10 Teves 5779 / Tuesday, December 18, 2018 | Torah Reading: Vayechi
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Don't Care What People Think    

Don't Care What People Think

Would you like to feel truly free? Do you know how liberating it is to not care what other people think about you? It feels like being released from psychological prison…


Want a formula for reaching that blessed place of “Not Caring What People Think?”


Well for ladies at least, I know of an answer. G-d gave us that answer when He created the first woman in the Garden of Eden. The Midrash tells us that G-d said, “You shall be a modest woman” over and over when He created Eve.


Following that Divine directive is the way to gain freedom from social pressures. Do you know how liberating it is to not care what other people think about you? It feels like being released from psychological prison.


We don’t realize how much mental strain we place on ourselves by twisting and turning our appearance into something we think our community will approve of. What will my friend think of me if I wear this? Or my coworker? Or my daughter’s teacher? It becomes an entangling habit that constrains our ability to relax and enjoy life.


Stiletto high heels are a perfect example. Who can say high heels are more comfortable than a nice pair of flats? And yet, at weddings you find some women in heels that must be really painful to wear. If you go to the ladies bathroom, that’s what they will be talking about.


Why wear shoes that are difficult to walk in and painful to wear? Because we care too much about what other people think. It’s not about objective beauty, since the same woman can look very nice in a modest outfit and flats.


What about getting ready for an event? How long should that take? If we really felt secure about ourselves and our self-worth, shouldn’t 20 minutes be good enough? Shouldn’t a modest outfit and light makeup be good enough? G-d made women beautiful naturally.


When we spend great efforts to shape our appearance to fit the mold of other people’s imagined expectations, it increases our anxiety. We’re not good enough the way we are, our actions say, and this makes us feel inwardly anxious. Notice how we feel the most anxious after we’ve spent the most time/effort to look good?


But we are good enough the way G-d made us. If G-d told us to be modest, shouldn’t we trust that He knows what will bring us lasting satisfaction and joy? There are many Jewish books on modesty that spell out what Hashem wants from us. A woman who grew up in a religious home should still read them, since she’s bound to find modesty laws that she forgot or never learned. The confusion about what makes a wig kosher is a perfect example. It’s also surprising to learn how loose a skirt needs to fit according to Torah law.


Look around you one day. See if the women look relaxed or tense…Whom are they living for? Are they spending their mental energy living for society’s approval, or are they living for the pleasure of finding favor in G-d’s eyes?


Modesty is a fundamental part of our womanhood, and a sure way to find favor in G-d’s eyes.  If we want proof of this, we only have to upgrade our modesty. The feelings of closeness to Hashem that follow are very rewarding. Throwing out clothing that we know is a little too tight is a great way to start.


As we work towards fulfilling G-d’s commandment to be modest, we arrive at the destination of “Not Caring About What Other People Think.”

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