Jul 19, 2018

Interesting Psak: mixed beaches for Haredim

I was not aware of this, but it seems that in recent years some beaches have been designated as "haredi family beaches". 

What is a Haredi family beach? A haredi family beach is one in which families are allowed to all be present and swimming as long as the women are wearing tzanua swimsuits (a.k.a. burkini, frumkini, robes, etc). I dont know if there are also restrictions on the men, such as men must wear a tshirt.

Rav Bentzion Mutzafi was recently asked if it is ok to swim on such a beach, or rather, if not, could the rav publicly express his discontent with the issue and the current situation.

To that end Rav Mutzafi expressed his shock and dismay that Haredi men would go swimming with is wife and children when there are other families present and swimming.

The rav referenced a gemara that even just passing by such a place would be cause for someone to lose his portion in the world to come. if I remember correctly, the referenced gemara refers to passing by the area of the river where the women were busy doing the laundry and the person was passing by with intent to gaze at the women wading in the water laundering their clothes.

The rav also made a connection between some recent tragedies and these mixed beaches, though I dont know that the tragedies happened on mixed beaches - one he referenced happened in a hotel swimming pool. He also expressed shock that this would be an issue just 3 weeks away from the month of Elul and the beginning of selichos season.
source: Kikar

With all that, I am most surprised at the allowance of mixed swimming to the point that some beaches have been designated for this. You can often see such behavior when on a tiyul up north and all sorts of people are in the rivers or streams, but I have never seen it with formal swimming.

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  1. The problem of "mixed swimming" is a misnomer. The problem is really going somewhere where women are dressed improperly, especially if there is no compelling reason to do so.
    As for the gemara cited about passing by the area of the river where the women were busy doing the laundry, the problem there is that the women lifted their skirts so they would not get we while doing the laundry. Again, an issue of improper dress.
    Assuming that the women are dressed properly, what is the problem? How is this different thank going to a large store or supermarket where there are many women? (And yes, there are places where there are separate shopping hours for men and women, but that is a chumra.)

    1. I always wondered what is so bad about mixed swimming, especially in todays age of modest swimwear. can I sit by a pool or on a beach and not go swimming, and all is good? obviously not if womenin the area are in bikinis, but that isnt mixed swimming. it seems they treat it as an issue on its own, even if modesty issues are dealt with. The prevailing attitude has definitely been that even with modest swimwear it is prohibited.

  2. "especially in todays age of modest swimwear."

    That I don't think is accurate. Most swimwear you would see at a mixed beach is far from modest. Going to an ordinary mixed beach is indeed a serious aveirah. But, as you say, the issue is how people are dressed, not the swimming itself.

  3. I had no idea that there were frum family beaches in Israel, and wondered why they didn't exist (I have seen this type of arrangement informally at religious cottage areas in Canada where the only access to the beach was via a group of summer cottages which were all owned by religious families)

    Do you have details about these beaches, where they are located and if they have specific family hours, sounds like a great option for a family outing.


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