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"Blue" in Judaism: Tekhelet

Margot Englander

Centerspread Editor

The rich tapestry of symbolism within Judaism is evident. Among the hues that weave through this spiritual landscape, the color blue, particularly in the form of “tekhelet”, holds a special place of significance.

Tekhelet holds its roots in ancient Judaism, dating back to biblical times. Derived from a specific sea creature, it is the special blue dye used to adorn garments, particularly the fringes of prayer shawls, or tzitzit. These fringes, mandated by the Torah, serve as a physical reminder of divine commandments and the connection between humanity and the sacred.

Tekhelet’s blue hue is often associated with the sky and the sea, two majestic elements that evoke feelings of wonder and reflect G-d within them. Just as the boundless sky seems to stretch infinitely above and the expanse of the sea invites exploration, the blue in tekhelet points to the infinite and mysterious nature of the Divine Presence.

In the tapestry of the Ark of the Covenant, blue threads intricately intertwined with other colors, creating a visual manifestation of holiness. These blue threads signify the Divine Essence and its sacred nature. The use of blue, a color associated with the ethereal and heavenly, underscores the sanctity of the place where the divine and human interact.

Kabbalah, the mystical branch of Judaism, delves even deeper into the symbolism of blue. Blue is often associated with the Sephirah of Chesed, representing loving-kindness and the expansive, generous nature of the divine. Within the Kabbalistic framework, blue serves as a reminder of the divine benevolence that infuses creation.

Beyond its celestial and mystical connotations, blue in tekhelet also carries a lesson in impermanence and continuity. Just as the dye comes from a living creature, the process of extracting tekhelet underscores the interconnectedness of all living things. This reminds us that our actions can impact those around us, and the choices we make can affect future generations.

In Judaism, blue is more than just a color; it is a bridge between the earthly and the celestial, a reminder of the divine commandments, and a beacon of spiritual exploration. The threads of tekhelet, woven into the fabric of our tradition, continue to inspire and guide, inviting us to contemplate the profound connections that link us to each other.


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