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HomeFoundations of JudaismHoliness for Men and WomenEnticement: The High Price
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Enticement: The High Price    

Enticement: The High Price

Rav Arush makes a link between modest dress and behaviour, and all the horrible illnesses, troubles and problems that are currently flooding the world...


A few days’ ago, my husband brought home a lesson he’d been sent by someone, of a woman who lived in a ‘religious’ neighbourhood in Jerusalem, and who had just been told that her teenage son had an incurable, fatal, brain tumour.
The woman had tremendous emuna, and as well as going to rabbis and holy men for advice and blessings, she also did a whole lot of soul searching as to why so many people, including her son, were being struck with the ‘machala’, as Israelis call the big ‘C’.
The answer she came up with was: it’s down to a lack of tznius! (modest dress and behaviour)
She went to ask Daat Torah (big rabbis) if she was right, and she was told she was spot on – and that’s when she decided to give a talk to the ladies of her neighbourhood, asking them to get rid of their eye-catching wigs; to loosen up their tight tops; to lengthen out their knee-skimming skirts; and to ditch the high heels.
It wasn’t a very long lesson, but it was one of the most powerful things I ever heard about why women need to aspire to being ‘invisible’, and why men need to guard their eyes.
A couple of days’ later, as though to really bring the message home, I started listening to one of the latest CDs by Rav Arush, called Bat Yisrael (Daughter of Israel) – and lo and behold, Rav Arush was saying almost exactly the same things as the lady from Har Nof.
On that CD, Rav Arush brought down the absolutely shocking statistic that almost 30% of Am Israel have either had, or have cancer. I had to turn the CD off for a minute to digest what I’d just heard: 30% ?!?!? I was stunned.
Again, Rav Arush made a link between modest dress and behaviour, and all the horrible illnesses, troubles and problems that are currently flooding the world. In a nutshell, he said that the biggest protection there was against illnesses and difficulties was for women to make a real effort to dress and behave modestly, and for men to guard their eyes.
I tried to take the message to heart, and yesterday, I ran off to Geula, another very ‘religious’ neighbourhood of Jerusalem, to try and find some more modest shirts.
To cut a long story short, I traipsed around a ton of places, before I found anything that wasn’t skin tight, or covered in a whole bunch of eye-catching bows, buttons and other chatchkees just in the places they really shouldn’t be.
In the end, I ended up buying some maternity tops by mistake, as they were the only suitable things I could find.
I came home dazed and confused, and not for the first time, I wondered to myself: what is going on here? What is going on, when the clothes in a place like Geula are tighter and sexier than they are in Gap?
My sense of confusion deepened today, when I got into a conversation with someone from that first ‘religious’ neighbourhood in Jerusalem, who’d heard about the lesson I’d just been listening to. I asked her if it had made an impact on the community there, and from what she was saying, it seemed as though really, it hadn’t. A few people had made a few small changes; but a whole bunch of others had dismissed the talk out of hand for being too ‘hard core’ and extreme.
My heart sank.
The person I was talking to explained that according to halacha, it’s perfectly acceptable for women to cover their hair with a super-sexy wig. You can still say a blessing in front of them…
But….does G-d really want us to cover our hair with a wig? The wigs today are so beautiful, so gorgeous, so attention-seeking and attention-getting. There are so many rabbis, including Rav Ovadia Yosef, who have gone on record saying that wigs are not a kosher way to cover hair.
Which is when the discussion got really interesting. Because the very nice person I was talking to kept telling me that halacha was halacha, and wigs were ok. And I kept telling her that our rabbis know much better than we do, and if they are telling us to ditch the wigs, why aren’t we doing it?
What, do we know halacha better than our rabbis? Is our power of understanding so tremendous that we really think it’s ok to ignore our spiritual leaders, and to use halacha as the basis for doing so?
The whole discussion about tznius sounds so complicated. Everywhere you look, there are apparently different guidelines, different ideas, different ‘halachas’ and hashkafas.
But really, it’s very simple: do we want to do what G-d wants, or not?
How do we know G-d wants us to up the ante on modesty and guarding our eyes? Because the spiritual leaders of our generation are telling us that.
But most of us don’t want to do it, so we are dismissing them because ‘we aren’t Sephardi’; or we’re dismissing them because ‘it’s not halacha’; or we’re dismissing them because ‘it’s too extreme’.
Do we really understand, though, what it is we’re dismissing? We’re dismissing the chance to protect ourselves and our loved ones from incurable diseases. We’re dismissing the chance to get enough money to live on, without having to kill ourselves at work. We’re dismissing the chance to have a great relationship with our spouse, and happy, well-adjusted kids who grow up loving Hashem, and loving mitzvahs.
Throughout history, women have made tremendous sacrifices for the sake of their physical beauty. Today, the scale has been stacked with flaunting our physical beauty on the one side, and health, wealth, joy, safety and peace of mind on the other.
We have to choose what sacrifices we want to make, but one thing is coming across loud and clear: if we continue to pick ‘looking sexy’ above all else, it’s going to come at an enormously high price.

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  3 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  It's all in the Tanach
Anonymous,9/16/2011 10:10:41 AM
  very brave
Yehudit9/15/2011 10:40:57 AM
  Mistaken outlook - not a quid pro quo
anon9/12/2011 10:12:51 AM

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