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Removing shatnez in public

Question:

If I am wearing a shatnez pants in public do I have to take it off in front of everyone. If yes, isn’t it not zniyut to show my legs. There is a halacha not to uncover a person’s body in the Alter Rebbes Shulchan Aruch. What is there to do?

Thanks

 

Answer:

Thank you for your question.

The Rema (Yorah Deah 303-1) states, that this rule, that one who sees his friend with shatnez in the street that he should remove it from him even though it is in public does not apply if the person is wearing the garment containing shatnez mistakenly (i.e. the person doesn’t know that it contains shatnez). Additionally it will only apply in a case that the person  wearing shatnez on a biblical level, but not if the shatnez is only on a rabbinic level. The reason we won’t say anything (until the person is in a private place) is because the person will be embarrassed.

As a side point it is important for us to understand this halacha in the correct perspective. If you would see a fire on your friends clothing, (i.e. the back of the person’s shirt) and the only way to help him is by pulling the shirt off your friend’s back, what would be your obligation? Let him get burnt or cause him short term embarrassment, but save him from getting killed?

The mitzva of not wearing shatnez is a “chok”, a commandment that at this point in time we don’t know the reason. Hashem however does know the reason, and He said that it is worthwhile that the person get embarrassed, because it is saving him from a bigger problem, wearing shatnez, which will cause damage to his soul.  The same would apply to the tznius aspect of it. Of course we have to be tznius and a woman should not uncover her legs in public, however in this instance, when the fire is burning, we aren’t left with a choice. This is the idea that this halacha is teaching us. But to reiterate, it will only apply to shatnez on a biblical level, and not if the person is wearing it  mistakenly.

Best wishes

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