Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Gloves on Shabbos

As the winter approaches, it is worth reviewing the little-known rules about wearing gloves on Shabbos. The Shibbolei Ha-Leket (107) writes that it is best not to wear gloves because it is very common for someone, while walking in public, to automatically remove a glove in order to scratch or otherwise use one's hand. At that moment, one would be carrying that glove in public, a biblical prohibition. This concern is very real; I see it happen on Shabbos not infrequently. (Of course, this entire issue does not apply in places where there is an eruv.) However, the Shibbolei Ha-Leket states that if one sews or ties the gloves to the coat then one may wear them on Shabbos.

The Shulhan Arukh (301:37) rules according to this Shibbolei Ha-Leket, although many question why sewing to tying the gloves accomplishes anything (cf. e.g. Bi'ur Ha-Gra). The Eshel Avraham (Butchatcher; ad loc.) says that this must be referring to a permant or long-term sewing/tying in which the gloves become a part of the coat. Otherwise, one would still be carrying.

Note that this is not technically a gezeirah and, therefore, exceptions can be made. Based on my experience, though, this is a very reasonable ruling because this is a very common occurence. I know that I frequently do this when I wear gloves during the week, and I have seen people who wear gloves on Shabbos do this. However, because it is not a gezeirah, there is room to say that when this concern does not apply, such as when it is freezing and one would not expose one's hands to such cold, then one may wear gloves. This is, indeed, how the Arukh Ha-Shulhan (ad loc. 105) and others (cf. Piskei Teshuvos, ad loc. 18) rule.

The Bah and Magen Avraham (50) state that people are lenient because there is no reshus ha-rabbim nowadays, but that it is proper to be strict. However, in areas where the accepted pesak is that there is a reshus ha-rabbim nowadays (e.g. Flatbush), this leniency does not apply.

Bottom line, as my former rav said to me: Bnei Torah don't wear gloves (unless they are permanently sewn onto the coat).

So how do you keep your hands warm? Pockets.

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