Have you ever wondered how “Tekhelet” is created, or where it originated? Do you know the meaning of Tekhelet? Baruch Sterman, with Judy Taubes Sterman, have brilliantly written about “Tekhelet”, or Tyrian Blue in their book, The Rarest Blue: The Remarkable Story of an Ancient Color Lost to History and Rediscovered..
The story takes the reader on a journey, not only through time, but through thousands of miles, literally trekkiing to find sources of a particular snail, the murex snails. These snails are the foundation for the dyeing process that produces the particular Tyrian Blue color.
Think about it, where in nature do you normally find a blue color? The sky, certain seas or lakes take on a blue tone, and even a few flowers have blue tones to them, but it is not normally found in nature, never mind the particular Tyrian Blue used in Tekhelet. It was also used in the High Priest garments and in the Tabernacle’s tapestries, and a few other items. Blue, surprisingly, is not normally a color found in nature’s environments.
I enjoyed reading about the adventure that was undertaken in order to find the murex snails and in order to find documentation of the dyeing process. It was fascinating to read. It was also inspiring on several levels. For me, it was especially intriguing and inspiring concerning the precious Tzitzit threads, the knotted fringes that are attached to the corners of the Tallit/Jewish prayer shawl, and how Tekhelet, the biblical blue dye, is created and used in the shawls.
The authors are brilliant in their descriptions, and the word-paintings within the pages are masterfully depicted. Other than the scientific and the technical inclusions, I found the pages infused with beautiful prose, almost poetic at times. The scientific blends perfectly with the religious within the story line and the historical factors. Torah and science coexist on this adventure through time and place.
The biblical references that were mentioned reinforced the ancient use of Tekhelet, but also conveyed the deep-rooted Jewish tradition of using the color that was considered to be sacred.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Rarest Blue: The Remarkable Discovery of an Ancient Color Lost to History and Rediscovered. I learned so much about Tekhelet, and the historical factors that went into producing it centuries and centuries ago. I will look at my Tallit with more profoundness, and will never take Tyran Blue for granted.
Bravo to Baruch Sterman and Judy Taubes Sterman for their extreme endeavors and devotion to uncover the mystery of the ancient knowledge of Tekhelet.
March 18, 2013 – 7 Nisan, 5773
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