Jul 14, 2017
Is Tznius One's Private Business?

Author Rabbi Moshe Wiener presents a message the Rebbe meticulously edited about how dressing immodestly affects others.

By Rabbi Moshe Wiener, author of "Kvuda Bas Melech - the Laws of Modesty in Women's Dress"

Some argue that whether or not one dresses in accordance with the laws of tznius is their private business. Some also argue that focusing on modesty of dress is a distraction from the more primary concern of whether one has proper midos and is a good and kind person.

At the farbrengen of 12 Tamuz 5730, the Rebbe refuted these positions and demonstrated that dressing immodestly causes harm and damage to others and is an act of cruelty.

Due to the importance of this message, the Rebbe meticulously edited this sicha [the Rebbe’s edits may be viewed here].

Following is an English translation of the Rebbe’s sicha [to view and download the original Yiddish as edited by the Rebbe in a format that can be used as a poster, click here]:

Immodesty: Provoking the Dark Side of Others

Those who don’t behave modestly do not only defy the path of Torah. Their behavior contravenes basic decency, basic morality, and simple common sense.

When one behaves immodestly by exposing a part of the body that ought to be covered, one’s intent is to provoke the evil inclination—the negative side of the other person.

This does not help the other person to become a better person. It will not stimulate his mind and make him smarter. Nor will it improve his character traits by positively affecting the respect he accords to his parents, brothers, or sisters, or even to his own wife. Nor will it influence him to donate more charity.

What is the impact of dressing in violation of the requirements of modesty? If until now, the other person’s negative side was hidden, or not excited and aroused—one provokes that person and inflames that side.

[And then one shares in the [responsibility] for the wickedness of the other person. One doesn’t benefit in any way, because it’s the other person’s wickedness—the other person fulfills his desire, whether through gazing, or in another form. Yet it is worthwhile to do everything, as long as one provokes another person—and not his positive side, but his negative side.][1]

One becomes a source of harm, may G–d save us, and not only to one’s own Divine Soul, but also to another person, and still another—in fact, to everyone one meets. What an utterly degenerate path—may Hashem protect us.

Sicha of 12 Tamuz, 5730


For further information regarding this topic, see:
- The Laws of Modesty in Women's Dress - by Rabbi Moshe Wiener
"Chaval on each day which delays the reading and study of this book!" (Lubavitcher Rebbe)

Most Read Most Comments

Opinions and Comments
Let us be honest
What the Rebbe seems to be saying is, that one's primary objective in dressing immodestly is to impress someone else. I don't think this attitude mostly exists in Chabad (even when women dress untzniusly, it is usually out of laziness or lack of caring not maliciousness) but if we're being honest, the general purpose that people dress like this is specifically to arouse men. I think this is a very interesting point. It may enrage at first but if thought through it strikes one as very logical.
(7/15/2017 1:06:13 PM)
CH Homeowner
I have the greatest respect for Rabbi Wiener. So I hope my remark / question is understood to be coming from my effort to "argue the other side" .
The premise that "one's intent is to provoke the evil inclination" can be challenged. It is very possible that the intent of the person who dresses not in accord with halacha is (1) to feel that s/he will fit in with their cohorts - people of their age and social bracket in life; (2) to be comfortable (e.g, men who wear wool tzitzit under a shirt and jacket on a hot day, with full, untrimmed beard.... clearly communicate that comfort is not what determines how they will dress); (3) to communicate to themselves and others that they "don't judge".
It is perhaps unfair to assume that the intent is to provoke another person's evil inclination.
(7/15/2017 8:58:23 PM)
Bas Melech
When I hear everyone singing the same song:
The Rabbis and educators are in denial, they chant!
There are so many worse problems, drug overdose,molestation, domestic abuse etc. etc.
Focus on the real problems and issues, they scream vehemently!

Tznius is the Keili!
Tznius is the medicine!
through which Bracha VeHatzlacha, Yeshua, and Refua will come.
It should be now!
A Gute Voch!
(7/15/2017 9:01:47 PM)
A teenager
Tznius is Hashem's greatest gift to us, I feel grateful and simply in awe that Hashem gave me the privlage to not only be born into a modest lifestyle,but to also be able to appreciate it. Obviously anything that has so much power for bracha is going to be harder for us to keep, because the more kedusha there is the more of a fight the tumah puts up towards it.
(7/15/2017 9:25:53 PM)
A teenager
I agree with #4
tznius is a gift. It can have it's challenges but it's for a bas melech.
(7/15/2017 9:32:15 PM)
The rebbe opion about tznies
The rebbe said and wrote that keeping tznius is one of the basic dinim to assure sholom bayis gezunt etc. You have no right to minimize the great importance of tznius. First study the great emphasis halocho explains about the importance of this halocho.
(7/15/2017 10:17:09 PM)
CH Homeowner: to "fit in with cohorts" or "to be comfortable" is more important than Yiddishkeit? Just because "everyone else does it" it's suddenly ok? This is not just an tzniyus issue but a yiras shonayim issue. How is this different than seeing avodah Zarah because one wants to "fit in" or "be comfortable". This is dangerous stuff!
Signed, someone who grew up on shlichus.
(7/15/2017 10:20:46 PM)
Thank you
Thank you for posting this. This is directly from the rebbe, making it irrefutable. Is it possible to post more direct quotes of the rebbe about the brochos that dressing modestly brings down? Thank you
(7/15/2017 10:25:14 PM)
The rebbe opion about tznies
To comment one, two four. Your comments are openly disputing the words of the rebbe. The rebbe said that this arouses the yetzer hora. The rebbe said that this is the KEiLI, the channel for all the brochos. No one requests that one should accept and believe th rebbe, but do not weaken the emumo of others
(7/15/2017 10:37:11 PM)
Simcha Torah 5730
The Rebbe says that a women that dresses untznius has nothing to offer not even a beautiful face, the fact that she has to show her private sections of her body.
(7/15/2017 10:38:02 PM)
Comment four
Do you mean to say that we have no right to publicize the opion of the rebbe with a loud heartfelt voice.
(7/15/2017 10:56:27 PM)
The Rebbe's promise
The Rebbe promised that each and every yid will be taken out of golus. That means that we will all do teshuva. So why delay the geulah - why not start dressing tzniusdig now? Do we have to wait for something? Each of us knows what is right and by some of us the yetzer hora is stronger than by other people.
The Rebbe Maharash said tznius affects the health and life of our children and also of our future grandchildren. Is anyone above that?
(7/15/2017 11:11:49 PM)
For which publication?
Was this sicha edited?
(7/15/2017 11:37:31 PM)
Was the sicha edited
In the article above there is a link to view a facsimile of the extensive, detailed handwritten edits of the Rebbe to this sicha.
(7/16/2017 12:01:58 AM)
Shared with permission
Tznius- by Esther Korf

I’m not strong enough
And I’ll never believe that
I can stand up for what’s right
You know what I think?
It’s so cool to be like everyone else
Don’t tell me that
If I had the will I could fight them
Because honestly
It’s nerdy to be tznius
It’s ridiculous to say that
Modesty is beautiful
It feels good to be cool
I don’t care if
My knees or elbows show
Because it’s totally not okay if
I have to be different

Now read it again
From bottom to top
(7/16/2017 12:15:24 AM)
Thank you Esther Korf... so beautiful!

In tears...
(7/16/2017 12:42:33 AM)
Great poem Esther Korf!!!
Thanks to whoever posted! This should be published!
(7/16/2017 12:51:53 AM)
To #2 CH Homeowner
The esteemed rabbi is quoting the Rebbe; not opining himself
(7/16/2017 7:39:28 AM)
Nugo Chocolate Bars
Yasher Koach Rabbi Wiener! May You go from strength to strength and may we all take it upon ourself to be a little more modest in the way we act and dress!
(7/16/2017 8:15:31 AM)
In response to #2, of issue is not the intent of the person who does not dress modestly, but the outcome, namely that immodest dress hurts other people. Hence, the act of dressing immodestly is an act of cruelty, regardless of the intent. We do not defend and justify acts which cause others bodily damage by saying that the harm cause was not the perpetrator's intent, how much more so regarding acts which cause damage to the ruchnius and Neshama of others. It's the harmful outcome that is of issue.
(7/16/2017 9:07:15 AM)
Response to # 2
Do we justify or defend people who smoke and damage the health of others through second-hand smoke by saying that their intention in smoking is for their enjoyment and not to harm others? What matters is that they are hurting others with their second hand smoke. People who dress immodestly are harming others spiritually which is worse than harming their physical health.
(7/16/2017 9:51:06 AM)
Yes it is because torah. Means business.
(7/16/2017 11:23:01 AM)
Thank you!
thanks for posting. so important and straightforward.
(7/16/2017 11:45:23 AM)
With respect
This is all predicated on the fact that those who dress immodestly have "the intent to provoke the evil inclination—the negative side of the other person."

But that's so obviously not true in the vast majority of cases. Just walk outside! Tell me that you can blame someone for ditching our extreme standards of Tznius in favor of not dying of dehydration and heatstroke. People want to dress well and feel good. No one is trying the seduce anyone on Kingston Ave believe me...

This massive disconnect -- the fact that all leadership sees in a non tznius individual is malice and the desire to cause sin, is one of the reasons for the dismal failure to connect and affect our youth.
(7/16/2017 12:47:59 PM)
To with respect
A fool can only fool himself to say those dressing provocatively are not dressing to provoke...there is a huge difference in one who dresses comfortably (in the heat looser clothing are actually more recommended if you're worried about heatstroke) to those on Kingston ave that are specifically trying to follow provocative fashions. Whether or not the woman has these specefic intentions...the fashion designer does and that is definitely the result. It should not be a shocking chidush that a woman that reveals too much can cause inappropriate thoughts. EVEN a goy would tell u DUH to that one. It's pathetic that married women still need to seek attention for their bodies and sadly the rising numbers of infidelity and divorces in our community are the direct results. If only us women were just a bit more sensitive to ourselves and those around us we would not be suffering with so many broken families . Stengthen yourself, and your family will benefit from it. Reveal your body and your welcoming in a whole load of garbage that comes along with it- RL.
(7/16/2017 1:32:08 PM)
Response to
1) do those who do not observe the laws of Tznius limit their dressing immodestly to the summer and only when outside in the heat?
2) do police and soldiers take off their uniforms when it is hot and they are uncomfortable? Tznius is the uniform of Klal Yisroel the Am Segula of Hashem
3) what difference does it make what their intention in dressing immodestly is when the result is that they are hurting others severely?
(7/16/2017 1:43:07 PM)
The defenders of tznius
Say the Rebbe do you refrain from Borer cause of the Rebbe . This is ludicrous we keep Halacha cause he Torah said so . We are raising a generation to care about the wrong things. Keep Tznius like you keep Shabbos.
(7/16/2017 3:53:49 PM)
to 15
i'm so inspired i loved it
(7/16/2017 5:58:42 PM)
To #25/26
It seems that you do agree that at least the people donning the immodest clothing themselves do not necessarily (and I claim in the majority - do not at all) do so with evil intentions.

Long story short that's my point. I take issue with all the framing of this as 'wickedness'. I assure you, most of these folk are just innocently living their lives. Dressing nicely, and trying to feel good. (Summer, winter -- not much difference. Though summer carries with it a much greater need to dress with less.)

Painting them as malicious and rebellious gets you nowhere. Blaming the lack of control of some men on the way some woman in our community dress (which I assure you is quite modest relatively), is unfair, counter productive, and frankly nonsensical.
(7/16/2017 10:16:29 PM)
Thank you!!
Thank you Rabbi wiener. As usual you bring to the table a clear educated perspective.
(7/16/2017 10:33:53 PM)
Tzniyus is the Right way
We see from the fact that the Rebbe meticulously edited this Sicha, how important tzniyus is to the Rebbe. Yes, there are a lot of challenges today, and it's even harder when there is negative peer pressure, but we have the great zechus of being able to bring nachas to the Rebbe, by following as befits a Bas Yisroel and a Bas Chabad. "L'fum Tza'aroh Agroh" - according to the pain is the reward. Yes, it is difficult, especially in these warm summer months, yet we must rise up to the challenge and make our Rebbe proud by doing what is right and what he wants from us, and bez'chus noshim tzikoniyus, we will speedily be redeemed from this golus.
(7/16/2017 10:40:38 PM)
Don't get married if you ain't tzinus
You will be an Aisha's ish and you will be sharing your body with all the me on the street almost like a sotah
(7/17/2017 12:10:27 AM)
A story
Two people once traveling together on a ship, one Person suddenly decided to drill hole under his seat, so his friend began beging him, please Don't Drill A Hole - because we Will all Drown! So he answers his friend: don't mix in to my Private life....
(7/17/2017 2:45:43 AM)
wish you woud"ve translated the last line
the Rebbe ends the sicha "if we would go the proper path in life we would know that our lives purpose is to be good and cause others to be good"
this is a deep line,tznius defines what our life is really about,what do we stand for..
ty rabbi weiner!
(7/17/2017 7:57:10 AM)
when the Rebbe was mesader kidushin, he only did it if the woman promissed to wear a full shaitel since its more tzinius, since it covered the hair at all times.
(7/17/2017 9:24:02 AM)
To #29
As #25 said so nicely, consciously or subconsciously they're intention is to get other peoples attention.
"One does not sin, unless there comes upon them a foolish spirit"
Hopefully some of the traders will come to appreciate that it's in their ability to effect others positively or the opposite ...
(7/17/2017 3:38:22 PM)
Response to # 29
This applies regardless of how innocent one’s intention to dress immodestly might be (even if one only intends to be more comfortable) since the outcome and effect of dressing immodestly is that one is engaging in a lifestyle that harms and damages others.
(7/17/2017 5:21:23 PM)
It is a private battle
with the yetzer hara that is being waged publicly. The rebbe is saying that no matter how sincere someone may be, the public battle, can and does have negative effect on others who witness the battle. Middah Tova Meruba. Think of the chizuk people get when they see public display of those who are constantly winning the battle.
(7/18/2017 1:10:34 PM)
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