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Can I wear pigskin shoes?

Can I wear pigskin shoes?

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Question:

It says in the Torah that one should not touch the carcasses of swine. Does this mean that we should not wear Hush Puppy shoes (made of pigskin) or play football or rugby with a ball made of pig skin?

Answer:

In short, there is no prohibition against using or touching such items. Here's the longer version of the answer:

I am assuming that you are taking the prohibition against "touching" a pig – or any non-kosher animal for that matter – from Leviticus 11:8, where it states: "You shall not eat of their flesh, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you." Understanding this verse in its most literal sense leads one to the conclusion that it is forbidden to touch any part of a non-kosher animal's carcass.

Rashi, the classic commentator to the Scriptures, foresaw this misunderstanding. He explains that this verse is referring only to the three pilgrimage festivals – Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot – when all Jews were required to maintain a state of ritual purity in order to be allowed entry into the Holy Temple and be present when their festive sacrifices were offered.1 During the rest of the year, there is no prohibition against coming in contact with animal carcasses.

Now, the above is true regarding the flesh of the animal. Animal hide, however, does not carry impurities, especially when it is tanned.

So, when the Temple is rebuilt, I guess we might find some people ascending on their pilgrimage to the Temple wearing their Hush Puppies—though all shoes are forbidden on the actual Temple Mount. And I should also mention that according to the Midrash, pig will be a kosher animal when Moshiach comes. But that's a discussion all for itself...

I hope this helps,

Rabbi Shmuel Kogan,
Chabad.org

FOOTNOTES
1.

Rashi's interpretation (taken from Talmudic sources) is based on the fact that even contact with a human corpse, which emits a more severe form of ritual impurity, is only forbidden for Kohanim (priestly descendant of Aaron). Click here to see Rashi's comments to this verse.

Rabbi Shmuel Kogan of Brooklyn, NY, is a responder for Chabad.org's Ask the Rabbi feature.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
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Discussion (4)
March 29, 2013
"Foresaw"? " "Misunderstanding"?
"Rashi, the classic commentator to the Scriptures, foresaw this misunderstanding." What misunderstanding, and in what way did Rashi "foresee" it? There are two absolute proscriptions in one sentence: don't eat, don't touch. Where is there anything to misunderstand? How does anyone infer that the second of these applies to only three weeks of the year--while maintaining that the first applies all year long exactly as stated?
Jason Jehosephat
Port Chester
June 30, 2008
Pig in the Days of Moshiach
Our sages teach us that the pig will be kosher when in the days of Moshiach.

How does this fact jive with the the eternality of the Torah?

The Ohr Hachaim explains that the prohibition only applies to a pig that does not chew its cud. However a pig that chews its cud is not prohibited. When Moshiach will come, the nature of pigs will change, and they will begin to chew their cud; thereby becoming kosher animals.

On the other hand, the Ridbaz, Rabbeinu Bachya and the Ritva all disagree and interpret the statement on an allegorical level.
Menachem Posner for Chabad.org
June 24, 2008
Please give more information on how a pig will become Kosher during Moshiach's reign?
GuardianSensor
Erie, PA
May 29, 2008
Thank you very much for answering this question; i'd been wondering about this because most of the gloves provided by my boss which are needed for work are pigskin, I believe. I was wondering though, any other time of the year someone would have to avoid any dead unclean animals to enter the temple also, right?
Erich Helfrich
ROund Rock, TX
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