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Laws of Tzenius

Which parts of a womans body must be covered according to basic halacha? What should be covered for tznious purposes?


There are certain parts of the body that must be covered irrespective of the local custom. These are the thighs (down to the knee), the upper body, the arms (as ruled by the Mishnah Berurah) up to the elbow, and a married woman’s hair.

Beyond this, the halachah depends on the local custom of women.

The halachos pertaining to these matters are found principally with regard to reciting Kerias Shema in front of a woman who is not modestly dressed. However, the same principles apply to the tznius required of women in the puclic domain.

Best wishes.

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  1. What is the textual source for the non changing requirements of elbow, knees, and neck?

    1. The source for this is the Gemara stating that the thigh of a woman is an erva. Commentaries and later halachic authorities understand this to mean that even in a place where the custom is to go with short skirts, the thigh remains an erva (see Eliya Rabbah 75:1, citing from Roke’ach; Tzemach Tzeddek, Even Ha-Ezer 139; Chayei Adam 4:2 and Mishnah Berurah 75:2, 10). This is extended by Poskim to the arms above the elbow, and to the neckline.

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