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Ladies’ Dancing in Public

Is it halachically permitted for a group of married women (or even non married over age 12) to dance in a public area where men are able to see them? I.e. a bus station. Are there heterim to such a behavior?

If you don’t mind, can you give me the sources and reasonings behind the answer as well. Thank you so much.

Answer:

It is not permitted for girls to dance in public, where men are not only able to see them, but will certainly see them.

The reason for this is that dancing highlights the attractiveness of a girl, her grace, and so on, and can lead to improper thoughts. In addition, it is generally immodest for a girl to draw attention to herself in this manner.

One source for this is the Talmudic prohibition to walk behind women, which the Radvaz explains is on account of gazing at her motions.

Another set of sources emerges from the Mishnah at the end of Taanis, which mentions how unmarried girls would dance in front of potential husbands on Yom Kippur and on Tu Be’Av.

Commentaries explain that this does not constitute a lack of tzenius because only men who were not married went to see the dance, and they did so for the sake of picking out a fitting match. It is permitted to observe a girl for the purpose of marriage (see Rambam, Issurei Biah 21:3), and the enactment was made in this spirit, to enable unmarried girls to find a worthy husband.

See Shut Binyamin Ze’ev (305), who cites the Mishnah as proof of the fact that mixed dancing is not acceptable (the girls danced separately, and the men only watched), and it is mentioned by the Yam Shel Shlomo (Gittin Chap. 1, no. 18), who writes that unmarried men would stand from afar, and gaze at the girls leshem shamayim.

The Michtam (on Taanis) raises the question of how the enactment is suitable, and explains that it was made for girls who lack the financial means required to find a husband by conventional means (the problems in this realm didn’t start today…), and therefore it was a worthy enactment. Without this purpose, it public dancing would certainly be unsuitable.

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