June 23, 2010

Tzniut is a Jewish law, that, according to wikipedia (yes, I know, not the greatest source for information, but for this it works) ” is a term used within Judaism and has its greatest influence as a notion within Orthodox Judaism. It is used to describe both the character trait of modesty and humility, as well as a group of Jewish religious laws pertaining to conduct in general and especially between the sexes. The term is frequently used with regard to the rules of dress for women.”

Basically, Tzniut covers dress codes, saying that men and women alike  have to dress modestly. Women wear womens clothes that cover a majority of there body, and men wear mens clothes that cover a majority of there body. Now, Orthodox communities and synagogues are mainly the only place in which you’ll find people strictly adhering to. You can also find this being practiced in Conservative temples, but not in the Conservative lifestyle (for the most part), and while it is practiced in Reform temples as well, it is not usually mandated, nor is it usually adhered to in daily life. But I’m not speaking for everyone in each of these communities, because everyone follows differently, no matter what denomination they follow, whether it be Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, et cetera.

I go to a Reform temple, and I LOVE it! They are so inviting and sweet and kind, and so accepting.  But from what I’ve observed, most Jews that identify with the Reform movement don’t really observe many, if any, of the 613 mitzvots.  Since I am “new” in a sense, to Judaism though, I’ve been teaching myself all of the stuff that I’ve missed  by not attending a Hebrew day school, or Monday night “youth group” or temple for the past 16, almost 17, years. And with that, I am very confused on which mitzvots each movement does and does not follow, or how they all celebrate, et cetera. So I’ve been relying on the Torah and books on Judaism to teach me how I should follow and practice. I’ve been reading over the 613 mitzvots and I’m trying to slowly incorporate each of them into my life, to the best of my ability. Now, some are harder than others, such as saying a prayer before many simple tasks (such as hand washing), and others are easy, such as knowing that G-d exists.

To get back on subject, I’ve been researching some of the Jewish laws, such as Tzniut, and while it sorta kinda isn’t a mitzvot (sort of), I want to try to abide by it, but it’s really hard to go all out and start wearing skirts down to my ankles and shirts down to my wrists, especially living in the hot and sunny state of Florida.  So, I’m going to try to follow the mitzvot that corresponds with Tzniut, which basically states  that a women shall not wear a mens clothing.

Now, this has changed in modern times, because women are always wearing pantsuits, jeans, and shorts. It’s what we do, but it hasn’t always been that way, of course. Before the 19th or 20th century, mainly before the 1920’s-30’s, you’d be a little hard pressed to find a women wearing a pantsuit and not being ridiculed by at least one person for it. This is why both the Reform, and Conservative movement, and even sometimes the Orthodox one, are becoming more lax on this law.

So, while I’m not going to go and totally throw away my skinny jeans and shorts just yet, I am going to try to incorporate more dresses and skirts into my wear, and keep my short and jeans wearing to a minimum, and wear them mainly when I’m going to be doing “dirty work” or going to a close friends house.

Apart of the  Tzniut law, also, is married women must keep there hair covered. It is also a mitzvot (correct me if I’m wrong) to wear a yarmulke. Now, women are exempt from this mitzvot, and some say it’s because women are naturally spiritually closer to G-d, and men aren’t, so therefore women don’t need to wear yarmulkes or tallits, as men do, but it’s becoming more and more popular in temples, mainly Reform and some Conservative ones, for women to observe both this law and mitzvot. Now, maybe it’s just because I’m trying to follow the mitzvots to the best of my ability, or because I love the idea of wearing a yarmulke, or even because I believe in being egalitarian, but I plan on (hopefully) crocheting my own yarmulke and start wearing it to Temple or when I’m praying. I also might either make (it might be too hard to make, with my little bit of expertise in crocheting), or buying a Tallit, because traditionally, you wear the two together, and many women I’ve talked to insist on wearing both together, even if the men in the Temple don’t.

Comment me with your opinions on the Tzniut and mitzvots discussed in this entry!

With much love,

The Jewbie


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