During hot summer vacations, or when vacationing in a tropical region, can a woman be lenient in keeping the laws of modest attire?
For some time now, medical authorities have warned the public about the dangers of exposure to the hot summer sun. These dangers are far less than the spiritual danger that a woman brings upon herself and her surroundings when she dresses in an immodest fashion.
Our Sages teach that G-d created the woman from the rib of Adam because the rib is covered in a modest fashion, and thus should a woman behave. In contrast to the Torah’s injunction that women guard their honor by not exposing their bodies, modern culture has turned women into sexual objects and advertising models.
Women must make sure that blouses cover the shoulders and sleeves cover the arm past the elbow. Skirts must cover up the knees, even when sitting. Either the skirt or stockings must cover the leg from the knee to the foot. A transparent fabric is not considered a covering. Similarly, it is forbidden to wear bright, attention-drawing colors, or close-fitting garments that highlight the outline of the body. A married woman must cover her hair with a kerchief, hat, or wig.
The Rebbe of Lubavitch emphasized that women should be very careful regarding the laws of modesty, and not be like those who are lenient during the summer months in some of these matters, especially when vacationing in summer retreats. This applies to those who say to themselves, “I will sin a little in this, and repent later when I get back home to the city.”
Observing the laws of modesty also guards the Jewish People during times of war, as is written, “For the L-rd your G-d walks in your camp to save you, and to vanquish your enemy before you, therefore keep your camp holy” (Deut. 23:15).
(This question was answered by Rabbi Yosef Ginzburg, in the Chabad, Sabbath Torah Portion Bulletin, Sichat HaShavua, Torah Portion, Nachamu.)