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Dressing up on Purim

Adapted from a shiur by Rav Avrohom Yeshaya Cohen

Is it permitted for a boy to dress as a girl on Purim or does this violate lo yilbash? The Mahari Mintz allows for two reasons:

  • Purim dress-up is done by both males and females, and is not done to appear like the other gender.
  • We’re lenient for simchas Purim, just as gezel on Purim is not obligated to be returned.

The Darkei Moshe then cites the Mahari Brin who argues with the second reason. If gezel relates to beis din, who is allowed to waive the obligation to return it; lo yilbash is issur v’heter, which is not permitted just because of simchas Purim.

The first hetter is not clear-cut either.

  • Cross-dressing on Purim is often with intent to look like the opposite gender.
  • Yad Haketana: Mahari Mintz himself may have been discussing masks, not clothing.
  • Even if one’s intent is not to look like the other gender, many sources still indicate that it is assur:
    • Shulchan Aruch never mentions that intent matters.
    • Bach– Can’t cross-dress for simchas chassan either. The only hetter is if his intent has nothing to do with gender (e.g., he is cold).
    • Shach – Any hetter of intent applies only to a single article of clothing, but not total cross-dressing.

The practical halacha is follows:

  • Chayei Adam, Taz, Birkei Yosef, Shlah, etc. – Assur.
  • Aruch HaShulchan – the minhag has been abolished.
  • Pri Megadim/Mishna BeruraEfshar ein limchos (perhaps don’t need to protest) if only one begged is used, but not a whole outfit.
  • Children
    • Sefer Purim Vchodesh Adar/ Minchas YitzchakChazon Ish forbids kids also.
    • Igros Moshe (4:62) might allow in certain cases.   
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