Monday, November 20, 2006

Hot Chanies revisited

For those of you who are not regular blog-junkies and have not yet heard the term Hot ChanieTM, here's where it originated. Hot Chanies are back in the bloglight since the printing of an article in the Jerusalem Post. There are plenty of opinions to keep you busy for a bit. The following is my comment, originally from the thread at Ask Shifra, where I first happened upon the whole affair.

I'm of the opinion that it certainly is the job of a husband to point out how lack of tznius affects men and the implications of that for both unmarried and married men. It is a discussion that should be held in private. Of course, that means that the hubbie has to be on board. Two things the husbands should beware of:
1. Dictating what wife can/can't wear. "Don't wear this and only wear that" is doomed to failure. The emphasis should strictly be focused on how certain things can create problematic situations. "I wonder if women are aware of how men are affected when they wear....". Note how "you" does not even play a role in the conversation.
2. Complimenting one's wife's appearance most when she is dressed inappropriately is reinforcement in the wrong direction. We call that talking out of both sides of your mouth. The point is to make your wife feel that she looks beautiful especially when she is dressed tastefully and appropriately. Dressing appropriately does not preclude looking good. (Rebbetzin Tehila Jager is such a wonderful example of this. She spoke beautifully once on the topic of tznius for our yeshiva's sisterhood. I wish I remembered some of the points that made such an impact on me then :(.)

I think it's unfortunate that such an important topic is being addressed in that "fundamentalist" way that seems to characterize the approach of some people in leadership positions today. That approach is guaranteed to alienate the people who most need guidance to foster an inner sense of self-worth and modesty so that they begin to appreciate themselves what tznius is all about.

Our family's yeshiva, Chofetz Chaim, has a very nice program in place that provides the forum needed to address issues, including "delicate" ones. Every so often, one of the rosh yeshivas will call a married guy va'ad. Basically, it's a discussion group where a specific topic is addressed. Guys are encouraged to submit topics which they would like to discuss. It's a great way to provide suggestions in a gentle, non-threatening environment. The va'ads are also an opportunity for guys to ask questions and get practical ideas for applications of principles set forth. Each guy can share the ideas from the va'ad over dinner with his wife. The key ingredient which I believe makes this sort of forum successful is the smallness of the unit. That is, rather than having an entire community gather in a huge auditorium to listen to speeches, this set-up provides the opportunity for a real give and take, making it all more personal and, therefore, more effective. These kind of discussion groups can be held periodically by shuls or other smaller community groups.

Just a thought.

35 comments:

Ezzie said...

While I don't always agree with Chofetz Chaim's approach to certain issues... (Always, often, whatever... :) ) I've always liked the concept behind how they do their va'adin. I think one of the aspects of WITS I gained the most from was "STAMP" (Senior Torah And Mussar Perspectives) which basically was the same idea: We were given choices of topics and could add our own, and they were chosen by popular vote - and were then discussed by having an intro then a give-and-take.

Of course, the larger the group, the harder to do. And the way this was approached - while on the face seemed okay - had many, many flaws.

Ayelet said...

Many, many flaws. Hmm, too many to enumerate just a few?

Anonymous said...

The yeshivos encourage us to maximize our brain power when it comes to R' Chaim Brisker, and then turn us into mindless people when it comes to issues of common sense. That is why you have many jungerleit that learn all day and need to ask a shaila if they can cross the street. Chofetz Chaim is one of the worst offenders of this approach. Can you tie your shoe laces without asking the Rosh Yeshiva?

Anonymous said...

The yeshivos encourage us to maximize our brain power when it comes to R' Chaim Brisker, and then turn us into mindless people when it comes to issues of common sense. That is why you have many jungerleit that learn all day and need to ask a shaila if they can cross the street. Chofetz Chaim is one of the worst offenders of this approach. Can you tie your shoe laces without asking the Rosh Yeshiva?

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of gentle and non threatening enviornment.....

Ezzie said...

Many, many flaws. Hmm, too many to enumerate just a few?

? I already did in my post...

Chronic Schmonic said...

The idea that a man would stand in front of his wife and daughters and give them the okay on their clothing is very non-Torah in my eyes.

I would think that the idea would be to actually ARM the WOMEN with the background to know WHY we dress that way, and trust that they are capable of making such decisions.

But maybe I am just over-reacting. But the idea of my husband standing with a ruler every morning is enough to really upset me.

Rachel said...

Great post, btw!

imm may said...

There have been some excellent books and articles written about tznius, one of the best is "OUTSIDE INSIDE, a fresh look at tzniut", written by Gila Manolson and a must to be read by females. (on the other hand there have been books published on this topic that should be burned).
I have found that the beauty and clarity of understanding the value of tznius is what makes it a permanent life-style (and quite divorced from the male opinion or reaction). Talking and exploring the ideas in a vaad is worthwile, having a kinus to dictate rules and regulations in Yerushalayim will only have backlash IF the inherent benefits to a woman are not taught and understood.
Thank you Ayelet for a forum for discussion....

SephardiLady said...

Is this type of Va'ad similiar to the Chofetz Chaim Va'adim of old that I have heard about from "old timers" where personal character development is explored?

My husband told me when we were dating that he was comfortable with how I dressed and that he wouldn't want to date someone that he was uncomfortable with. I sometimes wonder if the husbands' of the "Hot Chanies" are uncomfortable and, if they are did the discomfort develop later or did their wives dress differently during dating. (Naturally, this question isn't related to the fact that other men are disturbed by certain forms of dress).

Ayelet said...

sephardilady: I'm flattered that you've visited (I would totally comment more on your blog but I'm too intimidated and afraid I'll just say something really stupid!). The va'adim you're probably referring to are different from the "married guy" va'adim (and different from the public va'adim that are held for all the yeshiva guys every Thursday). What you're talking about is more of a private group of 3-4 guys who choose a middah (say, vatranus or chessed). One guy says over a schmooze and they learn it out in depth. They explore mussar sources and talk about difficulties usually experienced and ideas on how to improve. Goals are set for the group (ex. Use that middah with your wife once this week when you normally wouldn't have). They meet back to discuss their progress, set new goals, etc.

As for how girls dress before and after they're married, I don't know for sure. But I have my suspicions that even the Hot Chanies wouldn't have dared to dress the way they do as single girls on the 'market'. The importance of having the image of a 'good girl' is big and perspective MILs wouldn't look kindly at provocative dressing habits for their good yeshiva boys. As for the question of how the good yeshiva boys feel when their wives morph into Hot Chanies, I imagine there are those on both sides of the fence. The ones who are uncomfortable should perhaps seek guidance as to how to approach the subject with their spouses. But, for this, you need a Rebbe.

And that brings me to anon's comment: Chafetz Chaim most definitely stresses the concept of the importance of mesorah and having a Rebbe with whom one can be sho'el eitzah. This is rather unique to our yeshiva and is a most endearing feature, in my opinion. Students often develop a warm and strong relationship with one (or more) of the rebbeim. Of course, there are members in every group who take things to extremes. Nevertheless, your mini-rant is simply picking on a well-known, and by far exaggerated, stereotype. It is an oversimplified and biased mental picture that does not characterize the typical talmid of Chafetz Chaim.

Chana said...

I want a new name for the Hot Chanies! I do NOT resemble these remarks!!!!

(Tongue placed firmly in cheek, but really, I like my name and am tired of it being dragged through the mud!!)

Ayelet said...

Chana: lol!

FrimFrom said...

I find it hard to believe that women in their twenties don't know that less modest clothing is attracting to men. It's not exactly a secret; it's ingrained in our society that women should dress in that way for that purpose. Let's not deny why we sometimes don't dress betznius and admit that it is a big yetzer hara for women and that many of us need heavy duty chizuk and mussar in this area. Husbands could talk about it lightly and positively- "you look awesome, but maybe too good for going out- maybe this outfit is better when we're home together- what do you think?"

And anonymous- every yeshiva and every place in general has people with varying degrees of seichel. Most Chofetz Chaim guys seem pretty normal with a nice touch of introspective depth. As for the others who hock about what flavor of ice cream would be best or whatever- what else would they make fun of in the Purim plays?

SephardiLady said...

Ayelet-Thanks for the info. I figured this va'ad was different than the va'ad our neighbor described from his day. Nevertheless, the model is interesting and unique to Chofetz Chaim, like the straw hat in the summer.

Also, please don't be intimidated. I love your comments and love discussion. So, please comment. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow, this really is a loaded topic. However, I think that there is a fundamental problem with this whole tznius issue that is inhibiting it from being solved, and that is that, like many other things in life, when this topic is addressed, people always think that they're talking about someone else. and in truth, there is always someone else who dresses worse than you, no matter how hot of a Chanie you are, there is always a hotter Chanie down the block that you think that this speech/blog/article is addressing. I've heard many people, whom I personally think dress pretty inappropriately, speak very righteously about this topic. Case in point- this past summer, the Lakewood yeshivah made a big to-do about tznius; speech, discussions, rule-setting (whether or not you agree with that is another discussion...)A friend of mine Lakewood told me about this and said that her husband's chavrusah was telling her husband about what a big problem this whole tznius thing is, and my friend was thinking (she didn't say it b/c of Lashon Hara)that girl has serious tznius issues- and her husband is totally clueless. I'm sure she is too, and i'm sure that they had a discussion over dinner, and discussed about what a terrible "problem" there is in Lakewood, without realizing that she herself is a Hot Chanie!

-Someone who considers herself a realtively tznius girl, who of couse has some growing to do, but might be your "Hot Chanie" down the block!

Anonymous said...

You mean, "might be the hot chanie in your own house."

Anonymous said...

Look, mandating tziyus reminds me of the Taliban, particularly if you get into detail. My talmidim didn't even know that tzniyus is a middah rather than a dress code. Middos are the issue. A flashy person who needs everyone's attention will dress in a way that encourages others' attention. I saw an interesting point made on a different blog, that I will expand upon. Since all men and women are encouraged to embark on a "learning in Kollel" life instead of just the "Yechidei Segula," there are many more girls who are not "qualified" for the lifestyle, entering into it. They need more attention and are not at the level of sacrificing their mate for the long hours of study required by the Yeshiva schedule. No vacations, very little bein hasedarim, and night seder included. They are starving for attention and will try to acquire it in other ways. Even if it means that other friends and friends' husbands will give it to them for their mode of dress. Perhaps, the solution is not a husband standing with a ruler at the front door, but a husband who takes a little more time from his schedule behind the front door.

Shoshi and Daniel said...

Just a little tiny thought about the last anonymous' comment - Ayelet this is a great discussion and I should really read the article before I go and wax eloquent - but...

Tznius is both a middah and a halachic dress code. Embodiment of the middah will probably allow the halachic dress code to come more naturally, but it is not one to the exclusion of the other.

Whether or not a woman is cut out for the kollel life and whether or not she chooses to do so should not have to be the defining factor as to whether or not she chooses to observe the halachos of tznius. Of course there is a peer pressure component and and an identity component to all areas of clothing, this is not a uniquely Jewish idea (you could have learned it in my Anthropology 101 class in college). So the real question might be what kind of identity decisions are women making?

I guess the last point I want to make is that the Gila Manolson book mentioned above is a really nice one for synthesis of both the halacha and hashkafa of tznius, and has been really fruitful for me when I've had discussions of this nature with young women.

Ezzie said...

And anonymous- every yeshiva and every place in general has people with varying degrees of seichel. Most Chofetz Chaim guys seem pretty normal with a nice touch of introspective depth. As for the others who hock about what flavor of ice cream would be best or whatever- what else would they make fun of in the Purim plays?

ROTFL

Anonymous said...

In response to anonymous who said

The yeshivos encourage us to maximize our brain power when it comes to R' Chaim Brisker, and then turn us into mindless people when it comes to issues of common sense. That is why you have many jungerleit that learn all day and need to ask a shaila if they can cross the street. Chofetz Chaim is one of the worst offenders of this approach. Can you tie your shoe laces without asking the Rosh Yeshiva?

I think that he completely missed the point. Yes, jungerleit are trained to maximize their brain power by learning R Chaim Briskers- and that is precisely why they may ask shailah on apparently simple life questions- because they are taught that life is just as complicated as R Chaim's- and need just as much analysis. They are asking a shailah to clarify their analysis, like they would discuss a complicated R Chaim with their Rebbe. This makes for deeper, more introspective people, not mindless robots.

Anonymous said...

DEEP DEEP DEEP
When does everyone come up for air?

Ayelet said...

Ari? Is that you?

FrimFrom said...

What does ROTFL mean? (Right On Target Furry Lemon?)

NotAsHotRiki said...

frimfrom, it means rolling on the floor laughing
LAHATASAATST

FrimFrom said...

But laughing because you totally disagree or what? And what does LAHATASAATST mean (if anything)?

Anonymous said...

Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!

Deborah Shaya said...

There is No codified Halacha that a married woman must cover her hair totally and constantly whenever she steps out of her house.

The Halachah has been MISinterpreted. When the Halachah refers to "Covering hair," it does not mean "Cover your hair with hair!" and "constantly for life." The Halachah is that:

A married woman is required to cover her hair when:
(1) she lights the candles to welcome in Shabbat and Yom Tov – lechavod Shabbat ve Yom Tov, and

(2) when she goes to the Synagogue, because that is the place of Kedusha.

The Halacha does not require anything more from married women. This is the true interpretation of the Halacha.

The misinterpretation of the Torah is completely Assur, and a twisting of the Torah.The Torah must remain straight.

Deborah Shaya said...

In ancient times, a woman would only cover her hair upon entering the Beit HaMikdash. Similarly for the Sotah-otherwise she would not be required to cover her hair ordinarily, day to day.

It is very important for people to know and realise that when a married woman covers her hair with 'Real Hair' the woman is covering herself with 100% Tumah. This is totally against the Torah.

Nothing could be more nonsensical than for a Jewish woman to cover her hair with someone else's hair -who was not Jewish as well! She can never fully be sure that this 'hair' has not come from meitim-despite any guarantee by the seller.This 'real hair' is doubly and in some circumstances, triply Tumah.

1.It will contain the leftover dead hair cells from another person - however much it has been treated, the tumah is still there.

2.This other person (likely to be a non-Jew who most likely was involved in some kind of Avodah Zarah) may have eaten bacon, ham, lobster etc, all of which are totally forbidden as unclean and non-kosher foods in Halacha.

3.If the woman happens to be the wife of a COHEN, then she is bringing her husband into close contact and proximity with meitim and Tumah Every day, and throughout their married life. This is clearly strictly against the Torah.

Deborah Shaya said...

There is nothing more degrading and demeaning to a woman than to make her cover her hair FOR LIFE upon marriage. It is an abhorrent practice.

Any man who makes such a ridiculous demand on his wife, or wife-to-be, should similarly also be required by his wife to wear: long white stockings, even in the summer; a fur streimel; grow a long beard; wear a black hat and coat constantly, and cover his face when he speaks to his wife. Wigs -"la perruque"- were merely a fashion item in the time of Louis XIV-they are not for the Jewish woman!

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson tz”l, known as the, “Lubavitcher Rebbe” gave the directive that a married woman must cover her head with a “sheitel.” This needs to be corrected. Rabbi Schneersohn a"h, was a Tzaddik, – but on this – he was, unfortunately not correct.

Deborah Shaya said...

It is extremely unhealthy and unhygienic for a woman to cover her hair constantly.

1. The hair needs oxygen to breathe, as well as some exposure to sunlight.

2. Her hair will turn one shade darker, and will become dull and matt.

3. A woman will lose the natural bounce and shine of her hair.

4. Scalp problems may develop, and some of a woman’s hair may fall out.

5. She may get headaches, and suffer with itchiness and sweat.

6. The woman may end up cutting her hair short like a man, when she always wore it long - in order not to have too much discomfort from her hair covering.

Do you think that HaKadosh Baruch Hu commanded this of women? I can assure you that He did not. It is not a mitzvah for a woman to sweat and suffer. That is not Torah.

The commmandments are not meant to make a woman feel so oppressed and repressed. In addition, when a woman “loses” her hair through a permanent hair covering, she may become very sad. This sadness may cause a certain depression in her, which are negative states to be avoided.

We are commanded to serve Hashem with joy: “Ivdu et Hashem beSimcha!” (Tehillim: 100:2)

The women are very holy. They are much more holy than the men.

And the Shechinah is suffering with the women. Every day.

Whatever happened to a woman’s intuition? Hashem gave the woman a very, high level of intuition – over and above the man.

Was Chava created with a wig? Of course not! Did she start wearing a wig? Of course not!

Please Wake Up.

Use the spark of intelligence that Hakadosh Baruch Hu gave to you and blessed you with.

And give your wig back to your husband if you wear one.

Deborah Shaya said...

1. To all the women who are wondering about the sources:

We have all been created, "Betselem Elokim" - "in the image of Elokim."
This means that we have been given something called "intelligence." The source is the very first Parsha, Bereishit - 1:27. It is time that people use the spark of intelligence and Kedusha with which Hashem has blessed them.

If your rabbi will tell you to go and jump into the depths of a glacier, presumably you would do that too – and give me a source for it?

“According to the Zohar”, I should also be covering my hair with a wig when I have a bath. “According to the Zohar and the Gemara” and all the sources that have misinterpreted the Halachah, and MIStranslated the Zohar, I should also have been born with a WIG on my head.

These sources and translations are incorrect, as they have deviated very far from the true and correct interpretation, of the Halachah.

2.Remember that the Jewish women are very, very holy. They are much more holy than the men. Look at the exemplary behaviour of the women at Har Sinai.

The women never sinned at the Eigel, and so are greatly elevated. Many of the men, unfortunately, ran after a calf made out of a lump of gold – after they had just been given the Torah, and seen the greatest of all Revelations. The women refused to give their gold for the avodah zarah of the men.

The women were greatly elevated after such a wonderful display of Emunah, and they are regarded very highly in Shamayim.

That is why women are not even required to pray. They can pray at home on their own. Nor do women have to make up a minyan. That is how holy the Jewish women are. Men have to pray 3 times a day to remind them of their Creator.

The men are telling the women to put the hair of a non-Jewish woman who may have eaten things like snakes and sharks and alligators, and has worshipped in churches, Buddist temples or Hindu temples : on their own Heads. They had better wake up.

If the men don’t want to wake up to the truth, and the true interpretation of the Halacha, the women will wake them up – whether they like it or not.

Deborah Shaya said...

3. Many righteous women influenced their husbands for the good at the Chet Haeigel and at the time of Korach.

It was these righteous women who succeeded in bringing their husbands back to their senses.

And because of these great women, the lives of their husbands were saved. Those men therefore turned away from the madness of avodah zarah, and the rebellion of Korach against Hashem's choice of Aharon, as Cohen HaGadol.

4. Look at the Jewish women in history, and remember how holy they are.

(a) Yaakov, who was the greatest of the Avot, came to marry the 2 daughters of Lavan, Rachel and Leah. Lavan was not exactly a tzaddik. Yaakov went to Lavan, of all people, to marry his 2 daughters – not 1 daughter, but his 2 daughters. Nothing could be greater than that.

(b) Rut, who came from Moav, became the ancestor of David Hamelech.

(c ) Batya, the daughter of Paroh, was given eternal life because she rescued Moshe from the river. No one could have been more evil than Paroh.

(d) Devorah, was a Neviah, and also a Judge.

Women who came from such adverse backgrounds, were able to become builders of Am Yisrael. That is how holy the women are, and how much more elevated they are than the men.

This was never the case with men. It never happened the other way round.

Don't tell me it is holy for me to wear a WIG! Hair over my own hair? This is ridiculous!

Similarly, don’t tell me it is holy for me to clamp a permanent head covering on my head for the rest of my life. This is equally vile.

Please Wake Up.

Use the spark of intelligence that Hakadosh Baruch Hu gave to you and blessed you with. And your intuition.

And give your wig back to your husband if you wear one.

Deborah Shaya said...

5. Remember: Not a single “dayan” or “rabbi” has the slightest bit of interest in correcting the situation for the women. Therefore, the women will have to correct the situation................for ..................themselves.

When the Halachah is interpreted correctly - by the women themselves - there will be tremendous relief. And Simcha...

Whether you wish to accept the correction – which is true – is up to you. Are you going to live by the truth? Are you going to use the spark of intelligence that Hashem gave to you and all women? Or are you going to follow rabbis and dayanim who tell you to wear a wig in a Heat Wave – and you thank them for it as well?

Eliyahoo William Dwek said...

The next things the ‘rabbis’ will come up with is to tell the woman to wear a CARPET on her head.
Not a sheitel AND a hat, but a Carpet. Or you could go for 5 shaitels on your heads and a rug.

And do you know what the Jewish woman will say to her husband?

‘Yes, husband! I am now wearing a carpet on my head!’

You women must either be extremely thick, or petrified.