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Shatnez Testers of America

SHATNEZ = WOOL + LINEN



This web page is a resource to learn about the

  • Torah prohibition of shatnez
  • Alerts on clothing known to contain shatnez
  • Answer questions about shatnez testing

What is Shatnez
The Torah forbids us to cover ourselves with any type of garment or fabric that contains both wool and linen. This would include a fabric, which is woven with both wool and linen or a garment, which is made of different materials and contain in them wool and linen that are permanently connected, (i.e. sewn or pasted). We are forbidden to wear such a mixture. 

When we speak of wool, we are only referring to wool obtained from sheep or lambs. Other materials, such as camel's hair, mohair, angora, cashmere or alpaca wool, present no shatnez problems. Similarly, linen refers only to fibers derived from the flax plant, whereas other bast fibers, such as ramie, hemp or jute, may be combined with wool.

The Torah teaches us about the Mitzvah (commandment) of shatnez in two pusukim (verses) in the torah.

"Do not wear Shatnez - wool and linen together" (Deut. 22:11)

"A Shatnez garment should not cover you"   (Lev. 19:19)

These two verses prohibit a Jew from wearing and garment which contains shatnez or covering oneself with such a garment.

Shatnez is an acronym described by the sages for combed, spun and woven. This means that if any of these processes done with wool and linen together the garment would be prohibited according to the Torah. In addition the Sages decreed that any lasting combination of wool and linen be considered Shatnez.

Where do we find Shatnez
Men’s Suit’s:  Most Shatnez that we find today is located in the collar area of men’s suits especially in the more expensive suits. Most suits today are made of wool or wool blends. To retain the shape of the collar area, a canvas stiffener is generally sewn into the collar and linen is the fabric considered by the clothing industry as being the best material for this purpose. The more expensive the suit, the greater the likelihood that linen is used. With this information, it is obvious that all men’s jackets arid coats should be tested. If  linen is found in a collar canvas, it is easy to remove and replace it with a non- linen canvas

Women’s Clothing First read the label that tells you the fabric content to see if the garment contains wool and linen. If there is no label attached, you may suspect that it was deliberately removed. Ladies jackets and coats should be tested because there are several parts of a jacket that may contain linen including the collar. Behind the lining of a jacket or a blazer, there may be linen in a seam binding, a front canvas, a sleeve head, or in the fabric itself. There may be Shatnez in any part of an appliqué or design that is fastened to the face of the garment and is of course, not mentioned in the content label. 

Reason for Not Wearing Shatnez

The torah does not explain the reason for Shatnez and it is categorized as a Chok. We are obligated to keep every Mitzvah whether or not we know the reason. 

Nevertheless, different reasons have been suggested. 

Rabbi Aaron Halevi of Barcelona wrote in his book "Sefer HaChinuch - The Book of Mitzvah Education" the reason why it is forbidden to mix wool and linen together is because it destroys the spiritual fabric of the universe. This can be explained as follows: Each and every thing on earth, except for man, has its own spiritual force that influences it. When some of these earthly items are mixed together, they cause their spiritual counterparts to become entangled. Once entangled, they cannot perform their tasks as originally designed, thusly destroying the spiritual fabric of the universe. However, after the explanation, the author tacked on "We still need a Mystic to explain this." (Sefer HaChinuch - The Book of Mitzvah Education #62)

Another explanation, from the Talmud suggests that the reason stems from the fact that when Kain and Abel brought offerings to G-d, one of them brought flax (the plant that linen is made from) and the other brought a sheep (where we get wool from). For some reason, this mixture ended up being lethal and Abel lost his life. (See Genesis 4:1-17 and the Midrash - Genesis Rabbah).

Additional Information
This is a introduction of mitzvah of Shatnez. For additional information please see the resources page.

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