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If a woman is in a position where she only has clothes that are either not tzniut, or contain shaatnez, which should she pick? So basically, she is in a position where she has to wear clothes out, for example to go to a business meeting, but her only choices of clothes are either immodest or contain shaatnez? According to Halacha, what transgression avoidance should she prioritize?

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    The gemara (Brachot 19b, YD 303) says you should rip shaatnez off a man even in public since the embarrassment doesn't justify violating the law. Doesn't say women are different.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 22 at 19:08
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    Rephrased, "if a woman has no clothes, what should she do?"
    – shmosel
    Commented Jan 22 at 19:08
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    I have seen I believe in נהרות איתן חלק ו סימן יב that the איסור כלאים is only for הנאת חימום, and as we find that להעביר מכס it is מותר to wear כלאים, so too a woman only wearing it to cover what needs to be halachically covered is mutar, but not what is only a chumera to cover.
    – אילפא
    Commented Jan 22 at 19:21
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    Shaatnez because non-tzenius clothing is an abizrayhu of giluy arayos.
    – The GRAPKE
    Commented Jan 22 at 19:28
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    If something came up, as the Gemara says -- someone is walking in the street and then suddenly realizes their only garment is Shaatnez -- we can talk. But generally, playing these games of "pick A or B" gets a response from Rabbi Joseph Soloveichik -- we do not respond to Halachic blackmail!
    – Shalom
    Commented Jan 22 at 22:02

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B"H

The answer would heavily depend on the details of the situation

If a situation is not able to be even hypothetically defined, often it is considered as an invalid question. This is why the Gemara often says "what is the נפקא מינא", what is the specific practical outcome (case) that this law is relevant in.

You say she has no other clothes to wear. What is she currently wearing?

If it's talking about a case of one who has been wearing shatnez and just discovers it in the street, it is better (at least for a man) to be naked than wear shatnez, as mentioned in Brachot 19b regarding a man, making no explicit distinction for a woman. So in that case, perhaps one should take it off right away.

(Although tzareich iyun if this would classify as giluy arayos which is one of the big 3 aveiros that one should never do even in a life threatening situation, so maybe she should just take off the extra amounts needed and keep the parts that cover necessary parts only, until she can run to a private place and call someone for new clothes. Seemingly the Gemara says it's better for a man to be completely naked than wear shatnez, which is also a problem of tznius/giluy arayos, but maybe the prohibition of giliy arayos in the sense that it should never be violated even in a life or death situation is only referring to forbidden relations).

However the wording of the question implies otherwise:

"So basically, she is in a position where she has to wear clothes out, but her only choices of clothes are either immodest or contain shaatnez?"

This is implying that she's currently at home, where she is not required to wear anything (unless men are at the house? (Which the question doesn't deal with), and she wants to go "out" and the question is now initially what clothes she should pick.

It would depend why she needs to go out.

In general life and death situations override all prohibitions (except for the big 3, including giliuy arayos).

In that case, where she needs to go "out" for an immediate, unprecedented life and death emergency, and she's currently wearing nothing and has no valid clothes available, as well as having no sheets or window blinds or table clothes or towels available, and must go "out" at that moment only before having a chance to call someone to borrow other clothes, and also before having a chance to sell any other belongings she has to buy clothes, then it would be debatable it she should wear the shatnez clothing only to cover what needs to be covered (depending on how revealing the non tznius clothing is), since it's a life and death emergency, and in such a case shatnez is overridden, while giliy arayos is not

(But again this would depend on the specifics of what kind of non tznius clothing we are talking about, because if the non tznius clothing anyways covers the necessary halachic parts then that would be no different than wearing shatnez to do the same).

However the question makes no indication that the case is an immediate life and death emergency which requires her to "go out" at that moment exactly, implying she has enough time to contact someone to borrow clothes, or make her own clothes from sheets or table clothes, or sell other assets she has (assuming she had no money at all) in order to buy new clothes right away.

Otherwise, she has no reason to "go out".

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  • The suggestion that modest dress or even dressing at all could have the status of יהרג ואל יעבור strikes me as novel and very consequential. It seems difficult to make such a suggestion and draw conclusions about practical priorities from it without some firm form of support.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Jan 25 at 15:12
  • @IsaacMoses hi. That was assuming the non tzius clothing is very revealing. The analysis of the situation would heavily depend on the details. Obviously if it was halachically covering the parts that are absolutely necessary, then one didn't need to have mesiras nefesh for a chumrah, but if it's literal giluy arayos mamash it may be a problem Commented Jan 26 at 9:26
  • All of that is clear in your answer. What's missing is support for the very consequential notion, which you tentatively assume, that some level of undress would constitute גילוי עריות ממש such that it would be considered יהרג ואל יעבור. That's a huge assumption to make, even tentatively, without any support.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Jan 26 at 12:52
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    @IsaacMoses ok I'll look for a source and include it or revise if can't find Commented Jan 26 at 16:13

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