(Courtesy of Ptil Tekhelet) Ptil Tekhelet, the organization that has restored the biblical commandment of including a blue string on the tallit and tzitzit, announced today that the Israeli flag presented recently by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was crafted and dyed with authentic biblical blue Tekhelet.
“Tekhelet has been a symbol of Jewish identity for thousands of years, and it is no coincidence that it was chosen to represent the state of Israel on its flag, which evokes the tallit (prayer shawl),” said Joel Guberman, CEO and co-founder of Ptil Tekhelet. “The founders of our organization, immigrants to Israel from Russia and the United States, have always seen Tekhelet as a uniting factor. Tekhelet brings together the ancient and the modern, Torah and science, and is the common thread which connects all Jews the world over. This gift highlights the strong and everlasting bond between Israel and the United States.”
Tekhelet was once a precious commodity in the ancient world. Throughout the Near East and Mediterranean world, sumptuous Tekhelet fabrics were donned by kings, generals and priests and represented the pinnacle of wealth, influence and status. In the Bible, Tekhelet plays a prominent role in the adornments of the Temple, its curtains and the garments of the high priest. In addition, Jews are commanded in the Shema prayer to “affix on the corner tassel a thread of Tekhelet” on the tzitzit of their tallit. This represents the aspiration to be a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
Due to a combination of historical events, about 1,300 years ago Tekhelet was lost to the world and the secrets of this singular blue color—including the identity of the mysterious sea creature that produced the dye—slipped into obscurity. Jews continued to wear tzitzit with only white strings, and thus were unable to fulfill the commandment in its most complete form. Recent advances in chemistry and archeology have helped determine the authentic source of Tekhelet and have led to the reestablishment of the practice. Today, tens of thousands across the globe are once again wearing Tekhelet on their prayer shawls.