A Baraisa in Shabbos 62a says that shepherds may go out on Shabbos with clothes made of sackcloth. The Sages say that this applies to everyone. The reason that shepherds were specifically mentioned is that they customarily wear sackcloth. We see from this that if only a subset of the people wear sackcloth, the sages allow everyone to wear it.
However, later in the Amud, the Gemara quotes from the Mishna that women are Biblically prohibited to go out wearing a signet ring on Shabbos. The Gemara questions why this is Biblically prohibited since it is not carrying in the normal manner. R' Yirmiyah says that the Mishna is dealing with women overseers and that they do normally wear signet rings. Rashi says that this is not an accessory for her since most women do not wear signet rings and the statuts of the ring is determined by how most women use it.
Why is the status of the signet ring determined by how most use it, while the status of sackcloth is determined by how some use it?
Thanks for all your help,
RASHI (DH Gizbaris) does not write that "it is not the manner of most women" to wear this item, but that "it is not the manner of women." That is, it is not the manner at all for women to wear signet rings (not that most do not wear it).
You might ask that it is the manner of the women Gizbarios to go out with signet rings on their fingers, as our Gemara says, and if so, since it is their normal manner, it should be considered a permissible ornament for all women to go out with (just like the fact that the shepherds wear sackcloths permits everyone else to go out wearing sackcloths).
The answer to this is that even the women Gizbarios do not wear the ring as jewelry/clothing, but merely in order to carry it from one place to another. Thus, the women Gizbarious who wear the signet rings are not similar to the shepherds who wear sackcloths or to men who wear signet rings. (Even though the men use the rings for stamping, they are accustomed to wearing them as ornamentation because of the fact that all men wear them.)
Rabbi Kornfeld AMV"S,
Relative to the following question, Tosfos on 57a d"h Bmah Eishah makes a distinction between garments which are Eikar Malbush and small adornments. He states that we are not Chosesh that an Eishah will carry a garment which is an Eiker Malbush and are only concerned that she will carry a small object that she happens to be wearing. Based on this perhaps the apparent Stirah pointed out below can be resolved in the following manner.
Sackcloth is a garment not a small object. Therefore inherently there is not a concern that it will be removed and carried. It need only be established that it is an Eikar Malbush. For this it is sufficient that a minority of peoply wear it as an Eikar Malbush. (Perhap this is needed because if even a minority did not wear it as an Eikar Malbush it would not be called clothing even if a specific person wore it as clothing because of Batul Ditay Kneged Kal Bnai Adom). A signet ring on the other hand is a small object and hence there is a real possibility that it will be taken off and carried. Therefore it is necessary that a majority of people wear the ring as an adornment to over ride the concern that it will be carried.
The point that you cite from Tosfos is correct. However, the only distinction that Tosfos makes is with regard to an Isur d'Rabanan, where one might show the ornament to her friend and carry it in Reshus ha'Rabim. The question that was asked concerned Hotza'ah d'Oraisa -- how could it be Asur mid'Oraisa for a woman to carry out an object which for other women is a normal part of their Malbush. It does not seem plausible to make the same Chiluk in the d'Oraisa law that Tosfos makes in the d'Rabanan law.
Dear Rabbi Kornfeld,
This is in response to the posted discussion [regarding women wearing signet rings into Reshus ha'Rabim]. You explained that the signet ring is not a tachshit for the gizbaris since she was wearing it for the purpose of it being carried. This is indeed the explanation of Rabbenu Channanel (on the page). However, Rashi (d.h. Gizboris) is explicit that the reason that the ring is not a Tachshit is because the custom of women is not to wear it. Rashi is clearly saying that IF it would be the custom of women to wear the signet ring, it would be classified a Tachshit. Thus, the question remains unanswered for the approach of Rashi.
Keep up the great work!
It appears that when Rashi writes, "It is not the manner of women in this (Ein Derech Nashim b'Kach)," his intention is not to say that it is not the manner of women to carry out the signet ring in order to stamp with it, but rather it is not the manner of women to wear it as part of their Malbush, and therefore it is not considered a Tachshit. However, if they would wear it as their Malbush, it would be considered a Tachshit.
This is consistent with what we wrote in the original answer to question concerning the signet ring, that "Ein Derech Nashim b'Kach" means that for even a Gizbaris it is not the normal manner to wear it, but rather to carry it out, in this manner.
How does the later Gemara about not following the custom of the people of Hutzal wearing objects on the heads connect with this?
The issue involved with the people of Hutzal was not one of Malbush, but rather Hotza'ah. One who carries something into Reshus ha'Rabim in such a manner should therefore be Chayav for Hotza'ah, since it is not considered k'l'Achar Yad since the people of Hutzal carry it in that manner. For this reason, it is not comparable to the case of the shepherds who go out with sackclothes, for that is an issue of Malbush, and there, something which is a Malbush for one group is considered a Malbush for everyone (and thus whoever wears that object into Reshus ha'Rabim is Patur). In contrast, something which is Derech Hotza'ah, the normal manner of carrying something, for one group does not make it considered Derech Hotza'ah for everyone else.
(Furthermore, there is no difficulty from the case of the people of Hutzal, because there they were a minority, and everyone else in the world are strict not to act like them, since they are viewed degradingly, as Tosfos (92b) writes. Therefore, the manner in which they do something is not accepted by anyone.)