Until what age may Parents/children see each other unclothed

 

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.[1] 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].[2] 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.[3] 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].[4] 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.[5] Furthermore, once a male child reaches this age, it is forbidden for him to see even his father unclothed.[6] 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.[7] [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.[8]]

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.[9] 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].[10] 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.[11] 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.[12] [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.[13]]

 

When is the child considered to have reached adulthood?[14]
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.[15] Some Poskim[16] 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.[17]
  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.[18] [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.[19] It goes without saying that a parent who feels Hirhurim for the child when unclothed, must stop co-sleeping from that age and onwards.[20]]

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[1] 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.

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

[3] 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.

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

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

[6] 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]

[7] 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]

[8] 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.

[9] 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.

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

[11] 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]

[12] 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]

[13] 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.

[14] 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.    

[15] 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];

[16] 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

[17] 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]

[18] 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]

[19] Chelkas Mechokeik 21/12

[20] Pashut!

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