Can one wear the shoes of a deceased person?

Answer:

Shoes worn by the deceased at the time of death should not be worn. With regards to his other shoes, there are varying customs, many are lenient to permit the wearing of these shoes.

Sources:

The source for this practice is the “Tzavas Rav Yehuda Hachasid” the famous will left by one of the Rishonim, in chapter 454. There are a wide range of opinions as to whether the “tzavah” is binding on all Jews or perhaps only the descendants of the author. Some of the practices therein have become widely accepted, not wearing a deceased person’s shoes seems to be one of them.

See Shevet Halevi 4:152 who is lenient with regards to shoes not worn at the time of petirah. Being that the wording of the tzavah is unclear in this regard, one may be lenient. Since the tzavah is not based on Talmudic law but in many instances in kabalistic practice, we may accept the minimalistic approach to any prohibition which is derived from his words. This is also the opinion of Rav Ovadia Yosef in Tshuvot Yabia Omer Y:D 3:5, that one may be lenient with other shoes.

Igros Moshe Y:D 3:133 brings an opinion that in fact the prohibition refers to “shoes made from the leather of an animal that died” and not the person wearing the shoes. According to this understanding the concern is that the animal died from poisoning and that poison may be present in the shoes and endanger the next wearer of the shoes. Rav Moshe himself extends this to even a person who died of unknown cause. Because of the possibility that he died from contagious disease, one should be careful not to wear his shoes. He is lenient then, for one who died of other known causes.

Sefer Kores Habris [chater 51] presents a novel approach to this prohibition. The Gemara in Brachos 57b tells us that one who sees a deceased person in a dream taking his shoes has negative implications. By wearing the deceased’s shoes it may cause such a dream.

See also Gesher Hachaim pg. 92 who brings the lenient opinion of Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank in this regard.

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