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A girl jogging outdoors

Rabbi Ari ShvatIyyar 28, 5771
610
Question
Dear Rabbi, I go jogging in the street. I don’t use main streets and primarily run through the back streets of a residential area. I always run during the day. I wear a long skirt (below knee) on top of my track suit and I am tzniatig covered (fully halacha compliant). Someone said to me recently that it’s not tznius to run in the street. What is the halachik position vis-a-vis the manner in which I approach running, i.e. dress, route, etc.? Many thanks
Answer
Hashem Imach, It is particularly difficult to deal properly with such questions from afar, without knowing your health situation, the type of back streets in your residential neighborhood, how common it is for women to jog in your area, etc. In general, the ideal and mitzvah of tzni’ut, which literally translates as “humility”, is to not want to attract attention to your self. That’s why, the person who mentioned that it’s not tzanu’a for a young woman to jog in the street would definitely be correct in Bnei Brak or religious settlements, where it would obviously draw not a few stares and watchers. On the other hand, if it is common for women to jog in your area, then that would definitely have lenient ramifications. So would the fact that I understand that you live in Europe, where a clearly modestly-dressed woman, wearing a skirt over a long track suit, would hardly draw sexual attention or looks from people who are accustomed to seeing girls jogging every day in very immodest clothing. It is also smart that you jog in the back streets of a residential area, where as few people as possible can watch you, and even if so, it’s usually from afar, and they are usually not Jewish, which all makes it much less problematic. If it were possible to exercise in an all-women environment, like the all-women gyms, swim sessions or dance groups that we have in Israel, it would definitely be preferable. On the other hand, I imagine that in Europe that would probably be difficult. I would also suggest that in addition to being careful regarding the length of the clothing, you should be careful to wear particularly loose-fitting clothing, as well. I’ll just finish off with my admiration for your idealism and desire to fulfill the eternal values of the Torah, which include tzni’ut, having a healthy soul in a healthy body, and seeing the mitzvot as a “living Torah”. With Love of Israel, Rav Ari Shvat
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