Per Ptil Tekhelet, the shitta of the Ba'alei Tosefot (following Rashi) is that half of the strings in the tzitzit are to be made of techeilet, as opposed to 1/4 (rov haposkim) or 1/8 (Rambam). However, Sifre Bamidbar (Parshat Shelach, והיה לכם לציצית) Shammai and Hillel are cited with Shammai holding that three strings plus one of techeilet are necessary and Hillel holding that only three total are required (these positions are reversed in the Gemara, Menachot 39 or 40).

How do we reconcile the opinions of Shammai and the Ba'alei Tosefot, considering their apparent exclusivity? Is Shammai's shitta for techeilet a minimum, or an absolute requirement?

  • How do you conclude Rov Psokim hold 1/4 ,in fact most hold like Tosfos
    – sam
    Mar 28, 2016 at 23:58
  • @sam, this is my guess based on Tekhelet.co.il, where all but a few of the shittos presented are 1/4. They report three shittos of 1/2 (Tosefos, Ittur/Binyamin Ze'ev, R' Schachter of YU) and two 1/8 (Rambam, Chabad/Radzyn). Mar 29, 2016 at 0:01
  • 1
    See this Kuntres third one techeiles.org/library_pages/library_minyan.php
    – sam
    Mar 29, 2016 at 0:06

1 Answer 1


You cite the Sifre Bamidbar 115 which states:

ועשו להם ציצית שומע אני יעשה חוט אחד בפני עצמו ת"ל גדילים מכמה גדילים אתה עושה אין פחות משלשה דברי בית הלל ובית שמאי אומרים שלשה של צמר ורביעית של תכלת והלכה כבית שמאי

But if you look at the Sifre Devarim 234, the other place in the Torah that talks about Tzitzit, it says:

גדילים תעשה לך, למה נאמר לפי שנאמר ועשו להם ציצית שומע אני יעשה חוט אחד בפני עצמו תלמוד לומר גדילים כמה גדילים נעשים אין פחות משלשה חוטים כדברי בית הלל בית שמאי אומרים מארבעה חוטים של תכלת וארבעה חוטים של לבן

So there you have it. Two versions about what Beit Shammai said.

(I'll note while I'm here that the Devarim version is weird because it switches between speaking of numbers of half-strings and whole strings, it's not clear how many blue strings Beit Hillel needs, and Beit Shammai doesn't appear to be expounding on any particular word in the verse. Indeed, the Gra there strikes the Girsa in Devarim replacing it with that of Bamidbar (and ruling that 1/4 needs to be blue), and it's not hard for us to speculate that this derives from a scribe changing ג' של לבן וד' של תכלת to ד' של לבן וד' של תכלת because he didn't realize ד was intended to mean "fourth" not "four". See this article for more.)


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