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29 Kislev 5773 - December 13, 2012 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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The Admor of Radzin, Rabbi Gershon Henoch Leiner, zt"l

In honor of his yahrtzeit, 4 Teves

As a son of the first Admor of Radzin R' Yaakov, HaRav Gershon Henoch made sure to follow in his father's ways.

"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 sugyos.

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, R' 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 explained.

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 out in print.

All the gedolim from Lithuania, Galicia, Hungary, Baghdad, and Frankfurt were unanimous in proclaiming their wonder and praises on the completion of such a daunting work.

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 hatecheiles."

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 fish.

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 new 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 (1887).

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 dye.

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 was printed, describing the techeiles dye and its production.

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 confirmed.

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 opinion.

Most of the gedolim did not agree to use the dye, 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 practices.

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 view.

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 chilozon.

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 over 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 the 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 veyomeinu!


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