It is written1 that the Israelites kept their uniqueness by keeping their language, names and their dress. Why then did the Bnei Yisrael borrow from the Egyptians their clothes if they kept their unique Jewish dress?

Source: Exodus 12:35

ובני ישראל עשו כדבר משה וישאלו ממצרים כלי כסף וכלי זהב ושמלת

The Israelites had done Moses’ bidding and borrowed from the Egyptians objects of silver and gold, and clothing.

1 One of the sources for them not changing their language, names and their dress is in Midrash Song of the Songs.

  • Maybe they took them but didn't wear them? They used the material for something else? They sold them?
    – robev
    Oct 31, 2020 at 18:31
  • @Avi if you add some sources to this question it will score higher
    – Dov
    Oct 31, 2020 at 18:47
  • @Dov, I added the sources.
    – Avi
    Oct 31, 2020 at 18:54
  • Shemot 3:21 "Each woman shall borrow from her neighbor and from the dweller in her house silver and gold objects and garments, and you shall put [them] on your sons and on your daughters..." Please note the connection between clothing and children. I remember learning that the Egyptian clothes would need to be adapted to Jewish standards. This means that they would end up being the size of children's clothing. Maybe someone knows a source for this, I don't recall.
    – user16403
    Nov 1, 2020 at 4:32

2 Answers 2


Rashi writes that the reason the clothes were mentioned is because to the Egyptians they were regarded as being of greater value than their silver and gold.

Based off this, the Maharal in Gur Aryeh explains:

ויש מקשים למה כתב במעשה "כלי כסף וכלי זהב ושמלות", ואילו למעלה (יא, ב) לא כתב רק "וישאלו כלי כסף וכלי זהב" ולא שמלות, ורש"י פירש דשמלות היו חשובים יותר במצרים, ואין זה קשיא, דכאן מדבר מן המצריים, ואצלם היו חשובים, כי במצרים היו חשובים, אבל אצל ישראל שיצאו ממצרים לא היו חשובים כל כך:

And there are those who ask why it writes "Vessels of silver and vessels of gold and garments", and yet earlier (11:2) it only writes, "And they shall borrow vessels of silver and vessels of gold" - and not garments? And Rashi explains that garments were regarded as being more important/valuable in Egypt. And this is not a difficulty/question since here it is speaking as coming from the Egyptians, and by them they were regarded as being more valuable because the Egyptians thought of them as being more important, but by the Jews that departed from Egypt they did not find them important at all.

Therefore, in answer to your question, they only got these clothes because the Egyptians in their haste to make the Jewish people leave handed them all their greatest valuables, of which their clothing featured highest. However, the Jews didn't have any particular interest in them i.e. they took them but did not depart from their usual dress.


The Birkat Osher quotes various sources where Chazal say that because of 4 things Yisroel was redeemed: they didn't change their names, their language, they didn't speak loshon hora and they had no immoral relationships.

(Information about the Birkat Osher here).

He suggests that the idea that they did not change their clothes

שלא שינו שמלותם וכו' אינו אלא שיבוש, שנוספה אות למ"ד לתיבת שמותם

is a misprint and a lamed has got introduced into the word שמותם (their names) making it שמלותם (their clothes).

If so the premise of the question falls away and there is nothing to answer.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .