When is it Permissible to Wear Shatnez
Taste of Talmud
Rabbi Masna said in the name of Shmuel, “There is no prohibition of wearing shatnez (a mixture of wool and linen) while wearing T’cheiles (Tzitzis).” Then he added, “Even a Tallis that is exempt from the Mitzvah.” What is he referring to, how far reaching is this leniency and is there an explanation why this should be so? The Talmud (Menachos 40b) explains that this leniency would even apply if a person attached a second set of Tzitzis made of wool onto a linen garment that already had Tzitzis attached to them. Tosafos adds that this leniency also allows a person to don Tzitzis made of shatnez at a time when he is not fulfilling the Mitzvah of Tzitzis – at night. However, this does not allow one to put shatnez on a garment which is not obligated in Tzitzis due to its small size. Would this leniency apply to a borrowed garment? Since one is not obligated to place Tzitzis on a borrowed garment, the Halacha should be that it is prohibited to have shatnez in such a garment. Tosafos, however, makes a distinction: As long as the person who owns the garment is permitted to have shatnez in it, anyone borrowing it may wear it as well. This is different than a garment which is not a kosher garment for anyone. In conclusion, the laws of shatnez are waived with regard to a garment having Tzitzis as long as the garment has the required dimensions to be kosher for Tzitzis.
Taste of Talmud II
The Avnet (Belt) used by the Kohanim in the Bais Hamikdash was made of wool and linen. The Talmud in Tractate Arachin (3b) teaches that although the Kohanim are allowed to wear shatnez in their garments, they are still obligated to wear Tzitzis. Why would we have thought otherwise? The Talmud answers: The Torah only gave the obligation to wear Tzitzis to those who are obligated in shatnez; therefore, we could have thought that the Kohanim should be exempt because they, seemingly, are not obligated in shatnez. The Talmud must teach us, therefore, that the nature of their exemption is limited. They are actually obligated in the commandment of shatnez, and it is only the priestly garments that are exempt from the mitzvah of shatnez. If a Kohain would wear these garments outside of the Bais Hamikdash, would he be transgressing the prohibition of shatnez? Tosafos brings one opinion that says it is prohibited to wear these garments outside of the Bais Hamikdash as the restriction of shatnez would then apply. According to Rabbeinu Tam, a Kohain wearing these garments outside of the Bais HaMikdash is also exempt from shatnez.
Taste of Parasha and Halacha
In the liturgy of the Yom Kippur service, we say that the Kohain Gadol wore a kesones (white tunic) made of shatnez. This seems to be contrary to what we are taught in this week’s Parasha. In this week’s Parasha, the pasuk states that the kesones was made of pure linen. The Chasam Sofer (Rabbi Moshe Sofer) answers this question based on an interesting Halachic principle. The Shulchan Aruch (YOD: 300:4) writes that it is permissible to wear an outer garment of wool over an undergarment of linen or visa versa. The Rama comments on this: There are those who prohibit wearing socks of two different materials on one’s foot because it is impossible to remove one without the other so they are considered to be attached. The Shach corroborates this opinion based on the Jerusalem Talmud. The Kohain Gadol wore his white tunic made of pure white linen under a blue coat with bells and pomegranates on its bottom which is called the “Meil.” In order for him to remove the garment of linen, it would have been necessary for him to first remove the outer blue Meil made of wool. Based on the Rama, the Kohain Gadol was indeed wearing a kesones that would otherwise have been prohibited due to the prohibition of shatnez! My question is: How was Mordechai allowed to wear the garments of Achashvairosh without first checking them for shatnez?