05 June 2006

Walking Humbly With Your God, Part 2: Footgear

With the onset of summer and the warm weather, one easily recognizes the increase in sandal-wearing, especially if one is wearing them, oneself. I thought of the verse I mentioned last week (in part 1) about walking humbly with God, focusing on the walking aspect. While the verse was not referring to one's footgear, I am choosing to type about it, perhaps, you could say, from a hermeneutic perspective (that is, how am I approaching the text from a perspective of what can I take out of it in practical terms?).
When the idea for this posting came up on my mind I thought it was obvious (at leas
t to me) that wearing sandals was a more humble choice of footwear as it is less assuming than closed-toe shoes. For the record, I still think that is so, at least from a personal experiential perspective. However, I realized that some might look at the verse another way and say that the verse is talking about walking in a concealed way - thus one could point to wearing closed-toe shoes due to this. I thought that would be nice, but that's soooo not the meaning of the verse (you would never find the sages of the Talmud saying this - they wore sandals (at least the tannaim did)).
Another thing one may say is weighing up the value of honor - I suppose personal honor or otherwise. This brings us to the question of the nature of clothing and fashion - both are
societally-dependant: the Torah even points this out (Gen. 3.7 (It was fine to God that the first humans were naked, but they, themselves, realized that it was uncouth to be naked. Ever since those first fig leaves (I'm not going to bother with the issue about Adam & Eve being myth, parable, or whatever.), humans have been designing their clothing, according to their societal norms or to push those societal boundaries since then.)). So, if one wants to demonstrate the honor they deserve coming to them or not, that's one thing, or if they want to be humble, that's another. However, of course, there are times when people do cross bounds with sandals (and for which, they may get a negative reaction (like Cam suggesting that Jay shouldn't be wearing sandals with jeans at being 42 and at his stature (I thought of linking this somewhere (and trust me, there are plenty of links), but thought against it))). This may not be dissimilar from a congregational rabbi sporting some mishnaic footwear and not being en vogue, so to speak.
Anyways, just "kicking" some thoughts around (ooooh, I know that's a horrible pun).
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jdub said...

my rebbe in yeshiva wouldn't let us wear sandals without socks in the beit midrash, telling us that "Hakadosh baruch hu doesn't want to see your ugly feet."

I had a witty retort that usually got me smacked on the back of my head. Which I richly deserved.

Drew_Kaplan said...

The thing is, as I mentioned, clothing and dress change with regards to one's social setting (and within that, one's socioeconomic standing), so although, for instance sandals may be worn by certain people in certain places nowadays (as well as in the time of Hazal), some places and some yeshivos will not have certain items of clothing to be worn there, for whichever reasons.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see some evidence that tannaim wore sandals. It seems evident from the Talmudic description of a chalitzah shoe that this is not the case.

Drew_Kaplan said...

Although I am interested in where this description of the halizah shoe is, there are numerous references to sandals, even just in the Mishnah and Tosefta. Firstly, there is Rabbi Yohanan the sandler who speaks four times in the Mishnah (Yevamos 12.5, Kesuvos 5.4, Avos 4.11, and Kelim 5.5) and four more times in the Tosefta (Shabbas 2.15 & 12.13 and Bava Kamma 4.2 & 4.5). As to sandals themselves, a look at the Mishnah will reveal that they were discussed in Shabbas 6.2, Shabbas 15.2, Shekalim 3.2, Yoma 8.1, Bezah 1.10, Ta'anis 1.4-6, and Megillah 4.8 - and that's just seder Mo'ed! There are more throughout Shas in the Mishnah, of course the Tosefta, and you better believe there's plenty in both Talmuds (and midrashim, I'm sure there are more, as well). If you're looking for archaelogical evidence, I unfortunately don't have that on me (but, who knows, there may be an article on it somewhere).

Anonymous said...

"hasandler" = "the shoemaker"