By: Joseph Jacobs
For the greater part, among the ancient Hebrews, the shoe consisted merely of a sole of leather or, less often, of wood, supported around the ankles by leather bands (see Sandals); but it is probable that Jewesses, even at an early date, wore more elaborate footgear, covering the entire foot (see Judith xvi. 11; Cant. vii. 1; Ezek. xvi. 10). It was part of the duty of a bridegroom to supply three pairs of these during the year (Ket. 64a et al.), one for each of the three chief festivals. There is evidence that shoes were of somewhat recent introduction; hence in solemn moments they were discarded, as in the theophany of Ex. iii. 5, while priests in general performed their offices without shoes. Similarly, in mourning, the bereaved removed their shoes (II Sam. xv. 30; Ezek. xxiv. 17, 23; Isa. xx. 2); this custom has continued to the present day. On the other hand, at the Passover meal the Israelites were commanded to have their shoes on in readiness for starting (Ex. xii. 11). For the ceremony of ḥaliẓah a peculiar form of shoe is still used (see Ḥaliẓah, illustrations). Some of the Talmudic rabbis were shoemakers, or rather sandal-makers, among them Johanan ha-Sandalar. A shoemaker was permitted to take a shoe off the last during Ḥol ha-Mo'ed (the middle days of the festivals), but not to put it back again (Yeb. 2a). As articles of necessity, shoes were regarded as more important than the beams of a house, but not than food (Shab.129a). In modern times it is customary to remove, or go without, leather shoes on the Day of Atonement, and to wear slippers instead; the custom is mentioned in Yoma (viii. 1).
- Bynæus, De Calceis Hebrœorum, in Ugolini, Thesaurus, vol. xxix., cols. 573-670;
- Winer, B. R.;
- Brüll, Trachten der Juden, passim;
- A. Kohn, in Geiger's Wiss. Zeit. Jüd. Theol. iv. 165-176.