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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 (31)
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
January 2, 2014
To Sophie
Let's just make some clarification here: there is no mitzvah, no halachic obligation, for a woman to wear a wig; she is required,by halacha, to cover her hair just as she is required to cover her body. What she uses as covering - for her body or her hair - is entirely personal. Sometimes there are cultural norms (i.e. fashion or social mores), but essentially it is her own personal sense of self that determines how she will cover her hair. A wig is one of the many alternatives, one which the Lubavitcher Rebbe recommended.
As for being more attractive - well, most people are decidedly more attractive clothed than not; that doesn't mean we should shun clothing! If she looks more attractive in a hat or wig or saran wrap, it's not of issue. Of issue is that her hair is covered.
Bronya Shaffer
mychabad.org
December 31, 2013
And I repeat-Guidelines for Men, Please
So, then it's okay for men to run around in revealing t-shirts, tank tops, and shorts?

I repeat, what are the guidelines for men?

Thank you.

Moonglowalso
Arkansas
December 28, 2013
Modest dress?
Horrid...too much time spent by men on regulating and watching women....it is best in life to monitor yourself. I would strongly suggest the next article address the cleanliness of men.
Lesiel
Oceanside, a
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