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According to Halacha, do Jewish women have to cover their arms between their shoulder and elbow, or is it permissible for them to show skin there so long as the shoulder is completely covered? Would it depend on if the woman is married or single?

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do Jewish women have to cover their arms between their shoulder and elbow, or is it permissible for them to show skin there so long as the shoulder is completely covered?

R. Yehuda Henkin analyzes some of the relevant sources and comes to the following conclusion (Understanding Tzniut, pp. 24-25):

  1. sleeveless dresses - forbidden by all opinions, as the body can be seen.

  2. short sleeves, loose - forbidden if body can be seen.

  3. short sleeves, tight - body cannot be seen, but prohibited if most of the upper arm is uncovered (rubo k'kulo).

  4. sleeves halfway to elbow - proscribed because of tefach meguleh; room for limmud zechut.

  5. sleeves to within a tefach of the elbow - minimum permitted.

  6. sleeves to elbow - recommended.

  7. sleeves to below elbow - first level chumra.

  8. sleeves to wrists - second level chumra.

The above does not supplant any communal or familial minhag.

See inside for more explanation.

Would it depend on if the woman is married or single?

I have not seen this raised as a factor outside of the issue of haircovering.

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  • Of course there are other opinions, but R' Henkin explains his reading of the sources to support this position. (Convincingly, in m humble opinion.)
    – Shalom
    Mar 4 at 21:08
  • @Shalom agreed... I don't agree with all of his conclusions across halakhah, but there is a very "middle way" approach he generally has that is a breath of fresh air. Mar 5 at 12:38

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