Monday, May 11, 2015


You Are So Immodest

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths


mig commented: “we …have to be truthful with realizing that immodesty is a big problem in the frum community. The author is right. Many frum women today dress inappropriately. I see it every day. Tight skirts and blouses, legs uncovered,hair uncovered and this is not being addressed by the rabbonim of most communities.”

Mig, if only it was so easy to be “truthful”.  Modesty and the standards of such are context dependent, and therefore it is ONLY the rabbonim of those communities who can address it, and decide if it needs to be addressed.  Let me explain:

Anyone who does halachic research into tznius (modesty) laws immediately finds that much of the standards are dependent on time and place.  Some examples: We had some families move into our town from Yemen (yes, Yeminite Jews).  The women dress head to toe and wrap their heads, Arab style.  They looked at the women in the most ultra-orthodox community in our area and immediately declared them extremely immodest! 

In some frum communities, covering your hair with a sheital (wig) is not considered modest.  In others, covering your hair NOT with a wig is not considered modest! 

Can stockings be flesh colored?  Depends on your community.  Or how thick do they have to be?  Depends on your community.

A few basics are clear: covering to the elbows and knees, covering the hair if married, and covering the neckline.  Beyond that…it’s relative.

Also I strongly feel the following statment is very unfair:  (We are all responsible for our....If you want more, stay inside or put on a blindfold! And when making a statement that Hashem Hates This, prove it – bring your sources.)  I would expect such a statement from a feminist not from a rabbi.

One can look with a bad eye on ANY subject.  I can watch people cut in line, stealing each others time, in the store.  I can watch people take advantage in synagogue, never helping or donating but always using and complaining.  I can watch frum children fight, hit each other, insult and hurt each other, and knock adults out of the way.  I can watch bochorim waste time, hang out behind yeshiva, smoke, drink, and act haughty because they’re “learning”.  I can watch the rabbi manipulate people to get donations.

Or I can literally look at the same and see people running to do favors for each other, pushing through the store to help their families as soon as possible.  I can see people that even when they don’t feel close still make a point of coming to synagogue.  I can see children playing and trying to learn good middos, though not always succeeding.  I can see yeshiva bochorim taking a break and getting a few moments of downtime so they can recharge to focus on Torah.  And I can see a hard working rabbi struggling to get donations to help people only he knows are desperately in need.

The same goes for tznius.

Anonymous added: There is a problem of modesty in frum communities. And I say this as a religious woman myself.

Well, sure.  And there’s problems of wasting time.  And problems of taking advantage.  And problems of nepotism, and manipulation of social institutions, and manipulation of connections.  And shidduchim being lied about.  And even, G-d help us, our share of sick people who abuse. 

With surrounding secular society having gone full tilt hyper sexual, yes modesty must be kept as a strong point in the religious community.  And yes, there are some problems.  But that’s what we have our rabbonim for.  Zealots running around screaming about it are unlikely to help – and very likely to get themselves worked up until they do something rash and dangerous.

My community has already had to deal with the burka women ultra-othodox CULT as well as the Lev Tahor super-women-modesty cult.  The people and families that get involved are never the same, even if they leave.

Anonymous 2 added:  The rabbinical diktats regarding female modesty in dress obviously haven't worked whether abided to by women or not. The natural drives and instincts of heterosexual men will not cease merely because women cover up properly.

This is the other extreme.  We don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Modesty clearly DOES make a difference, as demonstrated by lower divorce rates and higher marriage rates in the religious Jewish community.  But like anything else, there’s a golden mean – a good amount is appropriate, extremes in either doing it or yelling about it are not.

Anonymous 3 added:  I don't suppose there's any chance that you can mind your own business?

I’d say that’s the appropriate response for the zealots.  Or rather, if you really care about it, figure out how to approach it to have a positive impact.


  1. Two points I would like to make.

    1) The burka women are not modestly dressed. Modesty is not (just) about your body not being visible; it's about not calling attention to yourself. Who can help but stare at a teenage girl who looks like a small mountain of cloth with a face? (Can you tell I live in Bet Shemesh?)

    2) Covering the hair is not for modesty, and the simple proof is that only married women must cover. If it were for modesty, girls from the age of Chinuch, and certainly from the age of Bat Mitzvah, would need to cover.

  2. It is evident that the extremes are getting more extremes and it is a part of where the world society is going. As you said, "With surrounding secular society having gone full tilt hyper sexual" a mida kneged mida is that burka people will increase and also daash will too (not to compare the two literally, but analogy).


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