- Question: [Thursday, 14th Menachem Av 5782]
My two-year-old daughter is in the midst of potty training and keeps on taking off her underwear and will not wear a diaper, which means that she randomly walks around the house undressed. What are we supposed to do regarding Davening and learning in her presence, such as if we are Davening or learning on the couch and she suddenly shows up without clothing? Must we stop learning and Davening until she leaves?
You may ignore her and continue learning and Davening even though she is undressed next to you. This, however, only applies until she reaches age 3, after which you would be prohibited from learning and Davening in her presence if she is undressed. Even prior to this age, you should avoid looking at her during the actual prayer or learning. By a boy, however, you have until age 9. To note, however, that one should never have a child naked in front of Sefarim, unless they [i.e. the Sefarim] are 80 cm above ground.
Explanation: It is forbidden to learn Torah or Daven in the presence of an Erva [male or female genitalia], or an immodestly dressed woman who is within a man’s sight. Regarding the second aspect this does not begin until the girl reaches age 3. Regarding the aspect of male or female genitalia, it is disputed amongst the Poskim if this prohibition begins as soon as a child is born, or extends until nine years old for a boy or three years old for a girl, and practically the final ruling of Ashkenazim is to be lenient in this matter like the latter approach, even though initially it is proper to be stringent. Accordingly, in the above situation that you cannot control your less than three-year-old daughter’s undressing habits, and being stringent in this will cause you to need to stop your learning and Davening intermittently, you may therefore be lenient, although trying to avoid having the actual genitalia within your site.
Sources: See dispute in Admur 75:7 and that the main opinion is to be lenient; Kaf Hachaim 75:32-35; Ketzos Hashulchan 9:8; Piskeiy Teshuvos 75:14; Stringent opinion: 1st opinion in Admur ibid; Michaber 75:4 [see however Michaber Y.D. 265:8 and Shach 265:18]; Rambam Kerais Shema 16; Kneses Hagedola in name of Radbaz; Lenient opinion: 2nd opinion in Admur ibid; Rama 75:4; Baal Haittur Mila 3; Tur Y.D. 265; Beis Yosef O.C. 75; Kol Bo 73; M”A 75:4; M”B 75:24; See regarding initially being stringent: Levush 75; Elya Raba 75:6; Chayeh Adam 4:1; Bnei Tziyon 75:6; Chesed Lealafim 75:8; Kitzur SHU”A 5:15; Ben Ish Chaiy Bo 1:5; Kaf Hachaim 75:; See regarding age of boy: Admur and M”A ibid; See regarding age of girl: Chayeh Adam, and M”B and Kaf Hachaim ibid