Latest update: March 6th, 2012
TZNIUS – one more round…
The topic of tznius has dominated this column’s space in the form of passionate debate for the better part of the month of June and into July. Though the letters kept coming, the same theme seemed to be replaying itself over and over, and so we finally saw fit to wrap it up (in last week’s column).
But then along came a reader whose message we could not bring ourselves to relegate to the bin of unpublished letters. The following is her eloquent articulation, which we found to be a refreshing departure from sentiments expressed by most on a volatile subject. Her perspective is one that is difficult to quarrel with; each and every one of us needs to hear it, absorb it, and live it.
The letter written by A Fashion Isha saddened me. She describes herself as a beautiful, frum, spiritual Jewish woman, who loves fashion and dresses herself well… and seems to feel that as long as she is spiritual, she is entitled to dress as she pleases.
It is clear that no one has ever explained to her, and to so many others like her, what the purpose of creation is and what her role in this world is meant to be. Hashem, our Father in Heaven and the Creator of this universe, created this world in order to give. He is a giver, and He created us to be the recipients of His bounty. And He wants a close relationship with us.
In order for us to be able to truly enjoy His munificence, we need to earn it. Working to earn something is much more fulfilling and satisfying than being the recipient of a handout or charity, which does not feel very good.
Giving is what breeds love for another person. Parents love their children because they are constantly giving to them. Hashem, our Father who loves us so much, more than any human being could ever love us, is constantly giving to us, even more than we really need. He has given us a world so beautiful, so amazingly complex and breathtaking in order to give us much pleasure in this world, and transcendent pleasure in coming ever closer to Him.
But what can we give Hashem, Who has everything and needs nothing? We can follow the 613 mitzvos, thereby coming closer and closer to Him, forming an emotional connection to Him. That is what He wants from us. Avoiding something that is forbidden, sacrificing for Hashem is what makes us feel closer to Hashem.
We need to fear doing anything that could, chas v’shalom, damage that relationship and cause distance from Him. We are obligated to be meticulously careful to obey even the minutest command of our Creator, our Father in Heaven, Who created this entire world only to have a close relationship with us — which will, ultimately, result in the greatest transcendent pleasure for us.
The neshama is so much more sensitive than the body. We need to be so careful with what we fuel it. It is forever. There are real consequences for everything we do.
And everything that Hashem requires of us is actually for our benefit! He is omniscient and knows what is in our best interests, even when we don’t understand or agree.
No parent is going to tell his child, “Oh, you don’t want a vaccination because it hurts? Okay, you don’t have to have one.”
The child sees only the immediate consequences – an injection hurts. But the parent sees what the child does not. He sees the long term benefits of the vaccine and is willing to subject his child to the short-term pain and discomfort for the long term, far-reaching benefits of protection from debilitating and deadly diseases. The child sees candy and wants more and more. The parent, however, recognizes that too much will lead to tummy aches and cavities.
We are the daughters of the King of Kings. We need to dress with refinement and modesty, as is befitting daughters of royalty. This is what our Father, our King, requires of us. And He knows, in a way that we cannot understand, why this is what is truly best for us. How can we not follow His directives?
Not perfect but trying my best wrote, “I see plenty of ultra-religious Jewish women who wear seamed stockings and are dressed more than tznius’dik yet gossip about others, humiliate people and are closed minded and judgmental… And I see people who are dressed more provocatively and daven every day, go to shiurim, are careful with their speech, are welcoming and have open homes to all Jews. How can we decide who is more frum?”
The short answer is we can’t; it is not our place to decide who is more frum, and it is totally irrelevant. Each group is doing some things right and some things wrong. Hashem has two sets of requirements of conduct for each of us, and complying with one set of requirements does not absolve us from the requirement to comply with the other set as well.
To have a relationship with our Creator, to whom we owe everything, is not optional. We need to perfect ourselves in both areas of bein odom l’chaveiro (between man and man) and bein odom l’makom (between man and G-d.)
(Anyone wishing to gain more clarity on the purpose of creation and our relationship with Hashem can visit thesixconstantmitzvos.com online. This website’s collection of articles and video clips are very enlightening and well worth one’s time and effort.)
A daughter of the King
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About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to firstname.lastname@example.org 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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