“Adonai said to Moshe, ‘Speak to the people of Israel, instructing them to make, through all their generations, tzitziyot on the corners of their garments, and to put with the tzitzit on each corner a blue thread.'”-Numbers 15:37-38
The TZITZIT were made out of two different types of fabric: linen and wool.
In addition, each TZITZIT was to have a single strand of wool dyed purple, the color of royalty.
The purple strand would be located in the center of the TZITZIT surrounded by many strands of white linen.
The Hebrew word for this single woolen strand of purple is TEKHELET and is the reason behind the meaning of TZITZIT.
Because it indicates royalty and nobility.
This was in line with the TZITZIT’s purpose of reminding the Jew that he is a member of God’s “kingdom of priests”.
Why was the color purple considered to be a royal color?
Simply because the dye was extremely expensive.
The dye was was taken from a tiny sea creature called the Murex snail (CHILAZON in Hebrew).
It took about 12,000 of these snails to produce about two grams of this purple dye.
Now get this.
To purchase about one pound of this purple dye would cost about $100,000 in today’s money.
So obviously only the filthy rich rich could use it, which pretty much meant its use was restricted to royalty and wealthy aristocrats.
In order to meet the demand, eventually an imitation purple dye was developed but the Rabbis prohibited its use and kings and aristocrats would never lower themselves to use such an inferior dye.
If one were to visit Israel today, one would notice many that many of the TZITTZIT being worn do not have a blue thread running through it.
The reason is because about 1000 years ago, the sea creature (CHILAZON or Murex snail) from which the dye was extracted became unavailable (it was already really hard to get in the first place).
What’s interesting is that kabbalists say that the current lack of having a TEKHELET is consistent with the Jewish people’s current diminished spiritual state (their opinion, not mine).
The fifth Rebbe of Lubavitch, Rabbi Sholom DovBer, maintains that the CHILAZON will not reemerge until the coming of the Messiah.