In his sefer Ginas Egoz, Rav Schachter writes that wearing tzitzis without techeles may be an issur of bal tigra, and one is better off not wearing tzitzis at all than wearing tzitzis without techeles. I asked him if he meant this l'ma'ase to the point that if a high school kid doesn't have techeles in his tzitzis, the rebbe should not bug him about putting on his tzitzis. He said that the high school kid should get tzitzis with techeles and if he can't it is better not to wear tzitzis.Menachot 43b:
Don't we hold that techelet isn't me'akev the lavan? Then how could it be ba'al tigra?
Tekhelet and lavan are not meakev one another when you don't have one of the two,thus allowing you to still at least fulfill the mitzvah partially.When both are available to you, to be able to fulfill the mitzvah b'shlemuta, it's a different story.
To clarify why Rav Schachter says it is better not to wear tzitzis even though the techeles is not me'akev the lavan: The idea of one not being me'akev the other is only when one of them is not available. If, however, the opportunity for a mitzvah b'shleimusa is available (techeles) and one chooses to do a mitzvah she'lo b'shleimusa (by only wearing lavan), that is an issur of bal tigra. It is better not to do the mitzvah at all than to put yourself b'makom chiyuv (by wearing four corners) and then neglecting the mitzvah b'shleimusa. See the article in Ginas Egoz where he bases this on a Biur Halacha.
The Biur Halacha in question is 34:2 d"h yani'ach where he quotes the gemara that when one does "matan achas" of blood on the mizbe'ach when 2 or four are required the kapara is achieved but bal tigra has been violated. The Biur Halacha adds that this should serve as mussar for those who are lazy in doing mitzvos and don't do the mitzvos in the best possible way, that they can be in violation of bal tigra.
The idea is based on a Beis Halevi 1:42 in the name of the Turei Even that bal tigra is not when you fail to do a mitzvah (3 tzitziyos, missing a parsha from tefillin), but when you do the mitzvah, just not in its most complete form.
תניא היה רבי מאיר אומר גדול עונשו של לבן יותר מעונשו של תכלת משל למה הדבר דומה למלך בשר ודם שאמר לשני עבדיו לאחד אמר הבא לי חותם של טיט ולאחד אמר הבא לי חותם של זהב ופשעו שניהם ולא הביאו איזה מהן עונשו מרובה הוי אומר זה שאמר לו הבא לי חותם של טיט ולא הביא
They surely had techeiles in the days of Rabbi Meir, even if it was expensive. Yet he talks separately of the punishment for failing to place techeiles on a 4-cornered garment and failing to place white strings, with that for failing to place white strings being more severe. A simple, straightforward reading of this would be that Rabbi Meir holds that even if one neglects to put techeiles on his garment (despite the fact that such is available), one should still put white strings on his 4-cornered garment, and that it is a failing not to do this.
Yet according to this position of Rav Schachter, one who does not put on techeiles should not be wearing a tallis or tallis katan with just white strings, for this is a violation of bal tigra.
I would assume Rav Schachter is familiar with this gemara in Menachot, and one can read it in various ways. E.g. referring to someone who simply cannot afford the techelet, or since it was scarce, in places where it is not available. In such an instance, it would not be bal tigra.
And along these lines, what does the Baal HaMaor do with this gemara, if he holds that techelet is meakev? Such that he would wear a 4-cornered garment without tzitzis, since tzitzit were not possible in his day? Perhaps one can read this as referring to one who neglects both aspects of the mitzvah? It seems hard to say.
Does anyone know if Rav Schachter addresses this gemara?
From a practical standpoint, this position is really prime material. Given that one is convinced that this is authentic techeles (as I am), such that there is a mitzvah deOrayta or a deorayta component that people are missing out on, how are you supposed to convince others to adopt it? Pirkei Avot tells us to weigh the sechar mitzvah keneged hefseidah, and it seems that people do this on a practical level when weighing chumras and halachas. As long as it is just standing by and not doing the full kiyum, people will side with the phychologically "frummer" position, which is not to fulfill the Biblical command (!). But if it can be cast as people actively violating an issur deOrayta every day they put on tzitzit, then this may tip the scale in the opposite direction.
Not that I think that this is what is guiding Rav Schachter in his position. Rather, it is a side effect, with interesting fallout.
I would add that there perhaps another reason to say it is bal tigra. See, for example, Barzilai's comment on that thread:
I don't agree with Rabbi Shechter on this point. I believe that the tradition and culture and halacha must move in a linear manner, and it doesn't really matter what the Tanaim held, or what Moshe Rabbeinu held. Withing limits, I'd rather follow normative than correct.Perhaps I am miscasting this, but it seems that this position is that given this is the authentic techelet, and that Moshe Rabbenu, the Tannaim and Amoraim held this was techeles, and given that Ravina and Rav Ashi were sof horaah, still, I am willing to uproot an aspect of a mitzvah deOrayta and never keep it, and say that this is no longer part of Torah that should be followed. Because this is not normative practice. This seems to me like active bal tigra. And it seems that this may be the attitude of many who are not wearing techelet today.
Given the connection to the Biur Halacha about being lazy, it does not seem that that was what Rav Schachter was saying, however.
Note: Not halacha lemaaseh, of course. As I said, I did not even look into the sefer inside. And I do not have full mastery of the various source texts involved. I still would like to know how Rav Schachter deals with this particular gemara.
perhaps he wouild say that the gemara is speaking of a place where people always wore four cornered garments. If you are wearing a four cornered garment it is better to put on white than nothing, but if you have other clothing best to not wear a four cornered garment.