Question: [Wednesday, 7th Marcheshvan, 5782]
Is there any issue with mending clothing while I am wearing them? For example, could someone sew my cuffs while I am wearing the garment? Also, I have heard people say you cannot remove a tag from a garment that you are wearing. Is this true?
It is brought in Sefarim that one should avoid sewing clothing while he’s wearing them due to that it causes forgetfulness. However, there is no issue with cutting an item, such as a tag, from the garment while you’re wearing it, as this is not similar to sewing at all.
Explanation: There are many matters recorded in Sefarim that are restricted or avoided due to mystical reasons that are beyond the understanding of human intellect. Some of these matters are recorded in the Talmud but many have been added by later generation authorities. One of the matters we find recorded is not to sew a garment while one is wearing it, being that it can lead to memory loss. However, I’m not aware of any source which states that one should also avoid cutting a garment that one is wearing. Seemingly, those who avoid doing so confuse it with the above restriction which is specifically against sewing. However, some claim that they avoid doing so in order to avoid any similarity to Keriah for the dead. Even this claim, which again I have not found a source for, would only hold true if you’re actually tearing the garment, and not if you simply remove the tag which is an invalid Keriah according to all opinions and is considered worthless. On the contrary, I would say that those who suspect for the above similarity to Keria should specifically tear the tag while wearing the garment to emphasize one does not fulfill his obligation of Keria by doing so and to negate from the new modern custom of Reform Judaism to simply cut a string or thread from the garment for Keria. Whatever the case, there is no need for people to suspect for unsubstantiated superstitions, which perhaps were adapted by some due to their own personal worries throughout the generations, but for certain are not binding to the public to keep. We asked Rabbi Eliyahu Landa Shlita regarding the specific custom, and he attested that he has never heard of it.
Sources: See Machzor Vitri end of tractate Kallah; Chupas Eliyahu Shaar Gimel; Zivcheiy Tzedek 2 116:163; Shemiras Hanefesh 341; Kaf Hachaim Y.D. 116:212; Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh 1:74; Eitz Chaim Zer Zahav 2 that if one chews a thread while doing the sewing then there is no longer a worry; Vidarashta Vichakarta 2 Y.D. 19; Regarding Keriah: See Michaber Y.D. 340:9-10; Darkei Chesed 14:5