Sunday, March 22, 2015

Echoing My Sentiments

Guest Post by Anonymous

Latest 'Tznius aid' from a Lakewood modesty org. (FM)
Last Monday I wrote about the disappearing woman. It was a post about the terrible direction the right seems to be going in matters of modesty. It got a lot of reaction. The post generated 249 comments. A lot of people came up to me and personally told me how much they agreed. 

I also received correspondences from a few prominent members of the Charedi world that either read my blog, or have some of my posts sent to them by interested 3rd parties.  Not so surprisingly they were all letters of support. Every single one of them.

I can’t name names because they all request confidentiality. But I asked one of them if I could publish his letter anonymously. He agreed. I think it is important to show that there are prominent members of the Charedi world that see the same things I do and are just as upset by them as I am. In fact it might be fair to say that they are even more upset. Since it is their community that they see going askew. His words follow:

Your post about the advertisement for the Yahrtzeit for Sara Schenirer makes a valid point.  I am penning a few lines to express it in my own words.

In so many ways, our generation has achieved a status of machmirim, far beyond anything known to earlier generations.  We have examined our water for crustaceans, we have created dress codes for talmidei yeshivos, and everything from zmanim to kashrus has moved into areas of shmiras mitzvos unknown to our ancestors.  I am not against this, and my chassidishe background supports the aspects of prishus, the separation from the physical and mundane as part of Avodas Hashem.  That’s all great.  Zehirus is a great midoh, as are many others on which our great Baalei Mussar expound.

The troubling piece for me is something that I believe was never known until recent times.  We have a distorted, even corrupted sense of priorities.  Looking at pictures of women in a compromised state of tznius is a problem on which we won’t argue.  And photos of women in general may also be considered something improper.  But the status given as if this is more important that other mitzvos is not just unfair to the Torah, but possibly even against Torah value.

The confusion of priorities has many areas of impact, and they are not good.  Yeshivos are more stringent with dress code than with basic interpersonal midos.  Why?  I don’t know.  But I do know that this ranking does not work.  Torah learning is valued above all else regarding shidduchim.  

That turns out to be completely misguided, as so many couples enter marriage with little to no preparation for the relationship or the raising of a family.  Kashrus has spread to the most recognized hechsherim being placed on foods and nosh that were never found in our communities.  Must we put a hechsher on every single thing but chazzer?  Is this considered over-indulgence?  Or are we supposed to consider this holy progression?

I never met the great leaders of chassidus, nor the gedolim of yesteryear.  What would they say to all this?  I have a sneaky feeling they would echo my sentiments.