GOOD MORNING!  The story is told of two men visiting New York City for the first time who come across two Jews wearing long black coats, wide-brimmed hats, with long beards and payos (earlocks). One man turns to the other and says, "What's that?" The second man replies, "Hassidim." The first man responds, "I see them, too -- but, what are they?" Definitely our Hassidic brethren have their own style of clothing, but there are underlying standards of dress that the Torah sets out for both men and women. More than why Hassidim dress the way they do, people have asked me the following question:


Perhaps at one time or another you have noticed an Orthodox Jewish woman with her hair covered, wearing a dress that comes below the knees, below the elbows and above the collar bone? Perhaps you have wondered why they dress in such an unchanging manner while hemlines go up and down according to what is fashionable?

The Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law, directs that men and women should comport themselves in a manner of tzniut, modesty. In speech, in action and in dress, a Jew is directed to act modestly. One source for this is from the prophet Michah (6:8), "(God) tells you, man, what He requires of you, but to do justice, love kindness and walk modestly with your God."

Why? As I have mentioned many times, a human being is comprised of a body and a soul. The soul is the essence, the body is the covering or the packaging. In the case of clothing, especially for women, the less clothing, the more the emphasis is on the packaging (the body) and the less it is on the essence, the soul.

The Torah recognizes that the Almighty created men in a manner that they are easily aroused by what they see. In order to balance the situation so that women will be treated with respect, the Torah forbids sexually suggestive clothing. Attractive, yes; provocative, no. As one man told me, "I am puzzled by women who dress in a manner that says 'take me' and then complain that men do not respect them." A woman once replied that she dressed provocatively because she loved the power she had over men -- completely distracting them from whatever they were doing and focusing their attention on her.

Gila Manolson, an expert on feminine spirituality, writes in her excellent book, Outside, Inside, "Woman will often attempt to win a relationship by semi-consciously playing to a man's tendency to regard her physically. This can spell disaster for a woman. Most tragically, a woman who accustoms herself to 'getting' a man this way is going to internalize an increasingly shallow self-image, to the point where she may lose sight entirely of what she really has to offer. Furthermore, while her feelings in the relationship may indeed deepen, there's no reason to expect that his will."

The Torah standard of dress reflects the dignity of being created in the image of the Almighty. Rather than attract outside attention, the goal is to be happy with oneself, not needing outside approval or validation. The less a woman wears, the less dignity and self-respect she projects. (For more on the topic, go to - - Beneath the Surface: A Deeper Look at Modesty )

There is a second aspect to the concept of dressing modestly. The more precious something is, the more it is guarded and reserved for important occasions. If one uses his best silver at every meal, it loses its uniqueness. There is something exceptional about one's physical attraction. The Torah wants that specialness to maintain its power as well as its dignity for one exceedingly important relationship -- marriage.

Recently, I came across an interesting young man, Marty Bogoratt, who is working with top fashion designers and manufacturers to blend their designs with the Torah's standards of modesty to create fashionable, but not provocative clothing! It is well-worthwhile to check out his website or call 888-4-MODESTY (888- 466-3378). Since I don't know of anyone else doing this, it is fair to say that Marty is the leader in providing fashionable modest clothing! As it says in Proverbs 11:12 "...And with the modest ones lies wisdom!"

Torah Portion of the Week
Pinchas, Numbers 25:10 - 30:1

In last week's Torah portion, Pinchas acted to stop a public display of immorality. He thus stemmed the plague of retribution which was killing the multitudes. He is rewarded by being made a Cohen -- by Divine decree.

The Almighty commands Moshe to attack the Midianites in retribution for the licentious plot the Midianites perpetrated upon the Israelites. A new census is taken of the Jewish people revealing that there are 601,730 men available for army duty. G-d directs the division of the Land of Israel amongst the tribes. The Levites are tallied. The daughters of Tzelafchad come forward to petition Moshe regarding their right of inheritance. Moshe inquires of the Almighty Who answers in their favor.

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states, "And the Almighty spoke to Moshe saying: Pinchas the son of Eliezer, the son of Aharon the priest has turned away my anger from the Children of Israel in that he was zealous for My sake among them, so that I did not consume the Children of Israel in My jealousy" (Numbers 24:10,11). Why does the Torah add the words "among them" which are seemingly extra?

The great commentator Alshich explains that the seemingly extra words "among them" are to focus us on the fact that Pinchas's zealous action was not very popular among the people; there were those who were ready to kill him for his zealousness! Nevertheless, Pinchas was ready to sacrifice everything to do the will of the Almighty. He took action even though many people disapproved of what he did.

There are many instances in life in which the correct thing to do is not always the most popular. For example, if a group of people are speaking loshon hora (gossip) against others, they usually do not appreciate someone's telling them to stop talking negatively. However, a person whose focus is on doing the will of the Almighty will not be deterred even if others will insult him for his behavior.


"... If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?" -- Hillel

(or go to

Jerusalem  7:11
Guatemala 6:17  Hong Kong 6:53  Honolulu 6:59
J'Burg 5:07  London 9:03  Los Angeles 7:50
Melbourne 4:52  Miami 7:58  Moscow 8:59
New York 8:13  Singapore  6:56


People blame others because
there is only one other possibility

With Special Thanks to
Thomas Raskin
for dedicating this edition