by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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OROH V'SIMCHOH - MESHECH CHOCHMOH ON PARSHAS MISHPOTIM 5766 BS"D
Ch. 22, v. 8: "Al SALMOH" - The MESHECH CHOCHMOH differentiates between the two words, "simloh" and "salmoh," both meaning a garment. He says that "simloh" is used to indicate a garment of quality, while "salmoh" is used to indicate an inferior garment. In Rus 3:3 we learn from the words, "v'samt SIMLOsayich," that one should wear special clothing for Shabbos and Yom Tov. Similarly, when the bnei Yisroel took garments from the Egyptians, they took top quality garments only, as it says (12:35) "u'SMOLOS." Rashi points out that the order of the items listed, vessels of silver, of gold, and garments, ascends in order of importance.
However, in our verse where a person is required to swear that he had not been negligent in the loss of items given to him for safekeeping, an oath is required even for a missing garment of little value.
I found a medrash which says that the word "salmoh" is used for a garment that has a design on it, similar to the word "tzelem," a form. Phonetically "tzelem" and "salmoh" are similar.
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