Friday, December 16, 2016

Wearing White for Shabbat

It is a well-known custom that Jews wear white on Yom Kippur in order to reflect the purity of angels on that holy day. It is a lesser known custom that Jews wear white at the Passover seder (among Ashkenazim, it is often only the head of the household who does so).  It is a far less known custom for Jews to wear white to honor Shabbat.

The custom of wearing white is kabbalistic in origin. It was a teaching of Rabbi Isaac Luria (The Arizal, 1534-1572), who taught that the color that a person wore on Shabbat would be the color that person wore in the World to Come. The Arizal also specifies that at least four of the regular garments of Shabbat (based on 16th century clothing) should be white. The Arizal strongly suggested that one should not wear black, a color associated with exile and mourning, on Shabbat.

Dressing in white on Shabbat, never seems to have gained universal acceptance. The custom was, however, popular among many Sephardic and Chassidic communities, and some still maintain this custom today. There are many individuals who have made it their own custom to wear at least one prominent white garment on Shabbat. As for black garments, over time the color has lost its negative implications, and many Torah scholars of the modern age specifically wear black suits. Others, keeping in mind the kabbalistic implications taught by the Arizal, make it a point to wear dark blue or dark grey suits instead of black.

Copyright © 2016 NJOP. All rights reserved.
Bibliography

No comments: