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Oct 10, 2019

the Rabbi Who Wants To Be A Modest 12 Year Old Girl aka FSotD

Rav Shlomo Aviner writes:

I want to be a modest young lady
by Rav Shlomo Aviner
Soon I will be bat mitzva, and I want to be a modest young lady. I want to be a good girl in the eyes of God, meaning modest. And I do not care what others in the family will say about me. This is my life.
Therefore, I have decided the following:
1. I will not grow bangs, even short bangs, but will gather my hair in braids.
2. I will button all the buttons of my shirt up to the top-most button, and will wear the type of shirt where even the bottom of the neck is covered
3. I will wear a wide shirt that hides my body shape, and one that is not at all transparent
4. I will make sure the buttons on my shirt are close together
5. I will have sleeves that are long, all the way to my palm. Though in the house of Saul they even covered the fingers, but this is enough for me
6. my shirt will be untucked outside the skirt, because if it is tucked into the skirt it will make the skirt tight on my hips and that is not modest.
7. a wide skirt that hides my body shape both when walking and when sitting. I particularly like layers of clothing
8. the skirt will be until my ankles
9. quiet shoes in a modest color without heels
10. no earrings, no jewelry, and no decorations
These are my ten commandments and this is how I will make God happy

If Rav Aviner wants to be a 12 year old girl, who am I to stop him? In today's day and age, we have accepted each and every person's right to self-identification.

More seriously, this post of Rav Aviner's created quite a brouhaha. Rav Aviner is entitled to his opinion on what modesty is, no matter how extreme his opinion might be, and as a spiritual leader to many, he is perfectly right in publicizing his opinion on the matter. I am not sure the style was such a good idea, seems a little sick and disturbed to me, but he got everybody talking about it, so I guess he won't win any style points but he got his message out successfully.

Rav Aviner's list of modesty rules is the extreme end of extreme, and that is fine for him and for those who want to follow him, no matter how much he is busy sexualizing 12 year old girls in the process.. The best comment I saw on this list is from Rav Amnon Bazak who said that he will only comment on the tenth commandment, despite the entire list being overly extreme. About the tenth he commented that the way to make Hashem happy is to keep the mitzvos. During the 3 regalim, the holidays, Hashem commanded us to be happy and joyous. The Rabam and the Shulchan Aruch explain that this includes making our family members happy, in the way that is fitting for each one. He specifically says that one should buy beautiful clothes and jewelry for the women, as much as he can afford.

Not only is pretty jewelry and clothes not a deficiency, but it is a mitzva to buy these before the holidays. The Torah recognizes that a desire for beauty and aesthetics are part of human nature. Dovid eulogized Saul, who is mentioned in these "ten commandments" mentioning Saul's daughters who wore golden jewelry and adornment son their clothes. An entire chapter in Shulchan Aruch discusses with which types of  jewelry a woman can walk outside on Shabbos, and it concludes, "nowadays women are accustomed to going out in all types of jewelry. the Rama adds that now jewelry is common and women wear them outside during the week as well. Not a single commentary on the Shulchan Aruch found any problem with this. Torat Yisrael throughout the generations did not suppress the natural desire to look beautiful and did not fight against it. After this is recognized, one can implement the values of appropriate modesty in a balanced human way.

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  1. I shudder to think what kind of god obsesses over how a 12 year old girl is dressed.

    1. Do you also shudder at the kind of god who obsesses over a 12 year wearing wool and linen? and wearing men's clothing? and a 4 cornered garment without fringes (ok, that's a 13 year old boy)? While we're on the topic, do you also shudder at the kind of god who obsesses over whether you pick out the black jelly beans instead of taking the good jelly beans on shabbos?

    2. There is a difference between having rules and obsessing over the rules. We just spent a good deal of time asking Hashem not to obsess. Were you not paying any attention to your Tefillot?

  2. I dont know if God obsesses more or less over how a 12 year old dresses than over anything else but rules are rules and if you believe these are the rules, you'll keep it (if you believe in following the rules) just like any of the other rules...

    1. This rabbi apparently thinks that what God does. I sincerely and fervently hope that his god is not mine.

  3. Let's put this whole thing into perspective. In Chumash, there is literally one anecdote, and not a single commandment, which indicates how God feels about how women dress. After Adam and Chava ate from the Eitz Hada'as, they were embarrassed, and God made them belts. We can assume that they were something we would call loincloths. That's it. They were embarrassed, and God did them a kindness. Nothing about Chava covering up anything else, and certainly not from neck to toes. Nothing at all about how God felt about her state of dress at all.

    How a woman presents herself is, according to the source of our religion, a human concern.

    1. Not belts.
      "Kotnot ohr" leather garments (yes, loincloths. Or maybe leather clothing sold in Macy's today.)

  4. It's a very small step from that list of rules to burkas... #notmyreligion!


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