Auction No. 100

Rare and special items

June 20, 2017
Opening $ 30,000
Estimate $ 60,000 - $ 80,000
Sold for $ 63,440
Including buyer's premium

A letter from Rabbi Gershon Chanoch Leiner of Radzin to Rabbi Avraham son of Chaim [Hoffenberg], Av Beit Din of Vaski [author of Kol BeRama and Ikvei Bracha] regarding the discovery of techeilet, his works on the topic and the price of the techeilet. Radzin, 1890.

Specifications: [1] leaf. The two last lines in the Admor's handwriting, and with his handwritten signature.

Unique Features: From the Admor's response, it appears that the questioner asked several questions on the topic, to which the Admor replies that his book Ein HaTecheilet will soon be published, where he will find "everything explained well." He also inquired about making tzitzit at night and the cost of the strings, to which the Admor also replies. It is interesting that the questioner was a clearly Lithuanian Rabbi (a student of Rabbi Eliezer of Telz, Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berliner and Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik) and it appears that he wanted to buy a string of techeilet.

Background: The Admor of Radzin was a magnificent figure, a genius in both the hidden and revealed Torah, tremendously wise, an expert in medicine and all fields of study, a righteous man and a miracle worker.

He was born in 1839 to his father, the Admor Rabbi Yaakov of Izhbitza, author of Beit Yaakov. In his youth, he was educated in the house of his grandfather, the founder of the dynasty, Rabbi Mordechai Yosef Leiner, author of Mei HaShiloach, who was one of the primary disciples of Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa. He was chosen as Rabbi of Radzin at the age of 22, and was imprisoned at the same time due to slander, but was released a short time later. In 1878 he was appointed to succeed his father as Admor of Izhbitza. He expanded and established the chassidut. Thousands of people accepted his authority; however, he himself loathed any external trappings, refused to wear Admor's garments and to have a personal assistant.

His first work was Sidrei Taharot, in which he compiled, with tremendous genius, all of the sayings of the Sages on the order Taharot and arranged them in the manner of the Talmudic discussion, with the commentaries of Rashi and Tosefot around it. It created a great impression, almost unparalleled in the world of rabbinic literature. The same is true for the color of the snail which the Admor of Radzin awakened. In ancient times, they knew the secret of making the color techeilet from the blood of the snail. This custom ended during the time of the Geonim, as they did not know how to identify the snail, and it has never been renewed.

In the beginning, the Admor of Radzin established the necessity to return to techeilet and to fulfill the command of the Torah. He then travelled to Italy and toured around many islands in the area, as well as visiting in the underwater observatory in Naples (refer to his introduction of the book Petil Techelet) and on his return declared that he had identified the original snail. He performed various chemical experiments himself and succeeded in extracting blue blood from them. The first batch was prepared in 1889 and the success was absolute. Twelve thousand Radzin chassidim colored their tzitzit during Chanuka of that year. The color and the secret of the revelation was kept in a safe in a bank in Warsaw and passed down through the Radzin dynasty. The Admor of Radzin published three books on this topic, in his book Shefunei Temunei Chol he explains the fundamental concepts of the techeilet, in his second book, Petil Techeilet, he reports about his scientific and chemical experiments to extract techeilet and in his third book, Ein Hatechelet, he responds to his opponents' claims.

Condition: Fine. Aging stains. Tiny tears in the white margins. The bottom left hand corner is professionally restored with no damage to text.

Letters from Admors