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Modesty

Modesty

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“Walk modestly with your G‑d”—Micah 6:8.

A staple of Jewish life is modesty. In the way we walk down the street, in the way we interact with others, and in the way we dress. As G‑d’s children, we must act and look the part, conducting ourselves with dignity and modesty.

The exact parameters of the requirement to dress modestly depend on the time and place. But the basic idea—for both men and women—is to wear self-respecting clothing, clothing that does not demean the person within by overly accentuating the body, as if it, rather than the soul and its character and qualities, is the primary element of personality.

Modesty creates a private area—a dignified space—in which we can work to excelWhen we refrain from calling undue attention to our external selves, our human core, the G‑dly spirit within each one of us, can shine through, unhindered by the flashing neon lights of external charisma. Modesty in dress and behavior allows us to interact with the world in truly powerful ways, as our inner selves come to fore.

Thus modesty does not mean a denial of self, nor does it force us into hiding. Rather, it creates a private area—a dignified space—in which we can work to excel, without concern for external judgment and approval.

And even when we are alone, in the most private of places, we must also be appropriately dressed, for there is no place where G‑d is not present.

Here are some basic guidelines for modest dress:

  • Skimpy clothes that that are cut to reveal parts of the body, or tight clothes that draw undue attention to body shape, are out.
  • Married women cover their hair. The Lubavitcher Rebbe urged women to do so with an attractive wig, as opposed to simply wearing a hat or a kerchief.
  • It is the accepted practice for Jewish women to wear skirts which are long enough to cover their knees, as opposed to trousers.
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Discussion (34)
June 12, 2014
Cheryl
Thank you so much !
There are so much synthetic fabric used in clothing now , it is easy to forget.
I also saw some clever ideas where pieces of fabric are attached to the neckline or short sleeves to make the clothing /design more modest, which means you do not have to wear layers in summer.
Anonymous
June 12, 2014
Re: February 12, Part 2
Almost forgot: Tencel and bamboo are also natural fibers that can keep you cool. (My preference is always natural fabrics, but some people prefer synthetics. Your choice entirely -- some "traveler" materials are supposed to wick away sweat and make you smell cleaner longer.)

Look for woven fabrics like oxford shirting, rather than jersey and other clingy knits. And always go for white and pastels.
Cheryl
Arizona
May 29, 2014
Re: February 12, 2014 Q in "Dressing modestly"
To deal with the heat of summer and dress modestly yet look neat and tidy, look at the fabric content of your tops. The best summer material is linen, but it has a tendency to wrinkle. Do not worry overmuch about that -- most people know that wrinkling is a hallmark of fine fabrics. You can also look for cotton, silk, ramie and rayon. None of the fabrics I have mentioned will cling, and they all let your skin breathe. Stay away from stretch fabrics such as spandex and elastane, and you will look modest and feel cool.
Cheryl
Arizona
April 9, 2014
I have never worn shorts or short skirts. I makes me feel very exposed. I don't like the way some men think of women as objects.
Anonymous
March 23, 2014
Wearing a long-sleeve tee under a shirt
I also will wear a long-sleeve t-shirt/shell under a regular shirt, but only if the reg. shirt is loose, not tight-fitting.
Michali
Baltimore
February 18, 2014
Halachah origins
Where can one look up the origins of this halachah? How it originated and how it has been applied through Rabbinical times. What is the Torah or Tanach teaching and where does the midrash, talmud, gemorah discuss. Thank you.
Sophia
Ashland
February 12, 2014
Dressing modestly
How do the observant women deal with the heat of the summer and trying to dress modestly yet look neat and tidy - Any tips?
My issue is mainly with the upper garments.
I seem to have less tolerance to heat than when I was in my 20s!
Anonymous
February 10, 2014
for the newly religious, a tip: if you have a long skirt and a matching long sleeved t-shirt, find a regular shirt and put it on over the long sleeved tee. That's what I did this morning.
Samantha Leon
January 7, 2014
We are not permitted to use hair that is used for idolatry. Most of the hair comes from eastern european cities, south america and china from what I understand and is purchased from women who choose to sell their hair.

It is certainly not ok to wear an immodest wig, just as it's not ok to wear immodest dresses or skirts.

It's great that you cover your hair, keep it up!
Mrs. Chana Benjaminson
mychabad.org
January 7, 2014
modesty
Are Jewish widows required to cover their hair ?
And do post-menopausal women still go to the mikveh?

Thank you
Anonymous
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