May 25, 2010

Interesting Psak from Rav Cherlo: Running Marathons

No running marathons, but no excuse to be lazy...

Rav Yuval Cherlo was asked a two part question regarding the permissibility of running marathons. The question posed was really for a 10km race (which Israelis tend to call 10km marathons), bu it applies equally to marathons or any distance of a race.

The question asked was:
  1. Is there a problem of tzniyus, considering that runners running in such races are focused each on his or her own performance and running and is not focused on the lack of tzniyus around him?
  2. How to jibe the bodies internal desire to run, or to do other activities, with the lessons he had been taught in yeshiva about only learning Torah and not be involved in things and activities that take one away from that.
Rav Cherlo's response, also in two parts, was:
  1. One should not participate in mixed physical activities. Being that the question posed is regarding a race that by its very nature uses immodest dress and is not the common clothing worn by men and women in everyday life, it is prohibited to participate in the race. The premise of a runner being focused on his run and ambivalent to those around him, Rav Cherlo says, is not a factor.
  2. It is good to run, and perhaps even an obligation to run or partake in other physical activities, in order to stay healthy and to treat properly the vessel given to us by God. That has nothing to do with participating in any specific race, as it can be performed in many other venues. This position should be also the position of those who oppose the pursuits of any other hobbies, due to this issue related to health and vitality especially in light of the poor nutrition we have nowadays.


  1. the heter might be if you are someone, like myself, who is very goal oriented and has a hard time getting motivated to run without a specific target (like a marathon) in sight.

  2. The heter might be what your own Rav tells you.

  3. I dont see a reason why that would be a hetter.

    I do see from the response that Rav Cherlo is not a runner. I am not so sure there is no room to weigh a hetter of him being focused on his run. Anybody who has run a marathon knows that you see nothing around you, at least not in any social form.
    I dont see why it should be any less than a male doctor seeing female patients, as we say it is so common and he is busy with his work, that the male-female issue is not an issue, even if he has to examine her in stages of undress (hers, not both together obviously), or vice versa with a female doctor.

    When you are running, the other runners are not sexual objects. There is nothing less sexually appealing than a person who is in the process of struggling through a 42km run, or even a 21km run.

    A 10km race might be another story, for a full marathon runner. For such a person a 10km race is not a struggle and is more of an enjoyable outing and then he might not be focused and might see other runners in that way. But for non-marathon runners, even a 10km run is a struggle and the same should apply.

    When you are running, you dont see anyone else in that way, and you are not in that mode of thought at all.

  4. rafi,
    why should it be any different if you are a swimmer? you concentrate on your strokes and not the girls in the bathing suits swimming next to you?

  5. maybe if you are doing a race and not a recreational swim it would be the same.
    I am not a swimmer and dont know if the feeling is the same as running or not.

  6. Rafi, if someone doesn't care enough to ask, he will not likely be swayed by this psak either. But just like every other published p'sak, A) it depends on whether you follow the author's rulings or not, and B) even if you do, their p'sak to the general public might be different that what they would tell an individual. Seek clarification if you think your case is different.

  7. as we say in Hebrew, Meah Achuz.

    I dont post these psaks because I want to publicize an issur or a hetter or I hold of it or dont (though sometimes I add what I think), rather just because it is an interesting discussion, something not often found discussed, or a unique way of looking at the situation and approaching the problem.

    How often do you see published responsa about running marathons... accept the psak or not does not matter to me. Everybody can and will do what is good for them. The discussion is what interests me.

  8. Personal opinion not a psak -

    Swimming is different because (a) there's more objective exposure and (b) it's a more contained environment.

    I don't understand why one can run for themselves - when inevitably there will be other runners in the environment - but not in a marathon. The only difference is that you *know* other runners are part of the same program. But in general runners will run along similar paths.

  9. Shira - perhaps run by yourself means on a treadmill in your living room, or in a a "kosher gym" or some other solution...

  10. demanding that a person spend thousands of shekels for a good treadmill is not a solution.

  11. wow! another excuse to not exercise. now it is assur! I love it!

  12. Rafi G - wanna - if you ask..

    Someone once told me that choosing not to ask (when you have a safek) is assur.

    I still don't ask.


  13. I was always taught you only ask when you have a shayla.

  14. Someone once told me that choosing not to ask (when you have a safek) is assur.

    Yeah, but was that someone YOUR Rav? ;-)

    (Rafi don't worry I only run in the gym. Or after a toddler....)

  15. Shira - in the nearly 2 years I have been running, I am used to running when other people are on the road, including women. So it doesnt really matter to me where you run. I have run a marathon, a few half marathons and some smaller races as well, and am used to the debauchery.
    As well, I know a number of frum women who run in the most tzniyus way possible (as tzniyus as running can possibly be I guess), so run on a treadmill or on the street, I wont be judging you.


Related Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...