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What are the sources that would support the position that pants can be modest if: a) they are very loose almost resembling a skirt or b) by wearing a top that is long enough that it covers all the way down to the split in the legs.

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Most authorities frown on women wearing pants, as listed in this answer.

However, some would support wearing pants, like those described in OP's generous description, if the alternative to wearing them would be skirts which are halachically unacceptable due to their immodest nature. (Source: R. Yosef, Yabia Omer vol. 6 YD §14. Note: in the new ed., the above added in a gloss that R. Henkin opined that pants which don't stick to the body [essentially outlining the figure] are permissible and can at times be more modest than some skirts worn to the knees.)

  • Re. the "culottes/palazzo pants", it would not suffice if "all the way down to the split in the legs" means down to the crotch. The woman's top would need to extend to the knees (or right below). – Oliver Jul 24 '18 at 19:14
  • re your comment: how do you know that? Covering to the knee isn't because of the split, but because of shok – Double AA Jul 24 '18 at 20:01
  • @DoubleAA I see I neglected to mention "it would not suffice according to some". My intention was the issue of "pisuk raglayim" (separation of [and thereby impressing/lineating] the legs). – Oliver Jul 24 '18 at 20:48
  • I see no reason to assume pissuk raglayim matters to and only to the knees. What do knees have to do with pissuk raglayim? – Double AA Jul 24 '18 at 20:52
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    As long as we're clear that we're making up a line to match a definition, which is also made up, in order to apply the vague Talmudic reference practically. – Double AA Jul 24 '18 at 23:37
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Tzinius is a subjective area of halacha, and what is considered to be modest depends on where you live, your community, and your own personal definition of modesty.

I suggest you talk with your local rabbi (or rebbetzin) and ask what is considered modest according to your community's standards.

This applies to men as much as it applies to women. A man might be permitted to wear shorts in one community, but if he were to move somewhere else this might be considered totally unacceptable.

The main purpose of tzinius is to be modest, and remember the definition of this word: humble. Its purpose is to not be flashy, and also to be respectfully dressed before G-d. Make sure also to keep in mind chukas hagoy, that can be a issue for some articles of clothing.

  • I didn't agree with "This applies to men as much as it applies to women". Where does it come from? For men, it is not respectful to daven in shorts, but there's no problem with Tznius to walk around naked, as far as I understand Tznius. – Al Berko Jul 25 '18 at 18:35
  • @AlBerko That depends on what community you're in. While it might be acceptable to daven in shorts in a community in Dallas, it might not be so in a shtiebel in Borough Park. See my angle? – ezra Jul 25 '18 at 22:30
  • @ezra What articles of clothing do chukas hagoy apply to? Also if you're saying it's daas yebudit/minhag maybe say that a bit more explicitly? – Orion Jul 26 '18 at 4:24
  • @Orion Wearing jeans for style and not for practicality could be a violation of the prohibition of chukas hagoy. – ezra Jul 26 '18 at 4:30
  • @Ezra Is style not a valid reason? I was taught that chukas goyim is about about anything meaningless or based on pagan religions. Style is considered meaningless? Also note that this is talking about women wearing pants which actually are more practical than skirts. – Orion Jul 26 '18 at 4:36
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First, you wrongly suggest, that there's a clear definition of Tzniut in the Halachah - not true.

Tznius is all about one thing - not to attract (heterosexual) attention. That's done by two things:

  1. An objective covering of private parts: is about what actually can be exposed. Different communities have different views, but most Orthodox Rabbis agree that only the face, the neck, and the hands can be revealed. The actual boundaries of the exposure tend to expand in the last 100 years, but the idea holds still. You pass this test!

  2. A "subjective" overall sex-appeal: that includes bright (esp. red-toned) colors, skinny and tight look, extremely fashionable, fancy accessories etc - anything that screams "look at me!". This is subjective because it depends on the surroundings - looks that are accepted in one community stand out in others.
    For example, many Sefardish Rabbis criticize fancy Ashkenazi wigs as being the opposite of Tzanua, because they look so nice - they look much sexier than the natural hair it is supposed to hide!

You seem to pass this test also for our general society (but you wouldn't in Meah Shearim, for example!).

NB: THere are additional considerations that have no strict connection to Tzniut, such as Bechukoteihem (not to wear clothes that are distinctively goyish) or Daas Yehudis (not a clear definition of Jewish women tradition) and more.

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    Great answer! +1. – Bach Jul 25 '18 at 13:51
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    Good answer, but the question asked for sources, so I can't upvote it yet... I find myself often agreeing with (some parts of) your analyses, but often feeling that they are not properly sourced. For this question, some of the comments to the OP mention references. Perhaps try to find those. – רבות מחשבות Jul 25 '18 at 15:32
  • @רבותמחשבות I think most people misunderstand referring to sources. If I say my Rabbi said so - what does it mean to you? Many guys bring American contemporary Rabbis as sources, which mean pretty much nothing in Israel, or some Sefardis that bring R' Ovadia Z"l - make no influence on Ashkenazis. Also, Poskim address some specific issue that you're never sure if it applies to this case. This is exactly what I'm trying to prevent. – Al Berko Jul 25 '18 at 18:31
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    @alberko you do misunderstand sources. You are correct that just quoting your own rabbi is indeed of very little value. that doesn't make your just asserting things better. The goal is to provide claims that are well sourced not just sourced. – Double AA Jul 25 '18 at 18:42
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    @Al Berko Firstly you haven't actually listed any Halachik sources for tzniut.Secondly assuming it's Das Yehudit it's not up to the "most orthodox rabbis" it's up to the community. Thirdly "most orthodox rabbis say only the face neck and the hands can be revealed" since when? I don't know where you live (I think it's Israel since you mentioned you're not good at english and you always mention hearing jeruselam rabbis) but the only time I see women dressed like that is in Williamsburg and Boro Park. Ie Chassidim. That's basically editing out Open Orthodox, Modern, Yeshuvish/Litvish, and Chabad. – Orion Jul 26 '18 at 4:17
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In a lecture about a week and a half ago, titled "Kaddish in the Contemporary World", (available on YU Torah), R. Aaron Rakeffet quoted R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik about women wearing pants. The following is my transcription of the recording, beginning from about 1:13:43 into the lecture:

The Rav permitted pantsuits in Stern College. All right, it didn't catch on but the Rav said halachically he doesn't see what's wrong with it as long as it's made tzniusdikly, not tight. All right, this is the fashion women wear today, and fashion plays a big role, tznius plays a big role in what we consider fashionable. Meaning, you have to look where you're living, where you're living, the surrounding people... women today began in Beit Shemesh, it carried a little bit to Yerushalayim, that they cover their whole bodies like Arab women. The greatest rabbonim, including in the Eidah Chareidit, came out against it.

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