Monday, June 27, 2005

Men's Elbows, Bee's Knees

Okay, I now have a question about the halacha. If you know answers, post 'em, otherwise the Balabusta is going to have to do some research.

Over on DovBear's site, they are having a happy, rowdy discussion of women being called to the Torah, and proper dress for doing so, and someone asked why there was no issue of men's elbows being uncovered in shul. DovBear replied that men's elbows are not ervah. I've seen enough men's elbows to have no issue with that. But...

OK, what on men IS ervah? Or what on men needs to be covered?

Both in issues of dress and of kol isha, I have, lots of times, seen detailed explanations and debates about what women are required to cover up, literally or figuratively. In many cases I have seen explanations or rationales given almost exclusively relating to decently dressed (and quiet) women not arousing men sexually.

What halacha relates to what men can uncover? I realize that both for halachic reasons and reasons of traditional misogyny (I do separate the two, YES), the focus in on women's behavior and men's response to it. But is there no halacha, but only tradition about what men can wear? Apparently elbows are OK, short-sleeved shirts would be fine (although Chasidic men, for example, do not wear these. Is it tradition, or modesty.) What about shorts?

Is there a halachic reason a man cannot be called to the Torah in a Speedo? (Aside from the halachic reason of good taste?) What I'm asking here folks, is, does Torah require men to wear clothes? And if so, are there any restrictions on them beyond the custom of the community? (Ignoring shatnes, bans on wearing the other sex's clothing, and other things that would apply to both men and women.) Is there any concept of a part of a man's body being ervah, or some equivalent?

Honestly quite curious. I have no practical application for this (the boyfriend dresses very modestly, and the halacha would not apply to him if he didn't), but I have heard so many detailed explanations and arguments about women's modesty that I had to ask.


suleiman said...

i think there are more specific rules for women's tziniut because there are specific prohibitions for men to look at parts of a woman's body. however, tzniut still does exist for men. i have heard that some men do not wear shorts and do not overly expose their armpits, as examples of tziniut.

Sarah said...

Also, while a woman tehincally can daven and make brachot naked (if by herself) a man needs to be wearing something to separate his upper half from the lower half (causing halachic problems with brachot when men are in hospital gowns)

Ben Avuyah said...

That's good news,

I think next week I shall show up to davening with just a necktie sashayed about my midriff.

Shira Salamone said...

Balabusta in Blue Jeans--can't call you anything shorter, since there's also a "Mrs. Balabusta" blog--you might find these October 2004 posts of mine interesting reading. The first is on the subject of "kol isha" (the prohibition against men listening to a woman singing), and the second is on women being given--or not--aliyot. We got quite a nice discussion going there--19 comments on one post, 24 on the other--from points along the religious-observance spectrum ranging roughly from Reconstructionist and Reform through Centrist Orthodox. (My only rule is that all comments must be respectful--no insults allowed.) See them starting here:

Balabusta in Blue Jeans said...

Thanks, I'll check that out!