web analytics
September 1, 2015 / 17 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post


One Judaism, Two Perspectives on Dressing Modesty

Orthodox Jewish women enjoy shopping at a clothing fair for women only, held at the International Conference Center in jerusalem. March 27, 2012.

Orthodox Jewish women enjoy shopping at a clothing fair for women only, held at the International Conference Center in jerusalem. March 27, 2012.
Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90

When it comes to modesty in dress there is a wide variety in the way various segments of Orthodox Jewry put it into practice. But the basics are the same for all. Without getting into the details of the basic Halacha, I will just say that modesty for women requires that she cover those parts of the body that are considered “her nakedness” (Erva). Those are the biblical parameters which apply in all places – at all times in public. The rabbinic parameters (Tznius) go beyond the biblical requirement and are relative to the culture where one resides.

So that in places like Iran, a Jewish woman may be required to follow the modesty customs of that culture which go far beyond what is biblically required. In places like America, the biblical and rabbinic parameters are the same. Modesty in western cultural terms do not meet even the biblical Erva standard.

Some of the more right wing segments of Orthodoxy insist on taking matters of Tznius to much greater lengths than Halacha requires – even those that live in westernized cultures like America and Israel. For example, even though an exposed lower leg below the knee is not considered Erva, Chasidic – and many other Charedi communities require that it be covered anyway. And consider it highly immodest if a woman’s leg below the knee is fully exposed.

Which brings me to two articles in the Forward. One by Judy Brown, a woman who is Charedi. The other by Simi Lampert who is Modern Orthodox. It is interesting to see the similarity of attitude expressed by both.

One might think that a Modern Orthodox woman would be put off by the attitude expressed by the Charedi woman. But in both cases they seem to be saying the same thing. Which is that they understand the purpose behind those modesty rules. And both expressed the desire to follow them.

Both women have the desire to look attractive by western cultural standards and have tried on immodest clothing in private just to see how they would look. Both thought they looked great, and both would never consider wearing such clothing in public. They both feel a level of comfort in following the modesty rules.

The difference between them is cultural and not Halachic. In the Charedi culture, the idea of not wearing stockings is considered a Tznius violation. So much so that when an error in perception was made about the Mrs. Brown not wearing stockings even though her legs were covered below the knee, all hell broke loose. Here is how she tells the story:

[T]he young man passing by the yard declared that he had seen me with bare legs. Like a careless whore…

It was Tuesday, mid-August, a (very hot) day… I filled up the baby pool for my children in the yard settled on a plastic chair with cherry ices and dunked my legs in the pool, right where the water spurted from the hose.

It was then that the Hasid passed. It was then that he saw me — beige pantyhose transparent, legs seemingly bare — and, looking quickly away, hurried to tell the rav. I had not seen him at all. I did not know of the bewildered chaos going on in his mind until later that night, when my husband came home and stared at me quizzically.

The rav had called, he said. Could it be true? That I had sat outside with no pantyhose at all?

Of course she was wearing stockings and it was just a misperception on the part of a passerby. The point here is how seriously this Chumra is taken in the world of Chasidim. As ‘modern’ as Mrs. Brown became in other areas, this area is sancrosanct to her.

This would never happen in Modern Orthodoxy. Of course modern Orthodox Jews do not have the infra structure or the desire to dictate how its members dress. As Mrs. Lambert points out:

If my rabbi approached my husband about what I was wearing in my own yard, I’d almost definitely move. The very next day.

While both communities follow the same Halachos of modesty there is no mechanism, or really any pressure in Modern Orthodoxy that would force a violator to adhere to Halacha. One will find that modesty laws are occasionally breached by those I would call MO-Lite. The kind of guilt described by Mrs. Brown does not exist in MO circles, at least not on the level she seemed to have about it.

About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “One Judaism, Two Perspectives on Dressing Modesty”

  1. Muriel Coudurier-Curveur says:

    Modesty is a personal attitude. While it can be taught, it cannot be imposed. One can be immodest in a burka, or modest wearing shorts. When a woman dresses, against her own wishes, in a manner dictated by her community, because she is afraid of the consequences, she is being fearful and even possibly bullied. She isn't being modest. A modest woman is one who choose to act -as well as dress- modestly, even though transgression has no consequences on her place in the community. In short, to be modest, one must also have the freedom not to be.

Comments are closed.

Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
Current Top Story
Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY-9)
3 NYC Ds Disappoint Area Residents and Announce Support for Nuclear Iran Deal
Latest Blogs Stories
Someone should alert this man: Dani Dayan, Chairman of the Judea, Samaria and Gaza Council.

Why won’t the gov’t finally annex YESHA & Jordan Valley formalizing their status in State of Israel?

Jewish Press Blogger, Selena Chait

Both “Half-Shabbat” & R’ Yosef’s opinion champion an extreme. There most certainly is a happy medium

Trump

Trump’s slogan and story gives American restores hope to dream to: “Make America Great Again”

Doug Goldstein

Is GDP outdated an measure of prosperity? Are there any alternative methods of assessing $ growth?

In their attack on Ban Ki Moon, Hamas admitted to committing a different war crime.

The ideal of Modern Orthodoxy should be not be viewed as a compromise the way most Charedim view it.

Israel shouldn’t rely on US; It has an awful record in protecting allies.

The Halacha of shmirat einayim (guarding one’s eyes) is incumbent on the MAN; it’s his obligation

Dem. presidential candidate Doug Shreffler talks about his campaign & its motto “as good as it gets”

I’ve decided to move away from my safety net-and I wouldn’t change that decision for anything.

Was “Jerusalem” the song Matisyahu planned to perform? It was the PERFECT response to BDS campaign

If the world’s winds of hatred bring Jews to Israel we are ready, joyfully offering them a home here

At what age should the realization start setting in for kids that we live in an uncertain society?

Spain’s SeaWorld canceled Zionist-spy dolphin’s performance unless it supports a Palestinian state

How does the Iranian deal affect anti-terrorist legislation adopted by a number of US states?

More Articles from Harry Maryles
Rabbi Norman Lamm of Yeshiva University

The ideal of Modern Orthodoxy should be not be viewed as a compromise the way most Charedim view it.

haredim-no-women-allowed-sign

The Halacha of shmirat einayim (guarding one’s eyes) is incumbent on the MAN; it’s his obligation

Calling the Jewish Press‘closest thing to a frum English-language weekly’ insults the publication

Professor Cohen’s quotes statistics proving Reform & Conservative Judaism are in free fall.

Most that struggle abandon observance altogether. Why did these 3 remain observant?

Esav Sonei L’Yaakov: Is this how we should think of all non Jews?

Surprisingly, many Hareidi communities do not advocate full time Kollel study for life as the ideal.

The phenomenon pushing limits of Orthodoxy to the extreme left has no chance of becoming mainstream

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/one-judaism-two-perspectives-on-dressing-modesty/2012/08/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: