May we never again hear someone say that “X looks frum.” No one can “look” frum; one can only “be” frum, which itself is not as admirable as being erliche. That lack of sophistication is atrocious, embarrassing, and corrosive to Jewish life and distorts the Torah beyond recognition.
We know better than that, and we are better than that. In a free society, anyone can dress exactly like others or unlike others if he so chooses. But it says nothing about his values, only about his identification with one group or another. We should stop trusting people simply because they don black coats, black hats, and wear beards – or, for that matter, kippot serugot. All are costumes. None conveys any real truths about the real person.
The true measure of every Jew – and every person – is always within.
Rabbi Steven Pruzansky is the spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun of Teaneck, New Jersey, and the author, most recently, of “Judges for Our Time: Contemporary Lessons from the Book of Shoftim” (Gefen Publishing House, Jerusalem, 2009). His writings and lectures can be found at www.Rabbipruzansky.com.