Bringing the Holy Into the Whole
Written by Mrs. Shaindel Schapiro based
on a talk given by Mrs. Sara Morozow
Dedicated to HaRav Yitzchok, ah, ben HaRav Eliezer Tzvi Zev Shlit"a, Zirkind
The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh (Rabbi Chaim ibn Attar) was once traveling
through a desert where wild animals were known to freely roam. As Shabbos approached, still distant
from their destination, the Ohr Hachaim realized that he would have to
stop. The non-Jewish caravan, with
whom he was traveling, refused to delay their trip and continued their journey
leaving the Ohr Hachaim behind.
The Ohr Hachaim,
was left alone in the desolate, and darkening desert, with its endless sand
dunes, and wild beasts. In this
arid, lonely and dismal place the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh spent Shabbos.
As Shabbos descended, the Ohr Hachaim
did his utmost to feel the spirit of Shabbos. Closing his eyes he began to sing
soul stirring niggunim (melodies). Suddenly, a ferocious lion came
roaring into view and charged wildly at the Ohr Hachaim. The Ohr Hachaim immediately
showed the lion the place of his bris mila ((circumcision) and
miraculously, the lion tamed, crouched down gently beside the Ohr Hachaim
and spent the rest of Shabbos at his side, protecting him from other predators.
As Shabbos departed,
the Ohr Hachaim rode the lion, which made great speed and caught up with
the rest of the caravan, who were astounded at the sight of man riding a lion.
(Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson), when telling this story, questioned why the Ohr
Hachaim specifically showed the lion the place of his bris milah.
explained that an animal has no power over a human UNLESS a person behaves like
an animal. The Ohr Hachaim
had one split second to prove to the beast that he was furthest from an animal.
He didnt show his holy hand which had penned his sacred writings, nor his pure
head upon which his tefillin (phylacteries) were placed daily, rather it
was the area indicating MARRIAGE that proved how holy, and far removed he was from
any animal behavior.(Sicha, Parshas Shlach 5710)
We as human beings
are created betzelem Elokim, in Hashems image. We are His partners in
creation. Thus, it is at the time
of marital intimacy, when Hashem invests His energies of creation, at that time
a Yid can attain the highest of spiritual levels. This is an extremely physical
time, when physical feelings and actions are in play. It is a time when a
person can act and react with basic animal instincts, or bring refinement and
spirituality to the moment, thereby accessing the highest level of G-dly energy
that is available. Physical actions, done with holiness, and cognizant of the
role Hashem plays, elevate the physical to the spiritual.
This article contains words of Torah and
Chassidus. Within these words lie priceless advice for marital happiness and
stability in the material world.
Living your marriage the Jewish way keeps it healthy and allows it to
is commanded to make himself holy: והתקדשתם והייתם
קדושים (Vayikra 11:44) - this Mitzvah refers
to making oneself holy at the time of intimacy. (Rayshis Chochma Shaar Hakedusha, Chapter 16, based on the Zohar)
couple is together, the Shechina (the Divine) is drawn down. Before mattan
Torah (the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai) the Bnai Yisroel (Jewish nation) were told to separate from
their wives for three days in order to retain the highest level of Taharah (spiritual integrity)
necessary for mattan Torah.
Immediately after this greatest revelation of G-dliness, however, Hashem told Moshe
YOU come with me and tell the Bnai Yisroel -to return to their tents
to be with their WIVES.
this, the Yidden were dumbstruck!
They had just witnessed the greatest giluy Elokus (revelation of
G-dliness). Literally seeing and feeling Hashem! Now, after this lofty and
unparalleled level of holiness, the next step is intimacy with their wives?!
Hashem: THIS is exactly when we
draw down the Shechina.
time to do so than just after attaining the high level of spirituality of mattan
act of marital intimacy draws the Shechina down, we want create a
setting where Hashem is most comfortable, thus allowing even more holiness to
come into our marriage.
HOW do we
achieve this? How do we make Hashem most comfortable, and sanctify our
explore five components of modest behavior as found in Torah. This behavior helps
a woman to appreciate the beauty of a sacred, intimate relationship. Using
these five components, allows her to create a more satisfying relationship, simultaneously
creating an environment in which Hashem feels welcome.
1) Dignity: Constant awareness of a
2) Unity: Soul OVER Body
3) Privacy: Maintaining borders
4) Femininity: Embracing our unique role
5) Responsibility: Sensitivity to others
briefly, review each of these areas of Jewish conduct and see how each leads to
a more fulfilling and holy relationship with our spouse.
1. Dignity: Constant awareness of a
Many years ago Rabbi Zalman Gurary, ah,
as the principal of the Lubavitcher Yeshiva, received a letter from the
Frierdiker Rebbe (Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson, obm). In this letter, the Frierdiker Rebbe
wrote about the behavior of the students during recess.
The Frierdiker Rebbe was not pleased with the childrens rough behavior, coarse
language and wild games. He
instructed Rabbi Gurary, ah, to appoint a supervisor during recess so that the
children should know that even while playing there remains a refined way to
play, a pure way to speak, and a genteel way to behave.
There are times and situation where we may think its a time to let loose
and forget any inhibitions, let it all hang out. Torah teaches us: והצנע לכת עם אלקיך (Micha Chapter 6) live modestly
in the presence of the Aibishter meaning ALWAYS.
It is perfectly fine to relax and have fun, as long as it is in a way
that remains comfortable for Hashem.
The mitzvah, of tznius, teaches us the laws of dressing and
undressing, emphasizing that even in our bedrooms, we are cautious to ensure
that we dress modestly. (Shulchan Aruch 3:1)
Of course one may wonder what difference does it make when I am in my
innermost chambers? Hashem is
everywhere! Hashem can see through my clothing too. What difference can it possibly make that I must be so
You are correct. Hashem CAN
actually see through. So why DID
He give us this Mitzvah?
Well come back to the answer shortly, but first a little story.
When I was around twelve years old, I flew, along with a group of
friends, as minors, to NY to spend Tishrei with the Rebbe. To say that we were an excited group
would be an understatement.
After passport control, we were off to customs, obviously with nothing to
declare, and there we were, with our suitcases on our wagons, racing through
the nothing to declare lane. Since
there was no one else around at the time, we had races, riding the wagons
through. It was even more fun because the mirrors on either side of us allowed
us to see each others reflections.
A year or two later found me in the same place, but this time, I was
called to the side by a customs official and taken behind this mirrored wall so
that my luggage could be searched.
I was shocked to discover that what I had thought was a mirrored wall,
was actually a ONE WAY mirror. I recalled thinking I could behave as I pleased with
no one watching! In actuality, the
custom agents sit behind the one way mirror watching every person, his actions,
his facial expressions etc.
Since then, I am careful to walk through customs with dignity and the
awareness that I AM being watched.
Hashem wants us to dress and undress modestly, EVEN in our bedrooms, not
because He needs us to be dressed but because Hashem is giving US a GIFT.
Just as making me aware that someone was watching me behind the mirrored WALLS,
caused me to BEHAVE differently, Hashem is giving US a tool. When we behave in a certain way, when
our lifestyle is one of discretion and modesty, it reminds us, creating sensitivity
within US to the fact that Hashem is constantly present, bringing US to a deep
awareness and an appreciation of Yiras Shamayim (fear of Heaven).
A young Chassid
said to an elder Chassid: It says in Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish
Law) that if one does not wash negel vasser for three days a ruach
rah gets a hold of you, yet here it is three days that I did not wash negel
vasser and nothing is wrong!' Replied the elder Chassid, The fact that you
are not bothered, by not washing negel vasser for three days, IS
a ruach rah! For YOU have lost your sensitivity.
There was a shochet (ritual slaughterer) Reb Mendel, who finally
landed a job in a slaughterhouse.
The building where the shechting (ritual slaughter) took place
was not heated and in the freezing winter days, the shochtim took turns
in between shecting, to warm up in a small cubicle where there was a
One time, as Reb Mendel was sitting in the warming cubicle, it was his
turn to shecht. Reb Mendel ran out of the cubicle to start shechting. At a certain point, he noticed that his
yarmulke had fallen off during the time he had been in the cubicle and
he had even shechted a few chickens without it. Reb Mendel was very distressed, knowing
that a shochet has to have an extreme sensitivity and Yiras Shamayim.
He felt that he must have lost that sensitivity since he didnt even
realize he was shechting without a yarmulka. He decided that he
could no longer shecht and he left this job, knowing that he was losing
his entire livelihood. Hashem
later rewarded him for his integrity and he eventually became very wealthy.
To sum up DIGNITY:
Acting with dignity
and modesty, even in private, reminds us of Hashem's constant Presence and
creates a setting where He is most comfortable. Living in this elevated way
allows us to feel true satisfaction in our relationship.
2. Unity: Soul OVER Body
Picture in your mind
the image of a platter of beautiful fruits. Ripe, brightly colored, and
enticingly arranged. How would you describe such an image? Would you say it was
pretty? Or would you look beyond the superficial array of colors and textures
and see food that is brimming with nourishing nutrients?
If you see a close up image, of a
single eye, tears falling. Are they tears of joy or tears of sadness?
Finally, imagine an image of an old
man. Face lined with wrinkles, snow white hair and beard. Do you see his
wrinkles? Is he just old? Or is he wise, learned, an icon to the world?
Each image is actually comprised of
both concepts. There is the superficial, external view and then there is the
deeper view, the underlying layer, filled with the depth of each object.
Everything is multidimensional.
Nothing is only as it appears at first glance.
Before the chet etz hadaas (the sin of eating from the Tree of
Knowledge), we know that Adam and Chava did not wear clothing, and yet there
was no embarrassment. Yet as soon as they sinned, suddenly they became ashamed
of their nakedness. Why?
Originally, the body expressed the holiness of the neshama (soul); the body was transparent to the
soul that rested inside of it, allowing the holy light of the neshama to
shine through, effectively clothing the body in visual holiness. Therefore,
one did not see the body as an entity unto itself, but only the intense
Kedusha (sanctity) radiated by the neshama.
A dichotomy arose in the world at that point. The body, seeking
supremacy, attempts to conceal the neshama and its holiness. Thus began
our entire struggle: to retain
focus on the fact that the body is merely a tool, through which we can bring
holiness into this physical world. The corporeal body is secondary to the
purpose of the neshama and we must now strive to bring the light of the neshama
to the forefront.
Going back to the pictures we discussed, we see there are two different ways
to look at the same thing. Yiddishkiet and Torah, train us to look
deeper, to find the soul and see the depth in everything, helping us remember
that the SOUL is the main player here.
Modern society, in the secular world, puts the emphasis and focus on the external.
A persons measure of value is based on his/her physical appearance and
success. Everything is about what feels good, what looks good, and what tastes
good. The non-Jewish style of dress expresses that mentality and culture with
focus on the body, the external.
As Yidden we have a different perspective, Soul over Body, and
therefore we must have a different mode of dress to reflect those differences. In
Torah, we find the mitzvah of ולא תלכו בחוקות
הגוי (Vayikra 20:23) you should not walk in
the ways of the non-Jew.
Shulchan Aruch continues: be separate from them in your dress, speech and
actions just like you should separate yourself from their philosophy and
The Shulchan Aruch also explains which areas of dress this is
- A. Bigdai Gaavah Clothing that is arrogant, ostentatious and
flashy. (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Siman
gimmel seif bais)
- B. Bigdei Pritzus Clothing that is provocative and draws
attention to certain parts of the body.
- C. Strange, trendy clothes Clothing of such outlandish appearance that
no one would ever wear if it werent in fashion.
The theme underlying
all of these, and actually the whole point of the fashion industry (besides
moneymaking), is to draw attention to the BODY, to bring the display of the
body to the forefront, the exact opposite of what we, as Yidden, are
trying to achieve. The Jewish way
is so much deeper than the body that holds us. Our focus is on identifying
ourselves with the neshama, making everything in our lives richer, including
Lets take a
look at marriage through the lens of the neshama:
explains that intimacy is the union of two halves of one whole. Each couple is two parts of one whole neshama
that belongs together. These two halves are put into two separate bodies, one
male - one female. We are then born as two separate people, with different emotions
and interests. When a couple marries and comes together intimately, the two halves
are reunited into one whole - continuing to reunite each time they come
together. To that whole, Hashem gave a gift, the gift of intimacy, where we
remove anything that may lie between us. That special time is exclusively for
the couple. No external distractions, no outside thoughts, just the two of
them, and them alone. Private, intimate, each totally present for the other,
tuning into each others needs, cultivating the sense of unique oneness that
belongs only to them, allowing each of them to tap into, and unite, that
If we understand
that intimacy involves much more than the physical body; that there is a soul
connection, we will appreciate that, despite our external dissimilarities, our
souls are truly one.
To sum up UNITY:
that we, as Yidden, are much more than corporeal beings. Striving for oneness
at the level of our neshamos creates a deeper, richer, kedusha'dike
3. Privacy: Maintaining Borders
emancipation, a woman had no means of supporting herself. Ever cognizant of
this, Torah mandates that after a woman marries, and her father no longer
supports her, it is now incumbent upon her husband to provide for her. In the Ketuba
(marriage contract) it states that a husband must provide for his wife,
physically, financially and emotionally. Part of this support is that a lump
sum of money is set aside for the woman in the event of a divorce so that the
woman has the means to live.
marriage terminates against the will of the woman, OR if a husband undermines
the marriage through any form of abuse: verbal, physical or emotional, and
there is no way to repair the marriage, he must give his wife this lump sum.
a woman undermines the marriage, and it is impossible to repair the
relationship in a manner dictated by Torah, then the marriage cannot possibly
survive, and she is not owed even a penny.
There are two
categories of behavior with which a woman undermines the marriage:
under Das Moshe
And one is Das Yehudis
Das Moshe The laws of Torah MiSinai:
The willful transgression of certain mitzvos on the part of the woman is
considered a betrayal of trust. Hashem
regards women with the highest esteem. Their word is trusted one hundred
percent as is seen in the laws of Taharas Hamishpacha and Kashrus, for example.
There is no one overseeing the womans observance of these vital mitzvos.
Hashem trusts her to be honest and trustworthy. Therefore, if the woman intentionally
deceives her husband in the observance of mitzvos, where he relies on
her implicitly, she undermines the marriage. The
Mishna (Mishna Kesubos 72) brings examples from this category:
מאכילתו שאינו מעושר, ומשמשתו נדה, ולא קוצה לה חלה - she
serves him food from which maaser wasnt taken, she has relations while niddah,
she serves him bread from which challah was not taken.
In all of
these cases, she acts with deceit, pretending that the
food is Kosher when, actually, she failed to remove that which had to be
removed, being dishonest of her niddah status, and serving bread which
he assumed was prepared in the halachically correct manner. This
behavior undermines the relationship, for how can he live with someone whom he
cannot trust!? The entire foundation of a marriage is based on trust and if
this integrity is lacking, then the whole marriage crumbles.
The second group of
laws is called Das Yehudis, The way of the Jewish Woman.
driving down the highway and you see a sign saying Slow Down. Failure to slow
down in this zone holds the penalty of a fine, perhaps points on your license.
Most will take a quick look around, and if no one is around, drive on through
at normal speed.
the sign said: Slow Down, My Daddy Works Here. These words would touch your
heart. You would slow down no matter what to be sure you did not harm some
childs father. The difference is you now WANT to slow down; it no longer seems
just a rule, it now includes common decency, humanity, and care for another, so
you slow down. This is the stuff life is made of.
behaviors, and precautions that Jewish women, like you and me, instituted for
themselves and continue to institute in each generation to safeguard the
halachos of Tznius, in recognition of their infinite value. If my body is
only for my husband, it is valuable. I dont want to share it not even the
slightest bit! I will do anything keep it sacred, keep it special and keep it
mine. Das Yehudis includes safeguards which
ensure that PHYSICAL PRIVACY, as well as emotional privacy, is upheld.
So vital are the laws of Das
Yehudis, that Halacha considers them binding. Whereas in most mitzvos,
the application of Halachic rulings is entrusted to the Rabbonim, according to
the principles of Torah, the proper fulfillment of "Hatzneia Leches Im
Elokecha" was entrusted to the refined Jewish women of each
If a woman
transgresses Das Yehudis in any way, she undermines the marriage and can
lose the rights of her Kesubah.
brings some examples of a breach of das Yehudis within physical privacy:
פרוע she goes out in public with her
hair uncovered (certain parts of hair covering fall under das Moshe, Torah
MiSinai, but an extra level derives from das Yehudis)
וטווה בשוק Weaving in the shuk (marketplace)
an act that, by default, leads to exposure of the arms due to the
back-and-forth pulling motion involved in the activity. NOT that she goes out initially with uncovered
elbows, or other parts of body that halachically have to be covered,
because a Jewish woman would never do that! But even if she is not careful in
her activities to ensure that she remains properly covered at all times, Torah
considers that a breach of physical privacy.
amazing how we see this approach in the Rebbes response to the principle of Beth
Rivkah of France regarding the length of skirts.
שמדה השוה לכל
נפש (בנות ישראל תחיינה) ובכל מקום היא שתהיינה הברכיים מכוסות אפילו
giving exact measurements, the Rebbe defines the bottom line about the
appropriate skirt length as one that ensures that the knees are covered in all
circumstances, even sitting down as per the principles of Das Yehudis.
physical privacy, maintaining the boundaries of keeping your physical self,
private, for you and your husband and no one else.
also includes emotional privacy.
ומדברת עם כל
אדם... אף הקולנית: chatting indiscriminately with other men, or speaking
publicly of private matters.
Torah, Hashem said Anochi and Lo Yihye. One may think that they are the same
idea. However, they are actually
two concepts. Anochi I am
Hashem, I am yours. Lo yihye there should be no other! Meaning Hashem
is ours to the exclusion of all others.
This same concept
applies to our marriages. Our
husbands are OURS and they are ours to the exclusion of all others.
physically, are there things reserved exclusively for ones husband; there are
other aspects of life that retain that same exclusivity. Some things just arent meant for other
people to know. There are things that are private, between the two of you, for
the two of you and no one else.
lists seven things that a wife provides her husband through marriage. These are
represented by the seven times she circles him under the chuppah. One of them is a chomah! A wall!
A wall erects
a border. This border delineates what remains inside and what stays outside.
This is not
always clearly black and white. It
is up to us to set those boundaries and adhere to them.
A friend of
mine runs a school that is right next to the highway. One time, as part of a huge construction job, the fence of
the yard was removed and an orange rope was tied around the perimeter of the
yard. The children were warned not
to go past the orange rope, but with all the warnings and all the speeding
vehicles whizzing by, the children were terrified to go remotely close to the rope.
They literally kept their activities as close to the school wall as possible. In
the process their whole yard shrunk significantly.
It may sound
funny, but when we maintain boundaries, we have more freedom to be who we
are. When the gate was up, the
children had the whole yard; when the gate was removed, the area shrunk. They
were more secure in the smaller space that created their comfort zone.
So how big
do you want this special and exclusive space with your husband to be? The
choice is yours!
What goes on
between couples within the privacy of their lives does not have to be broadcast
to the world. Actually, publicizing
private matters devalues them no longer is that privacy, and all it entails, exclusive
to the couple. It loses that special touch and significance.
meant to be private, besides the obvious that which transpires in the
private matters on Facebook, and other social media, telling the world how
amazing your husband is, because he did A, B and C, takes that special privacy
outside the boundaries, into public domain. Everyone does not have to know WHAT you love about your
husband. There is infinitely more meaning in an act that you know is just
between the two of you, for the two of you, knowing that no one but you will
ever know about it. This shows that these actions were for your benefit, and
yours alone, no public recognition involved. This allows for a real, true and
On the other
hand, if everything you share between you will be viewed and analyzed by 23 of
your friends, how exclusive is it? Is it really your own personal relationship
or simply a show for those who will hear?
is hard to remember this. Privacy is not trending. If you dont have a picture it didnt happen. If its not posted, it was unworthy,
the more comments it gets, the more fun it was.
remember: by making it public, you devalue it. Its no longer just yours. It loses its special touch.
If it stays
private, you expand your wall (not your Facebook wall), to include it. This way
it becomes yours and it remains yours to cherish and celebrate! It remains unique,
exclusive and valuable.
To sum up Privacy:
The laws of tznius
train us to value our privacy and help us preserve the exclusivity of our
marriage. Creating strong, secure walls allows us to develop our own unique and
intimate relationship in which the Shechina can dwell.
4. Femininity: Embracing Our Unique
There is a famous story about four people
named Everyone, Someone, Anyone, and No one.
There was an important job to be done and Everyone
was sure that Someone would do it.
Anyone could have done it, but No one did it.
Someone got angry about that because it was Everyone's
job. Everyone thought that Anyone
could do it, but No one realized that Everyone wouldn't do it. In the end, Everyone blamed Someone
when No one did what Anyone could have done.
This is a
cute, old story but it contains a very valuable lesson: there need to be
distinct and defined roles for every person. Where there are not, no one takes
breakfast time in your house and you are out of staples.
You ask your
son and your daughter to buy juice and bread respectively.
What if they
each relied on the other to do their assigned task, so that neither of the
items is bought? No breakfast in
What if your
son did his job and bought the juice, but your daughter did not buy the bread? Meager
What if they
each bought juice, because thats what they preferred
plenty to drink, but
not much to eat!
to stick to their designated roles to ensure a wholesome outcome. Stepping in for someone else, while shirking
ones own responsibility, leaves a gap in final product.
us to the fourth component of modest conduct.
לא יהי' כלי גבר
על אשה ולא ילבש גבר שמלת אשה (Devarim
22:5) A mans garments should not be worn by a woman and vice versa.
women have their own attire and its not just about clothing, rather its about
our lifestyle. We each have a valuable
and distinct role. Torah teaches us to embrace our unique individuality and be
grateful for these differences.
marriage and family require both a Man and a Woman. The boundaries ofלא תלבש direct us to nurture our individual role as women, thereby
contributing a very integral part of the complete marriage equation.
What is our
role is כל כבודה בת מלך
פנימה the glory of a woman is within. Within
of all, within her home she is the akeres habayis (mainstay of the
home), making her home a mikdash mat specifically through working within
the physical. She creates a
welcoming environment through her warmth, and her soft, understated word, inspiring
and nourishing her family with her feminine touch.
part of penimah is within herself a womans glory is her innate
ability to deeply connect and tune in to another. A woman is graced with intuition and the ability to nurture
and touch anothers heart, particularly those of her husband and children. Nurturing
behind the scenes can create a deep sense of Shalom Bayis from the
inside out. The Sun is bright, bold and strong, necessary to the world to
survive. The Moon too serves a vital role, with a soft, understated glow,
subtle light. It is less obvious and bright, but important nonetheless. Each
has a time and a place, a role to play in this world.
To sum up
Dressing and acting in a feminine
manner helps us appreciate our special role as women. When each partner
recognizes his or her unique contribution to the relationship, the result is a
peaceful home in which Hashem delights.
5. Responsibility: Sensitivity to
We live in a world
of democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of dress, freedom from many things. It
is easy to fall into the secular way of thinking, namely, that we should be
free to wear what we please at any time. Why is it our problem that a man may
see us and have immodest thoughts? Every man should learn to control his own
thoughts and reactions. Why is this, my responsibility?
important to understand that men were created with a natural, deep attraction
to a womans body, for a very specific reason. Hashem invested the deepest powers of ein sof (the
Divine origin of all creation), i.e. the ability to create, within a womans
a literal part of Hashem is hosted, and nurtured, in its transition to its shlichus
(mission) in this world, within a womans body. This is extremely powerful. That is why the parts of a womans body
that are involved in creating, and nurturing are the most attractive. This beautiful attraction serves a sacred
purpose in the right time, the right place and with the right person.
us this huge gift to maintain and uphold, with deep sensitivity. However, along
with this gift comes responsibility.
responsible because we ARE powerful! There is no power that does not come with
us to the final component: לפני עור לא תתן מכשול (do not place a stumbling block
before a blind person) (Vayikra 19:14)
when I put a block in front of a blind man? He falls! Why is that MY problem? I
didnt trip him up.
didnt force him to move his feet in exactly that spot, but who am I trying to
kid? The person is blind, and therefore we have a responsibility to take care
that our actions do not cause him, any harm, even indirectly.
A woman has
a responsibility to dress as befits one who holds such power. She has the
responsibility to do all that she can so that a man should not come to sin on
responsibility of lifnei iver is also a gift, for it helps us realize
that our beauty is powerful. Being aware, at all times, of the effect of our
dress and behavior on other men helps us appreciate the intimacy we share with
This responsibility continues WITHIN our marriage.
Creating intimacy, during the tahor stage, is
dependent upon the way we conduct ourselves during our stage of separation. A woman can say, eh, whatever, my elbow
is not attractive to my husband, it is okay if he sees my legs, I dont have to
keep that one, what is exciting about an elbow after all?
If someone with no sense of smell is walking through a fragrant
and aromatic rose garden we dont tell them, lucky you, you cannot smell
anything. Rather, we feel bad that they are unable to fully appreciate the gift
to the olfactory senses that abounds in this garden.
In the same vein, every single touch, and every single part
of us SHOULD be attractive to our husbands. They should be sensitive to every nuance of our personal
selves. By maintaining a distance during the time of separation, this
appreciation and attraction will be enhanced, strengthened and revitalized.
To sum up RESPONSIBILITY:
consider the effects of our dress and behavior on others, we develop a
sensitivity to the nuances of the male-female dynamic, making our marital
relationship all the more powerful and holy.
Why is it that in a society, which is
so open and uninhibited, there remains such instability within marriages? Part
of the reason lies in the fact that people tend to focus almost exclusively on
the most external, physical and superficial aspects of the relationship. There
is no emphasis on inner depth and spirituality.
The personal boundaries of relationships
are blurred. That which should be private is made public. Exclusivity of the
relationship is lost. Inevitably the relationship gets boring, stale. People
seek new excitement, new thrills.
Torah gives us the guidelines, the
parameters on what will make a marriage holy, special, richer, more focused and enduring. Marriage is so much more than the physical joining of two people, shared rent and domestic responsibilities. Marriage is sacred and that sanctity is protected by the boundaries Torah sets for us. Boundaries that are in complete sync with the way Hashem created each of us, satisfying not only our physical needs, but our emotional and spiritual ones as well.
There is the story of Reb Hillel of Paritcher who had great mesiras nefesh (self-sacrifice) for Chassidishe levushim (manner of dress). When Chassidim asked why he expended this tremendous effort to the point of sacrifice, Reb Hillel replied that clothing are very powerful. The garments one wears are makif, they surround the person, and therefore the clothing we wear can actually have a profound influence on us.
In Egypt, the Bnai Yisroel had fallen to the forty ninth level of tumah (spiritual impurity). They were about to, Heaven forfend, sink to the fiftieth level. However, the merit of the women who did not change their Jewish mode of dress, saved them from descending to that lowest level, veritably a point of no return. Reb Hillel continued, saying that among his possessions was a hand-written note from Reb Pinchos Koritzer that says that right before Moshiach, the Yidden will once again plummet to a very low spiritual level but on account of a small group of Yidden, who will maintain their Jewish mode of dress, the Yidden will be saved from sinking to the fiftieth level.
In 5752 (1991-1992) the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, said that now, as we literally stand on the threshold of Geulah (redemption) there will be an addition in the way women will keep tznius: lifnim mitzniyus (above the standard). WE are those women that the Rebbe empowered, and we are the ones in whose merit all of Bnai Yisroel will be redeemed from this golus (diaspora), may it be NOW!