Mishnat Hashavua': Kilayim 9:8

Does it matter what’s in your clothes?

No clothing is forbidden as “kilayim” unless [the linen and wool threads] are spun or woven together. For the Torah says (Deut. 22:11), “You shall not wear shatnez": this means a substance which is shuah (combed), tavui (spun), or nuz (woven). Rabbi Shimon says [that the word shatnez means]: he is naloz, estranged, and he estranges his Father in heaven against him.

Comments:

Kilayim refers to forbidden mixtures. The Torah prohibits sowing different crops together; sewing wool and linen together; yoking different types of animals to a plough together; and breeding different species together. The synonym shatnez is obscure, making it ripe for wordplay. The Rabbis read it as an acronym, yielding a strict legal reading: any of the three weaving processes makes the cloth banned. Rabbi Shimon discerns a moral hint in the word shatnez, that ignoring the Torah’s dictate causes a rupture in the covenant between God and Israel.

Questions for discussion:

  1. Do some clothes have the power to estrange people from each other and from God?
  2. Should we care today where and how our clothes are made?
  3. What might be a modern form of shatnez?