Ask the rabbi

  • Family and Society
  • Modesty in Dress

Proper attire for swimming


Rabbi Gideon Weitzman

27 Adar II 5763
Dear Rav, I have recently decided to become religous. I am 19 years old and I spent the last year studying at a Baalat Tshuva seminary. As I have learnt more about the laws of modesty, I have realized that I have a major problem. My family (which is not religous) lives in the USA, in close vicinty to the beach, we also have a pool in the backyard, which is host to frequent pool parties. I have learnt that mixed swimming is immodest, but if I do not go with the family and "stay away", it is going to cause much friction. Maybe it is more correct to wear shorts and a short sleeve t-shirt, that way I will still be ’hanging out’, but it wont be as severe a breach of my modesty? Or is this unacceptable as well? In this situation, where I am still living at home (for the time being) and trying to introduce my family to the beauties of being orthodox, is this even a wise issue to worry about? I just want to thank you for incredible patience in answering all these questions and in a way that is not embarassing to anyone.! Thank You So Much!
Shalom. I am very pleased to hear that you are both coming closer to a Torah way of life and trying to educate your family and those around you to be closer to Torah as well. I commend you and wish you much strength and success. WIth regards mixed swimming, there are three main problems. One is immodesty in dress. i.e. that in the pool people are dressed in revealing clothing. Two, physical contact between unmarried men and women. Three, general immodest atmosphere in and around the pool. Therefore it would appear that it is inappropriate for a young woman to spend time in such a setting. The men there will both look at you and take you as an example, "If she goes swimming then it must be OK". You need to excuse yourself in a way that will not offend anyone. The best policy is always honesty, but the truth needs to be presented in a way that can be accepted by the listener. Kol Tuv Gideon Weitzman
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