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Is a woman allowed to dress up as a man on Purim?

Is a woman allowed to dress up as a man on Purim?

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Before I respond, I would like to stress that a question of this sort -- an issue which, as you will soon see, is the subject of debate amongst halachic authorities -- must be addressed to your personal rabbi. That said, for information purposes I will give you a little background information on the subject.

As a general rule, dressing up in clothing exclusive to the opposite gender is definitely a problem. The Torah expressly forbids such behavior: "A man's attire shall not be on a woman, nor may a man wear a woman's garment."1

This prohibition is intended to prevent licentious behavior. The question remains, however, whether this prohibition applies to Purim, a day when any cross-dressing would only be for "harmless" entertainment purposes. The Rama, in the Code of Jewish Law2, mentions two opposite opinions on this question: 1. There is no prohibition. 2. It is prohibited. He then says that the custom is to follow the first, more lenient, opinion.

The Mishnah Berurah (halachic code authored by Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan (1838-1933)) cites several halachic authorities3 who recommend that the custom of Purim cross-dressing be abolished and prohibit this practice. Likewise, as far as I can see, the overwhelming preponderance of later rabbis who discuss this issue in their responsa4 is to prohibit the practice, citing other earlier authorities who call it "wicked."

But again, be sure to consult with your rabbi for an actual halachic decision.

Just two reminders: a) The costumes should be checked for shatnez before they are worn on Purim -- even if they are just rented. b) The laws of modesty apply on Purim as well... Be certain that any costume you wear conforms to the year-round modesty requirements.

Have a happy Purim!

Rabbi Eliezer Danzinger for Chabad.org

FOOTNOTES
1.

Deuteronomy 22:5.

2.

Orach Chaim 696:8.

3.

The Taz, in his glosses to Yoreh De'ah sec. 182, the Bach, the Shalah, and others.

4.

Yabiah Omer, Yechaveh Daat, and others.

Rabbi Eliezer Danzinger, first content editor for KabbalaOnline.org, is the translator and editor of several important chassidic texts. He also serves as the Jewish chaplain for York Central Hospital, and for numerous Federal prisons. Rabbi Danzinger currently resides in Toronto, Canada, with his wife, Yehudis, and their children.
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Discussion (5)
March 14, 2014
5 A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.

What if a person doing such a thing would cause another to fall?
Purim is a special feast , but I would say be careful one because G-ds word is not outdated and two because it might offend someone who you are trying to win
Henry
England
February 28, 2010
About Wearing Certain Clothiing on Purim
Most men will not cross dress on Purim. If a woman wants to wear certain things they just might depending on how they feel what is right. Mini skirts is not something most will wear like some did in the hippie days. That is not modest according to Jewish ways.

I know a couple who dressed in the opposite gender. She wore her skirt and he wore her wig and it was the funniest. She would not wear pants since she does not anyway. The whole things was so funny for Purim. I almost did not recognize her husband. This was a while back.. I think it is fun to dress up in costume that is different and especially for adults to dress as funny as possible. They, too, need to have a good time, too.

Judaism is a modest faith and people do try their best to dress modestly even on Purim. Even a young child dressing up in a wig and is a young boy had fun this Purim looking like a grandma in my shul. I thought he was a grandma. All the kids looked so cute. Purim is a fun holiday for all.
Rena Tzyrel
Fleetwood, NY
February 27, 2010
Dressing for Purim
I agree with the Rabbi mentioned above.

"Hey, it's Purim!" Not that I'm any expert, but my understanding is that Purim is unlike any other day.
Anonymous
Phila
September 23, 2008
Worth it!?!?
There are just so so many fun things to dress up as, it maybe ok, it may not, obviously this is a hard call even for the rabbis, so we must ask ourselves, why risk something that could be a disgrace to G-d? Is this really worth the risk? I am not perfect so don't take this the wrong way, but just seems an easy thing to ensure we are doing right. Seems to be such a simple way to honor Hashem by wearing a modest, fun costume that you can be confident about. Enjoy!
Hadassah
Bal Harbour, FL
November 8, 2007
Cross-dressing on Purim
Personally, I believe it's a free country (USA), and I'd like the whole world to be free, so I think how one dresses is his or her own personal business and choice. However, I am trying to learn more about the benefits of Torah observance. Since fashions have changed over the centuries (indeed, they change faster than ever in this day & age), I wonder if there can be any objective standard for what counts as masculine clothing versus feminine. I went to a Purim party hosted by a friend who is a Chabad Rabbi. His young son wore a dress; he was impersonating Queen Esther! Half-jokingly, I shook my head and said, "Rabbi, really -- letting your son cross-dress!?" He just said, "Hey, it's Purim!"
Rob W.
Pittsburgh, PA / USA
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