Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Modesty: An Adornment for Life


One of the blog readers mentioned the book "Modesty: An Adornment for Life" written by Rabbi Pesach Eliyahu Falk. The book deals with the modesty of women such as dressing code and morality. Fortunately, I found it available to read on Google Books; although not all pages. 

I have to make a confession: I have always felt uncomfortable among these really frum dressed women and girls. First of all, I am not like them even if I dressed like them. My upbringing was different and thus is my behaviour. Somehow I identify the frum dress with kitchen, not too much education, many children and a lack of freedom. Of course this is a stereotype point of view but it automatically comes into my mind when I see such girls. Especially young women who are newly married.
When I was in the haredi neighbourhood of Ge'ulah (next to Mea Shearim in Jerusalem) yesterday, I entered my favourite cold drink store. Slush in many varieties and you even have the choice between Parve and Chalavi (Milchig). 
The store is small, run by English speaking modern Haredim and located in Malchei Israel Street. Why I like going there ? Because the slush is tasty and not too expensive. A big cup costs 13 Shekels (approx. 4 Dollar). 

Yesterday I ordered the slush and placed myself into a corner next to the door. In fact, there is not much room to stand anyway. 

A few minutes later, an ambulance team from the Israeli "Magen David Adom" entered the store and also ordered slush. Three guys and one younger woman wearing their white ambulance shirts. The woman and me were the only females in the store wearing pants. No one was bothered by that but then a young chassidic couple walked in and even before they ordered their drink, the young woman looked at us like ... well, she may have thought that she is on a higher level. Regarding modesty or religiously. In fact, she looked at me and the Magen David Adom woman and started whispering to her husband. He, by the way, wasn't interested at all. 

I am used to that kind of behaviour by many haredi women but the ambulance woman didn't feel very comfortable. Why would this young haredi woman (I couldn't identify her group but it could have been Chernobyl) judge us according to our clothes ? Malchei Israel Street is not such a closed neighbourhood and plenty of secular and traditional Jews walk around during the day. 

The young chassidic woman has her task in this world and so do we. She neither knows me nor the ambulance woman and in case she needs an ambulance, she will be glad seeing that particular woman in her pants helping her. 

I had to mention this particular situation here because I felt sorry for the young ambulance woman being stared at. Not only being stared but the haredi woman had to whisper to her husband. The couple left after a short while and I don't even know whether they bought something or decided not to.


  1. B'H

    Be reasured, the fanatics don't bother only secular, but fellow Charedim too. (Eventhough, I'd become crazy if my wife or one of my daughters would wear a pant and untzniusdike clothes, but I will never dare staring to people who don't follow our stringencies.)


    I'm quite sure that one of the reasons why you left Jeruslam was that you couldn't bear people judging you by your clothes. As nobody cares in TA, you felle more confortable there.

  2. B"H

    After my haredi "career", I also wore pants in Jerusalem. What is bothering me there, besides the incident at the slush store, is that I have to be careful where I walk because Haredim I know may see me. And many of the Haredim I know may suspect that I wear pants but have never seen me like that. On Shabbat or whenever I go to see my haredi friends I dress modestly.

    I had another incident yesterday where two Toldot Aharon women saw me in Shmuel HaNavi Street. Well, there goes my TA career.:-)))

    Once I met a Toldot Aharon woman I have spoken to many times. Not in their area but in Nachlaot. She caught me wearing pants but was smiling and said nothing. When we see each other, we still talk. No matter if in pants or in a skirt.

  3. Many rabbis highly discourage reading this book, let alone taking it all to heart.

    It's a chumra on a chumra on a chumra with a cherry on top.

  4. B"H

    THis is actually what I thought when something comes from FELDHEIM.:-)))

  5. Anon could you please mention which Rabbis discourage this sefer?

    Whether you may agree with this Rov. There is a standard of dress within our community.

    I have to disagree entirely with our comment. You may not agree with this book but many women such as myself have NO issues which adhering to this level of tznius.

    As Moshe mentioned... I myself have no reason to "stare" at someone who does not dress as I do.