Letters from the Rosh Yeshiva Shlit"a

Chinuch, Tznius

בעזרת ה' יתברך- יום א פ' יתרו, י"ד שבט, שנת תשע"ט


Today is Chamishah Asar Bishvat, the day of judgement for the trees. We can learn many things from a tree; take the fact that they start anew every year and provide fruit; even after going through an arduous winter season of rain and snow; come spring, they blossom to life and start giving off fruit. Likewise, we too must renew ourselves and start fulfilling.

The mother of the house is called the עקרת הבית – the foundation of the home. The responsibility and success of the entire household lies on her shoulders. If the mother is happy and uplifted, then her children are happy and healthy individuals. But if a mother is constantly irritable and short-tempered, then her children grow up deficient, with a lifelong anxiety. Therefore, a mother carries a great responsibility, she must always keep in mind that her children’s wellbeing is dependent on her.

Likewise, a child’s Yiddishkeit is also contingent on his or her mother; if a mother conducts herself with Yiras Shomayim, and is careful about her Tznius, then her daughters will also be modest. Chazal say (Medrash Tanchuma, Vayishlach 7) on the Pasuk (Bereishis 34, 1): "ותצא דינה בת לאה" – why is Dinah described as ‘the daughter of Leah’ not ‘the daughter of Yaakov?’ And they answer: because Leah went out on the streets. Dinah encountered problems only because she was imitating the actions of her mother, as it says "ותצא לאה לקראתו". Chazal cite "כאמה – בתה", like mother, like daughter. If a mother is careful not to go barefoot at home, and always have her legs covered, then her daughters will also conduct themselves modestly. But if a mother isn’t careful, then she shouldn’t be disappointed when her children grow up, and downgrade in Tznius.

Therefore, I beg you; strengthen yourself in Tznius. Daven to Hashem you should see the beauty of Tznius. Tznius isn’t a penalty, or unfair restrictions here to burden us; on the contrary, Tznius comes to show us our beauty, that our bodies are valuable, and that we are more than just animals without any morals. Animals don’t have clothing; and so too, the gentile nations, live without any dignity or morality.  We Yidden have self-respect; we know we are more than just animals; as the Pasuk refers to Klal Yisroel (Yechezkel 34, 31) “Hashem says ‘in my eyes you are considered people.’” And Chazal explain (Yevamos 61.) “You (Klal Yisroel) receive the title person, but the nations are not considered people”, (Yechezkel 23, 20) “They are comparable to the animals in the fields.”

When Avraham Avinu went to Akeides Yitzchok he told Yishmoel (Bereishis 22, 5) “I’m continuing with Yitzchak, and you remain here with the donkey.” Chazal elaborate (Kidushin 68.)   "עם הדומה לחמור"; they are akin to a donkey, because it makes no difference to them if they are clothed or not.

Baruch Hashem, we have a school where we teach the concept of Tznius with joy; the girls respect Tznius, and understand that Tznius is not ‘nebby’, and will not limit them; unlike many girls who unfortunately view Tznius as a punishment, or unfair restrictions on them. This is the underlying reason our daughters then seek to dress inappropriately; they never received the Chinuch that Tznius is the beauty and pride of a Jewish girl.

Thus, I request, value Tznius even though your children are still young, even young girls are obligated to dress and behave themselves in a modest fashion. Now is the time while you can still teach them. If they never heard it while they were young, they will ignore your pleas once they are older.

Take notice of what the tree teaches us, while it is still young and flexible it can be straightened and set right; children absorb what they are taught while they are still young; then when they grow older, they blossom, and bring the parents Nachas.

May Hashem help you succeed in everything you do.