Leather shoes on Yom Kippur

Leather shoes:[1]

A. The general Law:[2]

It is forbidden to wear leather shoes on Yom Kippur. This includes all footwear which contains leather, even if the shoe is mainly of a different material, [such as if it has leather soles[3]].[4] It is forbidden to wear it even on one foot.[5]

Shoes made of other materials: Footwear made of other material, is permitted.[6] However, it is best to be stringent and not wear shoes made of wood.[7] [Likewise, some Poskim[8] rule one is not to wear comfortable sneakers/shoes that prevent the feet from feeling the hardness of the ground, even if they are not made of leather. Other Poskim[9] however rule it is permitted to wear any shoe that does not contain leather, and so is the Chabad custom.[10]]

Children: One may not place leather shoes on a child, even if the child is below the age of education.[11] However, some Poskim[12] are lenient to allow all children below Bar and Bas Mitzvah to wear leather shoes. [The custom is like the former opinion.[13] However, some[14] write that children of a very young age, such as 2-3 years old, may be lenient.]

Standing on top of leather cloth:[15] Although there is no prohibition against standing on a cloth made of leather, nevertheless, one who is stringent is blessed.

Q&A

May one wear regular weekday shoes that do not contain leather?[16]

Some rule one may not wear any shoe that is normally worn during the week, even if it does not contain leather. However, one may wear sport shoes that are not worn on a constant basis. Likewise, slippers and sandals may be worn if they do not contain leather.

 

May one wear shoes that have only leather straps?

Some Poskim[17] rule it is forbidden to wear it. However other Poskim[18] rule it is permitted.

May one enter leather covered metal foot supporters into his shoe?

Some Poskim[19] rule it is permitted to do so if one has great pain walking without them.

What is one to do if he is in doubt as to whether his shoes are leather?

This matter requires further analysis.

 

B. Cases of exception:[20]

Woman who is within 30 days after birth:[21] A woman who is within thirty days of giving birth may wear leather shoes.[22] [This however only applied back then when only leather shoes were able to provide warmth, however today that there are many shoes of other material in most of the modern world, it is forbidden to wear leather shoes on Yom Kippur even in such a case.[23]]

A sick person:[24] A sick person is allowed to wear leather shoes being they are sensitive to the cold. [However, he is to place earth into the shoes upon wearing it.[25] This entire law however only applied back then when only leather shoes were able to provide warmth, however today that there are many shoes of other material in most of the modern world, it is forbidden to wear leather shoes if other warm shoes are available.[26]]

One who has a foot injury:[27] One who has a foot injury is allowed to wear leather shoes if needed. [However, they are to place earth into the shoes upon wearing it.[28] This entire law however only applied back then when only leather shoes were able to provide comfort, however today that there are many shoes of other material in most of the modern world, it is forbidden to wear leather shoes if other comfortable shoes are available.[29]]

Raining and muddy:[30] If it is raining, a pampered person who is very sensitive to getting his feet wet may wear leather shoes while outside in the rain. However, a non-pampered person who does not mind getting his feet wet, may not wear leather shoes. However, if it is also muddy outside, then all people may wear leather shoes being that everyone is considered sensitive to mud.[31] [This however only applied back then when only leather shoes were able to provide protection, however today that there are many shoes of other material in most of the modern world, it is forbidden to wear leather shoes on Yom Kippur even in such a case.[32]]

Protect from getting bitten:[33] Any person may wear leather shoes in an area that scorpions are found [in order to protect him from being bitten by scorpions and the like]. [However, they are to place earth into the shoes upon wearing it.[34] This entire law however only applied back then when only leather shoes were able to provide protection, however today that there are many shoes of other material in most of the modern world, it is forbidden to wear leather shoes if other protective shoes are available.[35]]

A traveler and one who is walking through a non-Jewish neighborhood:[36] There is no allowance for one who is traveling, or walking through a gentile area, to wear leather shoes in order to avoid being scoffed at.[37]

To switch the right and left shoe:[38] In all the above cases that it is permitted to wear leather shoes, it is best to switch the right and left shoe [in order to diminish in some level of discomfort.].

Not to be in Shul with leather shoes:[39] In all the above cases that it is permitted to wear leather shoes, one may not wear them in Shul. Likewise, he may not leave them around the Shul in a revealed area, being that they are dirty, and it is disrespectful to have them around the Shul on this holy day.

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[1] Admur 614/2; Michaber 554/1; 554/16 regarding Tishe Beav; Michaber Y.D. 382/1-5 regarding Aveilus

[2] Admur 614/2

[3] M”B 554/31; 614/5

[4] Mateh Efraim 614/2; However, see Kaf Hachaim 614/10; See Michaber Y.D. 382/1-5 regarding Aveilus

[5] Admur 614/2

[6] Admur 614/3; Michaber 554/19 and Y.D.  382/1 based on Ramban; Sefer Haminhagim p. 96; See M”B 614/5; Shaareiy Teshuvah 614; Darkei Chaim Veshalom 673

The reason: As other materials are soft, still allowing ones feet to feel the ground. Hence it is still considered like one is oppressing himself when wearing them. In addition, the prohibition only applies to wearing a “Minaal” and a Minaal refers to leather shoe, while shoes of other material are called a “Malbush”. [Admur ibid]

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it is forbidden to wear any shoes of even non-leather materials, and one must rather walk barefoot. [Bach 552 regarding Tisha B’av and 614 regarding Yom Kippur based on Tosefta and Geonim]

[7] Admur 614/2; Seemingly the reason for this is because one’s foot does not feel the discomfort of the ground, as explained is one of the reasons for why leather is prohibited.

[8] Panim Meiros 2/28; Shaareiy Teshuvah 554/11; Birkeiy Yosef 554/8; Glosses of Chasam Sofer 554; Kaf Hachaim 554/70; M”B 614/5 regarding Yom Kippur

[9] See M”B ibid that so rules Shulchan Aruch and many Achronim; Aruch Hashulchan 382/1 that today the custom is to walk with shoes made of rubber

[10] Sefer Haminhagim ibid

Opinion of Admur: Admur ibid regarding Yom Kippur mentions two reasons behind why leather shoes are not worn, and other shoes are allowed, and according to the first reason, if the shoes protect the foot similar to leather then it should be equally forbidden.

[11] Admur 616/2 regarding Yom Kippur; Nitei Gavriel 74/3 and Piskeiy Teshuvos 554/14 that the same applies for Tisha B’av, based on M”A 551/38; Shaar Hatziyon 551/91

The reason: Being that for a child there is no oppression involved in the child not wearing leather shoes Thus there it is forbidden for an adult to place it on him, just like its forbidden for an adult to feed a child non kosher food irrelevant of the child’s age. [Admur ibid]

[12] Chochmas Adam 152/17; Zera Emes 3/616

[13] Piskeiy Teshuvos 554/15

[14] Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

[15] Admur 614/4; Rama 614/2

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule there is no prohibition involved at all to stand on leather material, and no blessing is offered for one who is stringent. Radbaz brought in M”A; Peri Chadash 614]

[16] Piskeiy Teshuvos 614/4

[17] Maharam Shick 316; Mateh Efraim 614/2; Divrei Shem Chadash p. 36

[18] Maharikash in Erech Lechem 614; Peri Chadash 614; Peri Hadama 1/43; Zechor Leavraham 9; Moed Lekol Chaiy 10/40; Birkeiy Yosef 614; Yifei Laleiv 2/6; Kaf Hachaim 554/75; 614/10; Gesher Hachaim 21/4-1; Pnei Baruch 15/1

[19] Chelkas Yaakov 2/83; Piskeiy Teshuvos 614/3

[20] Do these exceptions still apply today even though that there now exists alternatives to leather shoes which can do the same job as shoes of leather, or do we say once the sages made exceptions they are binding even if the reasons are no longer so applicable?

[21] Admur 614/5; Michaber 382/2 regarding an Avel

[22] The reason: As they are very sensitive to cold and leather shoes keep them warm. [ibid]

[23] Piskeiy Teshuvos 614/5; Nishmas Avraham 614/1; Nitei Gavriel 104/4 based on Mateh Efraim 614/3; Pnei Baruch 15 footnote 8; Rav Cohen

[24] Admur 614/5; Shach 382/1 regarding Aveilus

[25] Taz 382/1 based on Mordechai

[26] Piskeiy Teshuvos 614/5; Nishmas Avraham 614/1; Nitei Gavriel 104/4 based on Mateh Efraim 614/3; Rav Cohen

[27] Admur 614/5; Shach 382/1 regarding Aveilus

[28] Taz 382/1 based on Mordechai

[29] Piskeiy Teshuvos 614/5; Nishmas Avraham 614/1; Nitei Gavriel 104/4 based on Mateh Efraim 614/3; Pnei Baruch 15 footnote 8;  Rav Cohen

[30] Admur 614/6

[31] Nevertheless, there are opinions who rule that even by mud, only one who knows himself to be sensitive may be lenient. Practically, the custom is like the former opinion. [ibid]   

[32] Piskeiy Teshuvos 614/5; Nishmas Avraham 614/1; Rav Cohen

[33] Admur 614/7 regarding Yom Kippur; Michaber 382/3 regarding Aveilus

[34] Taz 382/1 based on Mordechai

[35] Piskeiy Teshuvos 614/5; Nishmas Avraham 614/1; Nitei Gavriel 104/4 based on Mateh Efraim 614/3; Pnei Baruch 15 footnote 8; Rav Cohen

[36] 614/9-10

[37] The reason: Although regarding Tishe Beav we are lenient to allow a traveler, or one who is walking through a non-Jewish neighborhood, to wear leather shoes, nevertheless regarding Yom Kippur, being that wearing leather shoes is a Biblical prohibition, it is forbidden for one to wear them. [ibid]

[38] Admur 614/11

[39] Admur 614/8

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