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September 20, 2021 | י״ד בתשרי תשפ״ב | TODAY'S DAF: Beitzah 21 - First Day of Sukkot, September 21

Melachot relating to spinning, weaving and dyeing

On Daf 73a, we learn about all of the steps for turning wool into garments and textiles (for the Tabernacle and the priestly garments).   Shearing, whitening, combing, dyeing, spinning, stretching the threads to warp a loom, setting the heddles, weaving two threads, severing two threads (or perhaps unweaving them), tying a knot, untying a knot, sewing two stitches with a needle and tearing fabric in order to sew two stitches.

הַגּוֹזֵז אֶת הַצֶּמֶר, הַמְלַבְּנוֹ, וְהַמְנַפְּצוֹ, וְהַצּוֹבְעוֹ, וְהַטּוֹוֶה, וְהַמֵּיסֵךְ, וְהָעוֹשֶׂה שְׁתֵּי בָתֵּי נִירִין, וְהָאוֹרֵג שְׁנֵי חוּטִין, וְהַפּוֹצֵעַ שְׁנֵי חוּטִין. הַקּוֹשֵׁר, וְהַמַּתִּיר, וְהַתּוֹפֵר שְׁתֵּי תְפִירוֹת, הַקּוֹרֵעַ עַל מְנָת לִתְפּוֹר  שְׁתֵּי תְפִירוֹת

Believe me, it’s a lot of work!! We will also hear on daf 74b about the special skill that the “wise-hearted” Jewish women had for spinning wool while it was still on the animal!

On Daf 74b we are going to learn that the trappers of the murex snail (the Hilazon which is the source of Tekhelet) used to tie and untie their nets.   This is some interesting historical evidence of the role of Jewish trappers in the blue and purple dye industry!

Finally, on Daf 75, the rabbis discuss additional melachot of trapping and threshing which relate to the process of extracting the dye gland from the snail. This process has been recreated by the P’til Tekhelet organization. https://www.tekhelet.com/.  I am attaching a video here that shows all of the steps of wool processing and techelet dyeing.

The second video is a quick view of the warping process so we can understand what it means to stretch the warp, and thread the heddles (loops) to create the opening that is required for weaving.  The Koren uses the word “meshes” instead of heddles.  Each time the weaver passes the horizontal thread through, she must switch the heddle to catch the opposite group of threads.  This is not the type of loom in use during the Talmudic period, but it shows how you must stretch and thread the strings onto the loom frame before weaving.  In my first post in this series you can see older types of looms.

 

Finally, a note about weaving for those who are new to it.  Here is a great image to demonstrate warp and weft.  Thank you wikipedia.

 

The warp (שתי) means the vertical threads. The weft or woof (ערב) means the horizontal threads. There are many ways to weave. Sometimes the warp or weft will be hidden because one set of threads is larger than the other (as in a rug), but the warp and weft are always required for weaving.

Julie Mendelsohn

Julie Bloch Mendelsohn made aliyah with her family in 2009. Julie has a law degree, a Master of Public Health, has studied several foreign languages, and is currently pursuing a master's degree in archaeology. Julie dyes, spins, and weaves her own yarn and textiles. She loves to learn Daf Yomi and is interested in topics relating to Jewish law and ancient materials and crafts, ancient languages, and history.
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