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Shemiras Einayim- looking at women


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Elul 1, 5778
Hi, Even though I try to keep my eyes to myself, it is inevitable that at some points through the day I will look a moment or two longer than I should and have sexual thoughts. Given this, how can one justify (can one justify?) going on a non-essential trip (e.g. to a museum) even though one knows that one will see immodestly dressed women. This is coming from someone who has a strong predisposition to experiencing mikreh laila.
The difference is between seeing women, which is allowed, as opposed to “looking” or “gazing” which isn’t allowed, for we want to honor and relate to women as people, and definitely not as "objects" for male pleasure. As soon as you catch yourself inadvertently (b’shogeg) gazing, simply look the other way! On the other hand, there is a prohibition against even seeing (!) the parts of a woman's body which should be clothed (if she’s not your wife), especially thighs and a low neckline. Nevertheless, the gemara in Avoda Zara distinguishes between if one acts normally and some problematic issue enters his domain (e.g. walking in the street or going to a museum and an immodestly dressed woman comes along) which is not your fault and you should simply look away, as opposed to going to a problematic area (e.g. going to a mixed beach) where you (!) are entering their (problematic) area and it’s prohibited to go there. If you follow these directions, even if you have an emission at night, it’s a natural accident (not even “shogeg” but “oness”) and no problem whatsoever.
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