Tag Archives: clothes

Clothing Mixtures: The Commandment of Shatnez

For some reason, many people believe that it is forbidden to wear clothing that contains mixtures of different fibers.

This is incorrect.

However, the Torah does forbid us to mix linen and wool in our clothes. And wool refers specifically to the wool of sheep, lamb and rams. Other fibers, however, are absolutely permitted. Many fabrics today have mixed fibers and are not 100% any particular one material, and this is usually permitted, unless wool and linen (or wool products and linen products) are mixed.

It is easy to make claims, so I will cite a legal source, no less than the great Maimonides himself. The Rambam (Maimonides), in Hilchos Kilayim (Laws of Mixtures) Chapter 10, Law 1, says quite explicitly:

Nothing at all is forbidden in clothing mixtures except wool and linen mixed together. As it says in the Torah (Deuteronomy 22:11): Do not wear shaatnez, wool and linen together.

In other words, the Rambam is saying that the Torah states explicitly that shaatnez is wool and linen together, and not any other mixture. Any other mixture in clothing is permissible.

The Torah, as we see, is rather clear that shatnez refers specifically and only to wool and linen.

Understanding the Reasons

The great Rabbinic Commentator Rashi says (on Genesis 26:5), quoting the Midrash, that the Law of shatnez is a chok, a decree that the King has passed for His subjects, for which we do not know the reason. A great many of the Commandments in the Torah are of that sort. We do not know precisely why pork is forbidden, for example. We do not understand how the Purification by means of a red heifer works.

Therefore, we can never truly understand the entire reason for this Mitzvah, but we can understand some of the concepts within it, at some level. Maimonides, in his Guide to the Perplexed, points out that ancient pagan priests used to wear wool and linen processed together, because they knew how to make use of it for occult practices, including idol worship and other terrible things, and therefore the Torah forbade us to use it for all time, and ordered us to stay far away from shatnez, as well as all other practices of the pagans.

Some of the details of the Law

Wool and linen attached to each other by any means is forbidden. It does not matter whether they are sewn together, spun, twisted, glued, or any method of attaching whatsoever. Any method of combining wool and linen is forbidden. Wool that has linen thread through it, linen that has woolen thread through it, wool and linen fabric sewn together by silk (or any type of thread), wool or linen held together by a needle or pin — all these are forbidden. However, it is permitted to wear a linen garment over a woolen garment, or vice versa, since they are not attached to each other.


Even the smallest amount is forbidden. For example, if you have a wool suit and the label is sewn on with a linen thread, it is forbidden to wear the suit until the linen thread is removed. You may not wear a wool jacket with a linen patch on the elbow, or anywhere else.

The prohibition of shatnez applies to any sort of material, whether it be used for socks, shoes, gloves, pajamas, etc., and to any period of time, no matter how brief. We may not even try on clothing that has shatnez to see if it fits.

Some basic guidelines

All suits and winter coats should be checked for Shatnez no matter what the label says. Even 100% synthetic suits have been found to contain Shatnez. Similarly, all «linen look» fabrics, (recognizable by the thick and thin thread appearance, just like linen) should be checked.

Clothing that lists wool, linen (flax) or even the slightest quantity of unidentified «other fibers» (O.F.) on the label should be checked. Since one of the two forbidden fibers is already present, the odds of finding Shatnez increase greatly. Recently, some Italian and Spanish ties whose labels cited only silk and linen turned out to have wool in them as well, and so they are shatnez.

  • Avoid reprocessed or recycled materials.
  • Avoid Appliques — especially on sweaters and children’s clothing.

All other types of garments (i.e., those not mentioned above) are usually safe from shatnez if neither linen nor wool are mentioned on the label. Sometimes, however, certain companies or specific lines of clothing develop problems. You can visit a Shatnez Consumer Alerts page on the web. (See the link below.)

If Shatnez is found in a garment and the Shatnez is removed, it becomes permitted to wear the garment.

It is forbidden to wear shatnez even if your body doesn’t touch the material, and even if you get no personal pleasure from it. Even if it does not warm you, or make you feel better in any way, it is still forbidden. So if you wear only the part that has no shatnez, and you let the part with the shatnez dangle and not touch you, you are still transgressing the Mitzvah.

It is also forbidden to dress another Jew, even a baby, with shatnez.

Some Practical Directions

If you discover you are wearing shatnez, you are required to immediately remove it — unless you are in a synagogue. Then you should wait until the end of the prayers or the learning session or some time that it is okay to get up and leave, and then go out and remove the article of clothing.

A dealer, storeowner, or salesperson, may sell shatnez fabric or clothing, but not if there is any possibility that a Jew might wind up wearing it. That means you may not sell it even to a Gentile if there is a possibility that he might give or sell it to a Jew.

Don’t make light of this prohibition. This is one of the Mitzvos of the Torah, and it applies at all times and to all Jews, male or female. The same Torah that forbids us to eat pork forbids us to wear shatnez. It is equally as bad to wear shatnez as it is to eat milk and meat together.

There is a common misconception that no one keeps this Law today. That is absolutely incorrect. This Law is in force today, and we are required today to keep it just as we were required to keep it for the past three thousand, three hundred (etc.) years since the Torah was given. Today, just as in the past, all those who desire to keep the Mitzvos of the Torah are careful not to wear shatnez. This is almost as widespread among Jews as keeping kosher. Jewish men and women all over the world keep this Mitzvah.

So How Do We Keep This In This Day and Age?

The mixing of wool and linen in mass-produced clothing is much more prevalent than you would think. For this reason Shatnez laboratories have been set up throughout America and Israel, and many other parts of the world. Clothing stores owned by religious Jews often have regular visits by their representatives, who test the clothing, and place on them special seals. My suits all have them, or I don’t buy them. Plus you can take your clothing to a Shatnez Laboratory where they will check your clothing for you, for a small fee.

Not all clothing items have to be checked, because these days not every type of clothing is likely to contain wool and linen together. The people at the lab know what needs to be checked and what does not. Once, when I was in Israel, I stopped by the shatnez Laboratory in Jerusalem, and showed them an article of clothing I had that I suspected could have shatnez. The person at the counter took one look, and told me «They do not need to be checked.»

When you buy a garment, you cannot rely on anyone’s opinion, and you can’t even rely on the manufacturer’s label. Manufacturers are not required by law to reveal every element in their clothing. Even if a garment says 100% wool, it may legally still contain linen threads, and these need not be mentioned by law. In addition, United States government regulations allow a manufacturer to write «100% wool» or «100% synthetic materials,» even if 2% of the garment is made up of other materials. Yet by Jewish Law any amount makes it shatnez (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 299:4). Therefore even clothes made of synthetic materials may need checking.

However, there are definitely types of clothing that do not need to be checked, as I mentioned above. To find out which of your clothing needs to be checked, and/or to have your clothing checked, call the National Committee of Shatnez Testers, in the United States or Canada, at 800-SHATNES (800-742-8637), from 2:00 PM until 5:00 PM and after 8:00 PM, Eastern Standard Time, Sundays through Thursdays. In Israel, call either (02) 654-0928, in Jerusalem, or (08) 974-0648, in Kiryat Sefer. Or else, visit Shatnez Testers of America, where they have lots of information about Shatnez, including Shatnez alerts, guidelines as to what needs to be checked and what doesn’t, lists of Shatnez testing labs in various countries, and more.

The Rabbis (Chochmas Odom, Hilchos Shatnez, 106:28) have said, «Anyone who is careful to avoid wearing shatnez will merit to be dressed in garments of salvation and a cloak of righteousness.»

The Mitzvah of Tefillin

The Torah tells us «And you shall bind them as a sign on your arm, and they shall be as frontlets on your head between your eyes» (Deuteronomy 6:8). This is the Mitzvah of Tefillin, though of course the details are much more complex than that.

The Torah tells us in four places that we should put on tefillin. (The four places are: Deut.6:4-9; Deut. 11:13-21; Exodus 13:1-10; and Exodus 13:11-16.) Each of these places is a separate chapter in the Torah (according to the original chapter and paragraph system, not according to the more popular one now in use, which was created by Christians and bears no relation or similarity to the original system).

Therefore, each of these chapters are written on small pieces of parchment and placed into leather housings, which a man places on the arm and the head, along with special leather straps.

The Rabbis say many great things about the Mitzvah of Tefillin. The Sefer Hachinuch (Book of Jewish Education) says that it is one of the Mitzvos that helps protects us against sin.

I think that the best way to understand the Mitzvah of Tefillin is to read the prayer that we recite each day before putting them on.

My intention in putting on tefillin is to fulfill the will of my Creator, Who has commanded us to put on tefillin, as it says in His Torah, «And you shall bind them as a sign on your arm, and they shall be as frontlets on your head between your eyes.»

They contain the four chapters from the Torah in which the Mitzvah of tefillin is stated….

Those chapters discuss how Hashem, Whose Name is blessed, is One, and only One, in the entire universe. Those chapters also discuss the miracles and wonders that Hashem did for us when He took us out of Egypt. They discuss how Hashem alone has the power and the dominion to do whatever He wants in the physical world and in the spiritual world.

Hashem commanded us to put tefillin on our arms to remember the «strong arm» (which refers to the powerful and cataclysmic changes in nature that Hashem performed for us when He took us out of Egypt).

The tefillin on our arms is near the heart to control the lusts and thoughts of our hearts and redirect them towards performing the Service we are commanded to perform for Hashem, Whose Name is blessed.

The tefillin on our heads is near the brain, so that the spiritual elements in our brains, as well as our senses and all our abilities, should should all be controlled and redirected towards performing the Service we are commanded to perform for Hashem, Whose Name is blessed.

May the performance of the Mitzvah of tefillin influence me and bestow upon me long life, Holy Influence, holy thoughts — without even a moment’s consideration of any sin or bad thing whatsoever — and that our Evil Inclination should not be aroused, nor should it seduce us, and should let us serve Hashem the way our hearts truly desire to.

May it be Your will, Hashem our G-d, and G-d of our forefathers, that You value our performance of this Mitzvah of putting on tefillin as if we had done it absolutely perfectly, with every detail accurate, and with all the correct thoughts and intentions….

We put tefillin on once a day, usually for the morning prayers.

We may not wear tefillin at night.

The Laws of creating tefillin are very complex. It is impossible for a layperson to make them. They must be written with Halachically acceptable ink, on Halachically acceptable parchment. Each letter must be formed according to specific and exacting details. If only one point on one letter is slightly rounded off when it should be pointed, the entire pair of tefillin is invalid. The housings must be perfectly square when viewed from the top. Even the stitches that keep the housing closed must be square when viewed from above, and may be done only with Halachically acceptable kosher animal sinews.

The letters must all be written in order. If a letter has been written incorrectly, it cannot be fixed out of sequence. Sometimes one bad letter can invalidate an entire pair of tefillin.

Since there are so many Laws about tefillin, one should buy them only from an honest Jew who knows the Laws, and can be trusted to make them correctly. A dishonest man might find a problem, and fix it incorrectly, just to save money. Therefore we must be very careful from whom we buy our tefillin.

When you go to buy tefillin, be aware that there are various levels of quality in tefillin. This is not a scam. The more expensive ones are actually better, and they will also last longer. They are also more preferred, the Talmud says, because they are created with a greater adherence to various spiritual concepts. But you should get what you are ready, willing and able to buy.

Get your tefillin checked periodically — at least once every four years, preferably once a year if possible. Any other time, if you see something wrong, such as the housings bending slightly, or paint chipping or cracking, get your tefillinchecked immediately.

Here are some of the Laws you should know about wearing tefillin.

If for some reason you have only one half of the set, whether it be only the one for the head, or only the one for the arm, put that one on and recite only the blessing for that one.

When putting on tefillin it is very important to have a clean body. In addition to general cleanliness, one must be especially careful to be clean after going to the bathroom.

Someone who has no control over what comes out of his body is forbidden to wear tefillin. Anyone in that situation should discuss it with his Rabbi to find out when and how he may wear tefillin.

One should go to the bathroom before putting on tefillin, or at least be absolutely sure he will not have to go while wearing the tefillin. If while wearing tefillin you feel the need to go to the bathroom, you must immediately remove the tefillin and go.

If you feel the need to pass gas while wearing tefillin, you must first remove your tefillin.

Never take tefillin or any holy item into a bathroom.

While wearing tefillin, one should think no thoughts at all except thoughts of Hashem, Torah or prayer. All the more so should he be careful about what he says out loud.

We may wear tefillin only during the day.

We do not put on tefillin on Shabbos.

Tefillin should be put on your weaker hand. If you are right-handed, use your right hand to put your tefillin on your left hand. If you are left-handed, use your left hand to put tefillin on your right hand. If you are ambidextrous, you must ask your Rabbi, because each case is different. If you are unable to contact a Rabbi for some reason, assume in the interim that the hand with which you write is your stronger hand (for this purpose, at least).

Always treat your tefillin with the greatest of respect and reverence. Do not remove them from the bag by shaking them out of the bag, for example. Always take them out carefully, and put them back carefully.

To show our love for the Mitzvah, we use our stronger hand to put the tefillin onto our weaker hand. We also use our stronger hand to put the tefillin on our head. When taking off the tefillin, we use our weaker hand, to show our reluctance to take off the Mitzvah.

Tefillin are made of leather. That means that you must keep them safe from things that hurt leather, like moisture and extreme temperatures.

How to Put on Your Tefillin

This is a brief guide to putting on tefillin, but it will be much easier if you have a live person showing you and helping you your first time. Words and pictures cannot equal the real thing.

You should be standing when putting on or taking off tefillin. While wearing them you may sit, but while putting them on or taking them off you should be standing.

We start with the hand. We never start with the head, so if you accidentally take out the shel rosh (the one for the head) first, you must put it back and take out the shel yad (the one for the hand).

Unwrap the straps and take the shel yad out of the box.

Open the loop very wide, and slide back the shel yad until the bayis (the housing — i.e., the black box) sits on the center of your biceps.

The knot should be tightly touching the bayis, and should be between you and the bayis.

Recite the first blessing:

Blessed are You, Hashem our G-d, King of the universe, Who has made us holy through His commandments, and commanded us to put on tefillin.

Tighten the loop, and begin wrapping the strap around your hand. There are different customs about some of the minor details of the wrapping, so I will explain the custom that is shown in the pictures. In the picture I have included on this page, the man is wrapping the strap towards himself, but some have the custom to wrap away from themselves.

Wrap at least once around your biceps, and seven times around your lower arm. Stop at the palm, and wrap the remainder of the strap around your palm. Do not wrap the strap around your fingers just yet.

Remove the shel rosh from the bag, unwrap the straps, and take it out of the box.

Place the shel rosh on your head, with the bayis on your head just before the hairline.

The knot should be behind your head, just above your neck, and the strap should be lying loosely on your head.

Recite the blessing:

Blessed are You, Hashem our G-d, King of the universe, Who has made us holy through His commandments, and commanded us concerning the Mitzvah of tefillin.

Tighten the straps around your head by pulling them down at the sides, front and back, as necessary.

This is how it should look.


This is wrong. The shel rosh is too far forward.


Shine upon me some of Your wisdom, Hashem Who is supreme, and give me understanding from Your understanding. Do great things for me out of Your kindness. Destroy, with your power, my enemies and adversaries. Let the good oil pour down on the seven branches of the menorah, to influence all Your creation with Your goodness. You open Your hand to satisfy the desires of all living things.

Now resume wrapping the strap of the shel yad. Unwind the strap from your palm, and wrap the strap around your middle finger. There are various customs concerning this. If you have no one there to guide you, do it this way:

As the strap comes from the wrist, pass it over the back of your hand. Wrapping around to the other side, pass it between your thumb and your first finger and take the strap down to the middle finger.

Wrap it once around the base of the middle finger, then once around the middle section of the middle finger. Then wrap it once around the base of the middle finger again. This should create something resembling an X around your finger.

Next, pass it again under your finger, over to the next finger down, and around that finger, and back and over the back of your hand to the area between your thumb and fingers again.

Now take the strap down under your hand across the palm, and around and over again to the area between your thumb and fingers. If there is any strap left, continue to wrap it around your palm and hand.

Tuck the end of the strap into the palm of your hand, around and beneath some of the strap that is already there. Do this at least twice, and pass the end of the strap through the final tuck to make a loop, and tighten it, to sort of tie off the end.

Look at the picture above to see how your hand should look when you you are finished. You will see that the straps sort of spell out the Three-Letter Name of Hashem, with a «shin,» a «daled,» and a «yud.»

Now recite:

I will betroth you to Me forever, and I will betroth you to Me with righteousness, justice, kindness, and mercy. I will betroth you to Me with faithfulness, and you shall know Me, Hashem.

Now say the prayers.

When you take off the tefillin, first unwrap the strap from your fingers, wrapping it around your palm. Then take off the shel rosh. Wrap it up and put it away. then take off your shel yad, wrap it up and put it away.

When you wrap your tefillin to put them away, do not pull the straps tightly around the boxes. Leather can stretch a little, but the paint on the straps cannot stretch without cracking. The straps must be entirely black, according to Halachah, and if the paint on them cracks the straps could become invalid.

To buy a pair of tefillin, visit Tiferes Stam Judaica. Ask them also for a good beginner’s book on tefillin. One good source is Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s booklet on Tefillin. Tell them I sent you.

Tzitzis: What Are Those Strings Jewish Men Wear?

Judaism is an all-encompassing way of life.

The Laws of Judaism have the purpose of adding spiritual aspects to our physical natures. This is a fundamental concept of Judaism. In all physical acts, we find a way to develop and express the inner spirituality inherent in that act, while still enjoying the physical act. The Torah therefore has Laws that pertain to all areas of life.

The Torah therefore says, «Know Him in all your behavior, and He will straighten your paths» (Proverbs 3:6). This is why we have Commandments in every aspect of our lives. In everything we do, we include the divine. The Commandments thereby lift up every act we do from the mundane to the holy.

Therefore, we have Standards for everything we do. We have Standards for eating, we have Standards for talking, we have Standards for dressing, even about sleeping and going to the bathroom.

These Standards, these Laws, ensure that we bring G-d into each and every action of our lives.

Among the Standards of clothing, you can find in the Torah such Laws as not mixing wool with linen (Deuteronomy 22:11 — other fabric blends are mostly permitted, by the way), for men not to dress as women nor women as men (ibid. 22:5), and a few others. Also in that same chapter, in verse 12, you will find one of the two Biblical references to those strings we wear:

Make yourself bound tassles on the four corners of clothing with which you cover yourself.

The nature of these «bound tassles» is, of course, explained in the Oral Torah. (This, incidentally, is another example of the fact that without the Oral Torah we would never know how to keep the Commandments.)

The other mention of Tzitzis in the Written Torah is in Numbers 15:37-41. There we are taught:

Hashem told Moses, Speak to the Children of Israel and tell them that they should make «tzitzis» on the corners of their clothing. This pertains to all generations of Jews.

You shall put on the tzitzis of each corner one thread of t’chailes.

You will have these tzitzis, and when you see them you will remember all the Commandments of Hashem and you will do them, and you will not pursue the desires of you hearts or eyes.

So that you remember and do all My Commandments, and you will be holy to your G-d. For I am Hashem your G-d Who has taken you out of Egypt so that I could be your G-d.

I am Hashem your G-d.

Every Commandment that Hashem has given us comprises many different levels. We do not always know the reasons of the Commandments. Even when the Torah gives us a reason for a Commandment there are also additional deeper reasons that we may not know. This time, the Torah tells us some of the spiritual concepts in a Commandment. We are taught that if we develop self-control and fulfill the Torah’s Commandments, we will become holy and special to Hashem. That is a very important concept in Judaism.

The Torah here also teaches us that this Commandment will remind us to keep all the other Commandments. This is one reason many people wear the strings hanging out, so they can see them from time to time. (Another reason is so that the strings, which are a holy Mitzvah, are not placed next to one’s underwear.)

Each and every Commandment of the Torah helps establish our relationship with Hashem. The Torah therefore says, «So that you remember and do all My Commandments, and you will be holy to your G-d.»

Everything about tzitzis symbolizes deep concepts. For example, there are 16 strings used, four on each corner, and each corner has ten knots, which equals 26, which is the numerical value of Hashem’s Name that denotes kindness. There are many other symbolic concepts in tzitzis, but those are not the main point of the Commandment.

As far as the parameters of the Commandment itself, the Torah requires that on any four-cornered garment (of a certain minumum size) worn by a man during the day, such strings must be tied according to specific configurations. That is, the strings must be made a certain way, and they must be tied and wrapped in a certain way. They must be a minimum of a certain length, and they must be made of a specific number of strings. Even the style and number of knots is mandated to precise requirements.

Therefore, unless you know how, do not attempt to tie tzitzis on to a garment yourself. All good Judaica stores sell four-cornered garments with tzitzis already tied on them.

It is forbidden to wear a four-cornered garment without properly attached tzitzis. If they are tied incorrectly, you may not wear the garment. Even if it was done correctly, but two or more strings on even just one corner fall off or become untwisted, or if two or more strings get cut or torn until they are shorter than a certain length, you must immediately remove the entire garment. As long as you do not wear the garment, you are not required to put tzitzis on it.

There is an article of clothing made of cour corners that is standard wear for Jewish men. By wearing this, we get to fulfill the Mitzvah of Tzitzis. Many people call this garment a pair of tzitzis, or more properly, a tallis katan (which means something like «small wrap-around garment.» Many call it «arba kanfos,» which literally means «four corners.» Look here for some drawings.

In addition to the smaller four-cornered garment, the arba kanfos,» that men wear throughout the day, there is also the larger tallis, which men wear only during the morning prayers. This is also called a tallis gadol, which means something like «large wrap-around garment.» Some peoplecall this a «prayer shawl,» but it is supposed to be much larger than a shawl. The tallis, since it has four corners, must also have tzitzis, and the Laws for them are the same.

Before putting on any four-cornered garment, we must carefully check each corner to make sure the tzitzis are on correctly. For example, every morning, when we get dressed, and we put on our small «arba kanfos,» we may not put it on before we have checked to make sure the tzitzis are intact. If the tzitzis were bought from a reliable store, we do not have to check everything about the tzitzis. We just have to check that none of the strings have been torn off, and that each is at least about 1 and 1/2 inches long. If one string has torn and is now less than that length, the tzitzis are still acceptable. If two or more strings on the same corner have torn, and are both now shorter than 1 and 1/2 inches long, then the tzitzis are invalid and must be replaced. You can usually take it to a good Judaica store and ask them to do this for you for a small fee.

The same is true for a tallis, of course.

A scarf usually does not need tzitzis, since it generally is more narrow than the required minimum size. However, a very wide scarf could be a problem. As always, ask a competent Rabbi if this problem comes up.

A garment worn only during the night does not need tzitzis. However, if a man wears a daytime garment during the night, it is required to have tzitzis.

Women are therefore not required to wear tzitzis, because it is required only on a garment that is worn during the day, and thus it is a time-dependent Mitzvah. Women are exempt from most (though not all) time-dependent Positive Mitzvos.

By way of brief explanation, women themselves are enveloping creatures; men are penetrating creatures, so to speak. Women have the capability of carrying and protecting an unborn child, which men cannot do. Women are in themselves a tallis, with the ability and requirement to surround the Jewish home and family with holiness. For a deeper explanation about why women do not wear tallis and tzitzis, see the link below to my wife’s article on the subject.

The basic requirement applies only if a man happens to have a garment with four corners, and intends to wear it during the daytime. Then he is required to put tzitzis on it. If he has no such garment, there is no requirement to wear tzitzis.

But consider this: The Commandment of Tzitzis is unlike most other Commandments, in that it involves something that surrounds us. When we wear tzitzis around our torsos, holiness surrounds us from head to toe.

Therefore, the Rabbis taught that whenever possible one should try very hard to perform this Commandment, and make or purchase a garment with four corners, so he can keep the Commandment and put tzitzis on it and wear them. For after all, the Torah ties in the Mitzvah of Tzitzis with all the Mitzvos of the Torah, and says, «You will have these tzitzis, and when you see them you will remember all the Commandments of Hashem and you will do them…»

The T’chailes

The Torah also commands that we dye one of the threads on each corner with a special blue dye, called «t’chailes

The Rabbis teach numerous deep concepts about this detail of the Mitzvah of Tzitzis, and I will, with Hashem’s help, cite one of them.

The Rabbis teach that the blue thread reminds us of the sky, which reminds us of the Throne of Glory of the Creator, which the Torah describes as being like sapphire, which is blue. «The saw a vision of the G-d of Israel, and under His feet was something like a sapphire brick, like the essence of a clear blue sky» (Exodus 24:10; see also Ezekiel 1:26). They did not see the Creator Himself, but only what was «under His feet,» so to speak. The blue thread reminds us of this concept, and reminds us to follow not what our heart and eyes think is correct, but after what the Creator has told us is correct.

It is forbidden to use any other dye, no matter how blue. This t’chailes was made from a creature that was called, in ancient Hebrew, «chilazon,» but no one knows for sure what that is called in English. The important thing to remember is that the blue thread is a detail in the Commandment, not the primary Commandment. Therefore, if one does not have the blue dye, one must still place tzitzis on all four-cornered daytime clothing.

For many centuries people attempted to discover the nature of this chilazon. Some respectable theories have been developed, and therefore some Rabbis have produced this dye, and their followers do indeed dye one thread on each corner with that special dye.

However, most Rabbis argue that since it is forbidden to wear any other dye on the tzitzis, we should not wear that dye, in case it is the wrong one. And after all, the blue thread is not necessary in order to fulfill the Commandment. Therefore, most Jewish men do not have the blue string on their tzitzis.

As always, one should follow one’s own Rabbi in these matters.