This week we received an inquiry from someone getting ready to buy a tzitzit who is unsure about the various tzitzit options, and wants to get it right.
Would you please explain to me the different types of TzitTzit available on a tallis. How are they tied and what if any are they dyed with?
Thank you, Doug H.
Thank you for your inquiry. In the third paragraph of Kriyat Shema the Torah tells us to place a string of techelet (blue) on our tzitzit. The techelet dye was made from a certain type of snail found off the coast of the Mediterranean in the area of what is now northern Israel and Lebanon.
About 1300 years ago, the source of the techelet dye and the dying process was lost. Ever since then, Jews have used only white tzitzit. According to most opinions, the white is one mitzvah and the blue is another mitzvah, and of course the two mitzvahs are integrated. So for many centuries Jews have been unable to keep the mitzvah of techelet.
In recent decades efforts to recover the lost dye and dying process intensified, and today many hold that the Murex trunculus dye is the authentic techelet dye referred to in the Torah and the Talmud. It is produced by the Ptil Tekhelet Association, which also works to promote the renewal of the mitzvah.
On our website, anywhere you come across a Ptil Tekhelet tzitzit option, it is referring to Murex trunculus.
There was also another line of inquiry among some who felt cuttlefish may be the source of the techelet dye. This is referred to as Radzyn Techelet.
You can find more information on our tzitzit options by referring to our Tzitzit Wizard.