Men Davening and learning in presence of a woman

This article is a first draft summary of the Shulchan Aruch Harav and is pending further review of additional sources.

Men learning or Davening in view of the body of a woman:[1]

Face and arm, up until elbow:[2] The face and the arms, up until the elbow, of a woman does not need to be covered and hence one may Daven and learn Torah in their presence.

Above elbow:[3] It is forbidden to daven or learn in view of a woman that has one Tefach [8 cm] above her elbow revealed. If less than a Tefach is revealed it is valid. This applies both to one’s wife and to a woman who is not one’s wife.

Above knee:[4] It is forbidden to daven or learn in view of a woman that has her knees or above revealed, even if it is less than a Tefach. [This applies even in areas in which dressings this way is normal amongst the secular population.[5]]

Legs:[6] According to majority of Poskim, and the ruling of Admur, it is forbidden for a man to learn Torah or Daven in the presence of woman whose legs or feet are uncovered.

Wife is nursing:[7] When one’s wife is nursing, one must be careful not to look at her while learning or Davening [if her body is uncovered].

Turning around, closing eyes:[8] In the event that one desires to learn or Daven and there is a woman present who has the above parts of her body revealed, some opinions rule one must turn his face away from the woman in order to be allowed to learn or Daven. Other Poskim however rule that so long as one is not staring [i.e. concentrating] at the uncobvered areas of her body, then he may learn and Daven even if it is within his sight. Certainly, according to this opinion, it suffices for to close the eyes. Practically, one is to turn around, although in a time of need, he may rely on the lenient opinion that so long as he is not concentrating on the uncovered areas, he may learn and Daven.[9] The above leniency only applies when the body of a woman is not properly covered, as defined above. However, if an actual Erva [of a man or woman] is revealed, it does not help for the Erva to not be within his vision, such as to close his eyes, or if he is the dark, or even if he is blind, and even in such a case it nevertheless remains forbidden for him to learn or Daven opposite the Erva. This applies whether by one’s own Erva or by another person’s Erva. One must rather turn to the side until the Erva is no longer opposite him, and only then may he learn and daven.[10]

Glass interval:[11] It is forbidden to learn or Daven in view of a woman whose above-mentioned areas of the body are revealed, even if there is glass separating between the women and oneself.

See-through clothing:[12] If a woman is wearing sheer, see-through clothing, over the above-mentioned areas of the body which are required to be covered, then it is considered as if it is uncovered, and it remains forbidden to learn Torah or Daven if it is within one’s view.

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[1] Ketzos Hashulchan 9:3

[2] Admur 75:1

[3] Admur 75:1

[4] Admur 75:1

[5] Ketzos Hashulchan 9:3; Chayeh Adam; Tzemach Tzedek 1:139

[6] Admur 75:1; Rav Chisda in Brachos 24a; Simple implication of Admur ibid “Although the Shoka is not a private area by a man as it is customary for it to be revealed in areas they walk without Anpalaot:socks”; Implication of Mishneh Ohalos ibid according to many Mefarshim; Implication of Michaber Y.D. 194:10; Makor Chaim 75:1; Shut Rav Akiva Eiger Tinyana 28 based on Tosafos Menachos 37a; Tzur Yaakov 2:1; Chasam Sofer E.H. 69; Shulchan Hatahor 75:1 based on Zohar Naso 142 that “a Shoka of a woman is an Erva and the leg of a woman is an Erva”; Mahariy Shteif 43

[7] Chayeh Adam

[8] Admur 75:1

[9] Omitted by Ketzos Hashulchan 9:6

[10] Admur 75:9; Ketzos Hashulchan 9:6

[11] Admur 75:8; Ketzos Hashulchan 9:5

[12] Admur 75:3; Ketzos Hashulchan 9:5

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