As a son of the
first Admor of Radzin R' Yaakov, HaRav
Gershon Henoch made sure to follow in his father's
"In his ways," he would say, "but I'm not exactly as my
father was, for he never copied anyone."
Reb Gershon Henoch was known for his brilliance. He
forged a strong bond with Reb Chaim Brisker through
extensive discussions and pilpulim on many
Chassidim noted that every word of the gemora
that was said by the Rebbe was uttered with the sheer
joy of a drunkard who rejoices over every drop of wine
that passes his thirsty lips.
As a boy, someone teased him asking if he perhaps
wished to swallow all the Torah in one go. In all
seriousness the boy replied, "I would love to, but it's
too dangerous, just like food that cannot be swallowed
whole but must be chewed first."
The sefer of R' Gershon Henoch, Sidrei
Taharos, caused a great sensation in the olom
HaTorah. In his haskomoh to the great work,
Yosef Shaul Nathansohn wrote that "in the last three
hundred years no sefer the likes of this one has
been written!" Indeed, his admiration was not
unfounded, for the sefer was unique, as will be
Most of the Seder Taharos in the Shas has
no gemora, only mishnayos with
perushim. At the tender age of 19, R' Gershon
Henoch had a brainstorm. He would assist the learning
of Seder Taharos by collecting together all the
gemoras that discuss or have a connection to the
mishnayos of Seder Taharos. Ten years of
toil eventually bore fruit and his sefer came
All the gedolim from Lithuania, Galicia,
Baghdad, and Frankfurt were unanimous in proclaiming
their wonder and praises on the completion of such a
Subsequently, however, some leaders voiced doubts as to
whether the idea was acceptable, for the sefer
was published in the same layout as a gemora.
Granted, they argued, that now it's a novelty, but
perhaps the future generations will mistake the
sefer for a gemora.
As a solution, Reb Chaim Brisker came up with a
suggestion to print on each page: "A collection from
the words of the Tanoim and Amoroim."
Thus, after the Rebbe's passing when the sefer
Sidrei Taharos was printed in a new edition, the
addition was included.
The Admor of Radzin was known to many as the "ba'al
His lifelong dream was to find the techeiles dye
and reinstate the blue thread in the tzitzis as
it originally used to be worn. To this end he went to
extraordinary lengths to locate the chilozon
He knew well that he was heading for a controversial
issue, for Klal Yisroel does not want new
practices. He would often say "oseh chadoshos, ba'al
milchomos," one who wants to introduce something
must be prepared to wage a war for his convictions.
Despite the physical and financial hardships involved,
R' Gershon Henoch traveled to Italy. From there he made
his way to the Scile Isles where the original
chilozon was purported to be found. After much
effort, he succeeded in catching a fish that held,
hidden in its mouth, a small sac of colored dye.
Placing the precious catch in a fish tank, he watched
it closely, recording its living and eating patterns to
ensure that they match with the practices of the
chilozon as described by Chazal.
To his boundless joy and excitement, he felt he could
prove that he had found the chilozon fish with
the blue dye mentioned in the Torah. The year was 5647
Upon his return home, the Rebbe set up a small factory
where the precious contents of the small sac could be
boiled, cleansed and processed into the correct blue
Simultaneously, he wrote his sefer Sefunei Utmunei
Chol, where the obligation and reasons for wearing
the blue thread nowadays are clearly explained.
A year later his second sefer Pesil Techeiles
printed, describing the techeiles dye and its
Finally, with the kindling of the Chanukah lights of
5649 (1889), the dye was ready.
Not yet satisfied that the color was exactly the right
shade, Rabbenu traveled to Rome where the Vatican, the
main Catholic church, is located. There in its vaults,
tradition has it, are some of the bigdei kehunoh
among which the me'il and avnet include
genuine techeiles threads.
Together with experts in chemistry and science he
compared the two colors and the veracity of his dye was
Approximately 12,000 Yidden dyed their tzitzis
from the Admor of Radzin's dye of techeiles. The
Rebbe tried to persuade the gedolei hador to
avail themselves of the opportunity to fulfill the
mitzvah of tzitzis according to its true
halachos. However, there was a difference in
Most of the gedolim did not agree to use the
some of them due to reservations about his proofs and
reasoning and the majority simply because they were
unwilling to initiate such a practice. Even those in
full agreement with the Rebbe per se, still
preferred to continue tradition and not bring in new
Among them, the Rebbe's friend Reb Chaim Brisker
refused to embrace the use of the techeiles,
bringing ra'ayos from the Torah to support his
It is of interest to note that nowadays there are many
Jews who bear a blue thread among their tzitzis.
Some of them having obtained it from the son of the
Admor of Radzin, Reb Yitzchok Englard of Bnei Brak.
Others have done modern research and identified a
different source, a kind of snail, as being the
After the Rebbe's petiroh on 4 Teves 5651, his
son Reb Mordechai Yosef Elozor was crowned Rebbe of
Radzin. The new Rebbe gathered the written manuscripts
of his father and printed them in a sefer of
three thousand pages under the title Ein
Hatecheiles. Within its pages all the arguments of
the gedolei hador were answered. "I wish to
answer all those who have comments to give on the words
of my father," the son writes. "Although my father,
teacher, light of the Diaspora, has left us and arisen
to heaven, the holy spirit of his Torah is still here
in his beis medrash and he has passed on to us
part of his glory!"
Rabbi Dovid Weitzman zt"l, a faithful
chossid and talmid of Rabbeinu Gershon
Henoch, related that the techeiles was not his
only project of discovery.
"At one point the Rebbe had a complete plan and recipe
according to Torah to produce the ashes of the Poroh
Adumoh so that everyone could be purified. This he
deemed possible even in our generation, despite the
difficulties involved. However, he never tried to carry
out his plan, after learning the words of the Rambam.
The latter states that there were 10 Red Heifers whose
ashes were to be used for the purification of
tmei'im. Nine have already been used and the
tenth will be produced by Moshiach Tzidkeinu.
The Rambam brings no source for this statement and in
Shas there is no proof of it, but to Rabbeinu
words of the Rambam were sufficient.
He took all his work on the subject, concealed it and
waited for Moshiach.
May we soon merit the true salvation when
Moshiach will prepare the ashes of the Poroh
Adumoh and purify us all bimheiroh