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Shatnez-Free Clothing

Shatnez-Free Clothing



You’ve heard of kosher food, but what about kosher clothes? Just like it is forbidden to eat a mixture of milk and meat, so too the Torah prohibits wearing a mixture of wool and linen. It’s called shatnez.

Why the Torah prohibits this mixture remains a mystery. Some write that the combination of these two materials confuses vital energies. Nevertheless, the matter still lies beyond our comprehension.

Suspect Materials

Based on manufacturing norms, most clothing can be presumed shatnez-freeAny cloth that might cover a person—including blankets, and even shag rugs—must be shatnez-free. Problem is that “100% wool” garments may still contain up to 5% of other materials. Also, labels often only describe the shell of the garment, ignoring padding and ornamental threads.

Nevertheless, based on manufacturing norms, most clothing can be presumed shatnez-free. Principally, you need to check your suits, skirts, woolen coats and imported pants. Call a shatnez laboratory to find out whether a particular garment requires shatnez testing.

Clearing Up Suspicion

A shatnez lab is where trained testers take appropriate samples from a garment (without ruining the garment) and examine them under a microscope to identify the fibers. Most major Jewish communities will have such a lab. They also will receive and return garments by mail. Your rabbi can direct you to the closest laboratory.

In most cases, a garment that contains shatnez can be fixed in the laboratory for a minimal cost. It’s a minor tailoring job. There is the rare case, however, when the operation just can’t be done. So hold on to your sales receipt!

More Details:

  • The rules of shatnez also apply to borrowed or rented garments, such as a tuxedo.
  • Simultaneously wearing one piece of linen clothing and another of wool is permitted—as long as the two are not connected, so that one can be removed without removing the other. (Otherwise, they are considered one garment.)
  • It’s wearing that’s forbidden; owning shatnez is okay.
  • No need to worry about camel wool, mohair, angora, cashmere, alpaca or vicuna. For the purposes of shatnez, “wool” refers only to wool from sheep or lambs.
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Eliezer Zalmanov for December 14, 2016

If it isn't in the same garment, and the two are not connected in any way, it shouldn't be a problem. Reply

Malki raskin Israel December 9, 2016

Is it a problem to wear a linen baby carrier and the parents or the baby wearing a wool shirt? Reply

Sam the suit guy. Thornhill ON October 6, 2016

Testing for Shatnez You cannot rely on commercial content labels to decide if you need Shatnez Testing or not.
US government allows 2% leeway in describing the contents. That means you could have a discrepancy of 2% and not disclose it to the consumer. So the possibility of linen being mixed with the wool exists in theory.
The label may not state the composition of the material used in the elbow patches on suits for example. So please do not let the label be your guide.
However, as a manufacturer and retailer of pre certified Shatnez free suits and menswear, I know for a fact that it is usually not the outer fabric or the lining that is the problem, rather, it is the canvas and padding at shoulder and tapes etc which are used inside the suit and suit collar which have the maximum probability of Shatnez. In fact most of the time it's the internal materials that are unacceptable. These are not recorded on the label.
Remember, it doesn't matter what the quantity of linen is, any amount makes it unacceptable Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for September 29, 2016

Re: non wool suit If the suit is listed as being made of 100% materials other than wool or linen, then it does not need to be checked. The chances of there being a mixture of both in that garment are basically nil. Reply

Anonymous woodmere September 29, 2016

non wool suit still have to check Reply

Gershon New York September 25, 2016

Beyond our comprehension I was surprised in reading the comments the reason that most sages point out. Although this is a Chok, no reason given for it, we obey it to follow Torah law and do the Will of HaShem. The first murder after the creation of the world was when Cain killed Havel (Abel) because Cain was jealous and angry since Abel's sacrifice was accepted by HaShem and his was not. Abel brought his best sheep, wool and Cain brought his most inferior crop, flax seed from what linen is made from.

It's interesting to note it is not shatnez if the wool comes from animals other than sheep and lambs. Reply

Yochi Yafo Western Europe September 16, 2016

"The why remains a mystery" To me as a sheepfarmer, the "why" is not a mystery. Wool is a valuable resource. It takes a lot of time, passion and effort to produce wool. The same is true with linen. If both are mixed, both materials lose their specific value. Wool for example has the ability to keep warm even if the wool is wet, but wool is heavy. Linen on the other hand is lightweight and protects from heat and to much sun. Therefore to mix both fabrics is a disregarding the uniqueness of each fabric and also a disregard of the work and effort someone put in the production of the raw materials, in my eyes. Reply

Anonymous September 30, 2014

The proscription doesn't apply generally to things used in temple service. Jews are specifically urged to look at their dinner tables in the same way as they might regard an altar, for instance.

The temple included a forecourt, various places of assembly for all people and for Jews,specifically, etc. You would not forbid the use of everything that concerned temple worship.

The proscription concerned only the Holy of Holies, the holiest and most reserved part of the temple. Linen and wool curtains were specified for that area. Reply

bo warsaw September 30, 2014

old tradition good forever Ancient neurology is so mysterious :)

Generally we should not mix protein with polysaccharides in our life ;) Reply

christine australia September 4, 2014

Wouldn't the reason for this be to show us not to clothe ourselves with two kinds of teaching? World 'wisdom' and G-d wisdom? Also, as someone mentioned that it is "prescribed for the temple of the Holy of Holies..." that indicates to me that only those who are Absolutely Pure and unsullied by the world and it's ways may enter into G-d's Presence. Reply

alice jena richmond hill September 4, 2014

wool and linen once again, becoming a Vegan (which includes no use of wool, animal skins or fur, and leather)plus only eating Vegetables and fruits, and grains; can make life very easy! Reply

Anonymous Toronto, ON July 9, 2014

Pre-Certified Shatnetz free suits There is a store in Toronto that sells Pre-Certified Shatnetz free men's wear. Reply

Jerry Schwartz USA April 21, 2014

If everything prescribed for use in the Temple were forbidden for other uses, then a lot of things would be off limits: oil, for example.

As for things that are unclean, yet are not proscribed, there are many examples in the Tanach: asses, horses, and camels used for beasts of burden; and the term often translated variously as dolphin, badger, seal (and sometimes goat, probably to salve the sensitivities who don't like the idea) used as a covering for the Tent. Reply

Andy B April 18, 2014

Denim Denim is cotton, so shatnez isn't an issue. Reply

Samantha Leon February 28, 2014

So all those fabrics are okay? Also is denim shatnez-full or shatnez-free? Reply Staff via February 13, 2014

To Samantha The laws of shatnez apply only to linen and wool. Reply

Samantha Leon February 10, 2014

what about acrylic, polyester, nylon, and cotton? Reply

Barry Israel December 4, 2012

snail unclean and blue dye clean. To: How can something unclean create something clean? Bees do- honey is a permitted food. Reply

Jerry Schwartz New Britain, CT August 29, 2012

Secularly speaking... Check out linsey-woolsey. It was used for quite a long time.

There is also a prohibition (Deuteronomy 22:9) against sowing two types of seed in the same vineyard, but that's how you get new varieties of grapes.

Somewhere, I can't remember where, there is a prohibition against mutilating animals; yet the word "ox" is used repeatedly. You can't get an ox without mutilating a bull.

A lot of this is confusing. If it weren't, we would have finished our Torah studies 2500 years ago. Reply

Jan Washington , ME August 29, 2012

secularly speaking... I was raised with the explanation that Kosher meant clean. Plain and simply, so that we might live long (and not be affected by parasite and diseases of scavengers and bottom feeders, and dishes which were unglazed and porous). I realize many sects attach mystical significance to these laws, and I am not saying there is no truth in that as well. The textile mixing has always mystified me, but I suspect, from the practical, worldly perspective, that combining of linen and wool had some undesirable effect on the garment, or the wearer. Reply

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