It has been just over two years since I decided it was time to take my journey with/to HaShem more seriously. By that I mean I began consciously performing mitzvot, studying Torah, walking away from treif and submitting to His will in my life. The first step on this new path was donning my talit katan, wearing it daily, all the time everywhere. From the moment I made that commitment my life changed dramatically! I’m not sure how I can describe the radical change… suffice to say I began to understand the meaning of setting oneself apart from the world and worldliness on an entirely new level. As a" tzitzi-wearing woman" I am frequently challenged by both men and women concerning the legitimacy of my decision; I always feel blessed by these altercations… as it affords me the opportunity to speak with people who I never would’ve have had any excuse, reason or motivation to give a second glance … I am, after all, a regular average ordinary person… just another face in the crowd.
About a year ago I was in a Judaica shop in Toronto (I live in a small city North of Toronto that has neither kosher stores, restaurants, nor stores that carry Jewish items) where I frequently go to on shopping sprees. On the day in question I had gone to Toronto with a friend and her son. As I browsed through the store I noticed one man in particular who was clearly boiling beneath his feigned composure. That fellow was watching me like a hawk and I knew, of course, course it must be about my wearing tzitzit. Finally the fellow came over to me trembling with anger; he stopped and pointed to my friend’s son, "why are you wearing his tzitzi", he asked me. I guess I was supposed to be insulted or moved to anger however I simply said, "oh no, these aren’t his tzitzit, they’re mine". I could see his hands trembling more and more whilel he tried to contain his fury; I gently told him that in Bamidvar (Numbers) 15:38 to 41, HaShem ordered Moses to tell the children of Israel to wear tzitzi on the corners of their garments. In an instant he was calm and taken aback," thank you for telling me", he said, "I’m going to go home and look that up". Once again he thanked me for telling him, so I said, "thank you for asking". And I really was thankful that he had asked me instead of just blowing up and storming off. On another occasion I was at Vaugh Mills Mall with a friend when a middle-aged woman sidled up to me and asked me, " why you wearing those things", pointing to my tzitzit. I simply said, "because I am Jewish",I was smiling at her, which I think, flustered her. "So am I! I don’t care if you wear them or not", she said "but why are you wearing them"? So, I told her the same thing, that Hashem had commanded Moses to tell the children of Israel to wear tzitzit. She got a little defensive at that point and said, "I don’t care if you wear them or not but if my husband were here he’d be furious". I get all sorts of people asking me these questions and it doesn’t bother me in the least in fact again, it is a lovely way to be able to speak to people whom I would never otherwise give a second glance.
Just to be clear, let me assure you that my wearing a tzitzit has nothing to do with any kind of feminist statement or an "equality with men " statement. Absolutely not! LOL … nothing could be further from the truth. Men and women have very differing roles and responsibilities … and I certainly don’t agree with the ridiculous idea that women can teach Torah or become Rabbis. Absolutely not. I am absolutely against such nonsense. The role of women in society, at home, and in the synagogue are specific, HaShem meticulously commanded the roles each of us plays and there are "loop-holes" or "clauses" in Torah. We must not soil Torah to fit our lifestyles or for our own convenience. Heaven for bid! That road leads directly to Sheol.
The funny thing is, I began wearing tzitzit while I was still wearing jeans and women’s trousers. Looking back I cannot imagine what I was thinking. A woman must never wear men’s clothing; there is no room for debate or speculation; women are forbidden to wear: slacks, jeans, shorts, overall and so on (and of course the same is also true men must not wear any women’s garments). A couple of decades ago I didn’t even own a pair of jeans and only had a few pairs of ladies trousers but I rarely wore them. I’m not even sure how that switchover came about because most of my life I always wore skirts and dresses. In 1992 I decided to go to Alaska and I spent six months there living in the wilderness so of course I wasn’t romping around in dresses out in the woods. At any rate the changeover came and for many years I didn’t wear a dress or skirt unless was going to the opera or a wedding or some such thing. Until recently, in the last 2 1/2 years or so, my favorite pieces of clothing were dress pants, cargo pants and jeans. Now I wouldn’t wear a pair of jeans if you paid me to. Baruch Hashem! When we keep our eyes on HaShem and HaShem only, pleasing Him is all that matters.
But! Submitting to Hashem goes far beyond just wearing tzitzi and not wearing trousers. The goal is to keep the Commandments that HaShem has set out for us, His Law is perfect, we are to serve and submit to him joyfully when especially when we feel inconvenienced by the changes we need to make in our lives. There is a serious problem within us that needs to be corrected if we are serving Him with a sour spirit. Let me make an interjection here to recommend an amazing book that I’ve been reading, "The Garden of Emunah" by Rabbi Shalom Arush, it really is a must read. We must strengthen our emuna every day and our focus should be entirely on HaShem, while striving to please Him in every way. When our lives do not reflect Torah there is a serious problem. But, Baruch Hashem, he gives us every instruction and guideline to do so … He commands us to obey him because His Law is perfect for our lives. Serving him and submitting to him is a beautiful experience beyond anything I could ever describe.
Back in the early 1980s before I married I had a friend who was forever whining that she always met and dated men who were philanderers, men who either cheated on her or dumped her for seemingly a reason. At the beginning of our friendship I simply couldn’t understand this pattern in her life. Judith, (not her real name), loved to be with people, she was a true social butterfly. Judith had a great job an, amazing wardrobe (a wardrobe to make your head spin). She was 26 had a fabulous condo her own car and a great career. I was 19, chubby, and was the receptionist at a chiropractor’s office. LOL, to me I thought she had it all. I remember one day when we were out for brunch she asked me, "why do you meet all the nice guys and I always end up the creeps?". Her question haunted me for weeks then one day it hit me you get what you advertise for. Her toned and bronzed figure was always more than emphasised by her choice of attire. I am not saying she dressed in clothes that made her look like a "working girl". It was just that she was obviously a sexy woman looking for an equally sexy guy. The conclusion I came to was that you get what you advertise for. The way we dress reflects our core values. Whether we choose to believe it or not that is absolutely true. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with looking nice and wearing fashionable clothes, that’s not what I’m saying at all. Look at it this way if you put an ad in the classifieds that you’re looking to buy a Harley-Davidson no one is going to call and say "well, I have a moped will that do"? Likewise if you’re looking for a beachfront property in Aruba no one’s going to offer you a ski chalet in the Andes. Judith was dressed like she wanted a hot, flashy relationship so that’s what she always got.
When we dress each day we must dress in a manner that befits our level of emuna. It is impossible to present our outward self in a way that is antithetical to our core values. Let me repeat: it is impossible to dress in a way that is antithetical to our core values. When we are wholeheartedly walking the ancient path, the only path that leads to HaShem … to life… we joyfully submit to his perfect unwavering law – Torah. Dressing modestly is a must if we truly love HaShem. Dressing modestly goes far beyond not wearing men’s attire. Dressing modestly becomes a matter of personal submission, a matter of understanding how we are viewed by HaShem, for it is HaShem’s opinion of us that matters, not the opinions of mortals. We must accept full responsibility for the way others see us; we are all fully aware that it is a disgraceful sin for a man to sin with his eyes; are you willing to answer for the sins of men whom you cause to fall because you dress purposely to attract his attention, to arouse sexual desires? Is your heart so dark that you play the coy adulteress for a few moments of sexual triumph? Do you want HaShem to turn his eyes away from you and disgust?
I fully understand the desire to be admired . . . I also understand that vanity is always present in our lives; why else do we spend so much time and money dressing ourselves? None of us simply rolls out of bed grabbing any old garment whether it fits, whether it’s wrinkled or soiled, whether or not it "makes us look fat", whether the color is or isn’t "our colour". We are so spoiled in our Western lifestyle that we simply toss clothes in a bag for goodwill when we are bored with or when they are out of style. Do not get me wrong… I am guilty of all these things. I have far more clothes and shoes that anyone should have. We all fall prey to mass media directing our "must haves", but we need to fight the impulse to advertise our own wares in an un-befitting manner. Modesty means that we are covered up not from head to toe wearing a burqa, certainly not! But if you have the "if we’ve got it flaunt" mentality we need to tear tthat mentality away for good. Alluring clothing have no place in the consciousness of a woman who claims she loves Ha Shem. I’m not trying to tell you exactly how you need to dress because I’m certain that common sense tells us that we must not show our cleavage, show off our legs emphasize our curves etc. what we truly need to do is fight the impulse to advertise ourselves by dressing in a way that is obviously attention-grabbin for the sake of our own vanity.
Making the transition from a secular life to an obedient life is such an amazing and beautiful experience; there are many things that we must take into consideration when we call ourselves "observant" and one of those things is taking the responsibility upon ourselves to make sure we present our outward selves not only in a manner befitting the law of HaShem but also in a manner that we do not cause others to sin simply by giving us a second glance.
I like to think of it as a chance to get rid of the old self and step closer to HaShem… Besides think of all the new clothes you can buy for your new life.
But don’t think of it as shopping – think of it as retail therapy.
Tags: anger, bamidbar, composure, excuse, face in the crowd, hawk, hellip, judaica shop, kosher stores, legitimacy, men and women, ordinary person, quot, radical change, second glance, shopping sprees, talit, Torah, Tzitzit, worldliness
More Related Articles: