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Women in men's clothing

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  • Women in men's clothing

    I would like to hear viewpoints regarding the commandment for women not to wear men's clothing. The two viewpoints I have heard are (1) it refers to military clothing and the idea that women should not fight in a war, but what do we do with Deborah who told Barak that if he would not lead, she would? (2) that it refers to transvestite behavior.

    The pentecostal church women do not wear pants based on this scripture (which to me, is kind of amusing, as christians believe the Torah is fulfilled or done away with or whatever you want to call it). But men of Scripture did not wear pants, and certainly women today who wear pants USUALLY purchase ones made specifically for women. Does this mean that I should not borrow a T-shirt out of my husband's drawer? Etc Etc.

  • #2
    Male & Female?

    Shalom Rivkah,

    Sorry for the delay in someone responding to you. I have some comments to make concerning Deut 22:5 and the command not to wear opposite sex clothing, but first I wanted to hear from you if you have considered what it meant that Elohim created mankind in His likeness/image...male and female? Do you feel that there is a male and female side to Elohim? I think the understanding involved with figuring that out will help us determine if it is permissible to wear a husband's tee shirt. My initial impression is that there is much more to this command than just wearing physical clothes. Any thoughts?

    Blessings in The Name,


    • #3
      You are absolutely correct -- no doubt about it -- there is MUCH more than the physical .....

      BUT if I can't understand it in the p'shat, and the p'shat must not be abandoned in understanding the "much more" of it, then how can I even think about that, right now?

      As far as your question regarding male/female, I have only a very basic understanding of eyn sof and the sefeirot, the methodology of creation, with moshiach representing ("representing" probably isn't the correct word) the middle pillar, mother and father to each side. But this is where my brain starts shorting out, and no, it doesn't help me answer the question at hand.

      So any glimpses you have to offer, please share .


      • #4
        New here- late post:

        Shalom rivkah

        "1) it refers to military clothing and the idea that women should not fight in a war, but what do we do with Deborah who told Barak that if he would not lead, she would? (2) that it refers to transvestite behavior."

        1} Judges 4:6-9---It appears that Deborah did not offer to lead but said that she would go with Barak, and I’m not so sure that if she did lead she would have had to put on men’s clothing, as leaders of armies generally conduct the war from a vantage point, not actually fighting.

        2}This is from the JPS commentary by JEFFREY H. TIGAY.


        Several plausible reasons have been suggested for this commandment. Some think that it is directed against disguising oneself as a member of the opposite sex since this would facilitate mingling with them and hence fornication. Others think that it refers to transvestite behavior.

        Put on a mans apparel Literally “a mans keli may not be on a woman” keli mean “ clothing “ in rabbinic Hebrew. Targum Onkelos and R. Eliezer b. Jacob take it to mean---“weapon”.

        The halakhah combines both views: women may not wear armor or clothing, hairdos, or other adornments that are characteristic of men, nor may men wear what is characteristic of women. {what is characteristic of each sex is defined by local practice}



        • #5
          In traditional Judaims the prohibition against wearing womens clothes and viceversa has wide application...but in essence about transgender activities.

          Largely it depends on the culture and time one lives in. Dresses nowadays would certainly be ossur, forbidden, but not necissarily a kilt (I don't know the halachah l'maseh, the rule for practice). Makeup is forbidden for a man.

          Additionally men are not allowed to dye their hair. Nor the hair around their privy, and presumably their legs although I don't recall if I've seen this spelled out or not.

          According to some shaving one's face is prohibited on these grounds even if a razor is not used.

          Once it was prohibited for men to look into a mirror, but since this is no longer as exclusively feminine it is no longer prohibited.

          Pants are forbidden because it is inherently immodest to expose the seperation between a womens upper thighs. Some however say that it is not an issue of wearing mens clothes if it is tailored for women (but still prohibited for the reason given). Others hold that if it is by nature not suitable for women it is "wearing mens clothes" regardless of how feminine the design.


          • #6
            I love this thread. I am very happy reading all the post. I learned so much from it. Many thanks.

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            Last edited by kate123; 04-09-2012, 05:41 PM.