Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Shaatnez Awareness

This week's parsha contains the Mitzva of Shaatnez. In short, a Jew may not wear clothing that contains a mixture of wool and linen. Even a single thread of linen in a wool suit or sweater will disqualify that garment. Wearing it constitutes a Torah transgression (DeOraita.)

Recently when buying a new suit, I looked for local Shaatnez testers. I found a very useful list here. However when looking at the (Israeli) list I was surprised that pretty much all the checkers are in Haredi communities. Here is a Mitzva Deoraita! Where are the Shaatnez checkers in Efrat, in Beit El, in Petach Tiqva and the like? Are people simply unaware of the mitzva?

Now admittedly checking for Shaatnez is a pain. who wants to rip apart a new garment? We want to wear a new piece of clothing. Who wants to send it away for yet a further 3-5 days to have it checked? And yet, this "pain" is part of what being frum means. I remember that once a bought a jacket. i wanted to wear it for a simcha and I said to myself that once or twice wouldn't hurt... after all what were the chances that it had Shaatnez? Sure enough, when I DID check it, they found Shaatnez in the small material that lined the inner seam of the breast pocket! So this is not a place to take risks!

Now admittedly, Haredim wear suits daily and the Rel-Zionist community barely wear suits. In addition, certain Israeli firms sell suits already Shaatnez checked. For example if you buy a "Bagir" suit, it will invariably have label affirming that it is free of Shaatnez. And yet, I still get a sense that there is great lack of awareness of this important Mitzva in our circles. People do buy wool suits, sweaters and trousers/skirts. Some of these should be checked. I wonder if Dati-Leumi schools have Shaatnez checkers come to the school to present their trade? Again, the lack of local Shaatnez labs in Dati-Leumi areas gives me a worrying feeling here.

Let me know if I am wrong.

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