06. When Wearing Shoes Is Permitted

Sick people and postpartum women who are liable to catch a cold if they walk barefoot on the ground may wear leather shoes (SA 614:3).

One who is walking in an area where there is concern for scorpions and the like may wear leather shoes. Likewise, one who is walking in a muddy place may wear his regular shoes to avoid soiling his feet. A soldier on active duty may wear army boots (SA 614:4). The reason for these leniencies is that wearing shoes is prohibited only if one wears them for the sake of comfortable walking. When there is different reason for wearing them, however, the prohibition does not apply.

One who needs orthotic shoe inserts and suffers greatly without them may insert them into slippers or thin rubber shoes and use them on Yom Kippur, because orthotics are not worn for pleasure, but to alleviate terrible pain (Ḥelkat Ya’akov 2:83).[8]


[8]. R. Mordechai Yaakov Breisch (Ḥelkat Ya’akov 2:83) permits people who suffer greatly without orthotics to use them in a cloth or rubber shoe, even if the orthotics themselves are covered in leather. Such a person is like a squeamish person (“istenis”) walking in a filthy place, who may wear shoes, as he is not doing so for pleasure (Rema 614:4). Furthermore, orthotics are not part of the shoe, so wearing them is like standing on a leather pillow, which is permissible (Rema 614:2; MB ad loc. 9). SSK 39:37 and Nishmat Avraham 614:4 rule this way as well. In contrast, Ḥut Ha-shani (p. 137) is uncertain: perhaps orthotics should be considered part of the shoe. Nevertheless, he permits them for those who would otherwise be unable to walk. In practice, those who suffer greatly without orthotics may wear leather inserts. They should put them in simple rubber shoes not normally worn outside. If the orthotics are not made of leather, one may be lenient even if he does not suffer greatly.

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