09 Mar VAYAKHEL-PEKUDEI – THE SPIRITUAL VALUE OF TECHEILES IN THE MISHKAN
In Vayakhel-Pekudai we find an interesting continuation of the construction of the holy vessels and priestly garb from Tetzaveh. It covers the usage of gold, silver, copper, Techeiles (blue-purple wool), Argaman (red-purple wool), Tolaas Shani (crimson-red wool), and Shesh (linen). It starts with the donation of these fine metals and wools, then with respect to the wools, the spinning of “wise-hearted people” (Shemos 36:5), followed by the making of physically beautiful garments used to cover spiritually beautiful vessels. We read how they are used to make the curtain with woven cherubim (Shemos 35:35), the screen of the gate of the courtyard (Shemos 38:18), meshwork Begadim, and the Begadim of the Kohen Gadol (Shemos 39:1). In addition, it was used for the Ephod (Shemos 39:2-5), Choshen (Shemos 39:8), fastening the Choshen to the Ephod (Shemos 39:21), the Meil (Shemos 39:22), the little pomegranate bells (Shemos 39:24), the Avnet-belt (Shemos 39:29), as well as to place over the cap (Shemos 39:31).
Bottom-line, these precious wools, namely Techeiles, were used for a whole array of items which we unfortunately have no access to today, since we are still awaiting for the third Beis Hamikdash to access and “relate” to these items. While we assume that the Kiseh HaKavod is something which is invisible, the Malbim, Ramban and Zohar take it to mean something tangible.
How the Kiseh HaKavod Might be Something Tangible
Concerning the Kiseh HaKavod, the Malbim suggests from in Bereishis 28:17 concerning Yaakov’s awe regarding the place where he dreamt that the Har HaBayis is the Kiseh HaKavod, as that’s where “heaven kisses earth. More specifically:
“Jacob understood that this site where he dreamt of the ladder also hinted at the the site of the future Temple… for the Temple is the ladder, whereby heaven and earth kiss each other. Man’s worship ascends upward, and the Divine providence descends thereby.” (translation: aish.com).
The Ramban seems to understand that the Kohen Gadol represents the Kiseh HaKavod. As he comments in Shemos 28:2:
For honor and for splendor: That he should be honored and glorious with honorable and glorious clothing, as the verse states (Isaiah 61:10), “as a groom who ministers in glory” – as these clothes were the clothes of royalty. Their likeness was worn by kings during the time of the Torah… And [concerning] Techeiles even today ‘no man lifts his hand’ to wear it except for a king of nations. And it is written (Esther 8:15), “And Mordechai went out from in front of the king with regal clothes of turquoise and white, and a crown of gold and a wrap of linen and purple” – and the wrap is the robe (meil) in which he wraps himself (translation: Sefaria).
The Zohar in Shlach though seems to understand that the “Kiseh HaKavod” represents the chair of Din (judgement) on souls. Anecdotally this is one reason why Chabad Chassidim are against wearing Techeiles until Moshiach arrives! To quote:
How Tzitzis Serves as a Reminder
Techeiles in Tzitzis consequently is supposed to be a reminder to do Mitzvos by connecting with the Kiseh HaKavod. Rashi states that all white Tzitzis covers the “reminder” aspect works with the Gematria of Tzitzis (תיציצ) equals 600, plus 5 knots (as per Rashi) and 8 strings per corner, and therefore ones gets the number 613, which alludes to the number of Mitzvos in the Torah (Rashi on Shlach 15:39). The Ramban though doesn’t understand Rashi’s position, and virtually rips it apart. He points that in the Torah, the word Tzitzis is spelled with only one Yud (תציצ) which only gives it 590, so you’re missing 10. In addition, if one goes by the number of strings like Beis Hillel (three), one only has six when doubled, as opposed to eight. Furthermore, he mentions that the number of Torah-based “knots” is 2, achieved by the double-knot Kesher Elyon. He then explains that the “entire” Mitzvos reminder is achieved by the Techeiles which ultimately reminds one of Hashem vis a vis the Kiseh HaKavod (the throne of glory). To quote:
Tzitzis with Techeiles is supposed to be a reminder for us to do Mitzvos. Due to space constraints, it’s not possible to bring down the numerous sources that refer to Techeiles as representing royalty, it being Hashem’s “gold seal,” and how it was a significant financial expense to acquire. Therefore, when one had it, the physical beauty was able to wrap itself around the spiritual beauty, and psychologically remind one that he was a “holy vessel” assigned to do the will of Hashem.
Where this Leaves Us
Techeiles has been lost for a very long time. While it more than likely has been found today, one important aspect we still miss is the connection to, and association with, the “Kiseh HaKavod” and all other items this precious wool covered. While it’s strongly advised for those that aren’t certain to consult their respective Rabbonim, there is a lot of Rabbinic support for it and the Mitzva of wearing it seems to be independent of spiritually connecting in the same manner as when it was more common. Regardless of ones decision, we should all hope for and strive for the speedy rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash in our days, and through the mitzva of Techeiles possess the keys to connect to a much higher purpose.