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Seeing as summer is coming, I thought I'd clear up a few questions about male tzniut with regards to swimwear. Namely, my real question is: what is required? I live in southern California, so outside of the Jewish community, there is for all intents and purposes no modesty standard whatsoever.

Here are my questions:

  1. Would I be fine wearing a rash-guard (ie a t-shirt designed for swimming/bodyboarding) and shorts that come below the knees (preferably these will have ties so I can tighten them around the area below my knees so they won't come up)?
  2. What are the rules of men and women swimming together? If I'm at a non-Jewish relative's house and they're having a pool party and certain aunts and uncles of mine are swimming in the pool, am I allowed to swim as well, provided that we're all related?

Note: I'm not yet Jewish, but am in the process of converting, meaning that my family isn't Jewish. This may or may not affect how tzniut applies in my case, but I think that it's at least worth mentioning, just in case. It's understood that I'm not Jewish yet so I'm not technically obligated to keep tzniut, but I do, and since I plan by living by halacha for the rest of my life, I figure it's best to know and do now, rather than later.

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I recommend that you ask your Rabbi what you, in particular, should do, possibly using any advice or information presented here as data for that conversation. – Isaac Moses May 31 '11 at 21:41
I think you should ask #2 in a separate question. It doesn't have to do with male swimwear, and it'll help both you and future users alike. – yydl Jun 1 '11 at 16:32
You should also realize that tzniut is a mix of both objective rules, and subjective standards. It has a lot to do with what is common and acceptable in your community (for wide ranges of values for "community"), assuming "your community" has some modesty standards (that are objectively acceptable). – AviD Jun 4 '11 at 21:44
I don't think whatever standards of male tznius you are thinking of would apply when swimming... you don't need to have a shirt on or long shorts – Desert Star Jul 8 '12 at 20:48
up vote 8 down vote accepted

For Question 2: Igros Moshe forbids swimming in mixed beaches. There is no practical halachic difference between cousins/aunts/uncles and non-relatives for Yichud, negiya, etc. (especially that a convert is considered a new-born child).

Even by women, Igros Moshe says to be stringent and not swim with a male lifeguard (she is technically not doing anything wrong, and he is "busy with his work").

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Very helpful, thank you. It's always good to hear from the Rav Moshe Feinstein. – Naftuli Tzvi Kay Jul 8 '11 at 2:05

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