Origins of Sewing


Origins of Sewing

As sewing enthusiasts, we might be curious about the origins of sewing.  Who invented sewing and when?  As people of faith, we need not look any further than in the Torah.  This week’s Torah portion, Parashas Bereishis (Genesis), (October 4, 2015 to October 10, 2015) gives us the answer.

In Chapter 3 of Sefer Bereishis, we learned about the transgression of Adam and Chava in violating G-d’s command of eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Immediately after they ate, they discovered that they were unclothed, and it became necessary for them to cover their nakedness with something.

ז  וַתִּפָּקַחְנָה, עֵינֵי שְׁנֵיהֶם, וַיֵּדְעוּ, כִּי עֵירֻמִּם הֵם; וַיִּתְפְּרוּ עֲלֵה תְאֵנָה, וַיַּעֲשׂוּ לָהֶם חֲגֹרֹת.

And the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew, that they were naked. And they sewed a leave of a fig, and they made for themselves girdles (belts).  — Bereishis 3:7

The Ibn Ezra[1] tells us that no needle is required for sewing as any thin stick will do.   Rabbi Meyuchas[2] tells us that the fig leaf, עֲלֵה תְאֵנָה, is written in the singular to teach us two things:

  1. The fig leaf was huge such that many garments can be made from it.
  2. The enormous size of the fig leaf attests to the great size of the produce in Gan Eden.

What did Adam and Chava actually sew?  From the plural word חֲגֹרֹת, which literally means girdles or belts, the Midrash in Bereishis Rabbah understands it as various kinds of garments – shirts (or embroidered girdles), robes and linen cloaks for man and  girdles, hats and hair nets for the woman.  From the Zohar’s point of view, a belt which is worn at the waist, separates the upper torso from the lower torso, hinting to the ability to separate man’s active involvement in this world from its baser, coarser aspect.

[1] Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra, an 11th century Spanish Bible commentator

[2] Rabbi Meyuchas ben Eliyahu, an important Bible commentator and Hebrew grammarian in the Middle Ages.

Mrs. Moriya Chesler

Mrs. Moriya Chesler

Mrs. Chesler is passionate about the mitzvah of tznius and offers modest and kosher sewing patterns for the general public.
Mrs. Moriya Chesler

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