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Thought for the Day: Garments and Adornments for Carrying Keys

R' Moshe, ztz"l, at one Aguda dinner picked up a carton of milk, set it down, and picked up the competitors's carton.  A buzz went out that R' Moshe did not hold of the kashrus of the first company.  Actually, though, the first carton had simply been empty.  The Ohr HaYom once broke his leg and during one of the follow up visits was asked how he had broken his leg by a goy sitting with him in the waiting room.  The Ohr HaYom came up with a very clever (and funny... he told me privately later) answer, but decided to play things straight because he was wearing a yarmulke.  I have learned from events such as these that people do watch and one must be mindful of the public eye.

Accordingly...

For a few months, I wore suspenders on Shabbos in Dallas.  It was not quite the fashion faux pas you think.  Well, ok... it was certainly a fashion faux pas (especially since they were quite colorfully striped), but that's not why I wore them.  I needed to get my house key back and forth to shul without the aid of an eiruv or shabbos goy.  (Yes, smart guy, but that time I could no longer be my own Shabbos goy.  Besides, you know my personality, I wouldn't have relied on it anyway.)  First, some background.

The Shulchan Aruch (OC 301) relates that (in broad strokes) you can wear stuff outside and you can adorn yourself with stuff.  "Wearing" means that it provides some protection for your body.  That last bit -- "protection for your body" -- means to exclude things that are there to protect your clothing.  A rain jacket obviously helps to keep you dry and comfy, similarly for galoshes and Neos.  The discussion about hat covers revolves around that point; are you really keeping your head dry and comfy or just protecting your expensive hat?  In any case, once you are wearing something, you may wear it regardless of the weather conditions.  Attached belts and hoods are also pretty much ok, but yeish machmirim; CYLOR.

Adornments are a bit trickier.  First of all, we still have that aggravating honesty issue; you really need to be wearing it as an adornment and not just using your body as a transportation vehicle. ("Oooo... I just love having a hanky tied to my wrist... especially when I have a cold!"  Ewww)  It must also be the kind of thing you are not likely to remove to show your friends (or anyone else, for that matter).  You are not going to find a kosher posek, therefore, who would consider a key on a rubber band to be a "charm bracelet".  If the key is gold or silver and attached to a brooch, however, then you've got even R' Fuerst on your side.

Or I can make the key an integral part of my garment.  If one fashions the prong of a belt buckle from a key, for example, then one can wear the belt and have his key also.  Another option is to forgo the buckle altogether; instead, use two hooks and use the key at the lynch pin between the hooks.  Some poskim argue that only the hole in the key is really necessary, so the rest of the key is being carried, but the overwhelming consensus seems to be that it is ok.  (One interested reader sent me a link to site that sells flimsy pieces of elastic with a hook on each end so one can "carry as many keys as you like!"  Not the kind of thing I want to bet my soul on.)

Or... tada... you can attach the key to a belt loop and clamp the suspender onto the key.  Both kosher and a nerd/geek fashion statement!  (What's the difference between a nerd and a geek?  If you care, you aren't either one of them.)

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