15 Tammuz 5760
I always play tennis with my family, but not till a recent date mentioned it did I even think about how untznius it is. I wouldn’t dance without a mechitza and I refused to walk down my best friends aisle, but I do play tennis in public. My yetzer hara tells me that its okay because no one is looking at me; everyone is too absorbed in their own game. (Note – I play in long sleeves and a long skirt). What about the shalom bais issues? We always play as a family.
Thank you very much.
[Name witheld upon request]
Thank you for your question. While I understand the point that your date made, I don’t think it would be proper to unequivocally say that according to Halacha girls and women may not play tennis in public if dressed properly. This is really an issue that requires much common sense (“Saichel HaYashar”), to evaluate whether the situation is one in which playing tennis publicly would not be Tzniusdik. For example, although it might not be proper to play outside of a Yeshiva during their lunch break, this doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with playing at a park or bungalow colony even though there are men around. I think that you have to admit that the same would apply in the other situations that you mention. Although you would not walk down the aisle or dance at a wedding without a Mechitzah in your community, but if you were on a Kiruv program in Austin, Texas (for example) or if you would be attending the wedding of someone who is unfortunately handicapped, and they really wanted you to walk down and you knew everyone present, it would be a different situation.
So…I’m returning the ball to your court This is something that you have to evaluate based on the individual situation.
Rabbi Aaron Tendler