Eretz Yisrael Time

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Long time readers remember when the Joe-Jameel Book Club used to write these amazing reviews and criticisms of Jewish books that were relevant to the topic of the day.

Unfortunately, that blog and its posts were lost in the crossover to New Blogger.

Anyway, the Joe-Jameel Book Club was asked to write a review of a book that is now being advertised on this blog.

For the sake of disclosure, I haven’t read the entire book yet, just different excerpts from it, but I believe I get the gist.

The book is called, “Sometimes you ARE what you wear!” by a Rabbi Eliyahu Safran who also works in the OU.

The catch line of the book is “an argument for Tzniut (modesty)”.

My wife tells me that in the Beis Yaakovs (plural, she was thrown out of a few of them, but not for Tznius issues) where she went to school they used to constantly give them speeches about the lengths of their skirts, covering their elbows, their hair styles and the like.

But Rabbi Safran’s book is clearly not about the length of your sleeves or the color of your shirt.

His book is about the internal aspects of Tzniut which Rabbi Safran describes as dignity, nobility, self-worth, self-respect, and self-image, and also how that translates into moral actions.

Rabbi Safran maintains that Tzniut is an internal state that is outwardly revealed by one’s choice in clothing.

Conversely, he holds that there is also an inverse and symbiotic relationship between one’s clothing and one’s sense of self. The clothing also makes the man, or as scientific studies have shown, while one may smile as a sign of internal happiness, people that smile tend to end up feeling internally happy.

To quote him, “How we dress influences more than just those who look at us, it influences how we see ourselves. If you don't think this is the truth, see how differently students behave in a classroom when they are wearing shirts and ties versus when they are in their gym clothes.

Tznius he argues is about bringing your body and soul into alignment and it isn’t just for women.

This isn’t a book about permissible fashion statements.

This is a book about internalizing and projecting a positive self-image from a Jewish perspective.

It’s an interesting idea. Read the book.


Anonymous said...

XGH fans thank you for the review.

And can you divulge what Mrs. Settler got thrown out of Beis Ya'akovs for?

JoeSettler said...

I didn't know you read my blog!

She was thrown out for being too independent and too popular. She wasn't conformist enough. I guess they didn't consider that Tsniusdik.

While my wife considers wigs to be tnziusdik and a proper kisui rosh, I have a problem with it.

But it is actually a deep and serious question that resolves around a number of halachic and minhagic (is that a word?) issues.

I wish someone contemporary would address it properly, in English.

Anonymous said...

My $.02:

I'm thinking along the lines of true tznius is not attracting attention, not showing skin or body form, and generally the opposite of attractive. Reality is that in our society no women want to dress that way and no husbands would appreciate their wives dressing that way.

Which leaves two extreme alternatives: dress truly tznius, which a few do especially on your local hilltops, or forget about the whole thing. Not surprisingly most frum people are searching for a third way (where have I heard that before?) - hence sheitels, tights, etc, which officially conform without following the ideal.

(And no, I'm not a member of the Facebook Jameel fan club.)

Ben Bayit said...

I have great difficulty in taking seriously a book on modesty written by a Rabbi who derives much of his family's income from the purveying of grossly untzniusdik wigs

and then tries to sue people who point this simple fact out to the public.

JoeSettler said...

BB: Sometimes it's not what you say, but how you say it.

JoeSettler said...

My wife would strongly disagree with your statement that wigs (and particularly those) are untzniusdik.

She (and I) would agree that those particular styles are not for her though.

It is a serious question that needs to be discussed.

Ben Bayit said...

I didn't say that all wigs are untsniusdik - or that even all the wigs his wife sells are untsinuisdik. Just that he sells untsniusdik wigs.

My wife thinks that wigs are totally hypocritical and the fashion statements she has seen being made by my wig-wearing relatives from the old country haven't convinced her to change her mind regarding the issue of hair covering. For that matter the fact that she sees women dressing a certain way (provocatively) wearing wigs such as the type called "pretty woman" (after the movie) has been a tremendous hinderance in encouraging hair covering. Though I suppose that my personal belief that hair covering isn't required and is a subjective social norm, may play a role.

Anonymous said...

Safran needs more waffles.

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