Nowadays the Blue Is Hidden
The blue was taken from a snail found in the Sea.
The snail comes up once every 70 years.
– Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 26a, Menachot 44a
There is a street in Paris* (11th arrondissement) called
“The Street of Tailors.” I visited my friend who
lives near the street of tailors. We went to eat at a café
around the corner. The first day we passed the street of tailors,
I asked him, “What is this street?” “Don’t know,” he said.
The next time we passed it, I asked again,
“Where does the name – street of tailors – come from?”
“It once was a street of tailors,” he said.
We passed it again the next day,
“What is the street of tailors?” I asked.
“I heard that there was a street of tailors working there,
then the Germans took Paris, June 14, 1940,
and they all disappeared.”
A street of tailor artists, fifty years of ghosts, they have not changed
the name of the street. A chasid on the sixth floor
descends and ascends silently
to make the evening prayers.
The street of tailors.
He knows fabrics but is a failure at freedom. Fingering the coat
he peers over his glasses, “Nice merchandise,” he says.
Expert in drapes and Torah. hands stained
with experimental dyes, he mixes a perfect blend
for a priestly tunic. Expatriates tell jokes
in a café, they order intestines all around,
it smells like an insult. Later they fuss
and pass the street of tailors.
The tailors sewed in secrecy
to recover the lost blue thread.
Mystery blue, a deceased mollusk
carried it into the deep
where it gave birth
to the sea.
Speak to the Children of Israel and bid them that they make fringes on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of each corner a thread of blue (tekhelet).
Tekhelet was taken from the hilazon, a snail found in the Sea between Tyre and Haifa.
— B.T. Shabbat 26a
The hilazon comes up once every 70 years.
— B.T. Menachot 44a
Nowadays we only have the white [fringes], the blue has been hidden.
— Numbers Rabbah 17:5, Midrash Tanhuma Shelakh
Tekhelet [blue] resembles the sea, the sea resembles grass, and grass resembles the heavens.
— TJ Ber. 1:5, 3a
James Stone Goodman