Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Tznius

Tznius literally means "hiddenness" or "to cover". It refers in general to proper behavior between men and women.

Women are not singled out for it, but men and women, having biologically, emotionally, and psychologically two totally different sexual personas, have two different roles to fulfill here.

Men must not listen to women singing, look at women improperly, and in general avoid all sensory stimulation from women.

Women are not bound to most of that. They may hear men sing, see men, and basically interact with men until the point of either physical contact or explicitly lewd thoughts.

On the other hand, women must make sure that they do not become an accomplice in the violations of others. There is a manner and mode of behavior that befits a royal Jewish daughter of the King. She is responsible to uphold that.

In general, we protect the dignity of our women more than that of our men. Although a man is a son of the King, he is expected by the King to go to war, go to Shul often, make a living, and perform other activities that necessitate a less outwardly regal bearing.

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The way you talk, walk, and behave in general can be violations of tznius even if you are wearing your school uniform. Flirting, being boisterous or acting in a way that attracts attention on the street, being in the wrong type of places, all of this and more constitutes violation of Tznius.

The definition of Tznius fits in with the halachos because the Halochos of Tznius all point in the direction of not showing off that which should not be shown off, not revealing that which should not be revealed, and not attracting attention where it should not be attracted.

In other words, what should be hidden and what may be public is what the Halachos of Tznius are about.

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The way you talk includes but is not limited to: That certain type of smile, that certain type of flicking back your hair, that certain type of eye contact, and other body language.

It also includes vulgarities and inappropriate language.

What you’re talking about means to avoid certain topics and an overly informal bearing while speaking to men.

It means a general psychological "distance" between you and the person you are talking to.
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.

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On one hand, Tznius 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.

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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.

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Tznius means "hidden", not "non existent." The reason non-tznius things are indeed non-tznius is because they make public things that belong in private - meaning, between a husband and wife. There is a proper time and place for everything (well, not everything), and tznius means keeping these things in their proper place. It does not mean they are intrinsically bad or evil c"v.

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The idea is this: Kol kevuda bas melech penimah means that women, even though they obviously need to be on the street at times, should at least look like they don't belong there.

Now, I did not say that they should not look like they belong there, but rather that they should look like they do not belong there. There is a big difference.

When you walk down Wall Street for instance, and you see these women in suits and briefcases, it's clear that they belong in an office, and that they are not merely strolling down the avenue, but need to be on the street to get somewhere.

It's that type of look that Kol kevuda bas melech penimah desires. Again, this is not to say that someone who does not have that "out of place" look on the street means they are hanging out, nor does it mean that they are any less frum than anyone else. But the point is NOT that your clothing makes you look like you're hanging out. Avoiding that look is not enough for Kol kevuda bas melech. To reach that level, the look must be one of out-of-placeness on the street. Like a princess whose formal dress hopefully lets everyone know that she only walks out of her castle for a purpose. Or at least, a businesswoman.

So perhaps your school thinks that the denim look is not formal enough to reach this level. Farming is cool, perhaps, if you're a farmer. But if you're a Bas Melech, looking like the farmer's daughter is out of place. They're not really wrong, especially if we're talking about the denim "look" - you know, the light blue top (with dark blue stitches at every seam) with the dark blue skirt (with white stitches), complete with pockets in the back, one of which has the brand name tag, which is designed to look as if it were made of leather, sewn prominently on to one of them.

The question is, where's the line? How do you quantify such a thing? And that's a judgment call for the Torah authorities in each community to make for themselves.

Denim itself is not like shatnez that is prohibited to wear. It's the "look" that you want to avoid. How far you have to go in order to cross that line is not something that can be measured, and it depends on the Torah authorities of each community.

Important note: Even where and to the extent that denim is not allowed, we are not talking here about violating open Halachos, such as wearing a short skirt or singing in public. It must be clear that this principle, although true, is not on the same level as the basic Tznius obligations. And if someone does violate this principle, that does NOT mean they are violating the Halochos of Tznius. It means that they are not fulfilling the inyan of Kol Kevuda Bas Melech to the extent that it should be fulfilled.

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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. 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.

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Tznius for men and women mean two totally different things. Kol Kevuda bas melech Pnimah, for instance, does not apply to men. Women are princesses and it is below their honor for them to belong to the streets. Men, on the other hand, were given the unfortunate curse of having to make a living plus, l'havdil, the Torah duty of dealing with public issues, including public Mitzvos.

Also, a woman's body or voice is considered ervah to a man but not vice versa.

There is a statement in the Sefer Chasidim by R. Yehuda HaChasid that all Tznius Halachos that apply to women also apply to men, such as a woman being prohibited to hear a man sing, but this is neither the Halachah nor common practice.

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Unfortunately, we are often taught - if not explicitly, then implied - that "good" girls are Tzniusdik, and "bad" girls are not, implying that as long as you are "good" you will automatically be Tzniusdik, and only if you are "bad" will you not.

This is a terrible mistake. You are not "better" the more Tzniusdik you are, but rather you are better the harder you try to be Tzniusdik. "According to the effort is the reward".

Obviously, as a rule, the more effort you put in, the more Tzniusdik you’re going to be.

But the problem is that when a well-meaning, "good" girl finds it hard to do what's right, she gets confused because "If I was a good girl, why wouldn't I be doing this properly?" she thinks to herself.

The answer is that even for "good" girls Tznius can be hard. And - and this is very, very important - THE FACT THAT IT IS HARD FOR YOU DOES NOT MAKE YOU ANY LESS "GOOD".

That's where our teaching often goes wrong. That message is not given over.

Of course it's hard! G-d gave you a Yetzer Horah! That Yetzer Horah is supposed to make it hard. And the more you fight the Yetzer Horah the more reward you get. And the more the Middah of Tznius is in you.

If you wouldn't have a Yetzer, you wouldn't have Olam Habah. If it wouldn't be hard, you wouldn't get any Olam Habah.

It's OK if it's hard. It's hard for me, too, and for all human beings. Some more, some less. The main thing is that we try hard in response.

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Hashem made guys so that often they do get inappropriate thoughts, and not even because they make a conscious choice to do so. Everyone has a Yetzer Horah.

In the Christian world, priests are supposed to be above evil temptations. In the Torah, with the exception of notables such as Dovid HaMelech, who "shechted" his Yetzer Horah, nobody is. If you stab a guy he will react by bleeding red blood, and if you entice him he will react by having a Yetzer Horah.

THE DIFFERENCE IS, however, that Jews are supposed to control their Yetzer Horah and not succumb to it. Neither in deed nor in thought. That doesn't mean the Yetzer Horah is not there - that is something you cannot control - rather, it means you have beaten it even though it is there.

It is very, very important to distinguish between that which a person can control and that which he cannot. What he cannot control he is not responsible for. Hashem made men with a yetzer horah, and that cannot be controlled.

It's like let's say you're on a diet and you pass by a bakery in the morning and you smell these delicious cookies being baked.

Some people go in and buy them, some people will just walk on by despite the aroma, and some people will not even go near the bakery because they don't want to be put in that position.

But NOBODY, no matter what kind of diet you're on, is not going to smell the cookies.

Jewish men are on a diet, because certain behaviors are not good for their Neshomah. Some break their diet and some don't. But everyone has a Yetzer Horah.

I wrote on the boards that this particular Yetzer Horah works in very very sneaky ways. It's often subconscious. And so in the interest of siyagim and gedorim, it makes sense to stay away from the bakery, because why do you need to be there altogether?

You are fooling yourself if you think that men are not affected by what they see.

There is a story of Rav Elya Lopian ZTL, one of the greatest Tzadikim in recent history, where a student of his told him that he was invited to a mixed wedding, "But", he told Rav Elya, "don't worry, it doesn't effect me, Boruch Hashem."

Rav Elya Lopian said, "I am 80 years old, married, not healthy, and blind in one eye, and when I see such things IT STILL EFFECTS ME!"

There was another story where a Modern Orthodox rabbi came to the Satmar Rebbe ZTL and told him that he "deals with women" all the time but it doesn't affect him at all.

"Tell me, please, rabbi" the Rebbe said. "I'm curious. How many aveiros do you have to do to reach such a level?"

G-d made men with a Yetzer Horah and whether they like it or not, whether you like it or not, men are attracted to women.

That's why guys and girls are not supposed to have casual relationships, that’s why we have mechitzas at weddings, that’s why kol isha is prohibited, and that’s what tznius is all about.

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The permissibility of wearing makeup depends what age, what community, and what kind of makeup.

When we say something is "good looking" it means different things in different contexts. When we say "That's a beautiful mountain", "beautiful" means "majestic"; a "beautiful deer" means graceful; a beautiful lion "means powerful and royal"; a "beautiful slap shot" means "fast and hard"; a "beautiful computer" means "sleek and modernistic".

When we say "a beautiful woman", we don’t mean she looks like a space ship, like we would mean when we say the new Panasonic boom box is a "beautiful machine."

We mean one thing: This woman is attractive to men.

The things that make women "beautiful", including being young-looking, are those things that attract men to them. Logically, there is nothing more beautiful about a young woman than an old woman, considering that an old woman represents wisdom, experience, accomplishment, and honor. But she's not as attractive to men.

And, it is also a fact: Makeup is designed to make girls more attractive to men. It makes your eyes bigger than they really are, your lips redder, your cheekbones higher, and to hide various physical imperfections.

For a girl to say "I am not interested in looking attractive to men; I’m just interested in looking beautiful", she is contradicting herself.

Now there's nothing wrong with a woman being beautiful, including attractive to men. It’s the way Hashem made her. But now the question is, is there anything wrong with a teenage girl artificially enhancing her looks in a way that all that changed is now she is more attractive to men.

Is it right for a 15 year old to do that?

Obviously not. But the problem is, in today's secular society, women have become objectified to the point where it is considered almost weird not to wear makeup, even at age 15, since it is so a part of secular society that girls are expected to want to attract guys.

That’s why guys don’t wear makeup. Seriously. Makeup would make men more attractive to women and movie stars always wear makeup on the set. And when you see a picture of a celebrity caught on the street without his makeup, he definitely looks much more blah.

But because society, for whatever reason, emphasizes looks more by women than men and so women are expected to be "look" perfect, while men can still get away by being judged by their "attitude".

But whatever. So really, girls have no reason to wear makeup until they’re of marriageable age, after which they indeed would like to look more attractive to men. Otherwise, it doesn’t accomplish anything, except make the girl more comfortable in a society that declared that sexiness is "normal attire" for women. Unfortunately, we Yidden cannot accommodate that kind of societal demands. We have our own society.

We hope. So here's the story: If a girl is living in a Torah society she has zero reason to wear makeup until she’s ready to start attracting guys. If she’s living among a very secular society, I would not pick this as my battle. If she has the guts and the strength to walk around different than everyone else, then more strength to her! If not, I would definitely not force such a rule in a community where every 15 year old girl is walking around with makeup. You have to know where your people are holding.

I do not mean that the motivation of the girls is to impress guys, but the definition of beauty, in the sense that make-up makes them beautiful, is that they are more successful in impressing guys.

So if a girl feels ugly without makeup and pretty with makeup, and therefore she feels "bad" about herself, it means that unless she has the ability to attract guys she will feel bad about herself. This is true because objectively, the only thing the makeup did for her was give her that ability.

It did not make her look wiser, more experienced, a better person, etc., all of which could define "prettiness". The problem is not her intention but her perspective, that being able to artificially enhance your face so that you can attract guys (that’s all makeup does) makes you feel better.

The solution is for her to get a perspective on what ought to make a person feel good and what’s "hevel hevolim".

A job interview may be a legitimate reason to wear makeup, depending on the situation, the age of the girl, etc. But that’s not what these schools who prohibit makeup are talking about.

I'm NOT saying that the reason girls wear makeup is to impress guys. No, no, no.

I agree that girls wear makeup to look good.

But the question is, what kind of "good looks" does makeup give a girl, because there are many different kinds of "good looks".

A lion who "looks good" means powerful, or majestic. A skinny lion does NOT look good.

A Rabbi who "looks good" means a Hadras Panim that makes him appear to be a Tzadik. A Rabbi's "looks" are enhanced, let's say, with a long flowing beard.

A mountain that "looks good" means awe inspiring and tremendous. A petite mountain is a loser, looks-wise.

So "good looks" can mean many things. What does it mean when we say a girl all made up is more "good looking" than a girl with a bare face?

Majestic? Powerful? Awe inspiring? No.

How about wise? Experienced? She looks more like a baalas midos? Also no.

What exactly does makeup enhance about your looks? Specifically?

There’s only one thing makeup makes you look: More attractive to guys. Not richer, not smarter, not even healthier (on the contrary - nowadays, the minimal-to-no-makeup look is considered healthy, like on the cover of those herbal magazines).

It makes you look sexier, that’s all.

Now when girls put on makeup, they don’t think about this, because its so ingrained in their heads that makeup somehow makes you "look better". And it does, in a way. Just now you know which way.

And that’s the problem. To secular society, that’s the definition of "good looking", that is, attractive to guys. So when a secular person says "I want to be more good looking", the default value of that statement means she wants to look more appealing to the opposite sex. They’re so into sex, the Goyim, that when they say "good looking" that’s what it means to them. And to them, there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s what their main reason for "looking good" is.

But should we share that definition of "good looking"? When a Bas Yisroel says "I want to improve my looks" that’s fine, but the question is, in what way do you want your looks to improve?

Again, the terms "pretty", "good looking", "better looking" are all ambiguous and mean something different when referring to different things.

So what does it mean when referring to you?

If makeup is what makes you look better, then looking better means one thing.

So the issue is not if it is assur to look good. The issue is what is there about high cheekbones that are "better looking" than lower ones? Is it healthier? Wiser? Or more attractive to guys?

Same thing with shiny lips or blueish eyelids. What's "good looking" about blueish eyelids?

Only one thing.

Once again, I am not saying at all that girls want to attract guys so they put on makeup. Especially since little girls like 8 and 9 think they "look good" in makeup too. But I am saying that we are so brainwashed by society's definition of "good looking" that we accept it without thinking about what it means and what looking good is actually good for.

There is nothing wrong with looking good. And there is nothing wrong with even being attractive to guys - that’s the way Hashem made you. But if you’re interested in Tznius it means not to go out of your way to make yourself even more attractive to guys by painting dark lines around your eyes and lips, painting your face to make believe your cheek bones are higher, and coloring your eyelids with unnatural color.

Lipstick emphasizes your lips, attracting attention to them, nothing more. Is that "good looking"? What do you think girls gain by attracting attention to their lips except if it’s guys' attention that they’re attracting? In what other context does attracting attention to your lips have any meaning at all?

That’s not why you’re doing it - you’re doing it because society convinced you that that's generically "good looking". But what society says is good-looking is not at all generic. It means one thing.

All I’m asking is that you think of what these specific types of enhancements to your looks accomplishes. It does not make you look healthier or wiser or stronger or sweeter. And then understand what it DOES do to your looks. And even though that’s not what you intend, that’s what’s happening. And the reason we don’t realize it is because were so brainwashed by secular society - the part of it that’s so into sex - that we accept, without thinking, their philosophy of what "good looking" is.

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You can only do the best you can, and try not to look at non-tzniusdik dressed people, even if you happen to see them, if you get my drift. The Gemora says that if a person has a road available that he can take where he will avoid his seeing such women then he must take that road. So we try to avoid places where women are particularly not tzniusdik, such as beach towns and the like, and we try to function normally in our lives while trying to avoid as much pritzus as possible. If not, well, we are not obligated to stay indoors, although I honestly would not blame someone if that's what he wanted to do. A Rosh Yeshiva of one of my rebbeim once said to my Rebbi, "Your son will see more Tumah going to the corner to buy a Coke than your grandfather did all his life in the shtetl. Therefore it is futile to think you will shelter your children from it."

This doesn't mean we shouldn't minimize our exposure to it where we can. We should. It's just that unfortunately, 99% of us live in places where it's unavoidable, so we have to deal with it.

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You may not go mixed swimming even if the men are only Goyim. This is because of the Middah of Pritzus and lack of "booshah" that it involves. See also Igros Moshe EH IV:62 where he says that even if its only a non-Jewish lifeguard (and no other men), even though he is not there for "pritzus" reasons, and we are assuming he will definitely not be involved in anything besides his lifeguarding work, still, G-d fearing women should not go there, because you never know what this one lifeguard may try.

So just imagine what the status is on a beach full of women-seeking goyim. No, you should not be involved in that.

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Mixed swimming is prohibited even at a young age. Since the kid will remember the mixed swimming when he's older - including when he's over 13 - it doesn't matter how old he is currently. It's what he's going to remember in the future that we're concerned about

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You are allowed to "see" men swimming but cannot "watch". Although there is no requirement for a mechitza so women cannot see men in Shul, and a woman is allowed to look at a man in a way that a man may not look at a woman, any "looking" that brings on hormonal activity is prohibited for women as well as men, under the prohibition of Lo Sassuru Acharei Levavchem.

So if a girl watches men for "hormonal" purposes, or if she watches in a way that is likely to trigger lewd thoughts, it is prohibited.

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You should not go to co-ed fitness centers. Even if you avert your eyes, you are not supposed to be in a Makom Pritzus, see Bava Basra 57b. If it is needed for medical reasons and there is no alternative, it is a different question and depends on the details.

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I don’t know if your walk is really not tzniusdik, but if it is not, you should make a conscious effort to change it, even if it your "natural" walk. The instruction of not walking "bkoma zekofah" or in a non-Tzniusdik fashion does not mean merely that we should not try to walk that way, but rather that we should proactively make sure not to.
Having a normal healthy posture is fine. It’s the "runway" type posture that’s the problem

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The Steipler says the prohibition of wearing red clothing was because red in those days was not worn as a normal color like other colors, and when someone wore it, it was known as an article of clothing that it pritzus. Nowadays, however, women wear red normally, so it's permitted. Still, if you are choosing whether to buy red clothes in the first place, its better not to buy red, but if you have it already, it's not a problem - go wear it. (Orchos Rabeinu vol. 4 p. 180)

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Men go to war and not women, so women cannot bear arms, it’s Beged Ish.
You are allowed to carry a kitchen knife or a baseball bat or any other ad-hoc weapon for defense. But something that's designed specifically to be a weapon, such as a switchblade or brass knuckles for instance would be prohibited.

It's because the Torah prohibits it. It's more like because it's a man's duty to go to war than it being untznius, although those two concepts are closely related.

Like all prohibitions in the Torah (almost), in case of imminent danger to life it is permitted.
The Israeli army does make women go to war. The Israeli army does not follow the Torah.

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The Gemora, rishonim, Shulchan Aruch and poskim say that married women have to cover their hair, and there is no dissenting opinion.

There were certain communities in which the populace simply refused to follow certain halachos, and the situation got out of control. You may want to say, "They weren't ready to listen" to the halachah. The Aruch Hashulchan laments this unfortunate phenomenon in his area (Lithuania) and says that "b'avonosainu harabim" married women not covering their hair is epidemic.

But it doesn't make it right. I hope that, in 100 years from now, our grandchildren will not be saying "Our great grandparents were frum and they spoke loshon horah. And they lived in big Jewish communities with big rabbonim. That proves it's OK.”

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As far as your hair goes, as opposed to elbows, knees, and legs, there is no quantified measure of how long your hair may be. The main thing is that it should not stand out in a wild way. An important element of Tznius is not to attract attention and not to "stick out". That's the guideline. The exact number of inches is, in this case, a judgment call.

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Hair is considered ervah, and to the observer, something that looks to him like ervah has the same effect as ervah itself. Therefore, there are poskim who say that a hair covering that looks like hair is insufficient. The issue is just quantifying it.

"Presentable" is relative, and it is not just up to the woman and her husband, but Hashem as well. Therefore, the Halachah must always be consulted.

Why some body parts are called "ervah" and others not, is not altogether measurable by human feelings; it is a Halachicly-defined concept.

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Shaitels are not be Tznius according to some because they defeat the purpose of the prohibition to show your hair. If the hair is ervah then a facsimile of the hair would be not tzniusdik either. Imagine walking down the street in clothing that mimics the look of your skin so well that you can’t even tell you’re wearing clothing.

Skin-colored stockings are the same thing.

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The reason we don't cover our face is because your face was designed not as Ervah (a private part of you) but rather to express yourself, to show what is inside you - a very legitimate and even noble function. Communication with others and expression of emotions is what your facial expressions accomplish. So even though faces may be more attractive than other body parts, they are also more purposeful. Ervah has no purpose in being exposed.

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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.

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All you have to do is cover the knee. There is no such thing as 4 inches below in Halachah.

However, the knee must be covered even when sitting and walking as well, and if your skirt just covers your knee while standing straight it will not cover it in other positions. Therefore, some length has to be added. There is however, no Halachic quantification for this. If you need 4 inches, then it's 4 inches. If you need 3, 6, or 8, then that's what it is. Whoever told you 4 inches, I guess, figured that that's the amount you will need to cover your knee in all positions

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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".
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.

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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 Mishan 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 slits, is something that these communities do not feel is Halachicly justified.

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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.

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There is no heter to wear pants to ski, as long as there are men present. The same applies to horseback riding. Sports can be done while dressed untzniusdik if you are not in the presence of men.

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Schools generally 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.

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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 Halachah, 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.

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