- Rivka Olenick
- The following article provides some
interesting information from the Torah, regarding shatnes, as well as
some basic facts. Hopefully this will lessen some confusion about what
is/is not considered shatnes.
- Torah, in Leviticus 19:19, Jews are forbidden
to wear shatnes, defined as "a garment of two kinds of
stuff mingled together." In Deuteronomy 22:11, such cloth
is specifically defined as "wool and linen together."
Rabbinical authorities in the past have questioned what constitutes "wool"
or "linen." The Mishnah and Talmud clarify the
meanings. "Wool" is understood to mean the
shearings from sheep or lambs. "Linen" is made
from flax fiber.
- Maimonides explains that priests of religions
engaged in idol worship wore garments of linen-wool blends (shatnes).
Even in his time, Maimonides writes, the priests of Egypt wore what
the English today call "linsey-woolsey" a
hodgepodge of different materials," specifically linen and
wool. One must avoid garments similar to those worn in the practice of
false religion. In ancient times sorcerers, performing witchcraft and
communicating with demons, frequently wore garments made of wool and
linen. The Torah prohibits wearing shatnes so that we are not
associated at all with these evil practices." These
clothes worn at any other times or places would be considered profane.
He continues by saying Cain offered flax (linen) while Abel brought an
offering from his sheep - his "wooley"
sheep. Mixing these two materials, Maimonides says, would remind us of
the sin Cain committed and prevent us from having hate leave our
minds." Yet, the Kohein wore shatnes in the Bais
Hamikdash, Holy Temple only while performing the avodah, Divine
- In an interesting explanation by Rabbeinu
Bachya, says that: "Shatnes is related to Cain and Abel,
who represented human beings being the opposite extremes of good and
evil. Wool, which represents the sacrifice Abel brought, and linen
representing that, which the Medrash says Cain brought, cannot be
mingled, as it led to the destruction of both Cain and Abel. The
combination of wool and linen is symbolic of joining two opposing
forces in the world."
- Here are basic, practical shatnes facts to be
used as a guide, provided by The National Committee Of Shatnes Testers
and Researchers (1-800-SHATNES):
- Questions of any kind regarding shatnes can be
inquired about by phone. Only a certified shatnes laboratory can
answer these questions, check your garments and attach an authentic
label stating that the garment is "shatnes free."
- Any permanent attachment between wool and
linen in the same garment is prohibited, as the Torah states.
- All lined garments with any wool content
listed on the label should be checked. This applies to men's,
women's and children's clothing, and outerwear.
- Men's 100% wool pants, made in United
States do not need to be checked.
- Many garments made outside the United States
are often mislabeled or have handwritten labels. Regardless of what
they are made of, they should be asked about.
- Shatnes can be removed from any garment
provided it is not in the fabric itself.