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Is there anything wrong with men wearing shorts (i.e. short pants)?

If there is, why would it be any different than wearing short sleeves?

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Who says short sleeves are OK? –  Isaac Moses Aug 9 '10 at 1:25
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Are you asking about men or women? –  Yahu Aug 9 '10 at 6:03
    
@Isaac Indeed, I assumed they were because I don't know any people who don't wear them... But if they are that would be part of the answer @Yahu men –  yydl Aug 10 '10 at 2:20
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yydl: Correction, taking into account your answer to Yahu: You don't know any men who wear them. If your question is specifically about men, I think you should specify as much in the question. Otherwise, there is potential to confuse some people and offend others. In fact, I'd encourage you to create and use a "men" tag here. –  Isaac Moses Aug 11 '10 at 15:19
    
YS: Re: R' Moshe, I assume you are referring to short sleeves, not shorts. –  Dave Aug 11 '10 at 15:33
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4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Piskei Teshuvos in the beginning of Siman 2 cites Igros Moshe and other Acharonim who delineate the guidelines of modesty as it applies to men. The points that emerge are:

1) Modest dressing for men is not an absolute obligation, but it is very significant (וצריך ליזהר etc.)

2) The definition of immodest in this respect is if you'd be embarrassed to be seen like that in your house by a casual guest.

3) Thus, there is room for leniency to wear short sleeves etc. due to the heat. [Whether this applies to shorts would probably depend on the person and the norms of his community. There are people who would not be caught dead wearing shorts; for them it is presumably a problem.]

4) Nevertheless, a Talmid Chacham should be stringent in these matters, taking care to "walk modestly before Hashem" as much as possible. Even though most people do not qualify as a Talmid Chacham nowadays, it is appropriate for anyone to increase his level of modesty.

Note: The halachos are more stringent with regard to davening. What is allowed in general may not be appropriate during prayer.

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Regarding #4, the mishnah in Pesachim (4th chapter if I am not mistaken) says "Le'olam ya'aseh adam et atzmo talmid chacham," meaning that anyone should act like the way a talmid chacham would. –  Adam Mosheh Jan 31 '12 at 5:49
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The Mishna Berura in 2:1 says that men should not uncover what is normally covered. In his time (or the time of those he is quoting), men did not uncover above their elbow and so he quotes this as an issue of "Tznius and Bushah before Hashem". This is not true today where many bnei Torah wear short sleeves. (Of course, there are people who walk outside shirtless or sleeveless, but society would not consider this "appropriate attire"- e.g: no shirt, no shoes, no service!) I don't know of any distinction in halacha for men between arms and legs except regarding the norms of society.

The mishna brura then quotes a gemara that says talmidei chachamim should wear clothes that do not show any part of their body.

So it would seem technically mutar, but not best practices. It is interesting to note, however, the difference in length between the shorts of, say, the 70's (very short) and those of today.

I seem to be echoing Dave's answer, just different references.

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The Sefer BeYishak Yikare (Siman 2) writes "En Raui-not proper" to wear shorts (En Raui doesn't mean it's Asur but Lechatehila should be followed). However, it is not clear what the definition of shorts are. It's possible that below the knees would be fine.

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Nothing wrong with it according to my humble opinion. But some Poskim might find some area of Tzniut that applies to this.

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I am assuming you are referring to men. –  RCW Aug 9 '10 at 7:20
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I downvoted originally because your answer seemed flippant and not a direct answer to the question. Your new answer fixes these issues, so I removed my downvote. I don't know if anyone else upvoted or downvoted, but that explains my response, at least. –  Isaac Moses Aug 11 '10 at 16:56
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I appreciate that. Thank you for explaining. My intent was to cause the questioner to consider reformulating the question in a way that would frame the issue he is grappling with. I probably should have just said that. What are the circumstances in which wearing shorts are problematic? Can you wear them at home? Is swimming in them problematic? Playing basketball? Going for a run? Walking into shul? Walking down the street? What would the issue of Tzniut be regarding shorts? Is their a prohibition for a man to show his legs? Why is it that a Yeshivah guy wont wear shorts when exerci.? –  RCW Aug 12 '10 at 7:21
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RW, the language of your answer ("some people") still implies that you look upon a posek who may find a problem with wearing shorts as a minority opinion, perhaps even marginal. Those "some people" are major poskim. Have you come across a major posek who disagrees with those "some people" regarding the parameters of tzniyus as it applies to men? If you have, then that should be your answer. –  Yahu Aug 15 '10 at 5:09
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I see you are being very precise in my wording, I appreciate that. I have changed it to reflect your comments. Can you please educate me on which major Poskim discuss the permissibility (or lack there of) of wearing shorts? I want to think about how to respond to the other two issues you raised. Thank you for pointing it out to me. –  RCW Aug 16 '10 at 8:10
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