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Peninei Halakha > Shabbat > 21 - Hotza’ah > 11. Items Deemed Secondary to Clothing

11. Items Deemed Secondary to Clothing

Any items that are normally attached to clothing, such as buttons and pockets, are considered part of the clothing and secondary to the person’s body. Thus there is no prohibition of carrying them. Even though carrying buttons or pouches would be a violation of Hotza’ah, the buttons and pockets that are normally attached to clothing are part of the garment and secondary to it. Manufacturer’s tags are also considered part of the clothing and secondary to it. One may also wear a coat with a hood, even when the hood is not actually being worn but is hanging down behind the person; even though he has no intention of putting it on, the hood is still considered part of the coat. Items attached to clothing for decorative purposes, like buttons on the cuffs of a suit or feathers attached to a hat or another garment, are also considered part of the garment.

Sometimes, extra buttons are sewn into a garment in a hidden area, to be used as replacements in case one loses a button. These buttons are not used to fasten or decorate the garment. Some maintain that since these buttons are not in current use yet are significant, one may not go out with them to a reshut ha-rabim (Ĥayei Adam 56:3). According to most poskim, however, one may go out with them. Since it is standard for these buttons to be attached to an item of clothing, they are considered a part of it and secondary to it. The same debate pertains to a ripped hanging loop, which is sewn into a coat or jacket to allow it to be easily hung up. Normally, the loop is attached and functional like a regular button. However, if one side of the loop rips, it is not in current use. The strict position would say that that it remains significant, and thus one may not go out with such a coat to a reshut ha-rabim. The lenient position would respond that regardless whether one intends to fix the loop, it is not considered significant, and remains secondary to the coat. Thus, one may wear the coat in a reshut ha-rabim. Since the disagreement here relates to a rabbinic prohibition, the halakha follows the lenient position.[13]

[13]. The law of extra buttons is the same as that of a ripped belt loop or buttonhole. According to Ĥayei Adam 56:3, if one intends to fix and reattach it, he renders it significant. Since it currently cannot be used for the button or belt, wearing it outside is considered carrying it. The law would similarly apply to one wearing unfit tzitzit outside, which is a transgression (SA 301:30). This is also the status of a hanging loop that has ripped on one side. Since one can no longer hang the item of clothing from it, one may not wear it in a public domain. This is the position of MB 301:150, and SSK 18:33, 42, and 44 follows it as well. Some suggest that one should resolve not to fix the loop, but rather to throw it away and attach a new one. This way the torn loop is not significant for him, and reverts to being secondary to the clothing. Thus one may wear the clothing in a reshut ha-rabim. Many poskim, though, maintain that these loops are not significant and are always considered secondary to the clothing. They are only considered significant if they are made out of gold, and it would be forbidden to wear them outside if they are not functional. This is the position of SAH 301:47, AHS ad loc. 107, Tehila Le-David §32, and other poskim as quoted in Menuĥat Ahava 3:27:27. In any case, it would seem that even those who prohibit would concede that the prohibition is only rabbinic, since this is not the normal way of carrying, and it is a melakha she-eina tzerikha le-gufah. Thus, this constitutes an uncertainty about a rabbinic law. (However, further analysis is required before comparing our case to that of unfit tzitzit, which is discussed in SA 301:30. There, one can say that wearing tzitzit on clothing is the normal way to carry them. Furthermore, the act of carrying there is le-tzorekh gufah; it is for the sake of the tzitzit itself, as the mitzva requires the tzitzit to be attached to the clothing that one then wears outside. Even if the tzitzit are disqualified, the person wishes to bring them home in order to fix them, so he is carrying them in the normal fashion. All this is not true of our case, in which the person walks around in the clothing without giving a thought to the extra buttons or torn loop. Thus this is not le-tzorekh gufah, nor is anyone accustomed to carrying buttons or loops in this fashion.)

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