Chief Rabbinate Seeking to Formulate Shatnez Regulations

4 Adar I 5774
February 4, 2014

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel Council convened this week to discuss a number of issues, including shatnez.

Presenting data to the council was Rabbi Yaakov Gurwitz, a former American and long-time resident of Israel who has earned a reputation around the world for his expertise on the topic of shatnez, standing at the head of the Mishmeres Natan Shatnez Lab.

Rabbi Gurwitz showed the rabbonim a number of examples, including a sweater containing shatnez sold in a prominent national chain. The sweater is made of wool and the label attached by the importer says it is made of linen. Another garment shown is also from a well-known clothing store in Israel, and it too contained shatnez. The label says it contains wool but it does not mention that it also contains linen. Yet other examples from the same chain showed two of the same wool garments, with the only difference between them being the size. Shatnez is created when the garment is made larger. The smaller version is shatnez free.

Rabbi Gurwitz explained the various failures that may occur regarding shatnez, placing an emphasis on garments displaying labels “shatnez free” that do not specify any agency accepting responsibility for the claim. In rare cases a garment may have a shatnez label attached from a recognized lab without permission to do so.

Rabbi Gurwitz explained the acceptable standard is that a label will display the primary component of a fabric, for example a shirt made of linen, which has embroidery made of wool. The standard does not compel listing wool, only the linen. He added that any component found in a garment in a quantity less than 5% is not mentioned on a label but the Halachic prohibition exists even in minute quantities.

The Chief Rabbinate Council understands that there is no supervision to regulate shatnez around the country and the council will look into the possibility of taking action to prevent people from unknowingly buying a shatnez garment. The council will look into cooperating with private agencies subject to the approval and direction of the attorney general. The council will inform the public that one should only rely on “no shatnez” claims made by competent agencies. The council will consult with the Standards Institute towards coordinating and cooperating on the matter.


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