For readers who have mistaken understandings of Judaism and who consider my blogs against immodesty as uncultured Taliban ranting, it is interesting to note that in this week’s Torah portion, the fanatic, extremist, Taliban Pincus is awarded the Covenant of Shalom for his zealous act of killing Zimri and his Midianite whore while they were engaged in their immoral coupling before the shocked eyes of the holy Jewish nation.
In true Taliban fashion, Pincus picked up a javelin and hurled it through the air, impaling Zimri and the whore through their loins. In appreciation for his action, the Holy One Blessed Be He awarded Pincus the coveted prize of eternal priesthood, for having abated G-d’s anger and reinstated shalom between G-d and the Jews. I suppose that makes G-d a member of Taliban too. After all, as our Sages tell us, the G-d of the Jewish People hates licentiousness more than anything else. While we are counting Talibans, I suppose that makes our Sages Taliban too.
Today is the fast day of the 17th of Tammuz, commemorating the day that the walls of Jerusalem were breached. In “The Book of our Heritage,” Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov explains that the purpose of this fast day is to awaken our hearts to repentance by recalling our forefathers’ misdeeds which led to the calamity. In addition, we are to acknowledging our own repetition of those same deeds today. The fast itself is merely a preparation for our own self-examination and repentance. Since the breach of Jerusalem’s walls led to the destruction of the Temple, let’s take a look at the cause of our nation’s decline, according to these Taliban Sages.
Destruction of Jerusalem - Breach in the Walls of Modesty
The Talmud teaches that the First Temple was destroyed because of idol worship, sexual transgression, and murder. In describing the sexual transgression, it quotes a verse from the Book of Isaiah: “Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk around with outstretched necks and ogling eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet” (Isaiah, 3:16).
What we have here is a description, not of immoral sexual acts, but rather of the immodest behavior of the women of the time. The Talmud explains that the woman would haughtily parade their beauty in the street by holding themselves as erect as could be, with their heads held high, and with their eyes tinted with blue shadow to appear extra large. They would walk in a sexy, mincing manner, taking short swaying steps to attract attention to their movements. And they would fill their shoes with perfume. Why? So that when they came upon a virile Jewish youth, they would kick him with their scented shoes and spread their perfume on him “in order to inject him with lust like the bite of a snake” (Yoma 9B).
This is the description of our Taliban Sages in the Talmud. And this immodest, attention-seeking behavior of the women of Israel was what led to the breach of the walls of Jerusalem and the subsequent destruction of the Temple, not to mention exile from our Land. According to the Kaballah, Jerusalem represents the female principle of Malchut, so that when there was a breach of modesty in the women of Israel, a breach in the walls of Jerusalem naturally followed. The secrets of Torah reveal that the spiritual damage caused by lustful thoughts is even greater than the damage that Nebuchadnezzar and Titus wreaked on Jerusalem.
Tragically, the behavior of a segment of our holy Jewish women today is no different than the immodest behavior that led to Jerusalem’s fall, may G-d have mercy on us. Today, the styles of dress may be somewhat different, and a women’s arsenal may be more sophisticated, but the effect of the poison is still the same
. This is not Taliban. This is Torah.
Blessed be all of the modest women of Israel who guard the holiness of our national camp. May their numbers increase day to day. And may our fasting lead to sincere, heartfelt repentance, not only over the sins of our forefathers, but more importantly, over our sins of today.
In longing for the rebuilding of our Temple, when the days of misfortune shall be transformed into days of joy, may it be soon. Amen.