OPINIONS: If one traps and smashes ("Potzei'a") a Chilazon, according to
the Tana Kama one has transgressed only one Melachah -- trapping, and
according to Rebbi Yehudah one has transgressed two Melachos --trapping and
Potzei'a (a Toldah of Dash). One is not Chayav, though, for killing the
Many Acharonim point out that we can infer from our Sugya a number of
distinguishing characteristics of the Chilazon which might enable us to
determine the identity of that creature (besides the characteristics of the
Chilazon that we learn from other Sugyos).
(a) The act of "Potzei'a" implies "cracking open," as opposed to "Korei'a"
(ripping). From the use of this word to describe what is done to the
Chilazon to extract its blood, it seems that the Chilazon has some sort of
hard shell which needs to be "cracked open."
What creature fits the criteria that we deduce from this Sugya?
(b) The Gemara says that if the dye is extracted from the Chilazon while it
is alive, it is of a better quality.
(c) TOSFOS (Kesubos 5b DH Dam) asks why is one not Chayav for the Melachah
of Netilas Neshamah (killing) when one takes blood out of the Chilazon,
according to Rabeinu Tam who proves that taking blood out of a creature is
forbidden on Shabbos because of Netilas Neshamah? Tosfos answers that the
blood of the Chilazon is gathered in a separate sack in the Chilazon and is
ready to be extracted, and therefore removing it does not diminish the
Chilazon's life in any way.
(d) The Gemara (74b) says that the Chilazon is captured with nets lowered
into the water.
(e) The Gemara says that one is Chayav for Tzad (hunting) when he captures
the Chilazon. This implies that the Chilazon is not a creature that is easy
to catch, but rather, it is a creature that runs away when one tries to
catch it. We know that the Melachah of hunting applies only when one
captures an animal that is able to flee and that tries to run away when one
attempts to capture it (Beitzah 24a).
(f) TOSFOS (DH ha'Tzad and DH u'l'Chayev) proves that the Chilazon is
Mefarches -- it jumps around a bit after it is removed from the water, and
therefore one is not considered to have killed it (and transgressed the
Melachah of Netilas Neshamah) at the moment that he takes it out of the
water. It kills itself by wriggling.
1) The RADZINER REBBE, in SEFER EIN HA'TECHELES, explains that the Chilazon
is a certain squid (the cuttlefish), which meets the conditions of (d),
(e), and (f) and which has a hard, shell-like "bone" under its skin; this
complies with characteristic (a). The ink (sepia) of the squid is contained
in a separate sack, which is the blood that the Gemara mentions
2) Others, however, assert that it is highly unlikely that the squid is the
Chilazon that was used for making the Techeles, based on the fact that the
sepia extracted from a squid is dark brown, and does not become blue unless
another substance is added to it (and the natural color-causing agents of
the sepia are boiled until their chemical composition is changed). They
suggest, therefore, that it is a type of spiny snail (the Murex Trunculus)
which is common around northern Mediterranean shores. This explanation,
though, does not fit the criterion of Tosfos that the Chilazon jumps around
before it dies (f), nor does it fit the requirements of nets (d) and
One answer for why nets are used to hunt snails (d), is that even today,
the Greeks hunt for snails by lowering baited nets into the water, into
which the snails crawl to eat the bait. The nets are then lifted along with
Concerning the requirement of hunting (e), the Yerushalmi indeed states
that one who captures the Chilazon is *not* Chayav for hunting. This makes
sense only according to those who explain that the Chilazon is a snail
(which does not flee when one catches it). Tosfos is in fact bothered by
the Yerushalmi. Tosfos clearly does *not* maintain that the Chilazon is a
snail (as is evident from his addition of characteristic (f)).
To explain why the Bavli *does* obligate a person for hunting the Chilazon
(if it is a snail), it has been suggested that since this snail is so
difficult to find, as it hides itself in the sand, even though it does not
flee when found capturing it is indeed considered to be the Melachah of
QUESTION: The Gemara asks that one should not only be Chayav for "Tzad" for
capturing the Chilazon, but also for "Netilas Neshamah" (killing), since
the Chilazon dies when it is caught. Rava answers that one is not Chayav
for Netilas Neshamah when the Chilazon dies as a result of being caught,
because one is merely "Mis'asek" (he did one action, and another action
occurred, unintended). However, asks the Gemara, why is the death of the
Chilazon not a "Pesik Reshei" (something which is definitely going to
occur, and is forbidden even if one had no intention for it to occur)? The
Gemara answers that since one does not want the creature to die (because
its blood makes a finer dye when extracted while the creature is alive), it
is not a Meleches Machsheves and it is permitted.
Why does the Gemara not answer that one is Patur for killing the Chilazon
because it is "Mekalkel?" Since the act of killing is not done for a
constructive purpose (such as to use the dead body of the Chilazon), even
if it is a Pesik Reshei, one is not Chayav?
TOSFOS (DH v'l'Chayev) points out that Rebbi Shimon and Rebbi Yehudah argue
whether "Mekalkel b'Chaburah" ("destructive" killing) is Chayav or Patur.
Rebbi Shimon says that one is Chayav when it comes to Mekalkel of Netilas
Neshamah, and Rebbi Yehudah says that it one Patur like every other case of
According to Rebbi Shimon, we can understand why our Gemara did not simply
answer that this Netilas Neshamah is Mekalkel and therefore one is Patur,
since Mekalkel in Netilas Neshamah is always Chayav. Even according to
Rebbi Yehudah, Tosfos explains, this Mekalkel would have been Chayav,
because one accomplishes a slightly constructive purpose with the death of
the Chilazon -- that is, the extraction of its blood, which is more easily
accomplished when the Chilazon is dead.