The Rebbe would address the topic of Tznius every year before the summer months. The following short thoughts of the Rebbe on tznius are a continuation of a weekly summer series and are compiled by Rabbi Michoel Seligson.
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Sichas Shabbos Shlach 5723/1963:
When summer time arrives, schools begin their vacation. People travel to the ‘country’ where there is fresh air to enjoy and which enables a person to remove the yoke of all the bothersome occupations of the entire year.
But to our disappointment, there are those who utilize this in a negative way. When they go to the ‘country’, they remove the yoke of the Shulchan Aruch, the yoke of heaven, and surely do not conduct themselves as when they are sitting at the mizrach wall of the 770 shul.
Primarily, it expresses itself in the garments. A wild situation developed with the wearing of non-kosher clothing, (I am not referring to shatnez G-D forbid, but rather) from the perspective of tznius.
This exists not only among women but men also, who generally need to be strong minded. Even men with beards, when they go to the ‘country’ they are not careful with tznius in regards to their clothing. They shorten their garments from the top and the bottom, in contrast to what is stated in the Shulchan Aruch regarding the areas of the body that are not to be exposed. In English it is called wearing shorts. And in reality it is a result of being short minded in understanding and knowledge.
It is understandable that when men conduct themselves like this, then women, who are like their husbands, according to our sages, ‘Aishes chover kchover’ surely find a justification to do the same. And from clothing it continues, until there is an impact on the general behavior throughout the year.
Although one figures the trip to the ‘country’ is for fresh air; one needs to know that in reality it is a mission from above for the intention of fulfilling a mitzvah between a person and G-D or between one person and a second person. A Yid is an emissary from above to make this world a dwelling place for the Almighty. One is to remember that the Almighty is also found in the ‘country’, and therefore one should ensure that it is an appropriate residence for the Almighty”.
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“One who is not dressed modestly ‘declares to all’ a lack of all qualities and reasons for people to pay attention to her… except for this immodest behavior”
In the early 1970’s, N’shei U’Bnos Chabad asked the Rebbe to choose the theme for the annual convention and the Rebbe responded with the following.
“Mahir” [urgent matter]
“It is obvious that all actions with regard to tznius are extremely important [and are to be accomplished] in all ways possible. This includes contacting (fashion designers – privately) and women’s clothing stores. Particularly since there are those who complain that it is difficult for them to buy modest clothing.
It would be noteworthy to stress, in an appropriate way, that girls and women who are not dressed modestly embarrass themselves, and ‘declare to all’ that they are lacking all qualities and reasons for people to pay attention to them and respect them, except for this immodest behavior” (Kfar Chabad Issue # 673, page 11).
A copy of the Rebbe’s handwritten response