Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ask the Rabbi: Jews and Shoes

I was recently asked about an obscure custom of throwing away the shoes of the deceased, rather than donating them to charity. Suffice to say that it is a superstition that in fact flies against at least two prime Jewish values, that of not wasting precious resources (Bal Tashchit) and that of helping to clothe the naked and help the poor. By all means, give those shoes away!

For detailed background on this matter, including a historical survey as to how the wives tale developed, see this responsum by Rabbi David Golinkin, "The Custom of Discarding the Shoes of the Deceased."

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