A little while ago, I received an email from someone (heck knows how I got on their list… ) describing women in the most derogatory terms.
They were ‘shameless animals’, who selfishly and thoughtlessly paraded around the Holy City in their stretch lycra, making it impossible for impeccably holy, God-fearing men like the sender of the email, to even step out of doors.
Something should be done about these shameless hussies!
(I got the feeling that the sender of the email would be quite keen on locking the offending women up in big boxes, or at the very least chopping-off the offending parts of their anatomy.)
Now, tznius, or rather the lack of tznius even on the frum street, is a huge, ginormous problem. I’ve had my eyes pop out of my head on many occasions, at some of the lack of clothing going on. It’s very degrading to me, as a woman, to see my fellow women strutting their untznius stuff, and getting ogled by all the lechers.
Some part of me just wants to pull the poor, untznius woman aside and tell her:
“God loves you so much, you holy Jew! Don’t cheapen yourself by tarting yourself up like this: look behind you, at all the attention you’re drawing from those horrible, lecherous men. There is a better way to feel good about yourself!”
Of course, I don’t. Maybe one day, God will show me how to pull that one off.
But the point is, it’s completely unfair to keep the discussion about tznius, and it’s lack, solely on the women’s side of the court.
Let’s take wigs: I hate wigs, I don’t get wigs, I can’t stand wigs, I’ve never worn a wig in my life. I get 100% that wigs are causing a lot of problems on the tznius front. So far so good. But why aren’t people asking the question of question: WHY are so many women wearing wigs in the first place?
Sure, part of it is that they want to look the best they can be (and I’ll come back to this point in the next post). But another big part of the equation is that their husbands often enjoy the attention their wife gets if she makes a ‘splash’ with their buddies. And another, often huge, part of the problem is that many of these ladies are working women, or otherwise in situations where there is a lot of social pressure to ‘keep up appearances’. It takes a lot of self-confidence to stick out from the crowd.
I know from myself, that if I was in my old job in the UK, I’d probably have to wear a wig to work, or risk being censured by my very formal, British bosses, if I covered my hair with a scarf, the way I do in Israel.
A lot of women wear wigs because that’s more acceptable in the work place, and because everyone else is doing it, in their communities. In the home, you can wear your dressing gown all day and not bat an eyelid – but a lot of these very ‘pious’ men want their wives out all day, working their socks off to support the family.
But this isn’t just a superficial or academic discussion, it’s a very serious spiritual malaise. Underneath all the ‘hell and brimstone’ stuff about tznius, and about those evil, foxy ladies that are pulling men to eternal perdition, there runs a very deep, very nasty current of almost Xtian-like misogyny.
Xtians just lurve all that ‘original sin’ and ‘evil mother Eve’ stuff. They love to blame the woman for all the problems in the world, and paint the men as whiter-than-white, which is why many Xtian clergy make it a virtue to never get married.
BUT THIS IS NOT THE JEWISH WAY!!!
(Yes, I am shouting).
The Jewish way (via the Zohar Hakodesh and Rav Arush) teaches that women are simply the mirrors of their husbands, reflecting the traits and mores that their husbands need to work on, and fix. The Jewish way also teaches (via the Ari HaKodesh) that in the generation before Moshiach, all the women are completely fixed (emphasis mine). They’re only back here to help their husbands get their spiritual act together.
Back in the Garden of Eden, God had a go at ADAM, not at his wife. If God was sticking up all those bright fluorescent posters around the Garden of Eden, they would probably read something like this:
HOLY JEWISH MEN!!!!!
Save your souls, and stop trying to blame the poor women for all your problems and weaknesses.
You have a lot of spiritual work to do, and the first place to start is with yourself. Your wife is just reflecting your inner dimension back at you.
If you start treating her in a more loving, caring way, and you give her the attention, empathy, and love that an individual with true yireh shemayim should shower on his wife, all the tznius problems will go away, pronto. (And it would also really help if you ditched your i-Phone and stopped ogling all the ladies walking past you on the street.)
I know it’s not easy to keep your eyes to yourself, but if you ask Me for help, instead of pretending you’re some sort of Tzadik, things would be going so much better for the Jewish people.
So take pity on your souls, our holy Jewish brothers, and don’t say you weren’t warned: If your wife is dressing like a tart, it’s because you’re not giving her enough attention, love and caring.
Anyone disregarding this poster will be boiled alive in a huge vat of coffee.
Now, that’s what I call a really effective tznius call to action.