Sunday, November 9, 2008

Grooming and Tznius

We are all familiar with the drill: once our S/D (son/daughter) reaches a certain age, we try to make sure their wardrobe is commensurate with the "Kallah maidel"/"Chosson Bochur" ideal.
Do we realize that our own appearance will be under scrutiny as well?

It is now time to take a hard look at ourselves and maybe invest in that new sheitel or outfit we have been postponing. Add that accessory to our wardrobe to give it flair. We need not incur great expense to do this. Sometimes all we need to remember is to put on a drop of lipstick before leaving the house. It makes us look well groomed without expending too much effort. We do not need to change our lifestyle (and we shouldn't because that is not who we are), but we need to be aware of how others will look at us and be sure to always present a pleasant and neat appearance.

We all take care of our husband's clothes as a matter of course. Let us now take a good careful look and make sure that that button is sewn on right away, his shirt and pants look ironed, his sirtuk (kappote) is not torn, and so on. Yes, they are little things, but they may make an impression on someone looking at your family. After all you want to portray yourself in the best light.

There will always be those who will say: "It is not my problem what people may think!" In this respect, they are wrong. At this time, you are selling an image, a put-together, normal family who anyone would love to belong to. People don't know who you are. They only relate to you by the way you present yourself. Presentation is nine-tenths of perception. It may not be fair, but it is true. You cannot control who will be asked for references about you. Even if you give a list of names, people may have their own resources and contacts you would not expect to be asked. Maybe those contacts might see you in a different light than the light in which your friends see you.

Another thing we should never overlook, and not just at this time, but always, is our tznius. Always make sure ourselves and our families are dressed according to halacha. We the women are the builders of our homes - "Isha Kesheira Bunsa Beisa" - and our families follow our example. Our daughters especially will follow in our direction, if our sleeves are short or our skirts are a bit too "right" and ride up when we sit.

A previously mentioned, it is useless to tell our children "Do as I say and not as I do." If we see that the tznius in our daughters is not what it should be, let us examine ourselves. There must be something we are not being careful with.

Tznius is one of the hardest things, because it does not depend entirely on the letter of the law but the spirit of the law is considered as well.

I recently heard an interpretation of a Medrash in Ruth by Mrs. Palatnick. The Medrash tells us that Neomi tried to dissuade her daughter in law Ruth from following, by telling her about what she would have to keep if she became a Jewess, and one of the things she told her was that Jewesses do not go to theaters and circuses. She told her "es pass nisht" it is not proper. What she was explaining to Ruth was that, not only do you have to follow what the law says, but you also have to be careful of "es pass nisht". You are wearing something that cannot be said is not tzniusdick according to the letter of the law, but: es pass nisht. It is not appropriate. For a princess, for a basmelech, a bas Yisroel, es pass nisht. Let us be proud of what we are and let us dress accordingly.