You could sum up all the different things we’ve been learning this week about what’s causing the breakdown in tznius, and in our marital relationships, like this:
Many people today are walking around disconnected from the ‘real them’, (ie their souls and their true feelings), and on a deep level, they don’t like themselves very much.
In a nutshell, that’s the problem.
If the people who keep coming out with the horrible diatribes against the tarty women really understood that women dress and act immodestly because they fundamentally don’t value themselves, they’d understand that having a go at these women is only going to make the problem worse.
These women already feel bad about themselves. Telling them they’re going to Gehinnom for wearing a short skirt is not news to them – they’re ALREADY LIVING in their own personal Gehinnom.
So instead, we need to reach out to them, and encourage them to see their true holiness, and innate beauty and goodness. We need to start building people up – even if they’re wearing stretchy lycra and Barbie-style wigs – instead of tearing them down.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that we condone their bad behaviour. But there is a huge difference between criticising behaviour and criticising the individuals themselves.
Remember, that a lack of empathy is underneath most of the problem. A lack of empathy means that we can’t see the other person, and we don’t validate or acknowledge their experiences and feelings.
If we’re really empathising with the tarty women, it’ll be very easy for us to understand that the stretchy lycra is a cry for help, and for love and attention, and we’ll react with far more understanding, kindness and respect, as a result.
Tarty women are not ‘the enemy’. They are human beings who are struggling very much to value and like themselves, and that’s reflected in their unfortunate choice of clothing and attention-seeking behaviour.
On the other side of the equation, we also need to be praying for our men, and seeing the best in them, and encouraging them to get out of the prison of physical lust, instead of pandering to it at any price.
Really, most husbands and wives are on the same team, and they both want a lasting, loving satisfying relationship with their spouses. Just today, there’s so much confusion around that it seems like ‘the bedroom’ is the only place to achieve that deep connection. But the spiritual truth is exactly the opposite: encouraging physical lust drives many husbands and wives apart, as it makes the body the primary vehicle for ‘connection’ instead of the soul.
The more we women work on our own spiritual dimension, the more we make God a reality in our lives, and the more we pray for our husbands and sons to access and connect to their true selves, the healthier and happier our relationships – and their relationships – are going to be.
We also need to encourage them to read books that clearly explain from an authentic Jewish perspective how God is really running the world, and how their true happiness depends on them fulfilling the spiritual role that God created them for, ie, to be a giver to their wives and families, in every sense of the word
(Some suggestions for starters: The Garden of Peace, and then ‘Britti Shalom’ by Rav Shalom Arush. Click HERE to go through to the Breslev bookstore.)
This is big spiritual work, and it doesn’t come easy. Two things make this happen:
Prayer means that we get God involved in solving the problem, and we don’t fall into despair, and give up on our husbands and marriages, because we know God can turn everything around in the blink of an eye.
Empathy means that instead of blaming others, and having a go at them, and calling them ‘stupid’ and ‘dumb’, and accusing them of acting like ‘shameless animals’, we try to connect to the hurt that’s underneath the inappropriate dress and behaviour that’s occurring on both sides of the gender divide.
It means that we try to build people up, instead of tearing them down. And most of all, it means that we do our very best to give our children, our spouses, and OURSELVES as much genuine love, understanding and empathy as we can.
And if we start trying to do that, we’re already more than half-way to really resolving the problem.