It seems that Jews ought to be distinguishable from the other nations. There are many accounts, especially from insular communities, of people changing little details in their dress just to be different from gentiles. But what if a gentile likes the jewish look? I'm not talking about tzitzit but about practices of customary dress. For example, wearing a kippah at all times, a rekel with gartel and black hat, or a kaftan yerushalmi.

I've seen in this site one explanation for Jews not to sell garments with tzitzit for gentiles because the gentile could be considered a jew and could end up killing a Jew. Well, many Jews today wear tzitzit under another garment, and the examples cited before were all common among gentiles at a time (or a very similar version at least). Would a gentile be liable if he looks like a Jew?

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    Much of what is seen as "jewish garb" now (hats, coats, etc.) is actually also gentile clothing from a different time period
    – ezra
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 8:02
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    Shouldn't be the question rephrased like May a gentile dress like a Jew? Otherwise it seems to be somewhat racist, assuming that the bodies of Jews look anything different. Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 10:49
  • @Kazibácsi Maybe, i want to convey that he probably would be confused as a Jew. At the same time, with these styles a beard would usually go along the equation but since this is mitzvah related i want to reserve it to another question like "May a gentile fulfill a mitzvah for Jews if he understands he isn't commanded to do it?".
    – Leonardo
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 11:50
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    @Leonardo, there is no prohibition for gentiles to dress however they would like. There is a prohibition for a Jew to sell a gentile a talleth with sisith on it, based on Menahoth 43a: אין אדם רשאי למכור טלית מצוייצת לעובד . The Sages did not make a blanket prohibition of selling any article of clothing associated with Jews to gentiles. A better question is whether there have been post Talmudic decisors that extend their rationale and thereby prohibit a Jew from selling other items that have come to be distinctly associated with Jews. Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 16:02
  • @Deuteronomy The question isn't about if a Jew may sell items that are associated with Jews to gentiles. I just associated that citation with stories about Jews that put visual emphasis on the difference between Jews and gentiles: how long peyot is considered a mark of jewishness, a hasidic rabbi that twisted his hat once he saw a priest with the same hat, bans on "goyish" clothing, etc. I want to understand this concept of some Jews.
    – Leonardo
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 21:35

1 Answer 1


The only way I could see it being prohibited for a gentile to dress or groom themselves like a Jew is if גניבת דעת (lit. "theft of the mind", i.e. the prohibition against dishonest misrepresentation or deception) falls under the Seven Laws of Noah as a species of theft.

R. Shim'on Sofer (grandson of the Hatham Sofer) has a responsum (התעוררות תשובה סי' קי"ח) in which he expresses uncertainty about whether a gentile is bound to uphold the prohibition against גניבת דעת but seems to lean towards yes. The determination hinges on whether the prohibition is to be categorized as rabbinic or biblical. If it is biblical, then it falls under לא תגנובו (thou shalt not steal) and would therefore be part of the Noahide covenant gentiles are bound to uphold. If however the prohibition is rabbinic, then it is not a part of the Noahide laws and a gentile would not be bound to uphold it.

This is not a robustly developed area of halakhah, and the answer as to whether a gentile may dress or groom as a Jew hinges on whether גניבת דעת is understood to be a rabbinic or biblical prohibition.

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