Friday, June 06, 2008

Travis Bickle

One of the biggest problems facing Modern Orthodox Jews is Tznius in dress. Not that Modern Orthodoxy condones departure from Halacha. It certainly does not. Jewish law forbids women to dress immodestly.

Many women of the Modern Orthodox-Lite persuasion are not careful in how they dress and violate those laws. All the mussar in the world doesn’t seem to help. If these women want to retain their credentials as Orthodox Jews, then they may just need a little help. Obviously they will not listen to reason and they just do as they wish! I think we need a Tznius patrol. It behooves every Modern Orthodox Rabbi to establish one for their community.

Charedi Israel is way ahead of us in this regard. They have established guidelines and courts to determine what is and is not permissible. If I understand correctly - clothing stores in the Charedi shopping areas of Jerusalem and Bnei Brak now have Hechsherim. The Charedi community is strongly advised to only purchase women’s clothing from Tznius certified clothing stores.

They also have Tznius patrols. This is a wonderful and dedicated group of volunteers created to make sure everyone abides by these laws. Store owners violating the rules will get a visit from this patrol and will be warned to cease and desist. Or else there will be serious consequences. One such store was torched a couple of years ago. True - it was an error and the wrong store was torched. But at least the right message was sent.

The residents of those neighborhoods are very happy about this as now their neighborhoods will be free of the Pritzus – the promiscuity that is so common in the rest of the world. However there are always people who violate the rules or push the envelope too far. Some women will buy their clothing elsewhere and wear something not in accordance with community standards thus violating the sanctity of the neighborhood.

Thank goodness for the Tznius patrols. They have devised a beautiful enforcement method. If they see a woman walking down the street with a dress that they deem not Tznius enough, they spray a little bleach on her clothes as they quickly pass her by. That seems to work well.

Everybody is happy. Michsholim. – stumbling blocks toward violating Halacha have been substantially reduced in places like Meah Shearim, Bnei Brak and Beitar Illit. Even visitors know by now that they must dress according to the standards of those communities when they enter them.

This was a lesson learned the hard way by a young lady who was caught wearing a baggy pair of pants and a short sleeve shirt in Beitar yesterday. What a Chutzpah for her to do that in a town like Beitar whose Tznius standards are high and well known. As a resident of the town she should have certainly known that. Thank goodness there was a man of courage there. And thank God he had a bottle of acid handy. He poured it on her face, legs and stomach. Ouch! That must have hurt.

But at least she learned her lesson. Kannoim Pogim Bo! What merit he must have in heaven protecting his community from a 14 year old girl wearing baggy pants. This courageous fellow is the Travis Bickle of the Torah world. Women will now think twice before they dare walk around Beitar or any other Charedi area like that again. Kudos to him.

Travis Bickle is what Modern Orthodox-Lite women need. For those who don’t know who he is, Travis Bickle is a fictional character that was a bit insane and bit of a stalker. But as a man of high moral character he was disgusted by the world of prostitution he witnessed as a New York City taxi driver. He knew what had to be done after he encountered a 12 year old prostitute.

He trained for months. And then in a rampage of bloody carnage, he shot and killed all the bad guys who got in his way in order to save this young ‘runaway’ girl from a life of prostitution – restoring her to her parents. What a hero he was.

This is what's missing in the modern Orthodox world. Enforcement. A man who will take action, stand up, and be counted. A man who is moved to act against those who so blatantly ignore and violate Halacha – a man who truly is disgusted by the Tznius violations he witnesses. A man who will do what's necessary. A ‘Kosher’ Travis Bickle.

Maybe this ‘Hero of Beitar’ can be convinced to move to America?