Latest update: April 2nd, 2012
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This past summer, in Brooklyn, there were a number of horrific incidents – tragedies – all of the same fabric. Women, teenage girls, and even a four-year-old girl were abducted and physically molested, even in broad daylight.
When there is a spate of incidents similar in nature, it is a clear message from Hashem, and we need to hear it.
I look around me and am horrified by what I see. Women and girls sporting tops that are so tightly form-fitting; skirts that hug the hips, then become flary and flirty as they reach the knees; tops that barely meet the top of the skirt so that if the wearer raises her arm just a bit, a good inch of bare midriff is exposed, sleeveless shells, worn under a fitted jacket which cannot be buttoned, exposing bare underarms each time the wearer moves; and maternity clothes which are so form-fitted that nothing is left to the imagination!
Whatever happened to kol kevudah bas melech penimah (the princess – Jewish woman) who conducts herself with modesty and dignity, shunning ostentation – the true symbol of nobility and glory? [Psalms, 45:14] Hashem’s message is clear: If you don’t respect My requirement of you to act with the modesty befitting a Jewish princess, then I will force you to stay penimah (literally, within or inside). You will not be able to let your daughters go out, even in the daytime. And you, too, will be forced to remain inside at night.
Please don’t misunderstand. I am not blaming the victims. History has shown that when Hashem wishes to show His displeasure with us, He does it through the most innocent and pure among us.
Ladies, it is time to get the message that Hashem is sending us. The tight, form-fitting, revealing clothing must go. Let us please return to our proper status as modest, Jewish princesses. Let us demonstrate to our Father, the King of all Kings, that we will live up to His expectations of us and conduct ourselves with the modesty befitting His daughters, his princesses, which we are.
May we all return to our Father in heaven, dressed as true daughters of the King of Kings, and thereby merit a year filled with blessings for all of Klal Yisroel.
A Bas Yisroel
Dear Bas Yisroel,
Not for naught do many Jewish families seek enclaves far removed from the secularist influence that sways countless of our people, especially the young and impressionable. Lewd images adorning department store displays and brochures, billboards looming larger than life along commonly traversed expressways, and glamorous fashion magazine layouts all leave little to the imagination and bombard our senses incessantly. Entrenched in the glorified materialism of our times, the susceptible among us are rendered totally impervious to this continual licentious onslaught.
Not long ago, an acquaintance of mine confided a most amazing occurrence. Her sister-in-law, who had suddenly become gravely ill in the prime of her life, had died following a heart-wrenching struggle to stay alive – leaving behind a beautiful family who desperately needed her. But Hashem had other plans.
For the sake and clarification of this story, I will name my acquaintance ‘Sara’ and her deceased sister-in-law ‘Etty.’ Sara had had a falling out with her sister-in-law, which had never been resolved. Etty appeared to Sara in a dream one night to beg forgiveness for the slight. Sara agreed – on one condition – that her sister-in-law reveal some subliminal element of the other world.
Etty obliged and went on to say that the Heavens are ‘up-in-arms’ over the lack of tznius (modesty) among our people. She further related that this serious violation of a biblical injunction is the reason why so many young among us leave this earth prematurely.
In this dream, Etty was wearing a becoming, non-clinging (modest) dress that had been a long-time favorite of her wardrobe. She pointed out that her own unpretentiousness on her earthly sojourn was ‘paying off.’ (Etty had been of a reserved soft-spokenness and humble-natured.)
The next day, Sara had a prearranged luncheon date with some of her nieces, Etty’s children. Sara’s jaw dropped when she spotted the eldest of them – wearing the dress that their mother had worn in Sara’s dream just the night before!
We should all take this powerful message to heart and evaluate both our conduct and our wardrobes – and try to bear in mind that as the Chosen People, we have a lofty mission and are to present ourselves as the model of G-d’s children in every way.
I am reminded of an encounter of many years back with my own sister-in-law who had settled in Israel, where she had attended seminary and subsequently found her intended. On a visit there, I had brought her a sheitel (wig) that she had asked for. After an enthusiastic try-on, she replaced it with her prettily wrapped kerchief as she readied to go market shopping for the upcoming Shabbos. Curious, I asked whether she would be wearing her new wig on her outing. The young wife replied genuinely, “No! I’m reserving it to wear here for my husband, for whom I want to appear at my best. Why would I want to look appealing for total strangers? Outdoors I will continue to wear my head scarf!”
And so she has for all these years, living a modest but immensely fulfilling existence (as one of the earliest settlers in Shomron). It’s been over 35 years since, but I have never forgotten that singular and most humbling experience with a true aishes chayil.
Let’s all take a cue – and take a dispassionate look at our image in a full-length mirror before heading out. We might want to ask ourselves, “Is this the way I want to appear to be judged in the hereafter?”
Thank you, Bas Yisroel, for taking us to task and reminding us of our true heritage.Rachel
About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to email@example.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.
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