Saturday, May 24, 2014

When we own something very precious, we shouldn't flaunt it.  The more we flaunt something, the less valuable it appears to us.  When we own beautiful silver, jewelry, or rare paintings, we normally exhibit them only on special occasions.  Were we to display and relate to them on a daily basis, they would cease being so special.

Just as familiarity can breed contempt, or at least dampen our excitement about material objects or events, the same thing can happen in religious domains.  Many Jewish laws effectively reinforce our awareness of the holiness of various objects.  For example, when a siddur (prayerbook) is not being used, we keep it closed.  When tefillin (phylacteries) are not being worn, they are put away and covered in a cloth bag.  When a Torah scroll is not being read, it must be covered.  All of these actions help preserve a feeling of reverence for the covered object.  The holier something is, the less familiarity and casualness we are allowed to have with it.  Whenever men or women approach greater holiness, we protect ourselves with extra reminders of humility and modesty.  This idea is not limited to our conduct in a sanctuary.

The Code of Jewish laws says:

It is written, "You shall walk modestly with your G-d" (Michah 6:8)  Therefore, it is every person's duty to be modest in all of his ways (even when getting dressed or undressed) one should be careful not to expose the body unduly.  One should never say to oneself, "I am all alone behind closed doors, who can see me?"  For the glory of the Holy One, Blessed be He, fills the universe, and darkness and light are alike to Him. (Shulchan Aruch Vol. 1, 3:1)

This means that we should constantly perceive ourselves to be in G-d's Presence  (Avodah Zarah  47b; Berachot 62a) since He is aware of our comportment at all times and in all places.

The Jewish concept of modesty is unrelated to the secular one.  Colloquially speaking, modesty is often equated with repressing one's feelings, having poor self-esteem, or being incompetent.  Judaism considers modesty to be a prerequisite for true religious observance for Jews of both sexes.  The idea is communicated quite vividly in the verse from the Prophets, "What does G-d ask of you?  To love doing loving kindness  to do justice, and to walk modestly with G-d" (Michah 6:8)  In order for a person to observe the commandments of the Torah in a way that pleases G-d, he or she must have a sense of modesty.  That sense includes having a consciousness of the One Above.

A second reference to the importance of modesty says, "When a person does a premeditated sin, the result is shame, but with modesty comes wisdom." (Mishlei 11:2)  We must have the humility and dignity that come with a sense of constantly standing in G-d's presence in order to relate to the essence of life.  Such modesty helps us develop the ability to regularly contemplate how to make our lives most meaningful.

Many people are attuned to gaining others' approval rather than doing what is right in G-d's eyes.  The more we try to derive our self-esteem from gaining the approval of those around us, the less meaning and self-control our lives will have.  Developing our sense of modesty is one say that we can examine and refine our inner values, as opposed to looking outside ourselves to find approval from external sources.  Modesty teaches us how to transcend our physical selves to search for the deep, internal values that are the lifeblood of our Jewish soul.

Judaism believes that women were created to bring a number of qualities into this world.  one of these qualities is modesty.  Chavah (Eve) was purposely created from the rib of Adam - a part of him that was concealed and internal.  It has been suggested that not only did Chavah's physical construction reflect her greater potential for modesty, but so did her emotional and intellectual construction.

Chavah and her female descendants were especially endowed with binah (understanding) (Niddah 45b)  We can only use this faculty if we can see beyond others' external and into their true selves.  We best do this when we have learned how to see beyond our own external trappings.

One who embodies true modesty has already developed an inner sense of security, self-esteem, and meaning in life.  Both men and women are required by Jewish laws to dress and comport themselves modestly and to speak in a refined and dignified way.  Men are forbidden from being in situations where they will view women who are dressed immodestly or are behaving immodestly. (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 21:1; Mishnah Berurah 75:7)  Women are similarly forbidden from watching men who are sexually provocative or stimulating.  Men are even prohibited from praying in the presence of anyone whose "nakedness" is exposed (Shulchan Aruch, Orech Chayim 75:1; Mishnah Berurah there), be it another man, or woman, or even the man himself.  A woman's ervah (nakedness) includes any exposed body parts that she is normally required to cover e.g., upper arms, thighs, and torso.  Men are also prohibited form reading or thinking about things that will stimulate them sexually.  The sole exception is that a man think about his wife and allow himself to be aroused in her presence, provided that she is sexually available.

How a person dresses reflects his or her attitude towards life and his or her role within it. Clothing is either spiritual or materialistic depending upon the statement it makes to those who wear it and those who see it.

Any glory and splendor that a body exhibits is a reflection of the soul within it, which is only evident by the level of nobility of the body, and the clothing it wears. When seeing a modestly dressed individual people expect to find virtue, and a lack of it when the opposite is true.

It's hard to see a person's soul when the person's body is front-and-center. When people place obvious emphasis on their physical appearance, in a way that causes others to focus on their physical being instead of their spiritual presence, the soul gets lost in the translation. People think of them only in terms of their physical being and see themselves similarly. (Rabbi Pinchas Winston - Parashat Tetzaveh)

Tzniut In Dress

Jewish Law of Areas That Must Be Covered

All women and girls, married or unmarried, must cover all parts of their torso plus parts of their arms and legs when in public or in the presence of individuals outside their immediate family.  Under no circumstances may even a small part of these areas be uncovered in the presence of men or boys.  These areas naturally provoke attention (with some areas being more provocative than other areas i.e., upper leg) and must therefore be covered (Chidushei HaMeiri, Berachot 24a; Levush O.C. 75:1).  Their status as ervah (nakedness) has been established by Chazal (our Sages) and is NOT dependent on the local or prevailing custom.  Accordingly, even if most Jewish women would, chas veshalom (G-d forbid!) not cover these areas properly, the halachah would still remain the same (M.B. 75:2; Mekorot 37).  Whenever a woman can be seen by a man other than her closest blood-relations she must ensure that her main body and similar areas are completely covered (O.C. 75:1).

A boy of age three should not see improperly dressed females.  Although the impression will apparently do him no harm at this very young age, it can nevertheless prove to be harmful once his is older and recalls seeing certain sights when he was much younger.  The same applies to mothers who go swimming in a public swimming pool at a time which is only for females.  Boys under three may accompany their mother but not boys who are three or over (Halichot Bat Yisrael 7:39 citing HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt'l.  The same is quoited in sefer, Raboseinu in the name of Chazon Ish zt'l).  Mothers should take this ruling into consideration when dressing in the presence of a young boy.

When a man goes swimming, either in the sea or in a public swimming pool, he may take along his small daughter with him as a spectator even if she is over three (till the age of five/six), since she will not see total nakedness, and a female may see men in partial attire (ibid.).  She should however not go once she is above this age as it is unfitting for a girl to be in a place occupied by men as this is a form of intermingling.

It is spiritually harmful for a male to see ervah min haTorah (from the Torah) of a female even if he is far too young to understand or remember anything in adult years.

The Gemara (Berachot 10a) relates the following,

When King David sucked from his mother, he looked at the place from which he sucked and sang the following praise: 'My soul blesses HaShem as He does not forget the young children who suck' (Tehillim 103:2).  Rav Avahu said that the praise was said for the fact that, in a woman, nursing takes place in an area that is near the heart and far removed from that of ervah min haTorah, in contrast to animals - Rav Yehudah explained the significance of this - HaShem especially changed the anatomy of a human being so that the baby does not see the ervah area when feeding."  From this remarkable Chazal we learn once again how seeing "forbidden sights" burns a hole into the neshamah of the person even if no bad thoughts or passions are aroused by what he sees.

[modest necklines]

The neckline of the garment must cover everything that is below the actual neck.  Although a woman need not cover her neck (Mekorot 34:1-5) she must cover the whole of her main body, the torso.  She must therefore, cover whatever is halachically not considered to be part of the neck.  It is imperative that women and girls know the true guidelines and do not mistakenly consider areas that are beyond the neck as just extended parts of the neck that may be left uncovered.  Some people have straight shoulders and when that is the case it is very obvious where the neck ends and the shoulders start.  Others, however, have slanting shoulders and without guidance they can easily err and attribute to the neck that which is in fact part of the shoulder (Mekorot 35:1-3).

The following are the boundaries of the neck - all that is beyond these demarcation lines belongs to the main body:

  • At the front, the neck ends just above the collar-bones; the collar-bones from the frontal uppermost part of the main body (the torso).  As the collar-bones are part of the main body, they must be properly covered, in line with all other parts of the main body (Magen Avraham 4:23; M.B. 4:53).  If a person puts his hand onto the area just below the neck he cannot fail to feel the top of the collar-bones.  Consequently, even without the aid of a mirror a woman can feel whether the front part of her neckline is covered and Kosher or not.  A mirror can, however, prevent general errors concerning the neckline.  At the center of this frontal area, the neck extends slightly downwards between the collar bones in a small V-shaped dip. This is due to the fact that the collar bones do not join one another, but rather leave a soft fleshy area between them.  This area is an extended part of the neck and need not be covered.  It is however only a small area, and is identical to the place where a man's tie-knot sits (Hagaon Harav Moshe Feinstein zt'l; Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt'l; Mekorot 1:5)
  • At the sides the neck gives way and becomes shoulder when it curves outward, or is at least more horizontal than vertical.  Since this area is shoulder it is an integral part of the main body and must be completely covered.  Many people mistakenly consider part of the shoulders as extended parts of the neck.  This is quite incorrect and has no halachic foundation (Mekorot 35:2).  Some people's neck ends and the shoulders turn abruptly to the right and left, and it is very obvious what is neck and what is should.  However, with others the neck curves very gradually and eventually becomes shoulder.  For such people it is important to note that by definition a neck is upright (Mekorot 35:2).  Therefore, once the curve is more horizontal than vertical, the area is not neck but shoulder and must be covered.
  • At the back, the neck ends and the upper back starts from a point that is level with the highest point of the shoulders.  This is above the second projecting bone of the spine which can be seen very well on a young child when he bends his head forward.  When a necklace lies at its lowest natural point across the back of the neck, it will hang from what is still considered neck.  Below this point the upper back starts, which must be covered.  A necklace can also be used to help determine the boundaries of the neck to the right and the left (Malbushei Kavod p. 33 in name of Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt'l; Mekorot 36:1-2).
Extra refinement.  In some circles, women and girls practice an extra refinement and do not reveal even the small V-shaped lower front part of the neck.  Furthermore, in some circles women and girls are particular always to wear a collar (or a collar piece) so that the neck is partially covered (Mekorot 34:6-16).  The refinement of covering part of the neck is particularly fitting when the woman or girl has a long neck rather than a short one.  See Nedarim 66b where the difference between an extended neck which beautifies the person and a short one which has no such effect is pointed out.  Similarly, when describing the features of a beautiful maiden, the verse says, "Your neck is prominent like the Tower of David, built as an ornament" (Shir HaShirim 4:4) - like an ornament that attracts onlookers (Rashi).  Chazal say, "Just as the neck is the most graceful part of the entire body, so too the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) is the most graceful place in the entire world" (Zohar HaKadosh, Bereishit 99b).  Since an extended neck contributes so much to the beauty of the woman or girl, it is certainly an act of extra refinement to cover part of it.  To cover part of the neck does not usually make the person uncomfortably warm or give a feeling of being restricted.  In fact this is exactly how most men dress, both in winter and the summer.  They wear a shirt that has a collar which covers part of the neck (rather than a t-shirt which is collarless and exposes the complete neck) and do not complain of feeling uncomfortably warm or restricted!

[immodest necklines]

  • Loose collars that stand away from the neck: A collar is sometimes perfect as far as size and position around the neck is concerned but is nevertheless not Kosher.  This happens when the collar is the right height but is very loose and stands away from the neck.  It may appear alright from a distance but will not be Kosher for those who stand near her, and especially for someone who is talking with her as areas that must be covered are fully visible to that person.  Care must be taken to ensure that the collar fists neatly around the neck rather than just loosely around it.  Should a husband notice that his wife's collar does not conceal "covered parts" properly, it is his duty to inform her, since, the wearer is often completely unaware that this problem exists.  
  • Top button left open.  The second button down is usually too low. When the top button of a blouse or dress is left open this will invariably expose much more than just the neck, because the second button is generally too far down.  It will be noticed that one can feel the collar bones inside the area of the opening.  This is part of the main body and may not be exposed.  Alternatively, one can add an additional button and button hole (or snaps) between the first and second button down.
  • Ensuring back closures are effective.  The buttons, snaps or hooks and eyes at the back of the garment must be checked, because a garment will sometimes open up quite considerably between one button and the next.  Even if no flesh can be seen through the opening, it is still asur (forbidden), because inner garments must also not be seen (Mekorot 39).  A zipper closes completely and is therefore ideal.
Halachically, a man may see a woman's face and hands as he talks to her, but must not intentionally gaze at them. It is, however, asur for him to see (even just in passing) areas that should be covered, since these areas are provocative (M.B. 75:7)  It is essential that women and girls realize that it is their responsibility to ensure that men do not transgress these isurim (prohibitions) even inadvertently.  This realization should give them fresh motivation to dress as is required.

  • Insets.  Many present day outfits are worn with insets.  This is to fill in the whole top chest area which the outfit does not cover.  It must be pointed out that these insets are often not Kosher, although people are not aware of it.  The top of these insets is usually absolutely straight, rather than shaped to hug the neck.  Although the center-point of these insets sits firmly up against the neck, the two sides of the inset are usually far too low and therefore inadequate. The moment the woman or girl bends lightly forward, one or both of the corners of the jacket open up, exposing part of the upper chest or part of an inner garment that should be covered.   It is therefore recommended that the top of these insets are not straight.  Rather they should be shaped in a way that the front of the neck sits snugly inside the inset.  If this is done, the sides of the inset rise high enough around the neck that nothing will be showing.  The inset of an outfit should not be skin-colored, particularly if the garment is dark colored.  The impression that is given from the distance is that the area has not been covered at all.  
  • Neither body nor inner garments may be visible.  A woman's body must be totally covered with a garment that does not allow anything worn underneath to be seen.  The issur applies both to seeing the skin and to seeing the outline of the body.  It also applies to all inner garments include the slip as it is against tzniut for all such items to be seen in any way. (Bach Y.D. 340 s.v. Al.; Mekorot 38:1-2).  A garment is considered see-through even if just the beige-pink color of the flesh or the white color of the inner garment can be seen through, but not the shape of the limbs or the actual inner garments themselves.  However, if no true color shows through, and all one notices is a darkening due to the background, this would not be considered see-through, since one is neither seeing the shape of the limb nor the color of the flesh.
  • Under-blouse that is discernible through top garment.  Many wear an under-blouse or other type of inner shield.  Since an under-blouse is not worn as an under garment but as a second blouse and as a protective shield, no issur is transgressed if it can be seen and even slightly recognized through the top blouse.  There is, however, an advantage if even this type of item does not show through.  Although a slip should not be seen, as stated above, an under-blouse is very different, in spite of the fact that both items are worn for protection.  A full slip is a 'cut out' piece of clothing and therefore by definition a private item that should not be seen by others.  Even a half slip, although not a 'cut out' item, is nevertheless a distinctly feminine piece of clothing as it has lace trimmings or is made of a net type of material, etc.  An under-blouse is, however, totally different as it is neither a 'cut out' item nor is it a distinctly feminine item.  One must also consider the fact that apart from Jewish women who are particular about tzniut (modesty), an under-blouse is not generally worn.  It is therefore not viewed as a typical female piece of clothing.  As the result of these far-reaching differences between a slip and an under-blouse, there is no issur when an under-blouse is discernible through the top blouse.
  • Dresses and blouses must not be tight fitting.  It is against elementary tzniut and refinement to wear tight-fitting dresses or blouses that accentuate the chest area (Berachot 10b; Midrash, Shir HaShirim 4:1:5).  Similarly, it is assur to wear tight fitting skirts which emphasize the thigh area (Mekorot 40).  It is assur to wear a blouse which, although not tight fitting as far as size is concerned, contracts and clings tightly to the upper part of the body.  The same applies to dresses and skirts made of a crinkled material that contracts to fit closely to the lower part of the body.  These garments are doubly defective.  Firstly, they show every contour of the body and it is assur for the body to be displayed in any way, and all the more for its shape to be stressed.  Secondly, the outlines of the inner garments are often noticeable through such tight fitting materials.  Wearing such tightly clinging clothes emanates from the desire to exhibit that prevails in the modern world, while the goal of tzniut is to be as unobtrusive as possible (Kevuda Bat Melech, Chapter 2 note 39, 6:I:2 and 6:I:3(h); Mekorot 40:4)

Sleeves - Upper Section of the Arms

  • The complete upper sections of the arms are covered parts of the body.  This is stated in Ketubot 72b where Chazal say that a woman violates Dat Yehudit (Fitting Jewish behavior) if she "spins in public and reveals her arms to people" (Mekorot 74:10).  Since the upper section of the arms have a powerful potential to arouse attention, they must be completely covered whenever she can be seen by anyone other than her close blood relatives and her husband.  The issur to uncover the arms or even just part of the arms in public applies even if Jewish women in her locality act wrongly and do not cover their upper arms at all  (M.B. 75:2 in the name of the Rokeach, section 324).
  • Sleeves must ensure proper cover. It is imperative that a woman wear a garment which can be relied upon to always cover the upper sections of her arms even when they are bent and so that she can expect her arms to remain safely covered even though they are stretched upwards.  Sleeves should therefore extend to at least 3 inches (7-8 centimeters) beyond the elbow, or more according to circumstances.  Furthermore, women and girls should not wear dresses, t-shirts and sweaters that have wide sleeves (unless sleeves are full length and will not ride up the hole lower arm) and could cause the upper arms to be revealed either when sitting with folded arms or when carrying an item with both her arms etc. (Mekorot 41:1, 42:3-5)
  • The attraction caused by uncovered arms.  Since the power of attraction of uncovered arms is not realized by all, the following Midrash (Bereishit 80:5) is most informative:  "Shechem, who forcibly took Dinah the daughter of Yaakov, was attracted to her by procuring a glimpse of her arms and this aroused his distressing interest in her."  This shows the effect uncovered arms can have, and how bitter the result of carelessness in this matter can be.  Anciently, people would simply not go near uncovered arms or other areas that have been labeled ervah by Chazal.  Such was the natural taharah (purity) and kedushah (holiness) of Klal Yisrael (all of Israel) of old.  A person naturally felt he was endangered if he came into close proximity with sin.  In contrast, we today are assaulted by females with short sleeves and short skirts whenever we venture out our front doors.  This bitter reflection arouses us to beseech HaShem, "Bring us back to You O HaShem and we shall return" - we beg of You to "re-establish the Klal Yisrael of old" by enabling us to live in an environment that is conducive and suited to a Torah lifestyle (Eicha 5:21).
  • Elbows are part of upper arms and must be covered.  The elbows has the same halachot as the upper section of the arm and must be completely covered (Beit Yosef O.C. 92; M.B. 4:54).  This is contrary to the opinion mistakenly held by many that only the upper arm must be covered but not the elbow itself.  This is an error because the elbow is a part of the body that halachically must be covered.  Also, the elbow is not an independent bone as is widely thought (although there are two minor additional bones in that area - Mishanyot Ohalot 1:8).  Rather, the upper limb of the arm (the humerus) ends right inside the elbow area where it is locked into position with the bones of the lower section of the arm (the radius and the ulna).  In fact, the elbow is a "ball and socket" area, the "ball" being the rounded end of the bone of the uper arm, and the "socket" the top end of one of the lower bones of the arm (the radius).  Hence the upper limb of the arm must be covered and it extends into the elbow, it is understood that the complete elbow must be covered (Mekorot 1:1, 41:1-2).
  • Upper arms may not be visible through the sleeves.  Since the upper sections of the arms and the elbows must be covered, if a woman or girl wears a semi see-through blouse which enables the observe to see the part of her upper arms, she is inadequately covered.  To appear in public she must wear either a sweater over the blouse or an undershirt or under-blouse with long sleeves under the blouse to shield everything in an adequate manner.  Some women are careful as far as the problem of see-through garments are concerned when out in the street, but do not take the same precautions when indoors even though visitors frequent her home.  This is incorrect, since the halachic requirements of tzniut must be practiced even in the presence of individuals.
  • Forearms need not be covered.  Most Poskim maintain that the halacha does not require women to cover their arms before the elbow (Rashi, Shabbat 63b s.v. Etzada; Rambam, Hilchot Chovel Umazik 4:15; Shulchan Aruch, E.H. 83:1; Od Yosef Chai, by the Ben Ish Chai, parshat Bo, number 1; Mishana Berura 4:54; Chazon Ish O.C. 16:8; Mekorot 1:1).
Extra Refinement.  Although there is no halachic obligation to cover the forearms, nevertheless, this part of the arms offer an opportunity for a woman or girl to exercise her own instinctive feeling for refinement, where halacha has not demanded it of her.  The Rebbetzen of the Steipler Gaon, Rebbetzen Miriam Kanievsky o.h. used to say that "covering the lower sections of the arms is a segula for having sons who are real talmidei chachamim" (Mekorot 43:2)  She was of the opinion that when a woman or girl voluntarily covers her arms completely, she demonstrates with this a warmth for tzniut and an appreciation for full refinement of dress.  This is a segulah (remedy or protection) for children who are talmidei chachamim (Torah scholars).  

Skirts - Upper Section of the Legs

  • Skirts must cover the knees completely.  It has been explained  that the upper sections of the arms and the upper sections of the legs must be covered when in public by decree of halachah, due to their proximity to the main body.  Therefore, even if most women would wear short sleeves or short skirts, it would still remain strictly against the halachah to do so (M.B. 75:2; Mekorot 44:1, 45:1-5).
  • Length must guarantee cover of knees at all times.  A woman or girl must cover the upper sections of the legs including the knees (M.B. 75:2).  This is because the knee is not an independent bone (apart from the slim knee cap).  Instead, it contains the rounded lower end of the upper section of the leg - the femur.  This upper bone extends through to the lowest point of the knee to the extent that when a person who is sitting puts his hands onto his knees he is touching the rounded lower end of the femur bone.  The lower leg (the tibia) which is slightly indented to comfortably support the rounded end of the upper section is situated just before the knee.  since the upper section of the leg must be completely covered as explained, and the upper sections of the legs extend down the complete knee, it is obvious that the knee must be completely covered. A woman must ensure that her knees remain fully covered at all times, even when she is sitting, stretching, ascending stairs and so on.  The skirt length must therefore ensure that her knees will not be uncovered even for a moment, since she could be seen just then (Mekorot 1:2, 45:1)  A skirt that has to be pulled forward to cover the knees, when sitting, is not long enough, since the knees will not be covered at the moment of sitting down.  Furthermore, such a skirt can ride up at any time, without the woman immediately realizing it.  For a skirt to be just knew-length is grossly inadequate.
  • Four inches below the knees is sometime insufficient.  If a skirt extends 4 inches below the knee but is still unreliable and at times rides up when sitting down (until pulled forward) or when getting onto a bus, this can be because of the style of the skirt or the person's figure, due to which the 4 inch addition below the knee is insufficient, although the garment is not tight.  In such a case the skirt must be lengthened to the appropriate size, to ensure that the knees remain covered at all times.  Often the 4 inch is inadequate because the skirt or dress is too tight on her.  Such a garment is unfit for two independent reasons - it is tight and it does not cover the upper limbs properly. 
  • Advantage of garments extending beyond the four inches.  Nowadays, many women and girls in Orthodox circles wear dresses and skirts that extend to more than four inches below the knees.  This trend is to be given as much support as possible, because many situations exist nowadays that cause a tzniut hazard, and these are best averted with a longer garment.
  • The skirt must effect a total disguise of the area.  Even though the upper sections of the arms and legs are both ervah by decree of halachah, there is an important difference between them.  The upper arms must be covered but there is no halachic obligation to disguise and mask their shape by covering them with a shawl etc.  The upper sections of the legs, however, are governed by a far more stringent halachah.  They must be covered in such a way that the limbs are totally disguised and the shape of the thigh and upper sections of the legs cannot be seen.  The verse says in Shir HaShirim (7:2) "How beautiful are your shoe-clad footsteps O daughter of [Avraham Avinu] the nobleman; [how refined is your dress in that] you thigh is hidden and obscured." Chamukei means "to make disappear" as in the verse in Shir HaShirim 5:6 (Ibn Ezra, Shir HaShirim 7:2; Rashi, Moed Koton 16a s.v. Chamukei).  The verse חַמּוּקֵי יְרֵכַיִךְ (chamukei yerechayich) therefore means hidden or disguised, which is far more than just being very well covered.  The verse states that the dress of the Bat Yisrael is sufficiently loose that the thigh area is hidden.  Based on this verse, the Gemara says in Moed Katan (16a), "Just as the thigh is hidden." Chazal does not say that the thigh is covered, but that it is hidden, implying that it is dressed in a loose fitting garment and the thigh is therefore hidden and goes unnoticed. 

Slacks and Trousers

Slacks and trousers are absolutely forbidden and wearing such clothing is viewed as gross pritzut (licentiousness).   Not only do they display the general outline of the upper sections of the legs, but they exhibit and emphasize the full shape of each of those limbs (Rashi Pesachim 3a s.v. b'Zov and Responsa Shevet Halevi 6:118.2).  Slacks and trousers are one of the worst pieces of female clothing in existence (Mekorot 46:1-7).

Our lives are b'Yad HaShem (in G-d's hand).  We constantly pray and hope for His protection against illness.  If we "protect our bodies" by dressing in accordance with the ways of Torah, we can hope that HaShem will likewise "protect our bodies" and grant us good health.  However, if we display insensitivity to kedushat and taharat Yisrael, how can we expect His protection? (Mekorot 26).

Guidance for Buying a Garment or Cloth

  • Print and color helps camouflage.  When shopping for fabrics or for clothing in general, printed materials will provide more effective camouflage than solid colors, bot for preventing see-through effect and for concealing general shape e.g. maternity wear.  Furthermore, medium colors are often more camouflaging than dark colors of the same weave.
  • Cloth sometimes shrinks.  Washable materials should be washed and if possible dried in a clothes-drier before being sewn into a garment.  Cottons, viscose, rayon and challis material can shrink up to 10 percent.  This in turn can make a significant difference in the size or length of a newly sewn garment.  On the other hand, if a finished garment was not pre-shrunk care should be taken not to put it into a clothes-drier.
  • Checking for see-through against the sun.  Questionable materials or garments should be checked against sunlight i.e. the woman wearing the blouse or dress should stand facing the person who is to check the garment on her.  The woman's arms should hang loosely slightly away from the body.  Sunlight should be at the rear of the woman wearing the blouse etc. and the checker should stand a few feet away out of the glare of the sun.  One would sometimes be amazed how see-through clothes are when checked in this manner!
  • Length of inner protection, when the skirt is see-through.  If a dress or skirt is see-through, it must be lined with a material that makes the garment opaque.  Alternatively, a suitable slip should be worn under the dress or skirt.  In either case it should ideally be just a couple of inches shorter than the outer garment.  This is to ensure that what is seen through the outer garment (when in sunlight) appears to be the lining of the dress rather than a slip, as a lining is usually almost as long as the outer garment.  Also, if the lining or slip is just knee length, a movement that lifts the garment slightly will cause her knees etc. to show (in sunlight) through the outer garment, since the lowest part of the garment is not protected by a lining or slip.
- Modesty: An Adornment for Life by Pesach Eliyahu Falk 
Newer Post
This is the last post.


Post a Comment

Related Posts