May a man Daven or learn within sight of his daughter, sister or mother who is not fully dressed?

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 below-mentioned signs of adulthood are present, which include age [11 years old], puberty [hair], or maturity [shame]. [Thus, if the legs/feet[1], upper arm[2], or chest of these women are viewable, he may not Daven or learn Torah until he turns away.[3]]

Children relatives: Some Poskim[4] rule it is permitted to learn Torah and Daven in view of a daughter [granddaughter, sister[5]] who is not modestly covered, if the girl is below the age of adulthood, as defined below [i.e. below age 11 and has not reached puberty or maturity].[6] Other Poskim[7] however argue and rule it is forbidden to Daven and learn in view of the improperly clothed female relative just like any other girl.[8] [Accordingly, once a daughter or sister have reached the age of three and above one may no longer Daven or learn in their view when they are not properly covered.[9]]

When is the child considered to have reached adulthood?[10]

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.[11] Some Poskim[12] 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.[13]
  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.[14] [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.[15] It goes without saying that a parent who feels Hirhurim for the child when unclothed, must stop co-sleeping from that age and onwards.[16]]

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

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

[3] Admur 75:1

[4] Biur Halacha 75:1 “Tefach” in name of Shulchan Shlomo

[5] Piskeiy Teshuvos 75:9 in name of Birur Halacha

[6] 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]

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

[8] 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]

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

[10] 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 regard 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.    

[11] 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];

[12] 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

[13] 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]

[14] 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]

[15] Chelkas Mechokeik 21:12

[16] Pashut!

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