8 – THE FASTNESS OF THE Tekhelet DYE
Maimonides’ Code contains an important statement which is, however, too general to be of much avail in the present inquiry . . .”As for the Tekhelet prescribed for tzitzit, it’s dyeing must be of a certain kind which produces a colour abiding in its beauty and which does not become altered, etc.8 This is somewhat vague, giving no indication of the extent of the durability and fastness of the Tekhelet dye, but it undoubtedly implies fastness to light.
The inalterability of the purple dye in general has already been discussed.
In the experiments made by William Cole with the dye of Purpura lapillus the first washing somewhat allayed the colour, though it afterwards continued insusceptible to alteration by washing. This fact, however, scarcely has any bearing upon the passage Menahot 41 b. as interpreted by R. Gershom. The language of the Talmudic statements cannot reasonably be made to apply only to the first washing.
Of far greater importance is the information supplied by Lacaze-Duthiers that the dye of Murex trunculus is not fast to washing (“ne resiste pas au lavage״). This fact must also be taken into consideration in connection with the study of the Tekhelet hillazon, or the Tekhelet-giving species of mollusc.
- ״.צפון״ Compare: Baba Kama 93b.
- This does not of course mean that Ka/a-ilan is not impaired by washing with soap.
- My own experiments have so far not confirmed Professor Rosenstiehl’s assertion.
- Menahot 41b.
- R. Gershom’s commentary, ib.. in the Wilna ed. of the Talmud, 1884.
- Rashi, ib.
- R. Amram Gaon, Itiur tzitzit. 2.
- Maimonides, Hilkhot tzitzit. I, 1.