Monday, June 25, 2018

The Need for the True Blue?

It is widely known that techeiles (the blue dye) comes from a sea creature called the chilazon. Many hundreds of these animals had to be harvested from the bottom of the ocean in order to produce even a small quantity of techeiles, and the process of extracting and preparing this dye entailed using strong chemicals under carefully controlled conditions. This painstaking and complicated procedure made the price of techeiles exorbitant, and according to Rambam it may not have been necessary.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Power of the True Blue

The last four posts about techeiles were taken from a paper I wrote in college titled The Search for the True Blue. In that paper (Part 4) I had made an educated guess as to why kala ilan (a plant derivative) was not a substitute for true techeiles (from a mollusk). Just recently I read a more formal account of why this is so.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Search for the True Blue — Part 4

Modern Production
Elsner's breakthrough was the cause of great excitement among those Jewish scholars involved in this field. As a result, the past fifteen years have seen a wealth of publications, both religious and scientific, on the implications of this newly-found tekhelet. Even so, tekhelet remained confined to the realm of the theoretical for many years. That changed in 1993 when a trio of individuals established the P’Til Tekhelet Foundation to provide the blue dye to the general public.

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Search for the True Blue — Part 3

The Science of Tekhelet
Since the publishing of Rabbi Herzog's findings the chemical pathway for the production of the dye precursors in mollusks has been elucidated.10 Inside the hypobranchial gland of the animal the colorless waste product indole is modified for eventual excretion. This pathway produces a number of molecules, depending on the species, which serve as precursors to the purple dye (Figure 4).

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Search for the True Blue — Part 2

Jewish Scholars and Their Search for Tekhelet
There have been but two serious attempts to rediscover the authentic Biblical dye of tekhelet. The first came in the mid-1800s by Rabbi G.H. Leiner. Unaware of all the above history, Rabbi Leiner conducted his own search for the marine animal described in the Talmud, a search which lead him to the great aquarium in Naples.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Search for the True Blue — Part 1

Inspired by an interesting discussion I had over Shavuos, I am reprinting a paper I wrote for a college chemistry class (circa 1997) on the history and rediscovery of techeiles (tekhelet).

Introduction
In recent years, Jewish scholars have taken advantage of modern analytical techniques to reexamine the ancient art of dyeing. The impetus behind this contemporary investigation is the possible revival of a certain practice of the Jewish religion which has been hidden for over 1300 years.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Coral Choral Service of the Temple

Corallium rubrum (Linnaeus, 1758) 4 King Solomon asked Hiram, King of the Phoenician region of Tyre, to provide almog wood for use in the construction of the First Temple. This type of wood was precious and rare, it grew underwater, and was actually not wood at all.