Sunday, January 1, 2017

Seridei Aish: Prohibition of Women Wearing Provocative Modern Fashions

Seridei Aish(Vol II 49:2): Concerning the clothing modern women wear -; as you have described it is definitely prohibited to stare at a women wearing this type of clothing. And even though Avoda Zara (20b) states that it is only prohibited to stare at the colored clothing of a woman if you know who owns them – however that is applicable only to clothing which is hanging on a wall. However if you stare at the woman herself who is wearing these clothes then it is definitely prohibited even if you don’t know her. And Avoda Zara (20a) already stated that one should not stare at a beautiful women even if she is unmarried. Despite the fact that Shulchan Aruch (E.H. 21) only states that it is prohibited for a man to stare at a woman [and says nothing about prohibiting a woman to dress a certain way]. [However the gemora describes the punishment of women who behave in a sexually provocative manner]
Shabbos (62b) states,    Raba son of R. Ilai lectured: What is meant by, Moreover the Lord said, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty? That means that they walked with haughty bearing. And walk with outstretched necks — they walked heel by toe. And wanton [mesakrothh] eyes: they filled their eyes with stibium and beckoned. Walking and mincing: they walked, a tall woman by the side of a short one. And making a tinkling [te'akasnah] with their feet: R. Isaac of the School of R. Ammi said: This teaches that they placed myrrh and balsam in their shoes and walked through the market-places of Jerusalem , and on coming near to the young men of Israel, they kicked their feet and spurted it on them, thus instilling them with passionate desire like with serpent's poison.  And what is their punishment? — As Rabbah b. ‘Ulla lectured: And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet spices [bosem] there shall be rottenness: the place where they perfumed themselves [mithbasmoth] shall be decaying sores. And instead of a girdle a rope [nikpeh]: the place where they were girded with a girdle shall become full of bruises [nekafim]. And instead of well-set hair baldness: the place where they adorned themselves shall be filled with bald patches. And instead of a stomacher [pethigil] a girding of sackcloth: the openings that lead to [sensual] joy shall be for a girding of sackcloth. Branding [ki] instead of beauty: Said Raba, Thus men say, Ulcers instead of beauty. Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab [wesipah] the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion. R. Jose son of R. Hanina said: This teaches that leprosy broke out in them: here is written wesipah; whilst elsewhere it is written, [This is the law for all manner of plagues of leprosy ...] and for a rising and for a scab [sapahath]. And the Lord will lay bare [ye'areh] their secret parts: Rab and Samuel — one maintained: This means that they were poured out like a cruse; while the other said: Their openings became like a forest. Rab Judah said in Rab's name: The men of Jerusalem were vulgar. One would say to his neighbour, On what did you dine to-day: on well-kneaded bread or on bread that is not well kneaded; on white wine or on dark [i.e., mustard-coloured] wine; on a broad couch or on a narrow couch; with a good companion or with a poor companion? R. Hisda observed: And all these are in reference to immorality.

And the daughter of Rabbi Chaninya ben Tradyon was punished because she walked in a provactive manner.
Avoda Zara (18a): His daughter was consigned to a brothel, for R. Johanan related that once that daughter of his was walking in front of some great men of Rome who remarked, ‘How beautiful are the steps of this maiden!’ Whereupon she took particular care of her step. Which confirms the following words of R. Simeon b. Lakish: What is the meaning of the verse, The iniquity of my heel compasseth me about?5 — Sins which one treads under heel6 in this world compass him about on the Day of Judgment.)
So concerning the prohibition [of wearing such clothing] there is absolutely no question. And all religious and moral people are greatly bothered by this. And concerning the battle against offensive fashions amongst Jewish women – this is a major issue. In practice it is important to produce the best moral results while at the same time not to arouse conflict and to distance women from shuls.

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