Chapter 72 The tragedy of this generation
FC with Binyamin Feb.14.08
(This session took place between Binyamin and a group of women)
We will discuss the situation of modesty in this generation and the importance of modesty. Of course we can only speak about the Chareidim because the secular Jews do not have even the basic concept of modesty and as for the modern orthodox world - the Dati-Leumi; their whole concept of modesty is completely warped from the beginning.
The Chareidi Jews are supposed to be the holiest, but a lot, and in fact, most of the Chareidi community is very confused when it comes to this vital matter. There are those who want both the secular - goyish - Hellenistic world together with Yiddishkeit; their whole desire is to combine Yiddishkeit with goyish concepts, particularly regarding modesty.
"Kedoshim Tihiyu" ("And you shall be holy") is the essence of Yiddishkeit [Judaism]. However, the concept "kedoshim" in this generation has taken on a completely warped meaning. According to the Hellenistic terms, kedoshim means: A Torah- learning Charedi Jew, dressed in black, wearing a white shirt, a black hat and either a short or long black jacket.
But in many cases, this man's wife is walking around wearing a beautiful wig, with real hair and a skin colored part to look like a real head - really beautiful hair, looking exactly like a non-Jewish model! The sleeves of the shirt she wears just barely cover her elbows, the top button of her shirt is open, her shirt is tight against her body, her skirt is short and not wide and her stockings are transparent. As for the shoes, if she wants to dress comfortably, she wears white tennis shoes and if not, she wears shoes with very high heels that click loudly against the floor, plus makeup, plus jewelry, and so on and so on, just like the non-Jewish women. Sadly enough, this is how a lot of the wives of the Charedi men look nowadays.
There are righteous women whose husbands are really sitting and learning Torah properly and they - the women - may be either Rebbetzins (wives of Rabbis) or wives of well-known Talmidei Chachamim (Torah scholars). These women wear a short and simple looking wig, perhaps with a hat on top, with relatively modest clothes and thick stockings.
Then there are even more righteous women who are wearing shawls upon their heads and over their shoulders, wide long skirts, loose-fitting shirts, without makeup on their face, without jewelry, etc. and everything about them is modest. These women are a true example for real modesty.
Regarding the Yerushalmiot, though, there are those who wear black tichels on their head, but yet the way they dress goes completely against the teachings of their Rebbe, the Shomer Imunim, zt"l. These women wear short skirts that show at least part of the leg, and so on. Although there are some Yerushalmiot who wear longer skirts, still, many of these skirts are considered immodest because they are tight on the body and certain movements show the shape of the leg. Their stockings may be black but they are still often transparent. Often, they wear Jewelry and makeup and this is a most strange and unfortunate thing.
These women make fun of the most righteous women who are wearing shawls on their heads and over their shoulders, wide clothes and so on. Why do they make fun of them? Because they are terrified that they will soon be asked to let go of their tight grasp on the 'Golden Calf' (the world of materialism) they love so much. They are really afraid that they will be robbed of the precious toys they are so in love with (the makeup, jewelry, fancy and expensive clothes...).
This is the greatest tragedy of our generation that is destroying everything. Every time a Charedi woman chooses to deviate from the Truth, she inflicts more tragedy upon Am Yisrael, G-d Forbid, and brings the spiritual level of this generation one step lower. And every husband that approves of his wife dressing this way, is no less to blame than her, since that is clearly what his heart desires. Every woman that does not dress according to the Torah laws negatively influences everyone around her.
And if she happens to be a Rebbetzin who is basing her anti-Jewish behavior on the Torah [as if that were permitted] - this is a disastrous tragedy and I do not envy this Rebbetzin. Her husband, the Rabbi, would certainly be upset with the poor autistic person who dares to say such things, but baruch Hashem there are very long, impressive lists of great Rabbis over time who have outright objected to the wearing of wigs and the immodest dress code that has erupted throughout the Charedi community.
Q. Some of the women we have spoken to about modesty say that there is no point talking to them about shawls when they have so many other middos (traits) to work on first. Are they right in their way of thinking?
A. The first and foremost essence of the Torah is "Kedoshim tihiyu", and that is the root of modesty. Yet there is such great confusion on this matter and now there is even a new fashion of wearing shawls among the Goyim. So now you might see American Charedi tourists wearing shawls while continuing at the same time with their usual immodest behavior. This refers to women who are supposedly connected to the holiest of holies in the Charedi world but they are very influenced by the Hellenistic, modern world.
Why is modesty so important? Because Hashem commanded us to be holy - "kedoshim tihiyu", and a person who is unholy is looked upon in Heaven as something filthy and disgusting, since that person is full of uncontrollable lusts, and how can holy words and prayers come out of the mouth of one whose heart and mind is completely wrapped up with desires for the pleasures of this world?!
The Jewish People, who stood before Hashem at Mount Sinai and received His Torah, were the most modest nation of all and yet, today, even the Charedim - the most orthodox Jews - have started behaving like the Goyim.
"Kedoshim tihiyu" is the essence for all of Yiddishkeit. A person who is drowning in gashmius (materialism), who davens (prays) like a tzaddik but looks for pleasures like a Goy... his prayers cannot reach up to Heaven.
Q. How can we bring down the wall that is resistant to shawls?
A. There is nothing else to do but to daven for everyone and explain to people that anyone can see what a difficult situation we are in and that everything is happening precisely as our Sages, z"l, predicted [Masechet Sota page 49: the face of the generation is like the face of a dog, the child is not respectful of his father...]. They predicted that in this generation (preceding the Redemption), a Jew will have to truly sacrifice himself in order to live like a Jew. It is much more important to live like a true Jew than to die as a martyr. The more a person covers himself the better protected he is from all the troubles of this world and this pertains also to the men.
If the men would demand modesty from their wives it would save the whole situation but even most of the men are not dressing appropriately. For example, there is a new fashion among many of the Litvish / regular Chareidi (not Chassidish...) men who wear tight pants. Their jackets are short and tight as well. This is not a true avrech - a true Torah learning Jew. A man who wears a striped suit, his clothes tight against his body so that you can see each and every move the body makes - his head is not in the right place.
A true Jew wears clothes as wide as possible. Both men and women are obligated to cover their bodies as much as possible.
There are many Rosh Yeshivas who do not put any emphasis at all on the matter of modesty in their yeshivas. They look at it in a "psychological" way which says: What can you do? Every boy has an evil inclination...
Yet, if this is the case, G-d Forbid, it is a terrible tragedy, and something drastic must be done to rectify the situation. But they overlook it in silence, something which destroys the entire generation and many generations thereafter. In many situations they are even teaching the boys to be forgiving about matters relating to modesty amongst each other. They are following the psychological rules of the modern Goyish world. This is a mistake and absolutely forbidden.
Q. Regarding the women who wear shawls on their heads, people say that there is no way they can influence others because they look too radical.
A. As with every thing in life, one must be real. If he is real (not just doing things to impress others), people will respect him - even if they are upset with him. Therefore, definitely wear shawls and wide-cut clothes because if not, all the mussar (rebuke) these people give will be completely worthless.
Q. Do you think there is still a chance to change the situation of modesty in our generation?
A. Hashem is Omnipotent. We must all make efforts and pray for all of Am Yisrael that we should all understand what is the path of truth and follow that path. And we must rebuke and arouse people's awareness even more now, but be sure to pray beforehand that you should be successful.
As we have said many times, only a fifth (at the most) came out of Egypt, etc. - very few, relatively. Every generation the Jews suffered under the hands of others (such as in Egypt, the holocaust, the Spanish inquisition, etc.), only few managed to do teshuva and survive. This is why it is very advisable for people to live with Jewish extremism. The women should be true "Bas Yisraels" and "Eshes Chayils" (women of valor) and the men should be true "talmid-chachams" (Torah Scholars).
Q. There are parents who love modesty and want to live by it but are not managing to influence their daughters. What should they do?
A. They must pray for their daughters and build small schools and discuss the topic often. But there is not much time. This whole party is going to come to an end very soon. Hashem is bringing everything to an end. The Judaism level is about to drop so low that it will not have any resemblance to Yiddishkeit anymore. If another generation goes by, it will be hard for anyone to discern who is Jewish and who is not.
This generation is orphaned from leaders, and it is facing such harsh times, the likes of which have never been seen throughout the history of mankind. Only those that decide to follow Hashem all the way, with as much loyalty as possible (i.e. taking all the steps to really come close to Hashem, like dressing modestly, detaching ourselves from gashmius, etc.), will receive our righteous Moshiach.
We have disassembled the Jewish home. Without a Jewish home there is no future for Am Yisrael. The Jewish Home of the past generations still exists, but only with a few individuals. Yet now, it is almost history, with only a few examples left here and there. Woe to us, woe to us!
Only one thing will help us now and that is real teshuva, along with the foundation of "Kedoshim tihiyu". We must delve deep into ourselves and extract every stain, every point of transgression or of the desire to transgress, and the needs we have for this world which have no connection whatsoever to the purpose of our existence.
This will help us remove every single defect within our body and soul. Then we must pray and shed tears over every single sin we have performed and feel truly sorry for wasting our lives on foolish things, and make the firm decision that from now on we are returning to Hashem with everything that involves.
Q. Regarding modesty do we need to go back to the way our grandmothers used to dress?
A. You must go back, yes. But if we say "like our grandmothers", it depends on which grandmothers. Grandmothers from 100 years ago were very modest but there were also those who did not cover their hair and there were avrechim (Torah learning men) from 100 years ago who spent part of their time learning and part of the time occupying themselves with things that are absolutely forbidden! So which grandmothers are we referring to? Even 200 years ago there were grandmothers and grandfathers that were not modest.
People must be modest, men and women, with appropriate head-coverings, wide and long clothes, simple, dark shoes, etc. But beyond that, you must really want the modesty and love it - for it is the Will of Hashem. We must literally run after everything Hashem wants us to do.
Start with modesty, because the exterior of a person influences the interior [as written in Messilas Yesharim chapter 7].
The aspirations of one who is dressed like a tzaddik are to be a tzaddik and likewise the opposite. A Jew who is dressed like a Goy certainly wants to live the life of a Goy. This does not mean that there are no Jews who dress appropriately yet are rotten on the inside. But if you take a closer look at them you will see that they are not really 100% modest either.
All I can tell you is that in the very near future you are going to see some very frightening things. If you stick to the kedusha, everything will go over peacefully. Unfortunately, a lot of blood will be spilled, but because of your (to the group of women wearing shawls...) messirus nefesh (devotion), a lot of Jews will be saved.
Q. But why must blood spill at all?
A. It is a fact. Look at our history; the Jews were always given the chance to do teshuva and because they didn't, it ended in blood.