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Thought for the Day: How Connected Does a Patch Need to Be In Order to Be Considered Part of the Garment?

Another catchy title and topic brought to you by masechta Keilim.  I was a chubby kid, so  Mom bought my pants in the "husky" section (hated that word, by the way).  Husky sizes were more expensive, so she also bought them long; so the knees wore through my pants long before I outgrew them.  (Fat little boy in wide jeans with rolled up legs -- got the picture?)  Mom was not a top seamstress, but those were the days of iron on patches.  Mom even eventually learned to iron them on to the inside of the pant leg (just turn it inside out first), so it wasn't so embarrassing.  The patch I mean; they were still husky size with rolled up legs.  (She must have bought them really big, because I don't remember them ever wearing jeans with less that two inches of faded denim cuff showing.)

But imagine she had sown them, and that we had lived during the times of the Beis HaMikdash; and... oh yeah... that I had been Jewish.  When would that patch have been attached enough that the garment would become one as far as tuma goes?

Let's start where everyone agrees and then work our way to the fringes (28:7).  If the patch is only attached (by sewing; I don't think they had iron-on patches at the time of the mishna) on only one side in such a way that it does not cover the hole in normal use of the garment, then everyone agrees that the patch is not considered part and parcel of the garment.  That is, if the garment was from a dead guy, the patch remains tahor.  Likewise, if both garment and patch are tahor, then a rat curls up and dies on this patch, the garment remains tahor.  If two opposing sides of the patch are attached, then everyone agrees that the patch is now considered part of the garment; their lot is cast together with respect to t'hara and tuma.  Now the fun begins.

Suppose the patch is sewn along two adjoining edges.  -- Aside: the mishna calls this "like the Greek letter gamma (Γ). Why the sages chose to describe this situation with a Greek letter instead of the Hebrew dales (ד), I just don't know; but they did. -- In that case we have a machlokes (shocking, I know).  R' Akiva says that's good enough, the Sages say "nuh-uh" (in Aramaic, of course).

We aren't finished, though.  R' Yehuda says hang on here just one cotton picking minute!  When we said that one side is not good enough, that's only for a garment that has no direction; such as a shawl or scarf.  Why?  Because then the stitching of the patch might be sometimes on top (and therefore cover the hole) and sometimes on the bottom (and therefore the hole is there and open in front of the Good Lord and everybody).  If, however, we are talking about pants or a shirt, which can only be worn in one orientation, then stitched along the top is a good connection, but stitched along the bottom is as good as not sewn at all (more or less).

All this is for square patches.  How this works for rectangular, circular, and other odd shapes is left as an exercise for the interested reader.


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