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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Q11.1.10 TOC Q11.1.12 >

Question 11.1.11:
Dress: At what age should one begin to cover arms , legs etc of a young daughter when amongst the public?


Practical questions should really be asked of a rabbi who knows you, not a FAQ service. But the here's the theory:

The Chazon Ish quotes the Chafeitz Chaim who writes that the age is three. The Chazon Ish writes that he believes this is too strict, and says that it's when she starts to look like a girl. Rabbi Wosner writes a responsum in which he translates this description to a maximum of age 7. The Lubavitcher Rebbe (Liqutei Sochos vol XVIII, pg 448) quotes the Shulchan Arukh as also saying that the starting age should be three, but that true obsevance should apply to a girl 10 or older. It would seem to say a 3 yr old's diaper shouldn't be changed in public (just to give a clearcut case), and gradually observance should be made stricter until the girl is fully observant by the time she's 10. When in that progression would be covering arms and legs is not specified.

So,the answer is "some time between 3 and 7 or between 3 and 10". One can't be more specific because it depends on the girl's rate of maturation, both physically and mentally. As in nearly every mitzvah, full observance should begin when the child can comprehend it. Since this mitzvah is to prevent ill thoughts in others (and newpapers attest to the reality of the dangers posed by pedophiles), it also must depend on the girl's physical development.

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

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