What Is the Breslov View on Tekhelet Strings?

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What Is the Breslov View on Tekhelet Strings?

After the destruction of the 2nd temple, it was less certain which fish/squid was used and the process to make the dye. Still the mitzva of Tzitzis exists, albeit in a less than perfect manner.

R’ Gershon Henoch Leiner in the 1880s was a huge Gaon in the Torah and he set out to find the Chilazon based on Simanim. He visited an aquarium in Naples, Italy, and claimed he found it: the cuttlefish. He wrote 3 books claiming to have found it, and manufactured how to produce the dye. This was in the year 1888 (Tarmach). He faced tremendous opposition from the leading Halachic authorities at the time including the Aruch HaShulchan. “Who are you to come after 2,000 years to find it?” They brought from many sources (Midrash, Gemara, Zohar) that only when Moshiach comes can it be re-found. He wrote back that we are in the birth pangs of Moshiach so it’s appropriate that now it’s found. This of course entered the Breslov world.

Two main camps:

  1. R’ Nachman Goldstein – Cheriner Rav – third generation Breslover, disciple of R’ Nosson (Nathan Sternhartz  – January 22, 1780 – December 20, 1844) – who was alive at the time. He claimed that there was no source anywhere that Techeiles can be rediscovered. In his footsteps, his students until today claim there is no Techeiles. He brought a source from wording of R’ Nosson prayer # 49 where he touches on the mitzva of Techeiles, which is the theme of Likutei Moharan, as R’ Nachman (April 4, 1772 – October 16, 1810) goes and talks about Techeiles, and in his wording he says “we should be Zoche to have the Beis Hamikdash and then the Techeiles will be revealed.” R’ Goldstein took that literally that first there will be a Beis Hamikdash (e.g. Moshiach comes), then Techeiles will be revealed. Until today Breslovers following this tradition won’t wear it.
  2. 4th generation – R’ Avraham ben R’ Nachman Halevi Chazan of Torchin (d. 1917). Author of a deep commentary of Likutey Moharan and other works. Very deep, secretive and mysterious. Without a doubt, he received a very specific tradition, which only he and one other person had. It was a secret transmission directly from R’ Nachman called Megilas Setarim – the scroll of secrets. He revealed it to only two disciples at a time. R’ Nachman to R’ Nosson and R’ Naftali. R’ Nachman told them in this scroll all the secrets of the world until Moshiach will come. He warned the two that only when one of the two passes away, the second one reveals it to somebody else. R’ Nosson passed away in 1844 and R’ Naftali lived 20-25 years after. The one this was passed on to was R’ Aharon Lipvetzker. When R’ Naftali passed away, R’ Aharon Lipvetzker then passed on this information to R’ Avraham ben R’ Nachman. R’ Avraham Halevi Chazan was so secretive that when R’ Aharon Lipvetzker passed away in the late 1800’s, if he revealed it to anyone and if so, to whom, so much so that R’ Aharon Lipvetzker’s own daughter Tzirel was asking everyone who her father revealed it to. R’ Avraham Halevi Chazan, one year before he passed away (1916-1917) he became sick and  lost his ability to speak, one year before he passed away during the 5th candle of Chanuka. Nevertheless him and other Breslovers like R’ Nosson, remembered the pattern and details of the secret of transmission of what’s going to happen before Moshiach comes, and transcribed it in form of Roshei Teivos (morse code) so it wouldn’t be revealed to the masses. They made it private for themselves so they shouldn’t forget easily. But some professors and doctors tried to decipher it. There’s a joke in Breslov: he who says he knows, doesn’t know. And he who knows, doesn’t say.Back to the Radzyner Rebbe. R’ Avraham ben R’ Nachman was close to the Radzyner Rebbe, who in turn had a big respect for him. He supposedly offered R’ Avraham a silk Bekeshe like the Rebbes wore, and R’ Avraham refused to take it, running away. So he was very open with him. When this polemic started, there were fistfights etc. The Radzyner Rebbe told R’ Avraham ben R’ Nachman, that the Rabbis were shooting arrows at him with disagreements to the Techeiles, yet he wrote three books proving it. R’ Avraham ben R’ Nachman replied that he has a stronger proof. It was the only time he opened his mouth to reveal a secret transmission of Megillas Setarim. In the year Tarmach (1888) [see R’ Aryeh Kaplan’s book Tzitzit a Thread of Light last chapter] the Techeiles will be re-revealed. Which means, that they began to wear the Radzyner Rebbe’s Techeiles. It was a topic where the whole Jewish world went crazy over as the word got out.

You have big shoulders for those wearing and not wearing.

In the mid-late 1930s, the Radzyner Rebbe’s son was Rebbe, and while he wasn’t as great as his father, began to continue manufacturing the squid dye imported from Italy. Rumor got out that he’s not doing it the same way as his father was doing it. Many Breslover Chassidim who were disciples of R’ Avraham ben R’ Nachman, stopped wearing it as it lost its validity, since why should they stick their necks out if it’s not the real thing? So many students of R’ Avraham ben R’ Nachman like R’ Levi Yitzchak Bender for example, stopped wearing it. Others that didn’t hear/believe the rumor, like R’ Yochanan Rosen, continued to wear it in Israel. So there are now three groups. One from the first camp, and two from R’ Avraham ben R’ Nachman. To this day Radzyner Techeiles is being produced in Bnei Brak based on the original recipe.


After all this, a story is recorded of a later generation Breslover Chossid named R’ Yisroel Halperin Halevy Karduner, buried in Teveria. He revealed that he had a dream with R’ Nachman. R’ Nachman in his book Moharan writes that it’s a big thing when someone sees him in a dream, some see him as young, some old. It came out because it was as needed. In his dream, he asked R’ Nachman if he had to wear the Techeiles and R’ Nachman responded “Lav Davka” you don’t need to wear it. It doesn’t make you any less of a Breslover. You won’t be judged either way. That therefore created a fourth group.


From this we see the variety of Breslov. Not all Breslovers wear Techeiles.


There’s a story of R’ Yitzchak Herzog who received the Radzyner formula and sent it to scientists to analyze, and they found that it couldn’t be due to the fact that that blue is due to a chemical reaction. That’s when R’ Herzog did his porphyrology research for his doctorate and revealed two snail candidates. So some Breslovers today now hold of R’ Herzog’s candidates. 

This is why there are so many nuances today among Breslovers wearing Techeiles. Just because someone is Breslov doesn’t mean he wears Techeiles and vice versa. Also there are Breslovers who dress simply like Litvaks. 


Given by Rabbi Meir Elkabas.


Order of Succession for Megillas Setarim

Name 1Years LivingName 2Years Living
R' NachmanApril 4, 1772 – October 16, 1810
R' Nosson SternhartzJanuary 22, 1780 – December 20, 1844R' Naftali?
R' Aharon Lipvetzker?
R' Avraham ben R' Nachman Halevi Chazan of Torchind. 1917

The following is derived from: https://www.kotzkblog.com/2016/11/100the-secret-manuscript-from-r-nachman.html

(Tzirel, daughter of R’ Lipvetzker, Tzirel, accosted and rebuked him (R. Chazan) for not transmitting the code and interpretation of the secret scroll to the next generation while he was on his deathbed. But R. Chazan had already lost his faculty of speech and, while the coded scroll survived, he died taking the secrets of its interpretation to his grave.

1963 the scroll was smuggled out of the Iron Curtain by R’ Gedalia Fleer [R. Gedaliah Fleer was originally from Brooklyn, and was the first ‘westerner’ to visit Uman, the burial place of Rabbi Nachman in the Ukraine, after the Second World War. He also was one of the early writers to introduce Breslover teachings to the English speaking world. (I obtained a copy of one of his books about thirty years ago and it left a profound impression upon me at the time.)].

Back in Jerusalem R. Fleer showed the manuscript to R. Lippel (a student of R. Avraham Sternhartz, another major exponent of Breslov, who had escaped from the Soviet Union in 1940). R. Lippel claimed R. Sternhatz taught him how to break the code of the script while the two of them were still in the Ukraine.

At first R. Lippel refused to divulge the code to R. Fleer but eventually did, on the condition it remain a secret. R. Fleer made copies of the text which he distributed to some members of the Breslover community in Israel but withheld the ‘code’ and interpretation as to its meaning.


Additional Resource: Nitzutzei Shimshon (of Ostropol)

What Is the Breslov View on Tekhelet Strings? What Is the Breslov View on Tekhelet Strings?