Ask the rabbi

  • Family and Society
  • Modesty in Dress

Covering Elbows and Wearing Pants


Rabbi Gideon Weitzman

19 Cheshvan 5765
I heard that one needs to cover starting from a Tefach above ones elbow and a Tefach above one’s knee. Is this correct? If so, then why can I not wear some t-shirts that only go up to that point? If that is not correct, what are all the different opinions about covering your elbow? Also, I read a lot of questions regarding wearing pants. It seems to me, that pants such as sweatpants or scrubs or other loose-fitting pants that are either unisex or women’s pants would be fine. They do not show the outline of the leg at all! If what I am saying is all wrong, I don’t understand why one can’t wear pants if one is playing sports, going on a hike, skiing, etc. First of all there is the issue of danger, and secondly, often pants would be more Tzanua! Even if one wore pants under a skirt, if the skirt would go up anyway what is the point?!
Shalom U'veracha, Sleeves need to cover the elbow even when raising the arm, and skirts need to cover the knee even when one is sitting. Trousers that are specifically for women and are indistinguishable from a skirt can be worn according to some authorities. However if they are unisex or made for men then there is the problem of wearing men's clothing. This opinion can be relied on during sports etc. especially if a skirt is worn over. Kol Tuv
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