in salt, as this changes their weight in a manner not visible to the eye. And I am also He Who is destined to exact punishment from one who hangs ritual fringes dyed with indigo [kala ilan] dye on his garment and says it is dyed with the sky-blue dye required in ritual fringes. The allusion to God’s ability to distinguish between two apparently like entities is why the exodus is mentioned in all of these contexts.

וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵאמֹר, דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵיהֶם וְעָשׂוּ לָהֶם צִיצִת עַל כַּנְפֵי בִּגְדֵיהֶם.

נִתְכַּסָּה בְּטַלִּית, וְעָשׂוּ לָהֶם צִיצִת. וְעָשׂוּ לָהֶם, תַּעֲשֶׂה וְלֹא מִן הֶעָשׂוּי, שֶׁלֹּא יוֹצִיא נִימִין מִן הַטַּלִּית וְיַעֲשֶׂה מֵהֶן צִיצִת, אֶלָּא מִצְוָה לְהָבִיא לָבָן וּתְכֵלֶת וְיַעֲשֶׂה. אֵימָתַי, כְּשֶׁיִּהְיֶה תְּכֵלֶת. וְעַכְשָׁו אֵין לָנוּ אֶלָּא לָבָן, שֶׁהַתְּכֵלֶת נִגְנַז, מִצְוָה בְּלָבָן.

(Numb. 15:38:) “Then the Lord spoke unto Moses saying, ‘Speak unto the Children of Israel and tell them to make tassels for themselves.’” Make them, and not that they shall be from [something already] made. Thus one must not extract threads from the cloak [itself] and make [tassels] from them. Rather [it is] a command to get [fresh] white and blue threads to make them. When [did this rule apply]? When there was [a real] blue, but now we only have white, because the blue has been hidden. (Ibid., cont.:)

Yigal Yadin found a bundle of blue wool in an archeological excavation in a cave in the Ein Gedi desert. Clearly the blue wool showed that the Jewish rebels who occupied the cave observed the techelet commandment, but what testing in Yadin’s lab showed, was that the die used was in fact not from the hillazon mollusk and was therefore proof of how widespread the corruption had spread.

The irony of the rebel Jews confronting imperial Rome with a stash of the Royal techelet….recorded in a book written by a secular Israeli archaeologist who was also a chief of staff of the IDF, and who knows his Talmud and understands the socio-economic trials of Second century Jews…. is almost too much to take!

"With it we found several unfinished ritual fringes (or sisioths). The colour of this dyed wool was identical with that of the Tyrian purple (obtained from Murex brandaris) believed by many to be the BiblicalTkheleth, the colour of the sisith. However, an analysis by Edelstein and Abrahams of the Dexter Chemical Corporation of New York showed that the colour of our fringes -as not obtained from Murex brandaris, but rather from indigo and carminic acid. (Carminic acid is the colour principle of the well-known kermes dye, obtained from the female of the insect Coccus ilicis which lives on a particular species of oak [Quercus coccifera] and is even today considered very precious.) This offered us a chance to learn very important facts about the problems of the trueTkheleth which confronted pious Jews, and were of great concern to the rabbis. In disturbed times, as those of Bar-Kokhba, it was most difficult to obtain this expensive dye and it was thus often imitated and faked. Since in practice it was almost impossible to tell the real Tkheleth from the imitation, the rabbis ruled: ‘There is no manner of testing theTkheleth; it should therefore be bought only from an expert’ (Babylonian Talmud, Menahot 42b). Some makeshift tests, the Talmud records, were actually confusing. How a bundle of wool, such as ours, dyed not with Tyrian purple but – as ascertained by Edelstein and Abrahams through infra-red spectro-photometry – with indigo, kermes and highly sophisticated mordants which gave it the appearance of true purple, would stand up under these tests, is unknown. Let us, at least, give the people of the cave the benefit of the doubt, that they bought it bona fide from a non-expert, unaware that it was an imitation. According to the Talmud (Babylonian Talmud, Baba Metzia 6Ib): ‘It is I who will exact vengeance from him who attached to his garments threads dyed with indigo and maintains that it is Tkheleth.’ In other words, the real crime was when the fake was deliberate." (Bar-Kokhba: The Rediscovery of the Legendary Hero of the Last Jewish Revolt Against Imperial Rome, Yigael Yardin, 1971 pp 83-84)

אָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה אָמַר שְׁמוּאֵל: הֲלָכָה כְּרַבִּי טַרְפוֹן. וְאַזְדָּא שְׁמוּאֵל לְטַעְמֵיהּ, דַּאֲמַר לְהוּ שְׁמוּאֵל לְהָנְהוּ דִּמְזַבְּנֵי אַסָּא: אַשְׁווֹ וְזַבִּינוּ, וְאִי לָא — דָּרֵישְׁנָא לְכוּ כְּרַבִּי טַרְפוֹן.
Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: The halakha is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Tarfon. And Shmuel conforms to his line of reasoning, as Shmuel said to those who were selling myrtle branches: Equate the price that you demand for myrtle branches to their value and sell your myrtle branches. And if you do not do so and overcharge, I will teach the halakha in public for you in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Tarfon, who allows the use of myrtle branches whose tops are severed.

In preparing for the First Zionist Congress in Basel in 1897, Wolffsohn wrote: "What flag would we hang in the Congress Hall? Then an idea struck me. We have a flag—and it is blue and white. The talith (prayer shawl) with which we wrap ourselves when we pray: that is our symbol. Let us take this Talith from its bag and unroll it before the eyes of Israel and the eyes of all nations. So I ordered a blue and white flag with the Shield of David painted upon it. That is how the national flag, that flew over Congress Hall, came into being." Morris Harris, a member of New York Hovevei Zion, used his awning shop to design a suitable banner and decorations for the reception, and his mother Lena Harris sewed the flag. The flag was made with two blue stripes and a large blue Star of David in the center, the colours blue and white chosen from the design of the tallit. See Wikipedia: Flag of Israel