First let me note once again that I am not Jewish, but when encountering certain things I often like to explore how Judaism considers those things. Either way, today I was reading Devarim I came across the following verse (22:5):

לֹא-יִהְיֶה כְלִי-גֶבֶר עַל-אִשָּׁה, וְלֹא-יִלְבַּשׁ גֶּבֶר שִׂמְלַת אִשָּׁה: כִּי תוֹעֲבַת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, כָּל-עֹשֵׂה אֵלֶּה ‏

A woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for whosoever doeth these things is an abomination unto the LORD thy God.

Now, when I looked it up on the internet I found out that you call this prohibition beged isha and to my surprise I encountered the following exception

Further, it would be permitted for a man to wear one item of women's clothing for some functional reason -- e.g. he is stuck in the pouring rain and only has a woman's raincoat.

In this primer on the prohibition on Aish.com. Now, to be very clear here, what I am trying to understand is how this exception came to be. It's not the topic itself that interests me as much as the fact such exception exists. How I understand it is that Rabbi's often interpret the Torah in a certain and that's the way it is for the rest of time, sometimes prohibitions get added, but this is the first time I have consciously seen that an exception like that is created.

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    PS. As always I fear I need some help with tagging and will very much appreciate any necessary edits. Mar 25, 2015 at 17:20
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    related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/50795/759
    – Double AA
    Mar 25, 2015 at 18:11
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    @DanF, it seems pretty clear to me that this question is asking for the source for the cited exception, as a case study of how there can be such exceptions to apparently clear-cut rules in the Torah. It's not a dupe of the question linked by DoubleAA, which is asking for the content of a rule, not for its source.
    – Isaac Moses
    Mar 25, 2015 at 18:43
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    And btw, thanks a lot for the edits everyone! I will do by best to write it more like this next time :) . Mar 25, 2015 at 18:48
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    @DavidMulder, you're doing fine, and your interest in learning from the community will ensure that you'll continue to do so.
    – Isaac Moses
    Mar 25, 2015 at 19:17

2 Answers 2


Talmud Nazir 59a states. That there would be no reason for the Torah to state this verse for the purpose of telling us that a man shouldn't wear women's clothes just for the purpose of wearing it, per se, because it already stated that this is an abomination, and simply wearing clothes on its own is not an abomination. Therefore, it is stating this for the purpose of telling us that he shouldn't wear the clothes in order to sit among other women.

Thus, since the man is wearing the coat to keep warm, this is not an abomination, and is therefore permitted. In short, this is not an "exception". It is based on the Talmudic interpretation of the verse.

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    "Explicitly"? Is this purpose of "lo yilbash" laid out in the Torah? If not, where is it explicit? Who says that the observance of this law is restricted to cases consistent with that purpose? That's not always how we implement laws in the Torah, even when we know a reason for them.
    – Isaac Moses
    Mar 25, 2015 at 19:24
  • @IsaacMoses - I'm not completely following your concern. I never said "explicit". I believe that Rashi's interpretation is supported by Talmud Niddah (I think its 38a?) Isn't Torah Sheb'al Peh (Oral law) as valid as Torah Shebichtav? (written law)
    – DanF
    Mar 25, 2015 at 20:21
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    DanF, see your answer's 19th word. As the only source cited here so far other than Rashi/S"Ch is the Torah, I assume you're referring to the Torah, and that therefore you're claiming that that the source for this reasoning is explicitly in the Torah. If so, your answer to this request for a source ought to cite the relevant verses. Alternatively, are you saying that the source is the Talmud? If so, the answer should say so, and should cite accordingly.
    – Isaac Moses
    Mar 25, 2015 at 20:29
  • @IsaacMoses - I edited the answer to include Talmud source from Nazir. But see Rashi's use of the term Elah in the Torah commentary. That's how I inferred the word "explicit".
    – DanF
    Mar 25, 2015 at 20:46
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    Please edit the answer to say, as clearly as you can, such that the answer is readable without looking up or translating any sources, what the source[s] are for 1) the stated purpose for this prohibition and 2) the prohibition being limited to transgressions of this purpose, specifically. Once you've done that, I agree that you can get to the "functional use" exception through reasoning.
    – Isaac Moses
    Mar 25, 2015 at 20:56

This issue is discussed and there is a controversy. See Shulchan Aruch Yore Dea 182, paragraph 5, and the comment called Baer Heytev. Baer Heytev reports a controversy between the Bet Chadash and the Ture Zahav. The Bet Chadash on Arbaa Turim, expresses surprise that the Tur doesn't distinguish between cases, he gives a lengthy explanation that the sin regards only clothing with aesthetic purposes and that can generate to confusion, to appeal and lust.

The BC gives two heterim:

  1. Even aesthetic clothes, to wear them clothes with the intent to protect himself from heat in summer or from rain in winter is not prohibited. The proof is from the Gemara in Nazir 58b-59a, according to the perush of Rabenu Tam. This Gemara said that shaving underarms even with a rasor blad may be allowed if the reason is not aesthetic.

  2. The second heter: To wear clothes specific to the other sex, but which are not made for beauty is allowed. He learned this from the Sifre. For a woman the prohibition is to wear clothes that glorify a man and for a man, clothes that embellish a woman.

The BC reported a discussion between Sefer Yereim and Mahari Mintz regarding making people laugh with a disguise for Simchat Mitsva as Purim or wedding. He advised to be stringent.

The way in which the Baer Heytev reported the BC is not clear for me.

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    Right. This is Judaism. Why would it be simple?
    – DonielF
    Mar 26, 2017 at 1:54

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