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Can you wear new woollen clothing before checking for Shatnez?

Rabbanit Surale Rosen

Shevat 5779 | January 2019
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She'ela

If there is no Shatnez lab available in the area, can one wear new wool clothing once ‘on condition’ before testing?

Teshuva

Shatnez is the biblical prohibition (כלאים) of wearing garments that have wool and linen mixed together.

In case of a garment that we’re not sure about, we are instructed to check for Shatnez. However, if we are only wearing it to try and see whether it fits, prior to buying it or receiving it as a gift, the Poskim rule that it is not prohibited. Furthermore, if we already bought the woolen clothes, it is permissible to try them on at home as long as we bear in mind that the next step will be to send them in to be checked.

But when we come to think of it, if the Torah prohibited wearing Shatnez, then even wearing it for a split second would be a transgression?

The Tur (Yore D’eyah 301) explains that if כלאי הבגד  (a garment that has Shatnez) is worn not for the purpose of deriving pleasure from it but for another reason, then it’s permissible. He brings as an example the salesmen who wear their merchandise to the market for the purpose of selling it. Another example he brings is of one who tries on a garment to check whether it fits. In both cases, the clothing is not worn for the purpose of warming oneself or covering the body from the scorching sun. i.e – no immediate pleasure is derived from wearing the garment.

Shevet Halevi (Yoreh D’eyah 169) rules that since one needs to have כוונה , an intention, of wearing the Shatnez garment for the purpose of deriving pleasure, it is allowed to try things on just to check whether they fit. It is true that this may result in purchasing the clothes and enjoying them but at present the purpose is only to check things out.

I understand that you have already tried on your new wool clothes before buying them and now the question is whether you can wear them once before checking them for Shatnez. As we have seen, wearing the clothes is forbidden since the purpose has changed – they are not worn just to be tried on but to enjoy them as clothing. Therefore they have to be sent to the Shatnez lab before wearing them. תתחדשי!

Rabbanit Surale Rosen

a graduate of Matan’s 5 year Halakha program, is a certified To'enet Rabbanit and a graduate of Matan’s Advanced Talmud Institute. For the past 5 years she has headed Metivta – Matan’s Advanced Gemarah Program. She has taught Midrash, Talmud and Halakha and Daf Yomi in a wide array of shuls and communities, besides the Matan Beit Midrash, and written responses to halakhic questions through the Meshivat Nefesh online forum. Surale is also a graduate of Bar Ilan University and holds degrees in English Literature and Talmud. This past year she wrote the weekly Parashat HaShavua column for Chumash Shemot in the leading religious Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon and periodically writes Divrei Torah for weekly Torah publications. Surale Rosen is married to a community Rabbi and lives with her family in Jerusalem.