I really like beautiful clothing; it seems to be an appreciation that runs in my family. My mother and grandmother always dressed us beautifully as kids, and my siblings have inherited their great taste (which makes getting their hand-me-downs lots of fun).

I know we’re not alone. I’m sure many of you relate to the joys of buying a pretty outfit or pair of shoes. But our connection to clothing runs far deeper than an appreciation for the beauty it contains. I’ll venture to say that often, there is a strong emotional tie as well.

Think about it for a moment: We use clothing toWe often dress based on mood or emotion portray a deep part of ourselves—a particular image or identity—to those around us. We often dress based on the mood or emotions we are experiencing at that time. Compliments on our clothing can touch us deeply, and critical remarks about our attire can really hit a raw nerve.

Retail therapy is a real thing; we shop for clothing to help put us in a better place and feel better about ourselves. I have met people who are really hurting inside for one reason or another, and they’ve explained to me that they use their mode of dress to try and fill the hole they feel in their hearts.

When we think about it, there is often a lot of emotion associated with the clothing we wear. Which is why, I believe, talking about the mitzvah of modest dress often hits a raw nerve. You want me to pray more? Sure. You want me to help out a fellow in need? Sure. But my clothing? Please don’t go there. There’s too much emotion tied to it. It’s too closely tied to my self-image, my identity.

Which makes me think that maybe we shouldn’t start there because in truth, it’s not just about modesty. Yes, the clothing we wear is closely tied to our self-image. But that self-image is at the root of so much more. It lies at the core of our self-esteem, confidence, ability to connect to another with authenticity and vulnerability, our relationship with G‑d and His Torah, our inner peace and so much more.

So perhaps we ought to begin at the root: our self-image and identity. And let’s see where it leads us.

As my daughter approaches her bat mitzvah, I have been thinking more deeply into this idea. She is at an age where she is shaping her identity. She is assimilating all that she has learned and internalized these last 12 years to form how she views herself and how she wants to portray herself to others. The self-image she develops will be at the root of so much in her life ahead.

Let’s face it. Society is really struggling with an identity crisis. Perhaps because for the first time in history, we have the luxury of the time and space to contemplate who we really are. And when we start to delve into it, we realize that we are complex beings. There are so many different components that make us who we are; hence, the struggle to uncover “who is the real me?”

The search to uncover the real me does not happen overnight. It is a life-long journey. It requires a lot of inner work. But the greatest gift we can give ourselves and those we love is to slowly but surely move in that direction. To begin the inner work of seeing ourselves in a whole new light: from G‑d’s perspective. To begin donning a pair of “soul glasses,” as we think about and interact with ourselves internally.

Studying the teachings of chassidut (with a good teacher who shows its practical application to daily life), is an integral ingredient of this process. What begins to happen is a subtle yet profound paradigm shift. We begin to identify less and less with the external layers of ourselves; my style, hobbies, personality and political affiliation are important parts of me, but they are not truly me.

Who I truly am, my essence, is one thing and one thing alone: a Divine spark, a ray of G‑d. Pulsating with holy light. Intrinsically bound to G‑d. Imbued with a mission that only it can accomplish. Endowed with eternal life, even when earthly existence comes to an end.

And the best part? It’s inherent. No one and nothing can take it away from me. It’s mine and mine to keep.

It may be a life-long journey to fully see ourselves this way, but what an empowered place to live from. Confidence and healthy self-esteem? Ability to connect to another with authenticity and vulnerability? Not to be internally affected by the way others treat you? A deep relationship with Torah and G‑d? Real inner peace? Check! Check! And check again! You bet!

And guess what else happens as a result? So many of the emotional holes we may try to fill with clothing have been filled with something far deeper, far more genuine. What often follows therefore is a desire for my speech, actions and dress to reflect this newfound authenticity. Clothing is now a beautiful way for me to express this anchored and connected place from which I live; clothing that is tasteful, refined and modest.

So, at its core, the mitzvah of modesty is about redefining the way we look at ourselves; the way we define our identity. Am I the sum total of my personality, hobbies, political affiliation and upbringing, or am I greater than the sum of my parts? The answer in Torah is pretty clear.

Now here’s the cool thing about the mitzvah of modesty: It doesn’t only work from inside to outside. Even if you haven’t fully established your identity for yourself and even if you are not feeling in touch with your essential self right now, dressing in a way that is in sync with your true identity helps you begin to look at yourself in that light.

So perhaps we understand that, but modest attire seems like the kind of thing that we can judge on our own. Most of us have a pretty good handle on what is considered modest and what isn’t. However, interestingly enough, the Torah outlines specific guidelines for this mitzvah. This begs the question: Why should an inch or two of covering or uncovering, here or there, really matter?

Because Judaism is not just a path ofJudaism is not just a path of spirituality spirituality. Judaism is so much more. It is a relationship. An eternal, unbreakable and essential bond that we, finite human beings share with Our Infinite Creator.

In the spiritual arena, details are not of critical significance. It’s the overall feeling and vibe that matters. In a relationship however, details matter. They really matter.

Just try saying those three special words that you know your child loves hearing. Now try saying those two words to your spouse that you know he or she absolutely cannot handle hearing. It may not make sense to you, but that doesn’t matter. Those few words mean everything to him or her. It makes all the difference.

An authentic relationship is priceless, so we do all the details for the sake of the relationship. How much more so with the Infinite and All-Knowing G‑d, in which every detail of a mitzvah is intrinsically bound to a Cosmic Master Plan. An authentic relationship of this kind definitely has no price tag.

Torah provides the details for how a mitzvah is observed, and within these parameters, we have the ability to inject our own flavor and style. Of course, as with every mitzvah, it’s never an all or nothing proposition.

Each baby step is precious to G‑d. Beyond what we can imagine. He treasures each and every step. More important than which rung of the ladder you stand is the direction in which you are moving.

Let the journey begin!