Nudity Is No Trivial Matter

Nudity is no trivial matter. For most cultures, including Haredi society, it is a sensitive affair. We can see this from the centrality and gravity of the Jewish laws and customs that deal with exposure of the body in general, and its intimate parts in particular.

Written By Prof. Gideon Aran

Many Haredim assert that they would never undress in front of their spouse, even after many years of marriage. In Haredi society they talk of men who permanently keep their gaze lowered, and say that they are so zealous that they have never seen the shape of a woman all their lives, including the woman of their affections and the mother of their children.

I came across a Haredi person, saintly in the eyes of many, walking down the street with a prayer shawl (tallit) covering his eyes, thus rendering him sightless. He can move only with the help of an assistant, who leads him by the hand. The latter explained to me the Rabbi’s fear that he might inadvertently perceive the “silhouette” of a body.

In yeshiva boarding schools it is forbidden to walk around without a shirt or trousers on, even in the living quarters, and the boys are advised to get dressed underneath their blankets before getting out of bed. A medical caregiver in a Haredi practice asserted from her experience that Haredi nudity begins very high up: sometimes it even includes the face, while skin below the neck should certainly remain unseen, including among men.

Taken from “Denial Does Not Make The Haredi Body Go Away Ethnography of a Disappearing (?) Jewish Phenomenon”, By Gideon Aran.


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