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מאמרים

Modesty and Beauty Defined

"Our Beauty, Our Modesty" – For Salvation and the Final Redemption

with many excerpts taken from "כליל תפראת: אגרת לכלה ואשה הנשואה"  
Klil Tiferet – Iggeret Lekallah Ve’ishah Hanesu’ah
Dear Sister,
You too can be more beautiful; you too can have better children; you too can cause your husband to be more successful in both material and spiritual matters.
Did you know that you have the power to bring in more holiness, more blessing and more protection for the Jewish People? Did you know that to the degree that you will improve in matters of modesty (tznius), precisely in that degree you will become more beautiful?
If you want to bring out the potential of these powers that are within you, please, read on!
Our Sages said: “A woman is created only for beauty.” The desire to be beautiful is deeply embedded in our souls, and this is normal and healthy. The question is: how can one use this natural tendency of ours to serve Hashem? The minute we will understand the true definition of beauty, the answer to this question will be evident.

Modesty – Tznius

What exactly is modesty (tznius)? Modesty is the trait of hiddenness - concealment – in our dress and in our behavior. A modest item of clothing hides our body; if it doesn’t hide it, it is not modest at all. But not only should the flesh be hidden, but the shape of the body as well. This can be done by wearing very wide skirts and loose blouses, with long sleeves and fully covered neckline, in modest solid colors or small refined prints.
 
“Wisdom lies within the elders.” In order to understand this issue, we will see what our holy Sages said. They said, “Nothing is more beautiful than modesty.” They did not say: nothing is better, greater, more proper or more important than modesty, but rather, “Nothing is more beautiful than modesty.” From this we see that modesty is the most beautiful thing, and that true beauty is being modest. To the elders, to the tzaddikim and to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, modesty is the most cherished human virtue! So, in its very great merit, we shall merit the final Redemption.
Holiness – Kedusha
Modesty is also holiness. It is said about the connection between holiness and modesty: “Wherever you see a geder ervah, you find holiness.” Geder Ervah means fences and barriers that protect women's modesty and holiness! A mechitzah at a simcha or in a synagogue is a geder ervah, since it separates the men from the women.
 Putting up fences and barriers, for example a mechitzah that protects our modesty and holiness and being extra  careful to be genuinely modest – those activities are what bring about holiness! Everyone feels instinctively the beauty that is inherent in holiness.
Because Hashem is Holy beyond any and all descriptions, His people are commanded to be holy and therefore are required in order to attain and maintain holiness to have a much higher standard of modesty than all the other nations.
 The Chazon Ish zatzal said that “The reason that man came to this world is primarily to correct the matter of holiness...A person merits the next world only through holiness and according to the amount of his holiness.” This is translated from the book: “I am your servant”page 42, by Rav Kovalski, A student of the Chazon Ish.  Therefore the main thing we must correct is holiness. Prayer is prayer and good deeds are of genuine loving kindness, only when they are done modestly, with the virtue of modesty, when the Presence of Hashem is amongst us. As it says in Devarim 23:15: “Hashem Walks before you, within your camp, to rescue you from your enemies, so your camp shall be holy and He should not be able to see in you, any immodesty so that He not turn away from you, ( G-d forbid! ) ”. This means that if one goes to do deeds of loving kindness and walks in the street immodestly, nothing may be gained from this since Hashem  turns away from the immodest. And how can prayer be accepted when there is an explicit verse saying “Hashem should not see in you any immodesty so that Hashem won't turn away from you" . This means the removal of the Divine Presence, the Divine Providence and the Divine Protection, G-d Forbid!
 
We will now bring several examples of true beauty in our world:
The Righteous – Tzaddikim
The glow that emanates from the face of a righteous person comes from his holiness. That is why we feel true pleasure in looking at the faces of righteous people. It is true pleasure to see the beauty that shines from their pure and holy faces.
It is a tangible reality that wherever there is holiness, there is beauty. Yosef Hatzaddik was holy, and it says about him (Bereshit 39, 6): “And Yosef was of beautiful form, and beautiful to look upon,” for where there is holiness, there is beauty.
Regarding Esther HaMalka it says (Esther 2:7): “And he (Mordechai) brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther… and the maiden was beautiful of form.” Esther – from hester – hiding. Esther HaMalka concealed herself, and that caused her to be beautiful, for “nothing is more beautiful than modesty.” (Tanchuma Ki Sisa 31)
The Vilna Gaon, in his commentary on Megillas Esther, says about the words “beautiful of form” – “in mitzvos”. “And beautiful to look at” – “in good character traits (middos).” Esther Hamalka possessed both mitzvos and good character traits. Her inner beauty radiated outward.
Pnimiut – To Value our Inner Essence and Emphasize it
Modesty means not to think all the time about outward looks but rather to concentrate one’s thoughts on the inner world, to devote more time to mitzvos and good deeds than to the cultivation of one’s looks. Modesty means to value and to emphasize our inner essence, our mitzvos and good deeds, over external things – this is called pnimiut, a major aspect of modesty. One is still required to take great care to wear only genuinely modest clothing and head coverings and to be concerned to act modestly, in all times and places.
 
Becoming closer to Hashem adds beauty.
A ba’al teshuva (returnee to our faith) met a friend from his past. The friend was amazed at how different he looked, and asked him: “You have become so much more beautiful than you were when I knew you! Have you had plastic surgery? Maybe you underwent some kind of intensive beauty treatment?”
We, B”H, already know the answer to that question. There is a connection between holiness and true beauty. It is no wonder then, that when the returnee to our faith ascended to greater spiritual heights, his outward looks improved as well.
In Shir Hashirim (4, 7) it says: “You are completely beautiful, my love” and when are you beautiful?  When “you have no blemish”. When there is no blemish in your holiness, this means when no immodesty is found in you, or in other words, when you are genuinely modest, your holiness will confer on you the gift of beauty and grace. When we do our mitzvahs or pray, let’s do it with authentic modesty because only then, can our mitzvahs and prayers be favorably accepted by the Beloved Creator, which is our goal!

True Pleasure

There is nothing better or more beautiful than this! We see instinctively the pleasure that Righteous people have when the rules of modesty are followed. If they have such pleasure in it, we can only imagine how much pleasure Hashem has from modesty! Is there anything that could cause us greater pleasure, then? Spiritual pleasures are much more powerful than material ones. Even young children can sense the holiness of Shabbos and the pleasure in saying Tehillim.
 
The same thing is true in regard to beauty. Beauty that is the outcome of spirituality is much more powerful than beauty that is based on material factors alone. This special beauty may only shine out with pure, genuine modesty! Modesty is one’s inner essence:  the best part that we have. Therefore, the true beauty and goodness of a human being is his pure inner essence, that can shine out only through the precious vessel of genuine modesty and holiness. May we merit to understand this point. For, the minute we will understand this, even in regard to others, we will understand how to improve and beautify ourselves, and we will reach the King’s highway – the way that will allow us to be constantly close to the King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.

Responsibility

As is known, the modesty that we maintain is not enough; and that is an understatement, may G-d constantly reveal His Mercy to us. The entire world looks to us, to see how we are behaving in regard to modesty, and they imitate us: “For out of Zion shall come Torah.” And out of Zion shall come also holiness and modesty. If we do not start to improve in matters of modesty – who else will?!
R. Yisrael Salanter zatzal said, in a well-known statement, that whoever is slightly lax in his Torah study in Vilna, causes a Jew in Paris to desecrate Shabbos. Since a good attribute is more powerful than a bad one, certainly we can say, that whoever becomes more modest – even a little bit – in the Holy Land, can cause a woman in a foreign country to do a big mitzvah, and to improve much, much more!
In Jerusalem, the King’s Palace, the responsibility is even greater. It is a great shame for the king, if his daughter dresses like a maid, especially in his own house, the Palace! Whoever merits to dress and behave modestly, certainly has the merit of giving great honor and pleasure to the Alm-ghty and this is particularly true in the Palace of the King, which is the city of  Jerusalem.
The Final Redemption
Clothing, which throughout history had been a mark of dignity, has lost its value. People no longer believe that common decency demands suitable clothing. Truth will be lacking is a prophecy for the days before Mashiach. Fashion will dictate that each man has his own truth, and this outlook leads to an absence of "objective truth" and also the absence of " authentic modesty". (excerpted from“The Ishmaelite Exile” by Rabbi Yechiel Weitzman, pp. 208-209) “Behold days are coming in which I will send a great hunger in the land – not a hunger for bread, but a hunger for the words of Hashem.” The objective truth we all hunger for must come through our holy Torah sages and especially those imbued with the holy spirit like the Baba Sali, zt”l, Harav Yehoshua Leib Diskin, zt”l, Harav Shmuel Shapiro, zt”l, the Chazon Ish, zt”l, Harav Shach, zt”l, Harav Eliyashiv zt'l etc. all of whom,  took a strong stance against the wigs women wear in public. Although they are not with us today, their holy words ring true as ever: The Admore of Satmar, zatzal said "Certainly it is forbidden to go out with a wig from our Holy Torah Law. Everyone whose heart believes in Hashem and our Holy Torah must be zealous and take the initative in this, and work to clarify the seriousness of this matter with others. In this, they do the will of the Holy One, Blessed is He and certainly they will be blessed with everything good. "When asked for his opinion on hair additions to a scarf (eg. Bangs), he said " I never heard of a Torah Prohibition which was permitted when done halfway, a third of the way or a quarter of the way. My hope is strong that with the help of Hashem, Blessed is He, each woman will arrive to this understanding by herself."
 
In the merit of being careful with matters of modesty the final Redemption will come! The Gemara says in Masechta Megillah that in the merit of the great modesty of Rachel, Shaul HaMelech descended from her, and in the merit of the modesty within Shaul HaMelech, Esther HaMalka descended from him, and through her the redemption of the Jews came about. The Gemara says that from this we see that the merit of modesty is so elevated that it brings the Jews redemption. We see from this just how precious and vital it is for us to place emphasis on our modesty! Only a truly modest woman can be considered to be righteous, and in the merit of the Righteous women we were redeemed from all the previous exiles and will be redeemed in the future, from this exile. (From HaKeter VeHaKavod LeChai Olamim, page 834)
The Chessed LeAlafim by the Pele Yo’etz states that the main rewards and main punishments in this and the next world depends mainly on the trait of modesty. The degree of ease or hardship – “how” we merit the Final Redemption, depends on each person’s modesty, and the level of modesty within the Jewish Nation as a whole. If it will be a very bloody Redemption, or the opposite, a calm, peaceful one, depends very much on our merit and/or demerits in this very vital area of modesty of every individual Jew and Jewess. Not only that, all of the Nation of Yisrael are guarantors for each other! We can’t sit back and do nothing when the fire of immodesty is blazing around us!! We must do all that we can to put out the fire that threatens our very lives!!  Recently we have seen that there is a lot of Torah learning in Israel, many people helping one another and many people returning to the Torah and we ask ourselves: if so, why is Hashem so angry?  Why are there so many orphans, widows, ill people, etc. whose stories we cannot bear to hear anymore?  The Torah reveals to us that the sin of immodesty causes Hashem’s Presence to leave the Jewish people.  Without the Divine Presence, the mitzvot that we do lose their power and this strength goes to the Satan.  And we can understand that Klal Yisrael won’t improve until Jewish Women repent and return to dressing completely modestly. This is a prerequisite for the Final Redemption and every G-d fearing woman is obligated to do her part to advance this cause!!  This is comparable to a King’s palace that is on fire.  There are those who will approach and brazenly throw more sticks into the fire to enlarge it.  The King will definitely punish these people harshly.  There are others who stand on the side and say – we love the King but what can we do?!  Certainly the King will also blame them and say that if they really liked Him they would have found some way to help.  And there are those who try with all their might to put out the fire – certainly their reward is beyond measure.  Actually, the King himself can put out the fire.  However, He is testing His subjects to see who really love Him, in order to give them the greatest reward.  The comparison is obvious.  There is a fire in our streets, a fire of immodesty, which is destroying stage after stage the holiness of the Jewish people.  We are all obligated to try with all our might to put out the fire (obviously, in a loving, considerate way), for if we don’t we will be blamed by Heaven. You, who love the King of the world and feel fearful for the future of Klal Yisrael, we notify you that now is a propitious time, when hearts are open and ears are listening. Please join us in gaining merit and strengthening the Jewish people:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
 

THE REWARD RECEIVED BY ONE WHO DRESSES MODESTLY

 
v She becomes a vessel for the shechina (Divine Presence)
v She performs 10 Divine commandments every second.
v All the worlds glory in her.
v She is considered an important woman.
v She merits holy progeny.
v She merits an important husband.
v She is worthy of marrying a High Priest and having her children become High Priests.
v Her income is preserved and blessed.
v She achieves atonement for her family, just like the altar achieves atonement, as it says: “Your wife is like a fruitful vine at the corners of your house.” “At the corners” refers to the mizbe’ach, as it says, “And you shall pour it on the corner of the mizbe’ach”. There are sources that say that she atones for the entire generation.
Your wife is like a fruitful vine” – it is a great merit for procreation. For when is she like a fruitful vine? When she is “in the corner of your house”.
Your children are like olive shoots” – she will have children who will be anointed with oil (i.e., blessed with riches, wisdom and honor).
v She influences her family to be modest and holy and enables the shechina to enter her home.
v She hastens the redemption. (In the merit of righteous women the Jews were redeemed and will be redeemed in the future.)
v She merits Heavenly wisdom and pure fear of Heaven.
v She merits understanding the difference between important and unimportant, pure and impure and forbidden and permitted.
v She merits Heavenly assistance at every moment and in every detail of running her home.
v She is calm.
v She merits holy thoughts. (Rav Uri of Strelisk zatza”l said: “The thoughts are like the clothes."  She merits Serenity, as her clothes influence her thoughts and attributes.        
                      
 In the merit of all this she will cause the Shechina- Hashem's Presence to rest on her home and her children will holy. She, her husband and entire family are fortunate!
 
 "Deadly Fashions"  translated from Olamot Hatohar (Worlds of Purity), by Michael Uri Sofer)
Yom Kippur, 5734. All is quiet. The streets are empty, even the most busy ones. All one hears are sounds of crying and praying, coming from the synagogues, which can be heard even from afar… “Unesaneh tokef...” “We will tell of the holiness of the day, for it is awesome and terrible!… Who will live and who will die, whose life is at an end, whose life isn’t at an end, who by water and who by fire…” Those are the prayers of the holy day, Yom Kippur, when the entire Jewish people – even the wicked ones – turn their hearts to the Creator, that He should rise from the throne of strict justice, and judge His people with mercy.
The soldiers on guard duty at the border,  were also busy with their prayers. They had just finished the Seder Avodah – the description of the service in the Temple on Yom Kippur, which is said as part of the Mussaf service. Suddenly a call rang out – “War!”
The war broke out in a storm. The borders were overrun by thousands of tanks and scores of enemy soldiers who charged ahead, aiming to conquer and kill. Back on the home front, too, the holiness of the day was trampled upon. Thousands of soldiers left the synagogues and hurried to do battle.
After three days of fighting, the situation was terrible! The way to Tel Aviv was wide open. The enemy had penetrated more than forty kilometers into the country. Hundreds were killed and wounded. “Have mercy on us and save Your flock, for to You we turn our eyes.” “If You mark iniquities, Hashem, who would be able to stand?”
Under fire, soldiers from the special unit for recovering the fallen ran to collect the bodies of those killed and to give them a Jewish burial. At the same time, the company commander was at his wits’ end. Most of his best soldiers had been killed. He was in despair at the sights he was seeing, feeling helpless and hopeless. He turned to one of the soldiers in this special unit, a young Torah student, and asked him: “You are a religious person. Maybe you can explain to me how it can be that on the holiest day, on Yom Kippur, when so many Jews are standing and praying, fasting and begging for mercy, our enemies have the power to start a war against us?”
“Listen to what I am going to tell you, and listen well,” answered the young man. “Our holy Torah warned us about this (Devarim 23:15): ‘When you will go out to war against your enemies… behave modestly so that Hashem shouldn’t see any immodesty in you and turn away from you.’  The Creator of the World warned us ahead of time that a breach in matters of modesty removes the Divine protection from our nation, and gives the enemy the power and the permission to overwhelm us!
There is no promise that if people stand there, fasting and praying, dressed in white like angels, and yet do not maintain correct standards of modesty, nothing bad will happen to them. The opposite is true! Even then – “He will turn away from you”! Only modesty protects from enemies.
As you know, in recent years new fashions have appeared – clothes that are short, tight and immodest. That is the reason for the outbreak of the war, which even the prayers of Yom Kippur are not powerful enough to combat.
You should know, Commander, that the non-Jews know this secret as well. Even the wicked Bil’am knew it. He advised Balak that if he wants to vanquish the Jewish People, he should cause them to behave immodestly.”
The officer did not accept this answer, claiming, “If you say that the women are immodest, maybe you are right. But why should the men be to blame? Are they also not dressing modestly?! Why are they being massacred?” The young man did not have a clear answer to that, and he also didn’t want to put him off with a vague reply. Therefore, he said to him: “I’ll give you the answer to that question some other time.”
*   *   *
A short while later the young soldier was released from army service. He hurried to one of the Torah leaders of the generation, Maran HaGaon R. Elazar Menachem Shach zatzal, to inform him that he had survived the war. Afterwards, he told the rav the discussion that he had had with the company commander. He wished to clarify two issues: First of all, was his answer correct, for he was a simple person, and he said what he said based on his own ideas, and secondly, how should he answer the commander’s question about the men.
The Rosh Yeshiva zatzal said to him: “Indeed, you are right! All the troubles came, because the situation in regard to tznius (modesty) is not good. It says quite clearly: ‘So that He shouldn’t see immodesty in you and turn away from you’! And in regard to what you asked about the men, I would have replied to him: Why do the women dress that way? It is because the men are silent and do not express their displeasure in a clear and vehement way, and therefore, they too are punished for the sin of immodesty.”
 The young soldier returned to relate to the commander the holy words of Maran HaGaon R. Elazar Menachem Shach, zatzal!

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