11 Shvat 5781 / Sunday, January 24, 2021 | Torah Reading: Beshalah
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My Scarf, My Gift    

My Scarf, My Gift

The test wasn't easy: do I choose the comfort zone of blending in with my frum-from-birth neighbors, or do I do what's right according to the laws and spirit of modesty?


Several years ago I started thinking about my path in life. Hashem reminded me of the teaching from the Vilna Goan, “What Torah does for a man, tznius (modesty) does for a woman.” I felt I had stagnated somewhere in life, and that thrill I felt as a fresh ba’alas teshuva (newly observant Jew) 8 years ago had waned considerably. I decided to start working on my modesty, but I had no idea what Hashem had in store for me.


As I began working on improving my level of modesty, I started noticing my shaitel (wig) and asking myself questions. “Hmm,” I thought to myself, “why am I wearing this fancy shaitel in front of a slew of men who are not my husband? If I put on the shaitel when I want to look ‘my best,’ why am I putting it on only when I leave the house and taking it off when I arrive back home?”


As questions such as these started to swirl around in my brain, I found myself opting for my scarf more and more when I was getting ready to leave the house. Let’s face it, the scarf (or snood) is a thousand times more comfortable than a shaitel anyway! I didn’t need much convincing to leave the shaitel at home for a trip to the grocery store.


The day came when I had to appear at a public gathering. Was I going to wear a shaitel or not, I wondered. It was a neighborhood ice cream party on Shavuos day where all the mommies, for some reason, dress in their finest clothing and shaitels and stand around shmoozing with each other. I knew I would be the only one wearing a snood there, and I felt great turmoil over whether I should go or not. As a ba’alas teshuva, I, of course, wanted to fit in with my frum-from-birth neighbors as much as I could…so maybe I should wear the shaitel? Furthermore, I have always felt some discomfort in public gatherings, anyway, probably because I was teased as a child by the “popular kids.” Surely, I wouldn’t want to make myself stick out on purpose!


So here was the test…would I or wouldn’t I wear a shaitel? It was a choice between values and just “blending in with the crowd.”


After some major deliberation, I decided to go wearing a scarf. I have to admit, that first appearance was very uncomfortable for me. I felt tense and anxious that I wasn’t fitting in. However, after the party, I felt a strange yet tangible feeling that Hashem was proud of me for sticking up for my beliefs.


At the very same time that I was going through this period of my life – deliberating between a shaitel or a scarf - my mother was experiencing a health problem. She had great difficulty breathing, and the doctors had no idea why. After tests and more tests, she still had no diagnosis to explain the lack of oxygenation in her blood. The best they had to offer was a portable oxygen tank should her condition continue to deteriorate. My mother was so tired from the lack of proper oxygenation, she would work a couple hours a day, and then go home and rest for the remaining 22 hours. It had been getting worse and worse as the months wore on. I started to really worry about where this was heading.


I spoke to my mother a day or two before Shavuos, and she mentioned that she was heading to the doctor’s office for another lung scan. After the Shavuos ice cream party took place and Yom Tov ended, I called her. I noticed her voice sounded a little more vibrant, and she mentioned that she was starting to feel less out-of-breath for some reason. A couple days later, my mother sounded better on the phone than she had in months! She was so excited and happy. Her lung scan results had come back saying that the mysterious lesions on her lungs had miraculously disappeared and the oxygenation in her blood was back at healthy levels!


Well, that was all I needed to hear to know that Hashem wanted me to keep wearing that scarf! Here I am three years later, still wearing a scarf, and my life has improved so much in so many areas since I made that decision. I feel so much more peaceful and tranquil since I improved my level of modesty. Thank you, Hashem! I feel like I’m getting a hug from Hashem when I wear my scarf. Most of all, my mother’s mysterious lung lesions have never returned, Baruch Hashem!

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