I would like to comment on some recent letters that discussed the subject of women’s tznius, promiscuity, and the social mingling of men and women.
Some of these letters admonish males for not reining in their baser inclinations; others take issue with females for their lack of modesty. (See Chronicles of 9-18, 10-23, & 11-13-09)
Let me make it clear that in no way do I advocate “dressing down” in order to keep a man from “looking.” For the record, I am simply a frum woman with Torah values who recognizes the difference between normal and abnormal.
No excuses for the “vulnerable” husband. Even though we live in an open society where practically everything is acceptable, there is simply no excuse for “forgetting” our Ten Commandments-one of which relates to adultery.
As for women, what happened to exercising common sense? And let’s not mince words-every “red-blooded” female wants to look pretty. I, for one, need to feel “well put together” but I know my boundaries. Being fashionable and trendy does not have to mean low cut or belly-exposing tops, or skirts that end mid-thigh or have slits that leave little to the imagination. Frum Jewish females who dress this way have no seichel or are sorely lacking in good taste.
I recently returned from a trip abroad and was taken by the old-fashioned gentility of the average (non-Jewish) woman one encounters on the streets of Italy. For that matter, a refined lady anywhere in the world will not be caught in public wearing ill-fitting clothes that are suggestive of women of ill repute. I suspect that if our girls who dress this way had an inkling of how they come across, they would be horrified.
The bottom line is that we can dress normally and be presentable without running a fashion show at the expense of our family.
Tznius and Femininity can co-exist
Your answer to the letter from Mature Wife seemed to imply that heightened standards of conduct between men and women are a “Chassidic” thing. This is not so.
The Gemara records incidents of Amoraim who took extra precautions in this area (see the end of Ta’anis dealing with Abba Chilkiya, as an example).
This matter was an issue even for the Amoraim, who were spiritually far advanced over us. What emerges from the sources in the Talmud is that social intercourse between men and women who are not married to each other, or otherwise close blood relatives, is inappropriate. The yetzer hara is strong, and nobody can be certain that s/he will never cross the line.
Just telling it like it is…
The letter by Mature Wife made me realize how tightly some people’s eyes are shut to the crisis that has exploded at full speed through many of our communities.
In his speech on “Platonic Relationships” Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky relates a story from the Gemara on the subject of Ain aputropus l’arayos, loosely translated as nobody is safeguarded from immorality.
Bruriah, the wife of the Tanna Rabi Meir, swore that a moral, resolute and righteous woman is not seducible.
Rabi Meir tested her by getting one of his students to entice her. The student succeeded and Reb Meir caught them in the act, resulting in Bruriah killing herself.
Does “mature wife” think the student swaggered up to her saying, Hey gorgeous, I fancy you!!? NO! He started with seemingly innocent banter and familiarity, just as you do with your group of friends.
If some of our holiest, most erudite people understood the risks, set themselves strong boundaries and could still fail, imagine how cautious we must be in the ‘2009’ world we live in!
With so much exposure as it is, what with work associations, the provocative (Jewish and non-Jewish) woman on the streets, movies and Internet, why on earth would anybody willingly place that stumbling block in front of herself? Is a home to build, a marriage to sustain, and possibly children to educate, not enough to “bond” you??
Al taamin beatzmecha ad yom moscha – don’t trust yourself until the day you die, especially on this subject, which NOBODY is immune to. Tzaddikim fixed stronger boundaries because of the considerable danger, and therefore it is of utmost importance to set yourself as many restrictions as you possibly can.
This is not, G-d forbid, about not trusting one another, but about protecting and looking out for each other, because sometimes we can shock even ourselves!
There is a relationship flu spreading – vaccinate yourselves! Shield yourselves! Open your eyes! Separation is not, as Mature Wife said, “sinking to a new low” – but a strength and a level that can be a challenge to rise to.
Looking down at people who care for their spouses and kids by keeping them as sheltered as possible is like saying that keeping hilchos muktza is sinking low; can’t a person trust himself not to be mechallel Shabbos? Of course not! It’s a hard mitzvah, and these “extra” halachos keep one from falling
DON’T kid yourself that it’s not a possibility for your husband to notice your attractive friends.
DON’T suppose your friends’ husbands aren’t assessing you.
DON’T delude yourself by denying what perfectly accepted socializing can lead to.
DON’T presume that belonging to a Chassidish, Litvish or Modern Orthodox community makes you immune to this problem.
DON’T forget you’re HUMAN!
And as Mature Husband asked in his outstanding letter, who am I to talk?I am a single, outgoing and attractive 22-year old girl, raised in a balanced and open-minded home. I have seen first hand, from my own experiences as well as those of friends and family, the complicated situations that your husband, wife, son or daughter, could all find themselves in.
I wish for you a continued blissful, healthy and devoted marriage.
Single and guarded
Dear Tznius, Telling and Single,
Your words of wisdom need no elaboration and enlighten us just at the right time. Wishing you and all of Klal Yisrael a safe and happy Chanukah!