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HALACHA-----tznius/ whats it all about

sarchie Posted - 20 October 2000 18:52

I know its halacha for women to cover their elbows, knees, color bones, etc but can you just explain to me what is so 'nice' about an elbow? Collar bone and knee I understand, but an elbow is actually ugly.

Since Tznius is not a chok, then there are reasons why we do it. Seeing a women’s elbow I don’t think would cause a guy to sin. Why is it halacha to keep it covered?

Also, another question is what’s so bad about slits? I’m not talking about the really long ones, but the normal ones in the back of skirts

MODERATOR Posted - 20 October 2000 19:00

The point of Tznius is not only to avoid unwanted attention, but to dress in a manner sufficiently dignified for a Princess, as in "kol kevuda bas melech penimah". The Queen of England does not run around in short sleeves, regardless of what male attention she would or would not attract.

Of course, we don't really care what the Queen of England wears - she is not our role model - but is serves as a Moshol and an understanding that royalty demands a certain formality by its own right. The Torah decides what that formality is.

I once heard from Rebetzen Richel Kotler (wife of Rav Schneur ZT"L's) that when she was growing up in Europe, the teachers in school never had to mention elbows, knees, or collarbones.

When they spoke about Tznius, the message was dress with the dignity befitting of a bas Yisroel, or a princess. If someone was not dressing properly, the idea was not "your elbows are showing" but rather "Your dress is not honorable enough for your stature". The Halochos were looked at as a quantification of that honor. That's how Tznius was looked at in those days.

Slits, even if they don't reach above the knee, are designed specifically to attract guys' eyes, and they are successful. That kind of device does not belong in the wardrobe of a Bas Yisroel.

MODERATOR Posted - 23 October 2000 14:46

Please remember, though, that the point is not how the Goyim look at us - who knows? one day they may think non-Tznius clothing is dignified - it's the way Hashem looks at us. The Torah, and only the Torah, determines what true dignity is.

sarchie Posted - 23 October 2000 17:18

I've always wanted to know if Tznius is for yourself or for others. if its halacha and you should do it even if no one is around, then how come women go swimming with other women, or wear pants for pjs.It seems much more relaxed when women are around women. If it’s halacha, then shouldn’t you ALWAYS be Tznius even if no one is around??? Is it for the men?

MODERATOR Posted - 23 October 2000 17:26

It is both, and even more.

On one hand, it is surely to prevent men from sinning.

But it is also an exercise to feel shivisi Hashem l'negdi Tamid. It is stated, therefore, that when dressing or undressing, one should not expose themselves more than necessary, even in the privacy of their own room. Obviously, your body is not hidden from Hashem, but it makes US feel Hashem's presence more if we always act Tznius.

It is also because of Kol Kevuda Bas Melech Pnimah, meaning, it is a requirement of the lofty status of a Bas Yisroel, who is a Queen, to dress in a dignified fashion.

There are also certain Kabbalistic components to Tznius as well. For instance, the Zohar writes that a married woman's hair should not be exposed, even in her own home where nobody is around to see it.

The reason why women go swimming with each other etc., is that even Queens are entitled to recreational activities.

mcdonald Posted - 25 October 2000 3:12

My school also had a rule against slits, however at the same time we also learned what is considered erva- and there is a machlokes knee or ankle- therefore depending on the minhag of the place one can either cover up 2 knee v-zehu, or one covers up to ankle with a skirt, OR a compromise is to skirt up to knee, and stockings suffice for the rest of the way down.

If a slit does not go up beyond the knee- it falls within the debatable area. Our Rabbis thru the ages have left this portion up to the rule of minhag hamakom-so while I understand a school's right to demand one or the other- I cannot appreciate that it is assur to wear slits. All this stuff saying that one MUST refrain from slits seems to me to be based on Halachc thin air.

P.S.- I personally do not wear slits, so I am not attempting to rationalize.

pps-it is more attractive to wear short sleeves - the elbow serves as a cutoff.

MODERATOR Posted - 25 October 2000 3:24


While there is room to be lenient regarding the knee-vs. ankle issue in a place where the Minhag HaMakom is to cover only down to the knee, since the majority of Poskim rule that the ankle is what counts, it is always preferable and meritorious, and there are those who would say even mandatory, to at least wear stockings.

The issue of slits, though, has nothing to do with this. This disagreement applies only regarding what part of the leg may be exposed. Even if you hold that the leg below the knee can be exposed, that does not mean that you can wear something there that specifically attracts attention to the leg, which is what a slit does. A slit is like a sign that says "Look this way!" That's worse than leaving the leg plainly exposed without any "attractions".

Me Posted - 25 October 2000 3:25

I was wondering if the halachos of nidah apply at all before you're married like would my father and brother s be allowed to touch me and hear me sing at this time????

MODERATOR Posted - 25 October 2000 3:28

A non-married girl is also considered a Niddah. However, there are different levels of prohibitions for a Nidah. What you are describing are applicable only to a husband and his wife.

Incidentally, you are considered a Niddah even not during your time, since you never go to the Mikvah.

sarchie Posted - 25 October 2000 14:09

You said that even queens can go swimming, but if it is halacha for ones self, then women shouldn’t be able to go swimming with other women...then they can cover up and wear shirts and skirts etc. Why is it ok for a woman to be not Tznius in front of another?

MODERATOR Posted - 25 October 2000 14:17

In certain communities women only go swimming in model's coats for that reason.

But otherwise, the idea of Tznius among yourself is not to hide anything, (since Hashem is all-seeing) but rather to ingrain within ourselves the idea that we always have eyes on us (of Hashem).

So therefore many people allow themselves some slack when it is very impractical, such as while swimming.

sarchie Posted - 26 October 2000 17:38

But moderator, I still don’t understand. It sounds like Tznius is one of the most important mitzvos.

Therefore, how can one be 'slack' at times. you cant just say that one needs to know that they always have 'eyes' on them but they need a break every now and then bc then I might as well walk down the St. in a tanktop and shorts.

Why should it make a difference if I am around other women or not??

MODERATOR Posted - 26 October 2000 17:50


When we say "Tznius is for your sake, not (only) for the guys' sake" it does not mean that there is no difference whether guys are around or not. It means that the reason you are not allowed to behave or dress a certain way IN FRONT OF GUYS is not (only) for the benefit of the guys - that they don't do aveiros - but for your own personal Mitzvah as well.

Tznius - this part of it, at least - means being a certain way in front of guys. All they are telling you when they say it is for your sake as well is that the torah did not obligate you to dress a certain way in front of guys so that they can benefit, but if you dress a certain way in front of guys YOU benefit as well.

That is the main Mitzvah of Tznius, and it is only in front of guys. For this part of Tznius, there is no slack, no exceptions.

Then there is another part to Tznius, that is we should act as if hashem is always watching us. In order to psychologically impress this upon us, we maintain a certain dignity even when nobody is around.

But this second, psychological part of Tznius, is only obligatory when practical, otherwise we could not even go to the bathroom! It's not that we "need a break", but that we are not obligated to do this except to the extent that we need it to impress upon us the general idea of "Hashem is watching". In situations where it is difficult to do this, such as being "dignified" in a swimming pool, or a shower, or not bathing at all, we are not obligated.

basyisroel-613 Posted - 26 October 2000 18:37

I just wanted to share a "mashal" I once heard about slits that might be helpful. Slits can be compared to a flashing light.

When a manager wants to advertise his store he sticks a nice light outside-but a flashing light is so much better than a constant one. It attracts so many more people with its going on and off-it catches the eye and makes you look in that exact direction. So a slit could be viewed as such(a girl's legs being the lights).

e Posted - 30 October 2000 14:35

What is the actual halacha about legs? Isn’t it just to cover the knees?

Are stockings halacha?

Tznius is a very complicated thing--chumras and halacha are majolry mixed up! So what's the actual halachos of Tznius?

MODERATOR Posted - 30 October 2000 15:06

According to the vast majority of Poskim stockings are a Halachah.

The reason why this issue is confusing is because there is a statement in the Mishna Brura that says in a place where the custom is to go bare-legged below the knee, it is permitted to say Krias Shema in front of a woman dressed so.

There are those who interpret the Mishna Brura to mean not only is it permitted for a man to say Shema in front of such a woman, but it is also permitted for a woman to dress like that. Though it is not clear that that is what the Mishna Brurah means.

Plus, as Poskim point out, it would seem from the sources in the Gemora that the calf of a woman is also Ervah, and the sources that the Mishna Brura brings in support of his view - not from the Gemora but later poskim - do not really support it at all. Of course, the Mishna brura did have his reasoning, but it is difficult to rely on it when we don't really understand how that reasoning works.

Even so, the Mishna Brura's statement is only referring to a place where the women are accustomed to dress like that, and still the majority of poskim disagree.

So proper Halachic practice would be to follow the majority of Poskim, and cover the leg even below the knee.

However, those who do not wear stockings, in a place where the women are accustomed not to, cannot be considered as if they are openly violating the Hahachah, since they may have the Mishna Brura to rely on.

Once again, though, according to most Poskim, the Halachah is that you must wear stockings. That is therefore what should be done.

mcdonald Posted - 30 October 2000 15:21

Is the moderator a man or a woman?

I ask b/c, as a girl, I never thought to look if s/o was wearing a slit, until I learned that we shouldn't. In fact in most cases a slit is not there to attract attention, but rather, in order to allow one to walk in a skirt, which might otherwise inhibit taking wide steps.

Obviously certain slits are designed to attract attention, as are certain designs, materials,etc... why don't these slits just fall under the general heading of 'use your discretion' instead of banning something which has been considered mutar for a while now, and has become widespread.

Neighbors of mine who are married to boys who never heard of this rule tell me that their husbands cannot understand why women think that the slits affect them- provided that they do not reveal erva.

If the problem with a slit is not that it reveals erva, but simply that it attracts attention- a kickpleat attracts attention as well. last of all - I don't mean to harp on this, but it has really been bugging me for the longest time, and now I finally have an outlet to vent- and to learn something.

MODERATOR Posted - 30 October 2000 15:31

The slits attract attention to the bare leg, kick pleats or denim don't.

I don't know why you say it was considered Mutar for a while now. Those who say it isn't mutar now have always said it.

It is subjective, I agree, as is many aspects of Tznius. Not every pritzus can be quantified or pre-proscribed. The Halachah tells us not to do any pritzus in general, and if your Halachic authority determined that slits are in this category, that’s his job.

Please see my post above – those who do permit girls not to wear stockings do so by relying on an interpretation that not everyone agrees on in a Mishna Brurah that anyway is opposed by the majority of Poskim. To stretch things even further and permit something that intensifies the effect of the bare leg, such as s slit, is something that these communities do not feel is Halachicly justified.

PS - Moderator is a man

sarchie Posted - 30 October 2000 15:33

basyisrael...thank you . that really helped. and thank you moderator for your answer.

I have another question though (believe it or not) halacha is that we have to cover our leg from the knee down but you can still see we are allowed to wear stockings. but then how come we don’t have to cover from the elbow and down? why does halacha only ask for the leg to be covered?

(and while we are on that point....what’s the difference if the leg is covered with stockings or not covered at all? sometimes it even looks nicer with stockings)

- 30 October 2000 15:38

Legs and arms have a different level of attraction (Ervah), so they can't be compared.

If you hold stockings are a requirement then you should wear stockings that you can recognize are not your leg, as opposed to transparent ones.

If it is clear that your legs are covered, then you have fulfilled the Torah's obligation. The idea of Tznius is dignity, not ugliness, so it doesn't matter what "looks better". Some people look better with sleeves than sleeveless. Does this mean that they don't have to cover their arms?

asdfg Posted - 30 October 2000 17:09

At a certain yeshiva shorts were not allowed even in the dormitory and at other yeshivas shorts were completely acceptable anytime out of school, not just sports. Even at this yeshiva the rebbaim didn’t wear shorts and many of us didn’t understand why it was perfectly fine for us to wear shorts but the rebbaim wouldn’t even wear shorts for sports. Also, is there a problem with wearing sleeveless shirts for sports?

MODERATOR Posted - 30 October 2000 17:30

The Mishna Brura (2:1) writes: "A person should act with Tznius and humility (boosha - I can't think of a better word in this context - MOD) before Hashem... and not reveal his body, even a little...he should not go barefoot, as we are not accustomed to go barefoot in our lands."

This is talking about men. What is unacceptable for men, Tznius-wise, depends on the standards of your community. Shorts therefore was frowned upon by your Yeshiva. The other Yeshiva, I am guessing, probably didn't want to enforce such standards although they believed in them, because they were "choosing their battles", in a Kiruv context. Which explains why the Rebbeim would not do it. Also, Rebbeim are supposed to dress in accordance with the honor of their role as Torah-teachers and Talmidei Chachamim. That demands a more formal dress mode than merely required by Halachah.

But sports is a different story. Like swimming, you may dress in a way that is not impractical.

However, a Yeshiva has a right - and an obligation - to consider, as well, the Chinuch effect of the students' behavior. So if they want, for instance, to impress upon the students to always consider themselves Yeshiva Bochurim even when playing ball, they may demand a dress code in the gym as well.

Ahava Posted - 08 November 2000 14:38

Maybe the elbows are covered because the upper arm is closest to the heart (like Tefillin worn on the upper arm) and its like a fence for that area.

MODERATOR Posted - 08 November 2000 14:44

As a homily that thought could be useful, but as a reason it is not given. The issue is simply Tznius, covering the body.

basyisroel-613 Posted - 09 November 2000 13:10

I don't know if this is 100% accurate but I've heard that from the knee down has the same "ervah status" as the shoulder to the elbow (or a tefach lower). Meaning they don't have the most stringent "ervah status" (that of the upper legs - that must be covered completely so that no separation can be seen) but have the next level of stringency (to just be covered with some fabric).

Like I wrote, I don't really know if one really has much to do with the other but it may be helpful for remembering.

MODERATOR Posted - 09 November 2000 13:56

I don't understand what you mean. Please explain what you mean by "covered with some fabric" as opposed to "covered completely so no separation can be seen".

The reason the calf must be covered is because there are those who hold that it is Ervah and must be covered.

belle613 Posted - 29 January 2001 23:33

yeah, what’s the deal with stockings at all? w/ a knee covering skirt, not slit, do you need to wear stockings? or are socks enough? if you need to wear stockings, do they have to be opaque? seamed? will sheer or semi sheer do fine? what’s the source basis?

MODERATOR Posted - 31 January 2001 18:03

We discussed this elsewhere. The reason for stockings is because according to most poskim you have to cover your leg not to the knee but to the ankle. The stockings are kind of a compromise between the opinions. If the stockings are sheer according to the consensus of poskim they do not accomplish anything.

possibly Posted - 12 February 2001 19:28

What do you mean by "sheer"? What would be a way to determine whether stockings are too sheer or permitted?

And why does it seem like no one (I'm from a pretty religious community and school) is careful about not wearing stockings that look like their leg? Also, where can I look to find halachic sources for Tznius guidelines? I want to know who I'm following. Thanks! Have a good day!

MODERATOR Posted - 12 February 2001 20:05

I would suggest the Sefer Kevoda Bas Melech.

As noted elsewhere in this forum, there is a big machlokes about whether a woman has to cover her leg between the knee and the ankle. Many poskim hold they do. The demand for wearing stockings as opposed to going bear-legged below the knee is a submission, at least in a compromise fashion, to these opinions.

There are those who require a measure of 70 denier as an acceptable measure of covering (see Kevoda Bas Melech ch. II and B'er Moshe IV:147). Others require merely that the stockings be visible as opposed to your legs looking as if there are no stockings at all, in which case, they serve no purpose.

Shtick Posted - 20 March 2001 18:40

Hi - about slits:

Can someone wear a coat dress w/the coat longer than the skirt and the coat has a slit in it?

Also, can one wear a skirt w/o a slit which is an ok length under your knees w/a shabbos coat (long - past the skirt) which has a slit?

And how about coat dresses in general? its maris ayin because from the back it doesn’t look like they're wearing a skirt.

- 20 March 2001 18:50

If its your skirt that shows under the slit and not your legs it is OK to wear the slit in the coat.

Maris Ayin does not apply unless Chazal specifically said so, and they did not prohibit coats. Also, we have a right to expect a measure of reasonableness from onlookers, and it is unreasonable on their part to assume that you have no skirt under your coat.

hadas fried Posted - 27 March 2001 21:49

I might not go to a bais yacoov I actually go to haftr and here on long island were you go to the supermarket and see woman wearing pants It is stylish to go with a slit it helps you walk it allows you to stretch your feet so it will take you only one step instead of two that is why I don't find it such halachic problem

MODERATOR Posted - 27 March 2001 21:52

Then wear a wider skirt.

The laws of Tznius do not change because it makes you more comfortable by violating them.

ptgard2281 Posted - 28 March 2001 15:47

I remember when the Bizz was in style at my high school -- sure it was wider, but it still had its problems. For example, when it was windy outside, there went the skirt. If they were too long, people tripped on them and they like pulled down at the waist.

I don't see why women shouldn't be able to wear pants in certain cases -- especially when going up a flight of stairs where there is a possibility of getting a "full view." No matter how unslitted and how wide the skirt, you can't tell me that it's still not possible to have a problem with even the most Tznius outfit.

MODERATOR Posted - 28 March 2001 15:55


Because pants are prohibited. Having a split between a woman's legs is not Tzniusdik, regardless of how baggy it is, plus there are poskim, such as Minchas Yitzchok, who rule that pants are still considered Beged Ish.

Skirts are not prohibited, but surely you should not walk up the steps directly in front of a man.

Me Posted - 28 March 2001 22:48

sometimes it's a little hard to prevent that especially if it's a non Jew like in a public place. in that case the man prob won't even look away.

Maidel123 Posted - 29 March 2001 17:52

The bottom line is that essentially men are ruled by their never-ending sexual thoughts, and no matter what you're wearing, how you're walking, how you're talking, how you do anything, a man is going to be consciously or subconsciously thinking about other things.

It's not your responsibility to avoid every situation. At some point, it becomes the man's responsibility to control himself. I'm not C"V saying that Tznius is not necessary since it's the man's problem. I just think this obsession and preoccupation about who can walk where and how, etc. are getting a little tiresome. It's your responsibility (as a woman) only so far.

MODERATOR Posted - 29 March 2001 17:54

Consciously and subconsciously is a big difference. You are correct that there are guidelines and limitations to the sin of Lifnei Iver, but these are determined by the Halachah. We cannot decide on our own what the guidelines or limitations of our responsibilities are. Hashem gave us our responsibilities and only He can quantify them.

Maidel123 Posted - 02 April 2001 17:09

I'm not saying c'v that people should not follow halacha. But when the obsession becomes 'when I walk this way or that way which is totally innocent guys get aroused,' well, that's not in your hands...for example, if some men have a fetish about women's hands, it's not necessary for a woman to cover her hands...following that same idea, there comes a point where you don't have to keep sacrificing your own normalcy to protect a man.

I am NOT saying that halacha can/should c'v be violated for any reason. There are just some things that people seem to do that are outside the realm of halacha and are just totally unnecessary. I pray that I'm being understood properly. :)

Posted - 02 April 2001 17:09

There are sometimes situations you can’t avoid, though, where men might accidentally get a view.

What about skirts that have pants attached to the bottom? I saw very frum people wearing these in Israel. The skirt covers well below the knee, and then the rest of the bottom is pants.

MODERATOR Posted - 02 April 2001 17:15

If the skirt covers below the knee it would be OK.

ptgard2281 Posted - 03 April 2001 16:08

I know some high schools have a dress code that prohibits pants being worn under skirts no matter how cold it is or what the fashion is -- they claim it is because of Tznius . . . from what you are saying about the pants attached to the skirt, I'd think they are making up a false excuse for girls not to wear pants under skirts whether they are attached or not.

MODERATOR Posted - 03 April 2001 16:26

These schools have no problem with a girl wearing pants under their skirts on the ski slopes for instance. It's just when a girl walks down the street or comes to school like that it is not allowed.

The reason is simple. Whereas on the ski slope you need to wear pants, just it has to be covered with a skirt, on the street there is no need for the pants except either to be able to remove the skirt conveniently upon desire, or to feel like you're "wearing pants" and you’re so cool and modern and nonconformist for doing so, and the fact that you even OWN pants is something to show everyone.

If that is the case, then it violates Tznius. Even if it is not the case, because it looks to objective observers so much like it is, that itself defines the act as violating Tznius or at the very least, it looks as if you want to violate Tznius. No big difference.

shosh234 Posted - 10 April 2001 19:32

If Tznius is supposed to be for yourself why does it always come down to inches below the knee, covered elbows etc. ?

MODERATOR Posted - 10 April 2001 19:37

It's not ONLY for yourself - its definitely to protect the guys too.

What "for yourself" means here is that by your dressing in a Tzniusdik manner you are expressing the dignity befitting a Bas Melech (princess), and you get rewarded for that. But this dignity and Tznius means, by definition, dressing in a way that will maintain holiness - and protect from unholy thoughts and deeds. The more you do that - protect from unholy thoughts and deeds - the more dignified you are and the more YOU gain.

Maidel123 Posted - 10 April 2001 19:44

Not to be argumentative, but bichlal there could be legitimate reasons to wear pants-i.e., you're cold. For example, I was sick today and was wearing pajama pants under my skirt to school and got yelled at. I think that is where it becomes somewhat of a personal decision.

Of course, schools can make their own rules, but don't call it a Tznius rule. Call it a decorum rule or what have you, but it's not really a Tznius issue.

MODERATOR Posted - 10 April 2001 19:47

In your own house you can dress like that since it doesn’t look like you just wanna take off your skirt when you get the chance. But in front of people and especially in school or outdoors it does look like that, and the reason not to wear a manner of dress that gives that impression can definitely be considered Tznius.

shannny Posted - 23 April 2001 15:32

Moderator, is it true that you believe that there is no difference in wearing sheer stockings and no stockings at all. All my teachers wear sheer stockings and say its fine to do so, so I believe that that is ok.

So now if you say there’s no difference, can I just wear no stockings at all?

MODERATOR Posted - 23 April 2001 15:37

You can't believe both (a) sheer stockings are like no stockings, and (b) sheer stockings are permitted to wear, because if sheer stockings are permitted its because those people hold they’re better than no stockings. You cant have it both ways.

But the vast majority of poskim hold not like your teachers, that both sheer stockings and no stockings are Halachicly insufficient.

Shira33 Posted - 11 September 2001 18:32

So what's the bottom line, must a girl cover the leg between her knee and her ankle or not? I don’t understand the "she can" or "she should." is it halachicly permitted or not? (proof please)

Pickle Posted - 08 October 2001 14:50

Just wanted to share something my teacher told us:

Women are kalim for kedusha, vessels for holiness. If you wear a slit, it's like a crack and you can no longer hold that kedusha. Nice, huh?

MODERATOR Posted - 08 October 2001 15:03


This was discussed above. Torah issues are not always universally agreed upon. In this particular case, the overwhelming majority of poskim hold women must cover their legs below their knees. That is what should be followed.

MODERATOR Posted - 08 October 2001 15:08



Pickle Posted - 18 October 2001 14:51

Moderator: You don't get it? I thought it was so nice :( well I guess al ta'am virayach ain lihispokayach (I think that's how it goes). Women have an amazing potential for kedusha - the can hold kedusha - they are kalim for kedusha. If a woman wears a slit, it's like a crack in that kali and she can no longer hold kedusha because she's lost a level of Tznius.

Q: What's the deal with short socks? I personally wear knee socks because I think you're not supposed to show your legs at all - even with a long skirt, short socks reveal your legs when climbing stairs or sometimes even just walking. It's hard for me sometimes cuz pple look at knee-socks as nerdy, but I try to ignore that. Are they assur/mutar??

MODERATOR Posted - 18 October 2001 15:00

Thanks for the explanation.

The overwhelming majority of poskim prohibit short socks.

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