The color blue is a most unusual color within the spectrum of Judaism. It was used extensively in the Mishkan and even on the High Priest’s clothing. Its most familiar use was as the color of one of the fringes of our four-cornered garments. And most mystically, in this week’s portion of the Torah, it was in the vision of the Al-mighty that Moses and the elders saw. "Under His feet was the likeness of sapphire brickwork, and it was like the essence of the heaven in purity". (Ex 24:10)

"Under His feet was the likeness of sapphire brickwork."

Blue is also commonly found painted on the gravestones of righteous people in the mystical city of Tzefat. Also some homes there are painted blue.

All of this suggests that there must be a special holiness to this color. So it seems strange that there is an entirely different reputation to this color too. The gematria of the word "blue" [in Hebrew, 'techelet' - see Ex. 24:6)] is the same as the gematria of the word "you would hearken [in Hebrew, 'shematem]" (Gen 42:22). It is also the gematria of "and sanctify them [[in Hebrew, 'vekidashtam']" (Ex 19:20) and "you shall be ensnared [in Hebrew, 'tinakesh']" (Deut 12:30).

Why should the numerical value be the same for both "holiness" and "being ensnared"?

There is a good lesson about gematria here. If words found in the Torah have the same numerical value, there must be a good reason for it. This is true even when words that have opposite meanings share the same numerical value. When this happens, you must look deeper and most often broader, until you find the overall relationship between them.

In the case of blue, we find that although it is found in so many holy places, when it comes to dreams and visions we are strictly warned, "All colors in visions are a good omen except for the color blue. It is the low color, and much ardent prayer must be exercised to avoid it." (Zohar Chadash 68:4, Gemora Berachot 57b)

The reason why some people paint blue on gravestones and their homes is because they see this to be "protection from the evil eye." Whether or not, or how, such things exist is not the subject at hand, but those who do concern themselves with such things say, "Blue is the color of the sea, and fish live in the sea, and fish never close their eyes. So this color must provide protection from the ‘evil eye.’ (This also is why fish are a common motif in jewelry and artwork.)

The reason why blue is used on the fringe (tzitzit) is to help remind us to do the commandments. Blue reminds us of the ocean and of the sky. These are two elements that we cannot live without. But they are also two elements that we cannot live in. Picture yourself in the middle of the ocean without a boat, or in the middle of the sky without an airplane. What would you immediately think? "God help me!" Blue certainly can be a reminder to do His commandments.
Blue is called the lower or sick color in visions.
Yet blue is called the lower or sick color in visions. How can this apparent contradiction be explained? How can blue be holy in so many places and also be called low and sick?

Use sunlight as an analogy. The human eye cannot see the actual light, but when we bend the light through a prism we see the spectrum of its colors. If you would point with one finger to the red light and with another finger to the blue light, how many lights would you be pointing to? If you said two, you were wrong. There is only one light there. There is one light and seven colors.

In visions and the most mystical dealings we always seek the revelation of God, which is formless, and singular. The sunlight in our illustration represents this formless, universal, singular perspective. The colors in this example represent the particulars within the universal since they are many. Blue is the lowest color on the spectrum. All colors (particulars) take our attention away from the light (the universal). Since blue is the lowest color, it is portrayed as the furthest away from the universal.

This color was also seen in the glorious vision that Moses and the elders were shown: "...under His feet was the likeness of sapphire (deep blue) brickwork and it was like the essence of the heaven in purity" (Ex 24:10) Even in most holy visions, blue is the lower color.

Now we can see the reason those words share the same numerical value. "You will hearken" when you see the blue fringe. "You will sanctify" when you use this color on the High Priest’s garment and other holy places, and "you will be ensnared" if you focus on this color in meditation and visions.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

Copyright 2003 by All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.