Ask the Rabbi

  • Family and Society
  • Modesty in Dress

wearing skirt over pants in gym attracts attention


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Nisan 1, 5770
There is a mixed gym near my house which has a great facility for kids as well which is why I joined. I tried wearing a skirt over my pants when exercising but realized that it draws a lot of attention and I feel like a lot of people are looking at me. I would feel more comfortable wearing loose pants without drawing anyone’s attention. Also, there is a heated pool in the gym and I want to take my kids there. I have a long swim shirt and long swim shorts which I can wear while taking my kids to the pool. my 4 years old son will not go in the pool without me and is afraid. I don’t know what to do- should i cancel my membership at the gym? the only-women gym is a far from my house.
What would probably solve a lot of problems is going to the all women gym. To perform a mitzvah we are required to spend up to a third more than the regular price. But to stay away from sin we have to do all in our capability not to. I therefore say that a women's gym should be your first choice. However, if it is not possible I am writing the following to give some guidelines. According to torah law a woman is not allowed to wear a garment which is meant for a man. (לא ילבש) . In regard to pants which are especially made for women there are different opinions in Halacha. Some still see it as a Torah prohibition while many say that it does not apply to pants made especially for women. Therefore, if a woman is among other women in a gym for example with such pants many Rabbis allow it. However, wearing such pants in the proximity men does solve the problem of lack of modesty and it is forbidden. In situations such as a hike or sports a woman may wear a skirt over pants which is the solution which you have chosen. (See Shmaatin 11, and " "והיה מחניך קדוש by Rav Shmuel Katz pg. 106,where this solution is said in the name of the Chazon Ish) The feeling of others looking at you may be a subjective feeling since it is not a usual thing. A preferred perspective would be to see it as great Kiddush Hashem to be dressed modestly even in places in which it is not expected. I remember many years ago when the Sinai desert was under Israeli rule, I accompanied a group of high school kids on a hike. It was summer time and it was extremely hot. The scene of our group with girls with proper modest skirts in the boiling heat of the desert left a positive impression on other groups which encountered us. In regard to accompanying your son into the pool, if you are modestly dressed (no pants or shorts etc. ) and staying with your son it is allowed.
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