Monday, September 01, 2008

Does Rabbi Falk Conceal From His Readers Rav Moshe's Teshuva Permitting Flesh-Colored Tights?

On page 341 of Oz veHadar Levushah, Rabbi Pesach Eliyahu Falk appears to make the claim the skin-colored tights are prohibited unanimously by all poskim.

He writes
"Since it is unanimously agreed by all Poskim that legs must be covered so that they do not attract attention, skin-colored tights are obviously assur, as they attract attention and defeat the purpose of covering the legs."
If you read the sentence a few times extremely carefully, you might note that he does not say that all Poskim unanimously prohibit flesh-colored tights. Rather, he claims that they all unanimously agree that X is true, that "legs must be covered so that they do not attract attention." And the "obviously assur" part is his own extrapolation based on his understanding of reality and how it interacts with X. (And one perhaps senses that he was deliberately careful with his language to convey the impression that they are unanimous about Y, without actually making this false statement.)

I am not going to look into X in this post, to see whether poskim are indeed unanimous about X. Let us just accept that as a given. But do poskim unanimously agree to Y, that therefore flesh-colored tights are obviously assur?

In fact, there is a major posek who offers a reason for the practice of those who are makpid that their daughters and wives wear stockings, but are not makpid that they not be flesh-colored. (The questioner was asking about sheer stockings, but the posek moved the question to flesh-colored stockings.) This posek was Rav Moshe Feinstein, in Igros Moshe, Even haEzer chelek 4, siman 100, seif 6. A while back, I translated this seif on parshablog, and so it is available here.

If so, Rabbi Falk cannot claim that all poskim are unanimous about Y.

Now, perhaps Rabbi Falk was simply unaware of this teshuva. After all, it is one late seif in a larger teshuva. However, we know that Rabbi Falk is aware of this teshuva. On page 329, where he introduces the entire issue of tights, he mentions this teshuva explicitly, and claims (or seems to claim) that Rav Moshe is requiring tights because it is an area which is usually covered. I discussed Rabbi Falks characterization of the teshuva in this earlier post -- I am quite unhappy with his characterization, but read that post and decide for yourself.

Regardless, Rabbi Falk obviously knows about the existence of this teshuva from Rav Moshe. And the very purpose of that teshuva was to give a reason in favor of flesh-covered tights. To not mention this teshuva here, where it is most directly relevant, seems to me like misleading by omission. And especially where he leaves it out and then appears to state that it is the unanimous position of all poskim that skin-colored tights are forbidden.


moshe said...


I think it is now time for a series exposing the hoax of "modern kabbalists" (maybe ancient kabbalists as well).

You can start with this video on YouTube found on avakesh:

Anonymous said...

i hear your diyuk, but i dont see how r moshe is saying legs can't attract attention since he says it doesnt have to be clear to the observer she is wearing stockings. i am assuming that "attract attention" means call attention to skin - as in his first paragraph "as they give the impression that the legs are uncovered, they attract attention to the leg in exactly the same way as do truly uncovered legs"
Its just this type of "attracting attention" that r moshe says is mutar
though he does go on to say they are more attractive than uncovered legs, so I suppose he can be using THAT definition of "attract attention" subsequently. But really i dont see that r moshe agrees, to make it unanimous, that legs cannot look more attractive covered than uncovered? If it's a given that legs look more attractive in sheer stockings than bare (a disputable point, I am sure) then r moshe is not agreeing that they must therefore be covered, right?

I think it is particularly egregious to ignore R Moshe, because in haredi US society, this psak has been followed by the litvishe community where flesh colored (and ftm sheer) Stockings have been worn.

bion said...

anonymous 8:39:00 PM is me

bion said...

I also do not follow the quote from RYCSonnenfeld and am curious to see what the original says.

As you quoted in your previous post and posted the teshuva, RYCS holds shok is the thigh. So any requirement to cover the lower leg is b/c it is the minhag that they are covered. If it's mutar to not wear stockings it must be mutar to wear sheer stockings! So it follows that if he holds like the MB - that the requirement to cover is only if it is the derech to cover - that the type of stockings that would be required would be the sort that it is the derech in that place to wear (or none at all if it is not the derech to wear them). So Id like to see what he signed. Maybe he signed something about hte minhag of yerushalyaim at that point that does not mandate that in other areas one wear thick stockings. I'd guess that to be the most likely, given that he defines shok as thigh. I don't see any hypothetical alternative.

incidentally from The shaala asked to rycs in the second teshuva you linked, one sees that the shoel assumes that it happens that women walk into beis hamidrash to call someone. They don't stand outside down the street waiting for someone to come out to ask to call their husbands or sons.

joshwaxman said...

good points. thanks.

I am trying to be dan lekaf zechut as much as I can, but I am really much more "unsatisfied" with the presentation in the book than I might show here.

If he *is* being this careful with his language, it is a sneaky approach and should not be taken when writing a book. Though at least then it would not be an out-and-out falsehood. If not, then perhaps he has some resolution, but it would then *seem* to be either error or falsehood.

It is *possible* that elsewhere, one can see explicitly or through a diyuk that Rav Moshe would be against neon pink flashing tights with speakers attached blaring "Look here!" Or perhaps very attractive sheer stockings, as you suggest. That would be attracting attention to a part of the body and trying to create hirhur, more than if she were not wearing tights at all. I have not read all that Rav Moshe has to say about tznius, so I didn't feel comfortable dismissing that possibility. The move from X to Y would then be Rabbi Falk's extension, which Rav Moshe would not agree with.

I agree that it would be good to see that original statement from Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld. It certainly makes sense that this is why he forbade them. And while the text in the book makes it seem universal, perhaps this is why the next paragraph in the book begins "apart from the obvious lack of tznius in wearing such tights where people are not used to seeing them..."

Kol Tuv,

bion said...

"Or perhaps very attractive sheer stockings, as you suggest. That would be attracting attention to a part of the body and trying to create hirhur, more than if she were not wearing tights at all."

He premises this objection on the notion that shok is the full leg. He writes it as a kal v'chomer - it's just like uncovered legs, even worse. But if the leg doesn't have to be covered, how is it different than e.g. makeup on the face, or manicured hands, etc Of course that is my assumption of what r Moshe would hold. R falk may reason differently, eg if he assers nail polish of any sort etc but it's a stretch to impute that to R Moshe I am sure you would agree.


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