I am a Baal T’shuvah, with very little Jewish family history. My question regards which tying custom to follow. The one thing I do know is that I wish to follow the Raavad for ratio. I know my family lived in Vienna for a time, which would lead me to the Vilna Gaon, but I’m not sure. My current custom is to tie 7-8-11-13. I was wondering if there was a timeline of when the different customs were written, and which, if any, are considered older than others. Thank you very much
I would say that if you are inclined to follow the Ravad method in terms of ratio (1 full blue string per corner) then I would advise you tie like the Vilna Gaon, as he too holds that one should use 1 full blue string per corner.
As for the oldest methods, it appears that the Gaonim held the oldest tradition, either R. Amram Gaon (d.875) or R. Shmuel ben Hofni HaGaon (d. 1034). The only difference between the Vilna Gaon’s method and that of Rav Amram Gaon is the introduction of the 5 knots.
In anycase, though we do try to follow the traditions of our fathers as much as possible, since tekhelet has been lost for 1300 years, no one has a family tradition and therefore the field is a bit more open than usual to choose form.
– Mois Navon.