Op-Ed: “Tznius isn’t Taboo” – A Response


    Op-Ed: “Tznius isn’t Taboo” – A Response

    Response: In a recent Op-Ed, a mother recounts a question that made her “blood boil”. Should men inquire about a prospective Shidduch’s wardrobe? A ChabadInfo reader penned this remarkable response. Written by Devorah K • Full Article

    Written by Devorah K.

    In a letter from a mother recently published on this site, she is perturbed by the idea of a man inquiring about the exact Tznius standards of a prospective girl, and wonders whether this isn’t inappropriate for a man to do, and if there should be a rule instituted that provides that mothers inquire about a girl’s dress, instead of fathers.

    I find this view fascinating, and wholly incomprehensible.

    Firstly, in case the mother is the one asking these questions – would she not then relay that information to the father? But, you say, at least the conversation won’t be uncomfortable. Is discussing Shidduchim and probing about a boy or girl ever comfortable? One who feels uncomfortable about or overly sensitive to discussing all matters relating to the prospective girl or boy, as is necessary for the Shidduch process, should step aside, and allow someone more qualified to have that conversation. There is a time and place for sensitive conversation and polite niceties, and orchestrating a Shidduch isn’t one of them. When it comes to Shidduchim, every topic and inquiry is important, and should be on the table.

    More important, however, I take issue with the particular example she cites. Already, there are too few question that can shed light and elicit answers of any value, as many are so vaguely addressed or subjectively qualified as to provide no knowledge of any import.

    If there was ever a question that may offer profound insight into the prospective girl, and perhaps can be a defining question that cuts straight through the Great Divide of Jewish standards, it’s this: “Does her skirt cover her knees even when she sits?”

    This may be a testament to the diversity that is Lubavitch today, and a world in which one can never take anything for granted. It does not suffice to simply declare “the girl is Tznius” – most say that about themselves, and for radically different standards. The Tznius question is all about specifics, and perhaps no question offers more insight and really cuts through to the core of the issue then the one of whether her skirt cover her knees when sitting.

    One wonders, however, if it’s appropriate for a man to inquire into such things…

    Of course, from a practical standpoint alone it would be inadvisable to cordon off sections of the Shidduch making process to a single gender, in this case the mother. Why create additional boundaries in the way of achieving an ever more elusive Shidduch? Even if the price is minor discomfort, so be it.

    But practicalities aside, I see no inappropriateness involved whatsoever. Is it appropriate for a man to inquire whether the girl keeps Shabbos? I think we agree the answer is a resounding Yes. Is it appropriate for him to inquire whether the girl wears pants? Or whether she plans on covering her hair after marriage? Let’s assume the answer is Yes, too. So what’s wrong with finding out whether she is ACTUALLY Tznius (and not merely one who considers herself Tzinus in her subjective reasoning). The only way to do that is to ask the grand, super accurate, impossible to skirt (pun intended) question: Does her skirt cover her knees when sitting?

    I’m left to assume this mother is using hyperbole when declaring that this question made her blood boil. But seriously, “probing her wardrobe” is quite the job (these days, anyways) of someone who wants an honest and accurate answer as to whether the girl keeps Shabbos, um, I meant keeps Tznius!


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    1. Chabad.info English

      Finally, was waiting for some normal response…

    2. Chaya L.

      Finally, was waiting for some normal response…
      Thank you!

    3. dys

      I once heard that the Rebbe Rashab advised a bocher that when looking for a shidduch he should inquire and prioritise on 4 major issues – and in this order:

      1) Yiras Shomayim and Tznius (as these go hand in hand – that if a girl has proper Yiras Shomayim then certainly she will be meticulous about all details with Tznius! )

      2) A good heart – has good middos

      3) Seychel – healthy intellect

      4) Meshichas halev / physical attraction

    4. sarah

      In general i agree. Often times – maybe even more so in our generation – a father has to take a more active role in discerning many vital details in a shidduch for his children. I recommend parents to see what the Rambam writes concerning how much a man must supervise his wife and kids’ moral behavior about these very issues – Hilchos Sota perek 4 last paragraph (with Rambam Le’am)! Furthermore, Rabbi Falk writes in his book Modesty – an adornment for life (an encyclopedia on Tznius over 700 pages and definitely a must for every Chabad home) “although the role of the mother has been stressed, it would be wrong to give the impression that the father is exempt from the chinuch of his daughters concerning clothes and similar matters. In fact the father must always see to it, and if necessary demand, that all halachos and accepted standards of tznius are kept by his daughters.  Just as a father feels a great responsibility to find a good cheder or yeshiva for his sons and constantly keeps a close watch on their progress – so, and no less so, he must ensure that his daughters are given the very best chinuch available. (Excerpt from Oz V’Hadar Levusha by Rabbi Falk p. 92)

    5. Rabbi N.

      I really didn’t get what the mother was writing in the letter, personally. Of course, it has to be asked, and it doesn’t matter who is asking!!!

    6. 770 Bochur

      I wonder what they ask about us… (Bochurim)

    7. chani

      Sorry, u are absolutely wrong! An entire response with not one reason why she is wrong.

    8. zevy

      Follow the great logic-you can ask about Shabbos so you can ask about her skirt. Genius.

    9. reply to bochur

      They probably ask what the lenght of your jacket is….LOL

    10. Bas Melech

      The writer displays an absolute ignorance when it comes to sensitivity vis a vis women, putting down the women for saying her blood was boiling…she was upset, anything wrong with that?

    11. Bella

      Sometimes, the tough questions need to be asked. Better late than never.

    12. london

      Tough questions need to be asked, quite right. But the rude lad shouldnt be asking them.

    13. Shadchan

      This is a great discussion. These topics need to be discussed again and again.

    14. so right!

      This mother is so right! omg why do fathers think they can ask such improper questions?!

    15. a father

      while i agree with this response, it still doesn’t mean you should be insensitive about it… people aren’t always comfortable talking about everything, and everyone should respect that.

    16. sarah

      By a kinnus neshei chabad one year (I think 1970) the Rebbe was asked what the theme of the kinnus should be, to which the Rebbe responded Tznius – for the true test of yiras shomayim is uncompromised Tznius head to toe according to Shulchan Aruch. In another Yechidus with Harav Mordecai Shmuel Ashkenazi and his wife, in Tishrei of 5729, the Rebbe said: “אבן הבוחן ליראת-שמים היא צניעות וטהרה” (The test that is indicative of [the level of one’s]yiras shomayim is tznius and taharah).
      (Printed in HaKfar Shel HaRebbe, Issue 3, Teives 5770)

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