Laws of Tzenius between parents and children

Laws of Tzenius between parents and children

Until what age may family members [i.e. parent’s and children] of opposite gender sleep together on the same bed?[1]

With clothing:[2] It is permitted for a parent and child of the opposite gender [i.e. mother with son, father with daughter] to sleep together in the same bed if they are both [fully[3]] dressed in Tzenius clothing/pajamas. This applies at any age, even if the child is now an adult [and even if the child is married[4]]. [The same applies for a grandparent and grandchild of opposite gender, that they may sleep together on the same bed when both are properly clothed.[5] It is however forbidden for a brother and sister who have reached adulthood to sleep together on the same bed even if both are clothed.[6]]

Without clothing:[7] If the child or parent[8] is undressed [or partially undressed[9]] it is forbidden to sleep together with an opposite gender child once the child reaches the age of adulthood. Prior to the child reaching age, it is permitted for the parents to sleep together even if both are completely undressed.[10] [However, it is improper for a mother to cuddle with the child once he reaches a certain age, even if he is below the definition of adulthood.[11]

When is the child considered to have reached adulthood?[12] There are a number of signs of adulthood, some depending on age and others depending on signs of puberty and maturity:

  1. Age: Once the child reaches the age of 12 for a girl and 13 for a boy [i.e. Bar/Bas Mitzvah], he/she is considered to have reached adulthood, irrelevant of signs of puberty or maturity.[13] Some Poskim[14] rule once the child reaches the age of 11 for a girl and 12 for a boy, he/she is considered to have reached adulthood, irrelevant of signs of puberty or maturity. [Seemingly one is to be stringent.]
  2. Puberty: Once the child shows signs of puberty, such as; growing pubic hair and breasts [for a daughter] he/she is considered to have reached adulthood even below age 12/13.[15]
  3. Maturity: Once the daughter is mature enough to be embarrassed to be undressed in front of her father, and once the son is mature enough for the mother to be embarrassed to be undressed in front of her son, it is considered that the son/daughter have reached adulthood, irrelevant of their age.[16] [Accordingly, in most cases the child/parent may not sleep together unclothed even many years prior to the child reaching puberty or Bar/Bas Mitzvah, as the child is already embarrassed to be seen unclothed.[17] It goes without saying that a parent who feels Hirhurim for the child when unclothed, must stop co-sleeping from that age and onwards.[18]]
 

Summary:
Parents and grandparents may co-sleep with children of any age or gender if both are properly clothed. If not properly clothed, the parent/grandparent may not co-sleep with a child of opposite gender once: a) the child reaches age 11 for a girl, 12 for a boy; b) has grown signs of puberty; c) Is embarrassed to be undressed in front of the other. Siblings of opposite gender may not sleep together even if clothed, once they have reached the above age or signs of maturity.

May a man Daven or learn within sight of his daughter, sister or mother who is not fully dressed?
Adult relatives: It is forbidden for a man to learn Torah or pray or say a blessing within sight of an adult relative who has part of her body uncovered which must normally be covered due to Tznius. This includes all relatives, whether it be one’s mother, daughter, sister or wife. A girl is considered an adult in this regard when any of the above mentioned signs of adulthood are present, whether age [11 years old], puberty [hair], or maturity [shame]. [Thus, if the legs/feet[19], upper arm[20], or chest of these women are viewable, he may not Daven or learn until he turns away.[21]]

Children relatives: Some Poskim[22] rule it is permitted to learn Torah and Daven in view of a daughter [granddaughter, sister[23]] which is not modestly covered, if the girl is below the age of adulthood, as defined above [i.e. below age 11 and has not reached puberty or maturity].[24] Other Poskim[25] however argue and rule it is forbidden to Daven and learn in view of the improperly clothed female relative just like any other girl.[26] [Accordingly, once a daughter or sister have reached the age of three and above[27] one may no longer Daven or learn in their view when they are not properly covered.]

 

Until what age may parents see their children of opposite gender unclothed?
It is permitted for parents to see their children of the opposite gender unclothed until the child reaches the age or signs of adulthood.[28] Adulthood is defined either by age [i.e. 11 years old for a girl], puberty [i.e. pubic hair], or maturity [i.e. the child reaches an age that he is ashamed to be unclothed in from of the parent].[29] When any of the above-mentioned signs of adulthood is present, it is forbidden for the parent to see their child of the opposite gender unclothed.

 

May children see their parents of opposite gender unclothed?
From the letter of the law, it is permitted for children to see their parents of opposite gender unclothed until the child reaches the age or signs of adulthood.[30] The age of adulthood is defined either by age [i.e. 11 years old for a girl], puberty [i.e. pubic hair], or maturity [i.e. the child reaches an age that he is ashamed to be unclothed in from of the parent].[31] When any of the above-mentioned signs of adulthood is present, it is forbidden for a child to see his parent of the opposite gender unclothed.[32] Furthermore, once a male child reaches this age, it is forbidden for him to see even his father unclothed.[33] Nevertheless, many are accustomed as a Midas Chassidus and an extra act of piety and purity to abstain from allowing even small children of the opposite gender from seeing their parents unclothed from the time of birth.[34] [Per the Rebbe’s directive of not seeing impure animals starting from birth, this would even more so apply regarding not seeing immodestly dressed man/women starting from birth.[35]]

Until what age may parents bathe their children, and may they shower together?
From the letter of the law, it is permitted for parents to bathe their children of opposite gender until the child reaches the age or signs of adulthood.[36] The same applies regarding showering together that so long as the child has not reached the age of adulthood, it is permitted. The age of adulthood is defined either by age [i.e. 11 years old for a girl], puberty [i.e. pubic hair], or maturity [i.e. the child reaches an age that he is ashamed to be unclothed in from of the parent].[37] When any of the above-mentioned signs of adulthood is present, it is forbidden for a parent to see his child of the opposite gender unclothed, and it is forbidden for the child to see his parent of the opposite gender unclothed. Furthermore, once a male child reaches this age, it is forbidden for him to see even his father unclothed.[38] Midas Chassidus regarding showering together: Many are accustomed as a Midas Chassidus and an extra act of piety and purity to abstain from allowing even small children of the opposite gender from seeing their parents unclothed from the time of birth.[39] [Per the Rebbe’s directive of not seeing impure animals starting from birth, this would even more so apply regarding not seeing immodestly dressed man/women starting from birth.[40]]

Until what age may siblings of opposite gender bathe together:
It is possible to learn that it is permitted for siblings of opposite gender to bathe together until the child reaches the age or signs of adulthood.[41] The age of adulthood is defined either by age [i.e. 11 years old for a girl], puberty [i.e. pubic hair], or maturity [i.e. the child reaches an age that he is ashamed to be unclothed in from of others].[42] When any of the above-mentioned signs of adulthood is present, it is forbidden for them to bathe together. Nevertheless, practically, parents are to educate their children to avoid bathing together even from a much younger age. Furthermore, many are accustomed as a Midas Chassidus and an extra act of piety and purity to abstain from allowing even small children from seeing others of the opposite gender unclothed from the time of birth.[43] [Per the Rebbe’s directive of not seeing impure animals starting from birth, this would even more so apply regarding not seeing immodestly dressed man/women starting from birth.[44]]

_________________________________________________________________________________

[1] Michaber Even Haezer 21/7; Michaber 73/3-4 and Admur 73/3 regarding Shema; Mishneh Kiddushin 80b

[2] Michaber ibid; Beis Shmuel 21/14

[3] Did not find explicitly in Poskim, but so seems logical

[4] Beis Shmuel ibid

[5] Beis Shmuel ibid; See Beis Yosef E.H. 21 “Kasav”

[6] Beis Shmuel ibid

[7] Michaber Even Haezer 21/7; Michaber 73/3-4 and Admur 73/3 regarding Shema; Mishneh Kiddushin 80b

Daughter is married: A child bride [i.e. Meureses/Mekudeshes] is considered like an adult even if she is prior to the age of adulthood, and hence her father may not sleep with her together unclothed. [Michaber ibid]

Contradiction from 73/3 regarding Shema: Michaber and Admur 73/3 imply that it remains permitted to sleep together unclothed even pass adulthood and the issue is only regarding saying Shema. This is in clear contradiction to Kiddushin ibid and Tur/Michaber E.H. ibid, of which the Michaber and Admur certainly does not argue on. This question is asked by the M”A ibid on the Michaber O.C. ibid and he concludes with a Vetzaruch Iyun Gadol. Several answers were offered by Poskim to differentiate between the cases in O.C. and E.H. [See Perisha E.H. 21 that in O.C. refers to case that other people are in room, in E.H. refers to Yichud with child; Elya Raba 73/5 that O.C. refers to father/son, mother/daughter; E.H. refers to Mother/son, father/daughter; See P”M 73 A”A 2; Machatzis Hashekel 73/2; Kaf Hachaim 73/11]  It is however most perplexing that Admur ibid who saw the words of the M”A and most certainly the answer of the Elya Raba ibid or Perisha ibid but offered no hint in the text to an answer for this great contradiction; Furthermore, it is quite clearly implicit from the wording of Admur ibid that he refers also to a case of father/daughter and hence the answer of Elya Raba is negated. The only option is to say Admur holds like Perisha. If correctthen according to Admur it is permitted to co-seleep undressed when other people are around even when she is an adult. Vetzaruch Iyun Gadol, as concludes the M”A ibid! In conclusion, it is completely unclear to me as how Admur rules regarding co-sleeping irrelevant of Shema.    

[8] From Michaber E.H. ibid it is evident that this law applies if only the parent or only child is undressed, and certainly if both are undressed.

[9] Did not find explicitly in Poskim, but so seems logical

[10] Michaber ibid “Bekiruv Basar”

[11] See Chavos Yair 72, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 21/6

[12] Background: There is general confusion in Poskim regarding the exact age of adulthood due to various opinions, and contradictory statements, as well as various versions of text: See Kiddushin 81b for two opinions in name of Rav Assi; See Rishonim [Rif; Rashi; Rosh] brought in Beis Yosef E.H. 21 “Keitzad” for different versions of the second opinion of Rav Assi; See Michaber 73/3-4 and Admur 73/3 who give one definition [i.e. age] regarding Shema; See Michaber E.H. 21/7 who gives a second definition [i.e. puberty and maturity] regarding co-sleeping without clothing; See Tur O.C. 73 and E.H. 21 who gives slightly different definitions between Shema and co-sleeping; See M”A 73/2 who questions the seeming contradiction in both the Michaber and Tur between the ruling in O.C. regarding Shema and the ruling in E.H. regarding co-sleeping; See also M”B 73/11; For possible answers of contradiction: See Perisha E.H. 21 [i.e. in O.C. refers to case that other people are in room, in E.H. refers to Yichud with child]; Elya Raba 73/5 [O.C. refers to father/son, mother/daughter; E.H. refers to Mother/son, father/daughter] See P”M 73 A”A 2; Machatzis Hashekel 73/2; Kaf Hachaim 73/11

Opinion of Admur: Admur 73/3 defines adulthood regarding Shema as 12/13 or 11/12 with puberty, and implies that it remains permitted to sleep together unclothed even passed this age and the issue is only regarding Shema, which is in clear contradiction to Kiddushin ibid and Tur/Michaber E.H. ibid, of which Admur certainly does not argue on. This is the same question the M”A ibid asks on Michaber O.C. ibid. Vetzaruch Iyun Gadol on Admur ibid who saw the words of the M”A and most certainly the answer of the Elya Raba ibid or Perisha ibid but offered no hint in the text to an answer for this great contradiction; Furthermore, it is quite clearly implicit from the wording of Admur ibid that he refers also to a case of father/daughter and hence the answer of Elya Raba is negated. The only option is to say Admur holds like Perisha. If correct, the ages given by Admur in 75/3 only relate to when other people are around and in regards to Shema. Vetzaruch Iyun Gadol, as concludes the M”A ibid! In conclusion, it is completely unclear to me as how Admur rules regarding co-sleeping irrelevant of Shema and hence we cannot use the age given by Admur ibid to also learn regarding age for co-sleeping.    

[13] Girsa/interpretation of Rashi/Rif in Kiddushin ibid; Michaber 73/3-4 and Admur 73/3 regarding Shema [however implies that may co-sleep even after this age, and on this the M”A ibid asked his question];

[14] Girsa/interpretation of Rosh in Keddushin ibid; Tur 21; Bach 21; M”A 73/2; M”B 72/3; See Chelkas Mechokeik 21/12 that Michaber E.H. ibid is being more stringent than Bach, not more lenient, however Bach ibid understands Michaber to rule like Rif

[15] Michaber E.H. ibid

From what age do signs of puberty count: Some Poskim rule it applies at any age, even prior to 11/12 years of age. [Implication of Michaber ibid; Chelkas Mechokeik 21/12; Beis Shmuel 21/15] Other Poskim rule it only applies once the child reaches the age of 11 for a girl and 12 for a boy and has grown two pubic hairs. [Michaber 73/3-4 and Admur 73/3 regarding Shema and implies that may co-sleep even past this age, and on this the M”A ibid asked his question]

[16] Michaber E.H. ibid

The reason: As once the child/mother is embarrassed it is a sign that the inclination has settled. [Kiddushin ibid, brought in Beis Yosef 21]

[17] Chelkas Mechokeik 21/12

[18] Pashut!

[19] See Admur 75/1 that this applies even when there is less than a Tefach of revealed skin

[20] See Admur 75/1 that this applies only when there is a Tefach of revealed skin

[21] Admur 75/1

[22] Biur Halacha 75/1 “Tefach” in name of Shulchan Shlomo

[23] Piskeiy Teshuvos 75/9 in name of Birur Halacha

[24] The reason: As they compare the law of learning in front of a Erva [brought in chapter 75] to the law of sleeping together with family [Chapter 73], and just like relatives may sleep together and say Shema even unclothed until the age of adulthood, so too he may Daven and learn in view of her until the age of adulthood. [See also M”A 74/9 towards end who also suggests such a connection]

[25] Chazon Ish 16/9; Neziros Shimshon; Or Letziyon 2/6; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 75/9; See Birur Halacha

[26] The reason: As the allowance of 73/3 is only regarding learning and Davening while skin is touching and not regarding seeing the unclothed part. [ibid]

[27] See Q&A regarding the age of Tzenius, and Issur of learning/Davening for a Ketana

[28] This law is not mentioned explicitly in Poskim although is derived from the following other laws mentioned: a) Prohibition to sleep together unclothed once the child reaches signs of adulthood. [Michaber Even Haezer 21/7; Michaber 73/3-4 and Admur 73/3 regarding Shema; See M”A 73/2 regarding seeming contradiction from Shema source; For possible answers of contradiction: See Perisha E.H. 21; Elya Raba 73/5, explained in previous footnotes] b) Prohibition to learn or Daven in presence of unclothed relative once she reaches age of adulthood, according to all Poskim. [See previous Q&A] From the above two sources it can be understood that it is also forbidden for a parent to see his child of opposite gender unclothed once he reaches the age/signs of adulthood.

[29] See previous Halacha’s where the age and signs of adulthood were discussed in length!

[30] This law is not mentioned explicitly in Poskim although is derived from the following other law mentioned: Prohibition to sleep together unclothed once the child reaches signs of adulthood. [Michaber Even Haezer 21/7; Michaber 73/3-4 and Admur 73/3 regarding Shema; See M”A 73/2 regarding seeming contradiction from Shema source; For possible answers of contradiction: See Perisha E.H. 21; Elya Raba 73/5, explained in previous footnotes] From the above source it can be understood that it is forbidden for a child to see his parent of opposite gender unclothed once he reaches the age/signs of adulthood.

[31] See previous Halacha’s where the age and signs of adulthood were discussed in length!

[32] This prohibition would fall under the parents obligation of Chinuch for Shemiras Eiyanyim

[33] See regarding prohibition of bathing together: Rama E.H. 23/6 and Y.D. 242/16; Pesachim 51a

The reason: This is forbidden due to that it leads to forbidden thoughts. [Rama ibid] As one thinks of how he was born from his father. [Rashi Pesachim ibid]

[34] The reason: As everything a child sees, even from a young age, is encrypted in his mind, and hence it is proper to abstain them from seeing anything which can ignite their Yetzer Hara when they are older. [see Kav Hayashar 2; Hisvadyus 1984 20th Marchesvan 37 regarding impure animal]

[35] See Rebbe in Sicha ibid who references to Kav Hayshar ibid that one is not to look at impure animals being it becomes encrypted in one’s mind and will affect them when older. Thus, certainly one is to be careful in seeing immodest women, as it will affect them when older. The Rebbe at first states that one is to be careful in this matter beginning from age of Chinuch, and then states that one is to be careful even by a new born, and the Kav Yashar states that the primary cause of making one stumble in looking at women is not being careful in not seeing impure animals. Thus, certainly one should abstain even an infant from seeing immodest women.

[36] This law is not mentioned explicitly in Poskim although is derived from the following other law mentioned: Prohibition to sleep together unclothed once the child reaches signs of adulthood. [Michaber Even Haezer 21/7; Michaber 73/3-4 and Admur 73/3 regarding Shema; See M”A 73/2 regarding seeming contradiction from Shema source; For possible answers of contradiction: See Perisha E.H. 21; Elya Raba 73/5, explained in previous footnotes] From the above source it can be understood that it is forbidden for a child to see his parent of opposite gender unclothed once he reaches the age/signs of adulthood.

[37] See previous Halacha’s where the age and signs of adulthood were discussed in length!

[38] See regarding prohibition of bathing together: Rama E.H. 23/6 and Y.D. 242/16; Pesachim 51a

The reason: This is forbidden due to that it leads to forbidden thoughts. [Rama ibid] As one thinks of how he was born from his father. [Rashi Pesachim ibid]

[39] The reason: As everything a child sees, even from a young age, is encrypted in his mind, and hence it is proper to abstain them from seeing anything which can ignite their Yetzer Hara when they are older. [see Kav Hayashar 2; Hisvadyus 1984 20th Marchesvan 37 regarding impure animal]

[40] See Rebbe in Sicha ibid who references to Kav Hayshar ibid that one is not to look at impure animals being it becomes encrypted in one’s mind and will affect them when older. Thus, certainly one is to be careful in seeing immodest women, as it will affect them when older. The Rebbe at first states that one is to be careful in this matter beginning from age of Chinuch, and then states that one is to be careful even by a new born, and the Kav Yashar states that the primary cause of making one stumble in looking at women is not being careful in not seeing impure animals. Thus, certainly one should abstain even an infant from seeing immodest women.

[41] This law is not mentioned explicitly in Poskim although is derived from the following other law mentioned: Prohibition to sleep together unclothed once a child reaches signs of adulthood. [Michaber Even Haezer 21/7; Michaber 73/3-4 and Admur 73/3 regarding Shema; See M”A 73/2 regarding seeming contradiction from Shema source; For possible answers of contradiction: See Perisha E.H. 21; Elya Raba 73/5, explained in previous footnotes] From the above source it can be understood that it is forbidden for siblings to see each other unclothed once he reaches the age/signs of adulthood.

[42] See previous Halacha’s where the age and signs of adulthood were discussed in length!

[43] The reason: As everything a child sees, even from a young age, is encrypted in his mind, and hence it is proper to abstain them from seeing anything which can ignite their Yetzer Hara when they are older. [see Kav Hayashar 2; Hisvadyus 1984 20th Marchesvan 37 regarding impure animal]

[44] See Rebbe in Sicha ibid who references to Kav Hayshar ibid that one is not to look at impure animals being it becomes encrypted in one’s mind and will affect them when older. Thus, certainly one is to be careful in seeing immodest women, as it will affect them when older. The Rebbe at first states that one is to be careful in this matter beginning from age of Chinuch, and then states that one is to be careful even by a new born, and the Kav Yashar states that the primary cause of making one stumble in looking at women is not being careful in not seeing impure animals. Thus, certainly one should abstain even an infant from seeing immodest women.

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?