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Ladies, Beware!

By Tzvi Fishman
5/9/2007, 12:00 AM

You won’t see women wearing bikinis on the streets of Jerusalem, but you’re likely to see everything else. I don’t know what’s going on in Tel Aviv, but I imagine it’s worse. This week’s sweltering hot spell seems to have made lots of people lose their senses – the women who wear immodest attire in public, and the men who look at them. Apparently the excessive heat on the brains of these women has caused them to forget that they’re Jews. Jewish women are modest. Jewish women have a keen sense of shame. Jewish women don’t parade their bodies on the street like the hookers in New Orleans.
Jewish women are modest. Jewish women have a keen sense of shame. Jewish women don’t parade their bodies on the street like the hookers in New Orleans.

I realize that my ranting does not have widespread effect. Here and there, a woman is moved to realize the error of her ways, and that is important by itself. Since my pamphlet regarding the evacuation from Gush Katif was widely distributed, I have noticed an improvement in religious Zionist circles, but without a united call for greater modesty on the part of all of the rabbis and educators in the country, a dramatic change is not to be expected.

Nonetheless, we cannot be silent and pretend that the situation is perfectly all right, saying that’s just the way it is in modern times. For as we have noted on several occasions, modesty is the foundation of our nation, and the key to our national health and security, as the Torah affirms:

"When thou goest out to encamp against thy enemies, then keep thee from every evil thing. If there be among you any man that is not clean by reason of an impure emission of semen at night, then he shall go abroad outside of the camp, he shall not come within the camp," (Devarim, 23:10-11).

"For the L-rd thy G-d walks in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thy enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy, that He see no unclean thing in thee and turn away from thee," (Devarim, 23:15).

Immodest dress is unholy. Exposing parts of the body that should be covered is considered an unclean thing. It causes men to have sexual thoughts and fantasies which can lead to "wet dreams" and other unholy behavior.  Lest habit has dulled our senses, and readers think that I am making a mountain out of a molehill, let’s take a look at the plea of the holy Kabbalist, Rabbi Daniel Frish, author of the superb commentary on the Zohar, "Matok M’Dvash." He called his apeal to the Daughters of Israel, "A Cry From The Heart:"

"It is time to seriously examine the terrible breach brought about by clothes that hug the body in a provocative manner. When we contemplate to the depth of the matter, we must know that every time a woman goes out wearing a tight-fitting garment – even without intending to cause damage, but merely to appear more attractive – behold, she returns home burdened with thousands of serious transgressions, may the Almighty have mercy!

"Each time a woman goes out to the street in immodest attire, she transgresses six prohibitions of the Torah and five positive commandments.

"With each man that she causes to gaze at her with a lustful glance, she transgresses the prohibition, ‘Do not put a stumbling block before a blind man’ (Vayikra, 19:14). Furthermore, she brings upon herself the same punishment that he will face in the future, as the holy Rashi explains on the verse, ‘He will bear her iniquity,’ that whomever causes his fellow to sin, is punished in his place (Bamidbar, 30:19).

"In his book, ‘Letter of T’shuva,’ Rabbanu Yona also makes this point, stating that a man who gazes at a woman lustfully, whether at her face or her hand, brings the punishment of Gehinom upon himself. And she receives the punishment that she caused to each and every man who gazed at her, because she caused them to stumble by her not behaving in a modest fashion.

"It is further stated in the book, ‘Shomer Emunim,’ in the name of the Sages of old, that when a woman goes about on the street dressed in an immodest fashion, she is accompanied by tens of thousands of evil forces and husks of impurity (klipot,) may the Almighty save us. These impure forces enter into the hearts of the men on the street, and tempt and bewilder these men into gazing at her and succumbing to lustful thoughts.

"Therefore, a woman must realize that when she goes out in immodest attire, she ‘sins and brings the multitude to sin.’ In addition, she also causes other woman and young girls who learn from her example to sin, in that they are influenced to dress in the same fashion. Her immodesty causes others to treat the commandment of modesty in a flippant manner, bringing others to trespass. This is especially true if she is a woman of importance, or a mother, or grandmother, who set an example for daughters and granddaughters - how much greater the responsibility. Concerning this, our Sages have said: ‘Yeravam sinned and caused the public to sin; thus the sin of the multitudes is attributed to him’ (Avot, 5:21). Furthermore, they taught: ‘Anyone who causes a multitude to sin is not afforded repentance’ (Ibid).

"Therefore, the immodest woman plays a hand in the spiritual decline of every woman she influences, not only in regards to the woman who learned from her, but also from the woman who learns from the second woman, and there on down the chain. As long as this matter is not corrected, and the plague of immodesty not stemmed, the woman who influences others has a part in the whole.

"She also causes the standard of modesty to crumble, and causes a weakening of Judaism, for she adds to the spreading of this errant fashion. When one commandment is taken lightly, the entire Torah is weakened, not only in her eyes, but in the eyes of her generation and the generations that follow. All of this comes in the wake of the woman who leaves her home wearing immodest clothes. How staggering are the consequences of this matter!
(From the book, "The Crown of Modesty," Pg. 259)

Therefore, Ladies, beware. The beauty of a Jewish woman derives from her modesty, not from the shape of her figure.