With all the drama and excitement of bedikat chametz, yet as rare an opportunity as birkat hachama (the once in 28 year blessing of the sun), a Shatnez housecall proves to be a memorable experience for all participants involved.
"Rabbi, youre cruel!" grasped one baalat teshuva upon hearing the requirements of testing for Shatnez during a recent lecture. ""How in the world do you expect me to test my entire wardrobe? Does G-d really want me to carry my couch and wall to wall carpeting to the Shatnez laboratory?" "Just relax", chuckled the friendly Rabbi. "Didnt you ever hear of the Shatnez Doctor?" "The what?" asked twenty five pairs of inquisitive eyes staring with disbelief. "Thats right, the Shatnez Man, He will come to your home for a housecall".
Shatnez houscalls a new concept that has changed the face of Shatnez testing in Eretz Yisrael.
In preparation for this big event, each member of the family takes inventory of his/her wardrobe. All tags must be carefully read to determine if the garment contains any traces of wool and/or linen. If so, they must be separated and brought to the "check pile" as these will certainly need testing. Questionable items without tags can be left neatly arranged in the cupboard or hanging in the closet where the sharp eye of an experienced tester can quickly spot a suspicious looking garment or fabric. If too much effort is required to go through all the "hand me downs" or out-of seasons clothing In storage, a note is attached to have those few items checked at a later date.
When the big day arrives, everyone scurries to get their last minute things together. Articles such as slippers pushed under the bed or sweaters left at school or the office must be retrieved in order to have them checked at the cheap bulk rate price. The children stare in wonderment at all of the activities taking place in their own home and question their parents "Is Moshiach coming?" one young girl innocently inquired of her mother who was standing on a ladder pulling out all sorts of new, never before seen clothing from a box in the attic "No", she replied"er I mean yes, Moshiach is coming dear. But he is not here yet. Today we have the privilege to have the Shatnez man come to check our house for Shatnez." Father then launches into a detailed description of how the Jewish People are a holy nation, and therefore the food eater, the clothing worn and furniture sat on must al be Kosher.
After many hours of anxious anticipation, the Shatnez checker finally arrives with his big tool box, full of equipment. "No, the Rabbi doesnt fix washing machines", the mother explains, "but he does make sure that all of our clothes are perfectly clean in a different , spiritual way." In 5 minutes, the dining room table is converted into a science lab and the Rabbi/Scientist/Doctor (give him whichever title you prefer), the "Shatnez Checker" gets down to work. Starting with sofas and carpets and proceeding into bedrooms for mattresses and clothing, the Shatnez expert sniffs out the forbidden mixture like a bloodhound. Looking like Sherlok Holmes with magnifying glass and tweezers in hand, he quietly pulls a thread from here and a stuffing from there. "Aha", he exclaims. "Just as I suspected a linen thread in the seam of the couch. If there is wool anywhere in the upholstery, the sofa will be Shatnez. As the family holds their breath waiting for the final verdict, the tester prepares a microscope slide containing several of the multicolored threads. After what seems like an everlasting eternity, the silence is finally broken "a polycotton blend the couch is kosher" "Hurray!" The kids all begin to shout and jump again on their favorite trampoline pillows. This time though, the father cant yell but instead breaks out I a wide grin. Mother wipes the perspiration off his forehead and breathes a deep sigh of relief.
An hour later, the house has already been conquered and divided. The check pile has been stacked near the dining table and the remainder of the clothing in the house doesnt require any other special testing. Depending on the time and the amount of clothes, the checker will usually test the easy garments on the spot and take the difficult cases back to the laboratory for further inspection.
During the checking item, family members are invited to ask all of their Shatnez questions and are even treated to look at some real samples under the microscope.
Towards, the end of the housecall, the halachic and practical ramifications of any problematic fabric are discussed. Often, a Rav will have to be consulted before any final decision is reached. When the house is finally rid of all Shatnez, a certain purity or kedusha can actually be felt descending in the Shatnez Free miniature sanctuary. Everyone can then proudly boast that they come from a truly kosher home.
For more information or to book a tester, contact:
The Har Nof Shatnez Center 51 Rechov HaKablan (02) 654 0928