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  • Halacha

Woman Dressing in Man’s Garments

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Rabbi Elchanan Lewis

10 Elul 5764
Question
Why does the Issur of Beged Ish apply to a woman wearing pants? In Mahattan very few non jewish women wear skirts in their normal daily activities. Wouldn’t that mean that pants are no longer considered man’s clothes? Also what about a wedding ring that a man recieved from his wife after the wedding? Just about all married men in America wear them. Also I heard that a sword is considered beged Ish, which is why Yehudit killed that general with a tent peg, is this true and would it apply to guns nowadays?
Answer
There are two problems for women to wear pants, the first is the prohibition of Kli Gever – the prohibition for women to wear men's garments; and the other one is Tzniut – modesty. For Kli Gever – most Poskim hold that if the mode is for women to wear pants – it looses the definition of men's clothing and there's no torah prohibition of Kli Gever in such case; On the other hand there are Poskim who hold pants to be a man's garment regardless to the custom of New York ladies; the women to change the mode for Halachic purposes are only those that care for what Halacha says. Even though Kli Gever is a disputable issue – Tzniut is an issue according to all competent Halachic authorities. Pants show the legs figure which in Halacha is defined as immodest. Whenever Tzniut is not a problem – among women only etc. – pants can be worn. Wedding band for men is not a problem if not given under the Chupah (Igrot Moshe EH4 32) Firearms for women – in a normal situation a gun should not be carried by women for the prohibition of Kli Gever – nonetheless is cases of security and life threatening situations – they are permited. (Igrot Moshe OC4 75. Yechave Daat 5; 55)
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