I'm seeking a general consensus on what material Hashem used to clothe Adam and Chava. I realize there are various translations stating they were leather or animal skins. Commentaries range from materials like that of fingernails or wool or linen. The Hebrew word used is kotnot but that means gown or garment but does not describe the actual material it was made of.

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    To rephrase @AlBerko’s comment: It’s Judaism. You can have two answers that say completely opposite things and are both correct.
    – DonielF
    Commented Sep 9, 2018 at 2:02
  • The word after כתנות in that sentence is עור. Is there some reason to believe עור does not describe the material used? Are you looking for something other than the standard translation of that word?
    – Rish
    Commented Sep 12, 2018 at 19:06
  • @DonielF I like your comment, can you provide a rabbinic reference please.
    – ninamag
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 5:05
  • @ninamag If I provide a Rabbinic reference, would I have to cite one that argues on it? :) The principle is commonly referred to as אלו ואלו דברי אלקים חיים הם - “these and these are the words of the living G-d.” See, for instance, Eruvin 13b.
    – DonielF
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 5:13
  • @Ephraim77 "fingernails or wool or linen" - please provide a link to each of these.
    – ninamag
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 9:20

3 Answers 3


The original body was light (אור) or as the Ari calls it "electromagnetic radiation" (גוף החשמל). (For the association of אור, נורא, חשמל and אש, see Chagigah 13a at the end and 13b) After the sin, it was completely covered in skin (עור).

This is discussed by the Ari z"l in Eitz Chaim. The Ari explains that this secondary body is referred to as "גוף הצואה", the 'Fecal body'. It essentially ties us to the process of decomposition/decay and defecation.

That is why, for example, after receiving the Torah initially, there was no longer defecation. The body was returned to it's original perfected state and the food (Mannah) was also in a perfected state of existence.

This also follows the explanation from Sefer Shnei Luchot HaBrit:

והענין כאלו תאמר הנשמה בגוף אור, והגוף אור בגוף עור כבלע את הקודש בנרתק שלו, אבל לא נתבטל כתנות אור, רק נבלע בנרתק וזה אור הגוף הזך והדק הוא לישראל דוקא ונמשך להם מאדם הראשון, על כן אתם קרוין אדם (יבמות סא, א). ובעת מתן תורה שפסקה זוהמת הנחש (שבת קמו, א) היו הנשמות מלובשים כמו בכתנות אור, רצה לומר שהיו עומדים בלבוש זך ודק כעצם השמים לטוהר שהוא הכח של כתנות אור, נמצא היו בגוף ונפש. וכן בערבות מואב אף שהיו מלובשים בכתנות עור, מכל מקום התעורר בהם הגוף הזך והדק כי נתקדשו והיו עדה שלמה כמו שכתוב (דברים ד, ד) ואתם הדבקים בה' אלהים חיים כולכם היום, וזה הגוף הזך והדק מתפשט בכל דור ודור כל מי שרוצה לעורר אותו:

The Garments of Skin (כתנות עור) are what you see as skin on your own physical body even today.

And this is part of why some teachings in Torah say there will be no substantial change between Olam HaZeh and Olam HaBa. Because these seemingly miraculous conditions associated with the World to Come are how the Creation was before the sin of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

  • please provide a link discussing "after receiving the Torah initially, there was no longer defecation."
    – ninamag
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 1:16
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    Although חשמל means "electricity" in Modern Hebrew, that's not a good translation for the word in a Biblical or Rabbinic sense.
    – ezra
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 18:11
  • @ezra You may have greater expertise in this area than the Lubavitcher Rebbe. But he said it is to be understood as electricity and that electricity is a type of fire based upon Yechezkel 1:27. Last time I checked, Yechezkel wasn't known for his Modern Hebrew. Interestingly enough, אור, אש וחשמל are all related. They shine, glitter and glow. They also burn/oxidize. Oxidation is releasing oxygen from the other elements it is bound with. From a Torah context, that is releasing Ruach from its being bound to Afar (Dust/Earth). Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 21:01
  • The 4 elements mentioned by Rambam in Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah are: (אֵשׁ) Fire/Light/Electricity, (רוּחַ) Wind/Soul/Breath, (מים) Water and (עָפָר) Dust/Earth. Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 21:06
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    @ezra Shavuah Tov. I looked at this subject over Shabbat. You should look at Chagigah 13b. It discusses the whole subject and connects ‘chashmal’ with electricity, fire and light together with the concept of ‘Ratzu v’Shuv’. Commented Oct 7, 2018 at 0:40

Midrash Rabbah - Genesis XX:12

Skin was a smooth and shiny surface that was fingernail-like. Machlokes in the Gemara Sotah (14a) if they were clothed in a type of animal's hide and which type of animal.

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    Where's the machlokes in the Gemara?
    – ezra
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 18:10
  • This is a good start, but no more than that. Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 9:06
  • @ezra Sotah 14a - sefaria.org/…
    – NJM
    Commented Dec 22, 2022 at 15:37

Leather garments:

Some translate this 'shrouds of skin,' denoting the growth of the male foreskin and female hymen (Maaseh HaShem; from Sanhedrin 38b, Eruvin 100b).


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