Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rav Moshe Feinstein on Stockings

This is an interesting teshuva, in which the questioner perhaps asks about nude stockings, perhaps unaware that "nude" is a color, and not that it really is see-through.

Except of course that there seem to be two different aspects of stockings -- note that I am no expert, and this is as much as I was able to ascertain. It seems that "nude" is a color. But besides that, there is a quality of sheerness, which is measured in "deniers" -- 1 denier = 1 gram per 9 000 meters. The lower the denier count, the sheerer the garment, and thus, the less opaque it is. It is unclear what Rav Moshe would say about opacity. He might have a different teretz in terms of that. E.g., in terms of whether specific opacities are called ashashit. Not that it matters, because below the knee is not erva. Here, he assumes that the metzius under discussion is that the stockings appear see-through because of their flesh color, which is certainly true for some stockings.

It has applicability to the issue of wigs (in terms of appearance to people that it is visible), as well as to issues of general tznius.

This completes the excerpts from Igros Moshe, for now. A rough translation follows:

Igros Moshe, Even haEzer chelek 4, siman 100, seif 6:

6: If there is reason to insist that the daughters go out in stockings, when they are not insistent that they are not so fine that the flesh is not visible from inside:

And in this that there are men who are insistent that their wives and daughters do not go out without stockings on their feet, but they are not insistent that these stockings are in such a manner that it is impossible to see {the skin of the legs}, that you {kevod Torato} asked what difference there is, for if they consider it to be erva also that which is below the knee, this does not help them at all, for erva through a glass is forbidden. And if {as} in the Mishna Berura that it is not within the realm of erva, there is no need for stockings!

The truth is that it is for greater tznius, since lehalacha until the knee is not erva. However, there is also reason for this tznius in this, for in reality the threads, even of the fine stockings, are not able to show the flesh of the legs. And the proof of this is that when they are dyed white and black, the flesh of the legs is not visible. And only because they dye them in a color which is like the appearance of the flesh. Therefore in reality they are covered and are not visible at all, except that it looks to people like it is visible.

And therefore, even in a location {on the body} which is in fact considered actual erva, there is also a distinction, since after all the erva is covered, however, there is to forbid because of hirhur at any rate, since it appears to be the flesh.

And if so, if it is a place which does not bring to hirhur, like this which is below the knee, even if it were within the realm of erva there would be no prohibition. And it is applicable to actual din by female minors about whom there is no hirhur, but yet it is in th realm of erva, that they would be permitted in stockings such as this. And this is perhaps their reasoning.


Ariella said...

It seems to me that even opaque stockings would not suffice if the part below the knee were considered in the same category of erva as the upper legs. Certainly, no one would say that a woman can go out wearing only tights with no skirt -- even if the tights are completely opaque and not the color of legs. If one argues that the lower leg has a similar status to the arms, then it would be ok to have a garment that fits tightly about it but not something sheer. While the RW world does not approve of women wearing short socks, the fact that sheer stocking are only banned by those of the Satmar type persuasion indicates an inconsistency about it.

Anonymous said...

No, a skirt is different because it hides the shape of the legs, which tights certainly don't. It's not a matter of what is covered, but rather of the subjective hirhurim a person is likely to have.

Ariella said...

"It's not a matter of what is covered, but rather of the subjective hirhurim a person is likely to have."

How can something that idiosyncratic dictate halacha? By that token, all women should be wearing chadors with their hands in muffs in case any man would find their faces or hands to be much for his subjective view. Oh, and we should add ugly sunglasses lest the eyes be considered too alluring.


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