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I have read that Hashem hates public nudity, but what is the Jewish position on nudity at home in front of other family members?

Obviously, the short answer is bad, don't do it. Modesty is a fundamental Jewish behavioural trait, so we should strive to avoid entirely or minimise to the extreme actual or suggested nudity at all times.

I am looking for sources which address this issue directly, perhaps referring to a child's shame before a parent or vice versa, or how spouses should dress before each other.

These related questions deal with the 'nakedness' of a married woman's hair at home, but not specifically with actual nudity at home:

Nakedness in front of holy items like books, other writings, mezuzot, tefillin, etc. is not what I'm asking about, but would make an excellent follow-up question.

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    I don't understand why you're asking a question and then emphatically answering it (without any sources) in the second paragraph. Why not leave the question open, to see whether or not it really is problematic, or assume from the outset that it's bad and then ask why?
    – Shimon bM
    Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 8:43
  • I apologise if my question is a bit unclear. I am principally looking for source texts or tradition on the subject. I assume it is bad or frowned on and I am expecting to see answers supporting that, but I would welcome sources who disagree. Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 9:34
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    What is the source for "Hashem hates public nudity"?
    – WAF
    Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 19:14
  • Related questions: Can you see your wife unclothed?, and Can a mother undress in front of her daughter?
    – Chanoch
    Commented Aug 2, 2012 at 4:09
  • @Chanoch Those seem almost like duplicates.
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 2, 2012 at 6:02

4 Answers 4

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You have to get dressed in the way that your naked areas won't be exposed. You aren't allowed to say, "I am in my innermost room; who can see me?" G-d can see you. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 2:1-2.

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  • Thank you, @ba. I am looking for more specific sources about nudity in front of members of the household. Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 7:58
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    Michael, wouldn't that follow from this?
    – Seth J
    Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 12:17
  • This source applies whether you are alone or not. I am looking for a perspective specifically in front of others. Commented Aug 2, 2012 at 10:56
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    @MichaelSandler Right, but if you can't be undressed alone, how much more so can't you be in front of others? (I think that is what SethJ is hinting at.)
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 2, 2012 at 14:04
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    I can't say I have ever merited to understand that bit of Shulchan Aruch. G-d can see me in the shower as well, but I can be nude there. G-d can see through my clothes. So what that G-d can see me?
    – Ze'ev
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 19:27
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Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 240:4 (The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch of R' Ganzfried (150:5) quotes him verbatim, and I'm quoting the translation of the Kitzur by R' Eliyahu Touger):

It is forbidden to look at a woman's genitalia. Any person who looks at a woman's genitalia has no shame and violates the charge [Micha 6:8] "Walk modestly with your God." Going against this natural tendency for embarrassment [is serious], because a person with this tendency will not sin, as [Shemot 20:17] states "For this reason, the awe of Him [i.e., the tendency to modesty] shall be upon you, so that you shall not sin". Furthermore, such a person encourages his evil inclination to take control of him.

It follows, therefore, that a woman shouldn't ever appear in front of her husband completely naked.

I'm having a harder time sorting out what the halachot would be when she's nearly naked. Since there are to be halachot when she's in niddah prohibiting him from seeing parts of her body that are usually kept covered, there may be a diyuk that permits it when she's permitted to him.

On the other hand, there's a prohibition against having marital relations when there's light in the room, a halacha which stems from v'ahavta l'reyacha kamocha since maybe he'll see something about her that disgusts him. There are two halachot that stem from v'ahavta l'reyacha kamocha with the specific concern that maybe he'll see something about her that disgusts him: it's the source of the prohibition of having martial relations when there's light in the room, and it's also the reason for the requirement that a man see his prospective bride before marrying her (Kiddushin 41a). Consequently, it seems to me on the machmir side that maybe he shouldn't see any part of her that he would not have been allowed to see before they were married, so that he won't turn out to be disgusted by something he couldn't see before they got married. I'll need to ask my rav about this.

I'm sure that a woman and her daughter presents a different situation (which is possibly more lenient). A woman and her son is almost certainly more machmir above a certain age.

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  • On the other hand, there's a great deal of prohibition about having marital relations when there's light in the room, a halacha which stems from v'ahavta l'reyacha kamocha since maybe he'll see something that disgusts her. I thought that was because he may become distracted when he is having marital relations. (The Ohr HaChaim talks at length about how bad this is in P' Vayeitzei. I think I remember seeing something similar in the Shulchan Aruch, laws of tznius (which comes somewhere around the laws of minchah).)
    – b a
    Commented Aug 2, 2012 at 3:49
  • @ba: you may be right. I've also seen the explanation of "maybe he'll see something about her that disgusts him" in the context of martial relations as meaning that the she may be degraded in his eyes from the situation that he sees her in (i.e. naked during marital relations), which possibly applies only in situations of marital relations.
    – Chanoch
    Commented Aug 2, 2012 at 3:52
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    "there's a great deal of prohibition about having marital relations when there's light in the room"... not sure what you mean by a "great deal", esp considering there are poskim who disagree. Commented Aug 12, 2012 at 17:05
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    There may be a distinction between "seeing naked" and "seeking genatalia". Because of the fact that a woman's genatalia are hidden even when she is naked (as long as she is standing up), a fact which is even referenced in halacha, it may be permissible to look at your wife naked, even according to the opinion that looking at her genatalia is forbidden. That being said, it's not universal among the poskim that looking at her genatalia is forbidden Commented Aug 12, 2012 at 17:06
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    As for not seeing any part of your wife, ever, that any other strange man would be allowed to see, that seems way beyond the halacha to me. Especially in our times when most men see other women (at work and on the street) that are not dressed according to halachic standards, for him not to be able to see his own wife's body could have shalom bayis implications. Definitely an individual shaila Commented Aug 12, 2012 at 17:12
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@b a's answer is correct, but I would like to add a few comments from Rav Moshe Feinstein.

See אגרות משה יורה דעה חלק ג סימן מז, אות ג׳, in which Rav Moshe was asked regarding the Halacha that one must get dressed under his blanket, so as not to stand completely naked (the common practice in the times of the Gemara to sleep naked). Rav Moshe responds that re: covering nakedness while not davening, we only follow what is acceptable in society. So if something is accepted as normal in society, it is permitted to do it at home not during davening. Rav Moshe repeats this rule in אגרות משה יורה דעה חלק ג סימן סח סי׳ ד׳. Just to quote the exact words in which he says this:

שו"ת אגרות משה יורה דעה חלק ג סימן מז

אבל אם אין חושבין זה לגנאי כשיושב כן בביתו אין להחשיב זה לגנאי ויכול להיות כן בביתו אף בלא עטוף כלל על מקומות אלו דיש חלוק גדול לאינשי בין כשיושב בביתו אף בזמן שנכנסין אצלו אינשי ובין כשהולך בשוק או לבתי אחרים לא רק באופן הבגדים אלא גם במקומות מהגוף.

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Don't forget about fostering respect in one's household. Husbands are expected to respect their wives (Rambam Hilchot Ishut 15:20), and wives their husbands (ibid 19), and children their parents (5th commandment). One should also have respect for one's children.

I don't think I need to bring a source, but if a person is galavanting around their home in their underwear or even naked, this will create a big stumbling block for one's household to be able to maintain their respect for this person.

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  • I think there are a number of possible situations that are a lot more nuanced than "galavanting around" that fall into under the OP's question. There also might be an argument that there is no problem with even that if it is only in front of the spouse during non-Niddah times, and maybe for men even during times when his wife is Niddah. Commented Nov 27, 2023 at 14:45
  • @MosesSupposes the question isn't about if one's family is allowed to see them naked, but about whether it is "ok to be naked at home", with examples given, such as wives uncovering their hair etc. To whatever extent this question is about what's the appropriate way to "dress at home", this answer applies: if a person spend their time at home naked, their family will struggle to maintain respect for them and I stand by that, even if there may be some exceptions in some families.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Nov 27, 2023 at 14:55
  • It doesn't actually ask whether it is ok. It asks what the position is, and certainly doesn't specify that they are spending the whole/most of their time naked! What about situations such as where a parent is in the shower/bath and a young child desperately needs the toilet (eg. if that is the only one in the house)? Does a mother need to cover her arms if she is getting dressed and needs to pop into another room where a child is? Exactly what is considered "nudity" and is it different in front of family members than the public? Loads of other stuff seems to fall under the question to me? Commented Nov 27, 2023 at 15:49
  • a) It's halacha that a child should not see their parent naked. b) "how spouses should dress before each other" is in the question - I am reading this as a general way of dressing, not a one-off nuaced situation c) all your points are relevant if the question is about "any form of nakedness at home", but b) and the examples given seem to indicate otherwise. If you disagree lets agree to disagree. My answer is about generally being naked at home as a conduct, not a specific situation, and therefore doesn't undermine your specific situations
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Nov 27, 2023 at 15:54
  • a) if you are basing your answer on that then citing it seems sensible? b) that's making an assumption about the OP's question, and I'm not sure that you are right that is what is being asked c) I think spouses dressing in front of each other at a time when the wife is not Niddah is a more nuanced situation - not necessarily for full nudity, but perhaps not being as careful as would be in public. I don't see how any of those examples imply that the question is about full nudity for most/all of the time - all of them could be more nuanced. I read it more asking for opnions on the boundaries Commented Nov 27, 2023 at 16:01

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