What is the Judaism's position on establishing a Va'ad Mishmeret HaTzniut, a private organisation which enforces tzniut rules in a specific community/town. At times they may use intimidation or violence.

At a time that there is no functioning Sanhedrin, would any halachic authority agree to have one?

I am looking for answers which deal with the halachic aspects of this question (preferably halachic authorities who have already dealt with this question) with not any answers which discuss it from a moral or ethical perspective.

  • 3
    Why is Tzniut something that would be imposed more than any other Torah obligation?
    – robev
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 21:17
  • You asked about "a private organisation" but the answer posted is about a public one.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 0:12

2 Answers 2


The Shulchan Aruch 529:4 says:

חייבים ב"ד להעמיד שוטרים ברגלים שיהיו משוטטים ומחפשים בגנות ופרדסים ועל הנהרות שלא יתקבצו שם לאכול ולשתות אנשים ונשים ויבואו לידי עבירה וכן יזהירו בדבר זה לכל העם שלא יתערבו אנשים ונשים בבתיהם בשמחה ולא ימשכו ביין שמא יבואו לידי עבירה אלא יהיו כולם קדושים :

The court must appoint officers who will walk around patrolling gardens, orchards, and rivers, so that men and women will not gather there to eat and drink and end up sinning. They should similarly warn the whole nation about this - that men and women should not joyously mix in houses and overindulge in wine, lest they come to sin. Rather, all should be holy.

The Mishnah Berura 529:22 adds that this is for all times:

וכן יזהירו בדבר זה לכל העם וכו' - הנה באמת ד"ז החיוב תמיד להזהיר ולמחות מי שיש בידו אלא שברגל מצוי הקלקול ביותר. ועיין בסי' של"ט בבה"ל ד"ה להקל

The Shaare Teshuva in 529:4 adds that in addition to watching, they should institute fines as well:

שם סעיף ד') חייבים ב"ד כו'. עיין בזכרון יוסף שחייב כל מורה בעירו לבטל הרקודין ומחולות ביו"ט כדאיתא בסימן שצ"ח ותקכ"ד אף בלא כלי שיר ובחורים ובתולות אפי' בחה"מ צריך למחות בכל כחו אפי' על חתונות יש לאסור וכן תקנו בכמה מקומות והטילו קנס גדול על העובר ע"ז ע"ש ועיין בשו"ת ח"צ סימן ק' דאפילו אבל לא ילמוד דברים הרעים ומכ"ש שאר כל אדם והבאתי דבריו לקמן סימן תקמ"ח ס"ק ה' עיין שם

  • 3
    The question mentioned "intimidation and violence". Those are not mentioned in these sources.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 0:13
  • 1
    Your last source does not say "should institute fines" but rather that they should protest and that some have instituted some fines.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 0:15
  • 1
    All these sources are about "tzniut" in the sense of public mixed gender interactions, not in the sense of, say, individual clothing choices.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 0:48
  • 2
    @double aa all of these are fair points. The OP asked for a halachic source for Tzniyus patrols (Vaad). This would fit that description. Whether the modern day, or specific ones he has in mind are exactly like this, I don’t know. But in the general sense, this would be a source that they may of been built off of.
    – Chatzkel
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 1:24

Theoretically, when there's only one Beis Din in town, it can rule any decrees and customs and exert power to maintain it. So this type of Mishmeres would be doable in a small Shtetl.

The problem starts with two or more Batey Din in the same town and any Jew can deny his subjection to any of them.

I live in Jerusalem and I visit Meah Shearim occasionally. Let's say I wear a red shirt and have no Tzitzis, hat, or coat. The Mishmeres guy stop me and read me the decision of the Badat"z of the "Ha'Edah" regarding Tznius measures preparing to beat me up. Then I say: "Wait a minute, "מי שמך לאיש שר ושופט עלינו" (Ex 2.14)? I belong to a different community and you have no jurisdiction over me!". So they smile ashamed and humiliated and leave me alone.

Your question is based on a presumption that some Beis Din's judgments are Halachicly absolute and universal, which is definitely false. Men and women in different communities dress and behave differently, whatever is considered modest in one community is unacceptable in others and there's no central authority accepted universally by everyone.

Regarding the power of intimidation or corporal punishment, the Halachah did not change, and when a court appoints its messengers, they have its full authority to exercise physical punishment, similarly to Biblical lashes.

  • That was not my assumption. I specifically asked regarding a specific community or town. I was also not referring to people wearing red shirts or white shirts rather to behaviors which are forbidden by Shulchan Aruch such as OC 75 or EH 21. And about your final point, I never assumed Halacha would change rather I am asking about the change of circumstances that there is no Sanhedrin nowadays. To finish off, you seem to be wearing a white shirt in that picture....
    – Moz
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 9:18
  • I understand, but my point was to stress the lack of official subservience of any Jew to any Beis Din. Imagine I'm a Belzer - I was born in that community and stayed in it in my youth. What exactly obligates me or my wife to their dress codes? Historically it was the external pressure that didn't let Jews leave their communities and enabled rabbis with great power, but nowadays?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Nov 17, 2021 at 10:16

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