Question:

I’m becoming religious and live with a non-Jewish roommate who is a lesbian. This is, of course (at least in my mind), one of the smaller questions in living with a non-Jew, but not a question I’ve had the guts to ask someone in my community, as many people know her through me. Do I need to be tznius in front of women who are attracted to women? I often walk around the apartment in pajamas and I’m wondering if this is ok. I usually wear loose pants and a long sleeve shirt, but occasionally have gone into the kitchen at night in shorts or leggings and a t-shirt and bumped into her in the hall. Is it better to be more covered and avoid leaving my room without my legs/upper arms covered? How does the Halacha apply to someone who identifies as a male but is biologically a female (she has a couple of friends that are). Do I need to be more stringent around them? I know this is an uncomfortable question, but as I’m just trying to do my best until our lease is up, I’d really appreciate guidance.

Answer:

For a religious person, living with a non Jewish roommate is a challenge in numerous ways. Regarding your specific question, from a halachic standpoint, your female roommate is female, regardless of how she personally identifies herself. From a technical standpoint, the Halacha is that a woman does not have to tznius, in front of other women, as we don’t usually assume that this will cause the other woman to have negative thoughts.

On the other hand, there are two reasons why you would want to walk out of your room in a tznius way. One is the idea that we should always be tznius, (with the exception of when one has to take care of their personal needs in the proper place), because we are always in the presence of G-d. The second is that if this person is attracted to women, you want to keep out of her way, for personal reasons. Understandably you will want to move somewhere else as soon as you can. In any case you may walk around the apartment with loose pants and the shirt without any problem.

I have a deep respect for your decision to become religious even though it means making a lot of changes, and some of them are not that easy. It is a path to be constantly growing and making yourself better. The gemorah says “In the place that baalei teshuva stand (in olam haba), even completely righteous tzaddikim can’t stand”. This just shows how much G-d loves and respects you.

If there is any other way that I can help you out, whether with any halachic or haskafic issues that may come up please get back to me and let me know. I would love to be of help.

Best Wishes

 

Sources:

OH:C 2-2, 75-1.

Tags: tznius for women

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