Laws of Tznius for Our Degenerate Age

My friend Tamar posted this on my facebook wall and it’s hilarious.

V’Nishmarto Mikol Dovor Ro
Laws of Tz’niyusfor Our Degenerate Age.


Why This Sefer Is Needed

V’nishmarto mikol dovor ro — shelo yistakel ish b’ishoh no’oh afilu hi penuyoh. “Guard yourself from every evil thing” (D’vorim 23:10) that a man should not look at an attractive woman, even if she is unmarried (Avodoh Zoroh 20a).

Does this mean I can look at unattractive women, I heard (not that I would ever look at such things) that Barely Legal Magazine used to have a bagger section (one girl who’s face was so ugly she needed a paper bag put over her, but I guess the rest was pretty attractive so that might qualify as attractive. Does even if she is unmarried, mean that hot married chicks are fair game?

Keneses Yisroel is under siege, beset by pernicious influences of a morally degenerate society. These influences seek to infiltrate our holy encampment through our eyes (immodest images), ears (foul music), nose (seductive perfumes) and throat (Mexican food). The Torah says, “Ve-shomru B’nei Yisroel,” that we Jews are commanded to be vigilant, watchful, on guard; and Chaza teach us, “Shomer chinom nisba al ha-kol” – he who is watchful unnecessarily is rewarded with total satisfaction. This teaches that tz’niyus, modesty, requires more than simple vigilance; it requires vigilance that is chinom – unnecessary! But how do we know how to be unnecessarily vigilant? Chazal go on: “Ve-ha-shoel mesholem es ha-kol” – one who asks is rewarded for everything!

Wait Mexican Food??? What’s up with that, just when I’ve been learning the art of Mexican, the art of heat and to love habaneros, they go and say it’s a bad thing eh. I am very vigilant in watching who I hook up with, I don’t just hook up with every random groupie trying to say they made out with Frum Satire himself, I am quite vigilant, to the point that chazal would be proud.

Just a few generations ago, our forebears lived in a pure, unblemished state – where the street cleaner knew all of Shas b’al peh, where his daughter covered her collarbone, where Calvin Klein was the name of the shtetl idiot. Torah wafted through the streets, enveloping the inhabitants like the smog over Los Angeles.

This is where I start to think it’s all a joke, but you never really know with these people – I mean, it is true and everyone knew all of shas, but did they really all cover their collarbones during the blistering cold Poilishe winters.

No more. Today, we have our carpeting and convection ovens, but we have lost our k’dushoh. Boruch H-shem, most Goyim no longer burn down our homes, but they are raising our daughters’ hemlines and selling them light-colored hosiery.

And don’t forget red, not only have the goyim begun to dress sexy, but the mere fact that something so rampant as Hot Chanies exist – prove that society is moving towards a sodom type of state.

This book is a comprehensive guide to the dress and comportment of every Bas Yisroel – young and old, married and single, beautiful and me’is (conventional looking). Readers will be grateful to know that extreme care has been taken to eliminate from the text any inaccuracy, ambiguity or leniency. The book will make an ideal gift for the Bas Mitzvoh, the Bais Yaakov and seminary student, the recent baalas t’shuvoh, indeed any woman who believes that the Ribbono shel Olom cares what color tights she wears. Also, married men must learn these halochos and take care that their wives and daughters observe them; but no peeking at the diagrams!

Ooh diagrams, sounds like frum porn to me.


Tz’niyus – Not Just About Wearing Gabardine Tights in 90-Degree Weather

Many women mistakenly think that tz’niyus is about covering your legs and arms. This is wrong. Tz’niyusis also about covering your feet and wrists. More than that, tz’niyus is really a way of life, a set of rules that governs everything you do – whether you are cooking meals, sewing clothes, scouring pots or doing laundry. Tz’niyus means avoiding attention, wrapping yourself in anonymity. One famous Gadol was married to his wife for twelve years before he learned her name. Even then, he only found out by accidentally overhearing a conversation between his next-door neighbors that was so loud, every syllable came right through the wall against which the Gadol was pressing a tall glass.

Tz’niyus does not require passivity. As we learn from the holy Imahos, a Bas Yisroel can be strong and decisive, provided she channels her energy in the proper direction. For instance, my wife was once cleaning a chicken for Shabbes when she looked up at the clock, realized it was time for my shower, and rushed upstairs to turn the water on.

Lessons oftz’niyus cannot be delayed until a daughter is older. Children old enough to walk are old enough to understand the word “pritzus.” Scrupulous mothers change their infant daughters’ diapers only in a darkened room and then only when the smell becomes unbearable. Fathers may not change diapers of boys or girls because it is hukos ha-goy, a Gentile practice, for a man to do such things.

Shunning Goyisher practices is the hallmark of tz’niyus. Unfortunately, many of our wives and daughters read the Gentile fashion magazines which glamorize un-Jewish things – immodest clothing, excessive makeup and slender waists. Seemingly innocuous practices can degenerate into the worst abominations. Suntans can lead to sun worship! Crosswords can lead to Ch-tianity! Reading books can lead to critical thinking!

The laws of tz’niyus prohibit a woman from assuming a public or leadership role. We learn this from D’voroh haN’vioh, who served as a judge and prophetess, who masterminded Am Yisroel’s war against Sisera, who celebrated the nation’s military triumph in song . . . okay, so maybe she’s not such a good example.

Even a woman’s thoughts must be tz’niyusdig. Thinking should not be done in a way that draws attention to oneself. Pronounced scratching of the head is forbidden.


The Severity of Violating the Laws of Tz’niyus

It is impossible to exaggerate the gravity of tz’niyus violations. But we shall try. The Gemoro says, “Kol b’ishoh ervoh,” everything about a woman is nakedness. Thus, a woman should rightly conceal every millimeter of her body. But Chazal in their holy wisdom saw how difficult this would be for many women, so they permitted a woman to show her face, hands and feet. Nevertheless, it is preferable not to rely on this leniency.

A woman who dresses immodestly may be violating innumerableissurim. The potential avayros include:

1. Causing men to look (lifnay iver )
2. Dressing like a shiksoh (hukkos ha-goyim ) >
3. Testifying to one’ s own low moral character (lashon hora )
4. Setting a bad example for one’s daughters (lo sechallel b’noscho l’haznosah )
5. Distracting men from learning (bittul Torah )
6. Distracting men from looking where they’re going (bor bir’shus horabbim )
7. Degrading the reputation of B’nos Yisroel (chillul H-shem )
8. Degrading the reputation of one’s parents (kibbud ov v’em )
9. Inciting jealousy (lo sachmod )
10. Inciting you-know-what (lo sinof )
11. Challenging H-shem’s authority (Anochi H-shem E-lokecho)
12. Worshipping fashion (Lo yihyeh)
13. Causing sellers of tz’niyusdig clothing to lose money (hosogas g’vul)
14. Causing men to have to walk further to avoid seeing you (bittul z’man)
15. Inviting attack by the Tz’niyus Patrol (V’nishmartem me’od l’nafshosaychem)
(This is only a partial list. For a complete list, with m’koros, see my Almost as Bad as Lashon Hora: The 263 Issurim Relating to Tz’niyus. ) CHAPTER THREE

The Principal Duty of a Married Woman: Covering Hair

In Halochoh, it is always important to understand which of our practices are strict Halochoh (like sh’miras Shabbes), which are minhog (eating kreplach), and which are merely aytzos tovos (marrying a woman named Peshie). But this does not apply to covering hair. Basically, all hair-covering rules should be treated as D’Oraysoh obligations. The s’forimare clear that looking for leniency in kisuy sa’aros leads to complete abandonment of Torah standards (r”l), social breakdown, mass hysteria, and shortages of Muenster cheese, lo alenu.

Hair-covering is not simply a mitzvoh. It is a way of life. Preferably, you should never permit your hair to be visible, not in public or private, not by Yid or Goy, not even by your manicurist. We learn this absolute rule from the actions of Kimchis and the example of Yul Brynner. Every aspect of one’s life is affected by this inspiring objective. For example, one should live in a place where the climate favors uninterrupted hair-covering. This is one of the many halochic reasons to live in Monsey rather than Eretz Yisroel. (See also my article in the May 1996 Jewish Observer, “The Age-Old Dilemma: Move to Eretz Yisroel or Put in That Paysach Kitchen?” )

Unfortunately, the myth has arisen that some frum women in Europe, even from chosheve families, did not cover their hair. This is sheker of the worst kind and a clear violation of lashon hora and motzi shem ra (libel; for Litvaks, laybel). Admittedly, recent biographies include family photographs that seem to show a lapse in kisuy sa’aros and other areas. But these pictures have been misinterpreted. In fact, the women in those days were so tz’niyusdig that they did not want to be photographed at all, so they had non-Jewish women (maids and the like) pose in the family photograph in their stead. So these pictures actually prove that there was a higher level of tz’niyus in those days!

Boruch H-shem, it is much easier today to be strict in kisuy sa’aros. For example the invention of the chin strap makes it easier to keep yoursheitel on while sleeping. (And, for those who toss and turn a lot, there is Krazy Glue.) Today we have extra-long snoods that not only cover every hair, but are great for cleaning up spills in the kitchen.

Nevertheless, we still find women seeking leniencies regarding hair covering, such as the t’shuvoh of Rav Moshe Feinstein that, some claim, permits a woman to leave less than a tefach of hair uncovered. But a careful reading of Rav Moshe’s teshuvoh reveals that he never gave such a heter, he didn’t mean to give the heter, and he later retracted the heter bifnei am v’edoh (in the presence of many reliable eccentrics). In any case, thet’shuvoh was obviously directed at a particular woman under specific circumstances, so the heter can only apply to another woman who shares the original woman’s first name, birthday, weight and shoe size.

More importantly, those who run after leniencies fail to understand that kisuy sa’aros is the foundation on which the existence of Am Yisroel depends. This is proven from Dovid haMelech’s statement, “Ayleh ba’rechev v’ayleh ba’susim” — Goyim live like horses, with their hair uncovered, but for us, “b’shem H-shem E-lokenu nazkir,” our existence as Yidden depends on how often we say “boruch H-shem.


Rules Governing Kashrusof Garments

Kosher Dresses and Blouses. When buying a dress or blouse, a Bas Yisroel must pay attention to many factors. Of course, the neckline must be high and the sleeves long. Many poskim also agree that a garment is not acceptable if one paid full price. Similarly, the garment must not be tight, see-through or clingy; it is ossur for the outline of a woman’s body to be visible because this violates the laws of tz’niyus and makes it possible to determine if the woman is overweight.

Kosher Skirts. A skirt is like a sukkoh. If it conforms to Halochoh, then it is a holy mitzvoh object. But if the skirt falls short, then it becomes possul – a sin to wear and a trap for others. Yet, a mere millimeter of fabric can separate a kosher skirt from a trayf one (just as a millisecond can separate chillul Shabbes from an innocent game of “poison the squirrel”). So, as with a chicken, you must take a questionable skirt to a posek. Yet, many Rabbonim today lament how infrequently they are asked to look at women trying on their new skirts.

Many women think a skirt is kosher if it covers the knees when bending or sitting. But this is a tragic mistake, because a skirt must be suitable for all possible activities, including rock climbing, walking in typhoon-strength winds and running to avoid molten lava.

Kosher Fabrics. We have found that nearly all fabrics – whether natural or synthetic — are likely to cling or shrink; therefore, we recommend that women wear garments made of more tz’niyusdig material, such as wood or plastic. (Of course, one should always be careful to choose a wood that is not flashy or a plastic that is not transparent.) While these are not always as comfortable as wool or cotton, we must remember that the mitzvoh is about tz’niyus, not comfort. Did the Kohen Godol complain that the Choshen was too bulky? Did the Krechtzer Rebbe complain that, when it rained, his streimel smelled like a diseased ferret? Indeed, given that a woman’s clothes are her armor against the modern world’s depravities, it is fitting that her garments be ill-fitting, a hard, protective shield that clanks when she walks.

Diet and Tz’niyus. Another problem arises if a girl is growing. The dor ha’midbor were zochehto have clothes that grew as they grew; so did Alice in Wonderland and the Incredible Hulk. But our dor is not so worthy. I myself have watched for years as my pants stayed the same while my waistline grew. For our young women, such growth is a michshol, a trap. Overnight, sleeves and hemlines can become too short, necklines too low, and the whole outfit can become too tight, r”l. Girls in such a situation should stop drinking milk and eating healthy foods; after all the mitzvoh is to dress b’tz’niyus, not to be 5’10”. Besides, no choson wants to feel like a midget (in keeping with the Gemoro, which classifies short people as no better than a cheresh or a shoteh.)

Kosher Robes, Pajamas, Swimsuits, etc. The obligation to dress b’tz’niyus applies at all times and in all places. A woman alone in the bath or shower must be conscious that the Shechinoh is there and knows if she is washing behind her ears. Thus, a woman’s bath towel, bathrobe and slippers must conform to halochic standards. Showercaps should be attractive but not showy. When bathing, a woman must take care that her window shades and curtains are drawn and that her medicine cabinet conceals no hidden video cameras.

In preparing for bed, a Bas Yisroel should undress unobtrusively under her covers or, better still, in her closet. Pajamas should not have a suggestive appearance or crude slogans, but poskimpermit modestly placed cartoon characters.

Swimsuits pose many challenges. Today’s bathing suits are designed to accentuate the most superficial aspects of a woman, obscuring her inner beauty and exposing her weakness for ice cream sundaes with chocolate fudge sauce. Lycra and other synthetic fabrics cling closely to one’s curves and secants. The presence of male lifeguards adds an additional complication for the Bas Yisroel seeking the energizing effects of swimming. In order to avoid these problems, erlicher Yidden have selflessly moved to Lawrence and bought homes with private swimming pools.


Local Standards

This brings us to an important aspect of the laws of tz’niyus. Just as different localities follow different shitosregardingtzays ha-kochovim (nightfall) or paying taxes, different communities have different standards for tz’niyus. Some communities require a hat on top of a shaytel, while others have banned shaytlach altogether. Many neighborhoods in Eretz Yisroel prohibit makeup, while most kehillos in New York require a woman to wear a fur coat.

As a general rule, a woman must conform to the local standards, unless she is accustomed to observing a more stringent practice. In that case, she must maintain her high level of observance, and she must never publicly display arrogance (yuharoh) about her more exacting standards, though privately she is entitled to mock her neighbors. We learn this from Rav Yishmael who, the Gemoro relates, routinely mocked his colleagues for eating OU tuna fish.


The Eternal War: Yidden vs. the Umos ha-Olom

Fashion is simply one front in our ongoing battle against the moral corruption of the Goyisher velt. The shiksoh proudly bares herself, while we proudly bear our mesoroh. They idolize idleness, while we worship worship. The brazenness of modern culture is so total, that we don’t even notice its more shameless manifestations. Have you ever noticed that the Statue of Liberty is not wearing undergarments? That Donald Duck is naked from the waist down?

Even the English language has become a repository for degenerate exhibitionism. White meat of chicken is named for a part of the woman’s anatomy. Certain whales have names that cannot even be written here.

Media that were once refined have grown coarse. Newspapers feature photographs of undressed women. Magazines boast tawdry covers with lurid articles that aggrandize giluy arayos, shefichas domim and higher education. Radio broadcasts smutty talk and ear-splitting noise with filthy lyrics. (One recent song, for example, coarsely proclaims, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.”) Another medium that has become corrupted is soup can labels. In our home we simply remove the labels from the cans before we put them on the shelf. This not only promotes k’dushoh in the kitchen, but adds an element of mystery to the preparation of meals.

Thus, we follow in the footsteps of the Perushim and separate ourselves from the depravities of society. We close our ears to their so-called music and shut our eyes to avoid seeing their television, movies and traffic lights. Adrift in a sea of moral corruption, we garb ourselves in the life-vest oftz’niyus, as we sail on our raft of Torah down the Mississippi River of life. As a well-known Rov told me, “The sign of a true Bas Yisroel is not her physical beauty, but her ability to make really good kasha varnishkes.”

Copyright (c) 2000 by Eli D. Clark All Rights Reserved