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Shevat 19, 5776

Studying lifeguarding


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Question:
Shalom,

Is one allowed to study a lifeguarding training manual if the explanation pictures will sometimes show women in swimsuits? This is assuming that there is no manual that does not show women.
A related question: Assuming there is no male only lifeguarding classes in the area, is one allowed to take a lifeguarding course which might have women in it?

Thank you and kol tuv

Answer:
ב"ה
Shalom

It is important that you brought this up, because sometimes these issues are just taken for granted. I also studied water safety lifesaving when I was younger and we had a written test based on a water safety text book and also a test in the water itself. I don't think my edition had pictures.

Nonetheless, since there is no difference in technique between saving a man or a woman from drowning, G-d forbid, the photos are not vital for understanding and can be covered. In this fashion, you can read the text undisturbed. Although being a lifeguard can mean saving lives, it is not the study of medicine.

As far as taking a lifeguarding course with women, I don't see room to permit it. In the US there are many Jewish religious frameworks in which men only are trained as life guards as I was. If this was the situation some 40 years ago, I assume today that it is much better. There are camps, YMHA's and other community centers in which this can be done.

With the merit of being faithful to the Torah, I'm sure you will be a successful lifeguard and may no harm come your way.

All the best




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