Not too long ago, my friends and I found ourselves discussing marriage. We all were in Yeshiva, yet each one was on a different level of chassidishkeit. Some more careful, others more lenient. What we all had in common, it turns out, was the one thing we all said we wanted our future wives to have.
It’s the word that causes many poeple to roll their eyes, signs about it are on Kingston Avenue, people use that as an example of the decline of the generations (Yeridas hadoros), and anytime it’s mentioned you are sure a heated discussion will follow.
I am, of course, talking about tznius.
Each bochur in that discussion said that we want our wives to dress tznius. ‘According-to-halacha-tznius’. But why? Why would multiple guys who clearly have different values, some even doing stuff that are clearly wrong, all want the same thing when it came to tznius?
The fact is that guys want to marry a tznius girl. Period. The alternative is ‘this guy wants a girl who doesn’t dress tznius.’ Now how does that sound? What kind of values do you think a guy like that has? Where do you think he was in life, where do you think he will go?
Any normal guy who understands the strengths and weaknesses of men, suddenly finds the beauty, value, and real life importance of dressing modestly.
To the girls reading this, who might be annoyed by people 3 times their age preaching to them how to dress, I offer a new thought process to entertain every time you think of how to dress. Just remember, the average bochur of many different levels wants a tznius girl. But that’s just food for thought.
The real question we have to be asking ourselves is why this is happening to begin with. The fact that guys want tznius girls is nice to know, but that can’t be someone’s reason for how they will conduct their life. It’s nice “motivation” but living your life based off what others like, no matter what it is they like, isn’t healthy at all.
Before that, I feel that its very important to say the following. We all have tests and struggles in our life. No one is perfect. Believe me, I can write a whole op-ed on the problems bochurim are having these days, problems that might even be worse than the tznius issue. So bear in mind I’m not judging, I’m simply giving an honest observation about a serious issue.
I believe in order to understand the tznius issue, we must understand why it is happening to begin with, because the solution has to come from within you, for reasons that you have. For that reason, I made four categories, each being another reason why a girl or woman, might feel the need to dress un-tznius.
1. Rebelion: This might be the hardest one to deal with, mainly because it deals with the most emotions. It has nothing to do with not wanting to dress tznius, it is simply a way for a girl to show whoever it is, that now she runs her own life. This isn’t a Jewish problem, it’s a teenage problem, and to be honest with you, it’s not always a problem. Rebellion usually isn’t the child’s fault, it’s usually the parent’s or school’s. Not that we have an excuse to do whatever we want in the name of rebellion, however, if the source of the tznius issue is rebellion, then “treating” it has nothing to do with learning halacha, it’s an emotional issue that has to be dealt with with the proper care.
I do believe a lot of teenagers fall into this category. After all, if you know a teenager that doesn’t want to rebel then there is something to worry about there. Eventually we grow up (hopefully) and realize that even in the less likely scenario of our parents being wrong, we won’t mess up our lives now doing stupid things just to prove a point. So while this can be a cause for dressing un-tznius, the issue isn’t the dressing tznius, the issue is the reason for rebellion.
2. Secular influence: News flash, there is a reason why the Rebbe was so against things like movies and downright low-class secular entertainment. Here are the facts: There are a lot more frum people, of any age, that regularly consume “Hollywood” than there was just a few years ago. Like with others, girls have also become insensitive to what they watch, and there is no doubt whatsoever that all this is having a direct and destructive impact on our lives as frum Yidden. The differences between the frum philosophy on life and the secular couldn’t be more black and white.
Secular: Life is about you and what you can enjoy. Judaism: Life is about Hashem and your relationship with Him.
Secular: The union between a man and a women is about your own selfish desires, and has no real rules or boundaries. Judaism: The union between husband and wife is extremely holy, special and sacred.
Secular: Marriage (if they even still believe in it) is about falling in “love” (usually confused with physical desires) and riding out that feeling until it runs out. Judaism: Marriage is about two people who were once one soul, reuniting with each other to share and grow in their life, building a frum Jewish home together.
Judaism’s philosophy and the average secular person’s philosophy are completely antithetical to each other. Watching movies and TV shows and reading novels twists and pollutes our minds to not only stop following our own values, but it also gives us false ideas about what reality is. When your mind is so polluted with false perceptions that the secular world has, without realizing, your actions will reflect it.
3. Attention: This one can be a little more complicated. Needing attention isn’t unique to a single gender, and is not necessarily a bad thing. We all have our ways of getting it, and most times by us just being ourselves, it is the most healthy way of receiving it. A girl who feels like she needs attention, and uses her body to receive it, is in a very, very dark place. Why she feels the need for the attention only she knows, or her close friends know. The point is, this is a legitimate reason why it’s being done. Maybe she has false ideas about what it will cause (see number 2) or she’s showing people that shes not “nerdy” and that kind of stuff (see number 1).
Whatever the cause is, the result is the same. Yes, a man has to control himself regardless of how you look. His desires are his problems, not yours. However, know these two things before thinking the above.
a. Dressing tznius is not just a matter of what others will think about you, it’s about what you will think about yourself. Dressing tznius is a self respect issue, it is a moral issue, not just “chassidish”. It shows that you are mature and that you understand and respect the beauty Hashem has given to your body. You understand that this beauty is Holy and sacred and is to be shared only with who you believe is just as special as you are, your spouse. Choosing to dress tznius shows that you’re responsible, self confident, mature, and most of all, you are a person of value and self worth. This doesn’t mean that if you dress un-tznius you don’t have any of those attributes, it’s simply is harder to assume you have them, and it’s more unlikely.
b. By dressing un-tznius you are drawing out a part of a man that isn’t himself. It is a deep, dark, cold and selfish pit inside his heart that tries to suck his clear conscious thinking into it everyday. Hashem made it that way, it’s part of a man’s challenge on earth. It’s dark and cold because real emotions aren’t found there. It doesn’t care about you. Not your personality, or your talents. Not the things that make you happy or the things that make you angry. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with him. It’s scary and sad, but it’s true, and any honest man will agree with it.
This does not mean that all men are like this. We have the strength to fight it off. However, we are not perfect, and there are certain things that can trigger this struggle. The real question is, is that the attention you want from men? Think about it this way: You want a guy that wants you, but if he wants you and you don’t dress tznius then that means that he wants a girl that doesn’t dress tznius. Now stop and think for one second where the mind of that type of guy is.
4. Confusion: This is what I believe to be the biggest killer. I believe that this is the category most girls truly fall into. I don’t believe girls truly understand what they are doing when they dress un-tznius, and I believe I have proof for it. There were times I overheard my sisters talking about Shidduchim and what I heard really got me thinking. They were saying how their friends want a chassidish type of guy that has a fire for Yidishkeit. He goes to farbrengens, has a Koch in the Rebbe, learns the weekly sicha etc. and is “with it” and “down to earth,” of course. They weren’t asking for a guy that is going to sit in Shul the whole day and learn, but they were asking for what we would call in our judgmental world “chassidish.”
There was just one problem, said my sisters, these girls don’t dress tznius! And these type of guys won’t go out with girls that dress un-tznius. So the question remains, why don’t they want someone on their own level? Obviously, when someone is looking for a spouse they are looking for the best person out there. We know that no one is perfect, but we want someone who we would think is the closest to perfection there can be. So while the girls knew deep down that they are not on that level, however, since that’s who they really want to be, they think they can get it, or at least work with it.
So, in conclusion, if girls understood what the real consequences of not dressing tznius is, and the dark truth about what men think when they see you like that, maybe it will open up their minds to change.
Perhaps if they were taught about Judaism’s philosophy on love, marriage, and relationships, and were allowed to ask their questions and have meaningful discussions about it, maybe, just maybe, there won’t be so much confusion. Maybe if they knew that the type of guy they want, wants a tznius girl, they would think differently about what real attraction is.
I believe we all at our essence want to do the right thing, we all want to make Hashem proud. we just get stuck along the way. Sometimes we get lost and confused. But as long as you are willing to take on the challenge of getting back on track, no matter how hard it is, I believe we can all brave this storm right into the days of Moshiach.
just a typical bochur