There isn’t much talk of how we should keep modest in the Torah.
The Jewish people enumerate only one mention, Number 5:18. This reference comes from the laws concerning a woman who was suspect of adultery, her hair is to be uncovered and she is to feel shame. From this we can assume that all women who were married covered their hair. We can also assume that there was an internal level of modesty associated with covering the hair as the woman felt shame when she ws uncovered. But this one verse doesn’t give us much to go on.
There is also the concept of “laws of a Jewish woman.”
This means that standards, acceptable norms, become the law. This is based on the idea that God created a woman with a sense of Modesty and then relies on us to express that in thought and deed. Because of the nature of time and place and fashion these codes have changed over the years. Orthodox Jewish women do not dress like 1st Century Jewish women. What is not unique to Judaism and seems to affect every aspect of religious culture today is that there was never a need to define modesty until recently. It was said, “Dress like a good Jewish/Christian girl.” and nothing else was needed. This unfortunately is not the case today. If you were to ask an immodestly dress woman why she would wear that to services she may reply, “If those men look then they have the problem.” or “How I dress shouldn’t be the way you judge me. God knows my heart.”
“If those men look they have a problem.”
Is this true? If a man looks up from his Torah reading, standing on stage looking down towards the congregation, and can see clear down a woman’s top, is that his fault? If a man is praising the Lord and looks up towards the dancers and see a little too much leg or the shape of a woman’s backside clearly defined by her tight pants, is that his fault? No these things have been put on display. The woman who dressed herself that morning was not surprised to know her pants were form fitting, or her blouse cut low, or her skirts slit bared a bit of thigh. So where does the fault lie in a man seeing what is clearly on display? The fault lies with the woman. Now before you get all bunched up if a man continues to look at the woman and does not avert his eyes and, heaven forbid, lusts after her, he is to blame.
“How I dress shouldn’t be the way you judge me. God knows my heart.”
Let’s break this up into two statements and start with “How I dress shouldn’t be the way you judge me.” Culturally this is a silly statement. Of course we are all judged by what we wear. I can tell who works at a store or restaurant by what they wear. I can tell the rank, specialty schools and locations served by seeing a person in uniform. I can tell if a woman is attempting to be seductive, if a man is trying to be tough or attractive. I can tell if a person is headed to the gym. I can tell if a family has just gotten out of Church and is making a quick trip through the HEB. I can also tell if a person is going to get the job, by what they wear to the interview. All this is told through dress.
When a person enters Basic Training one of the first things that happens is putting on the uniform. This simple act starts the transformation of a person from civilian to soldier. The world clearly understands the power of clothing and requires certain dress for certain activities. Why as a body of believers would we pretend that, how we dress doesn’t matter? “Well because how I dress doesn’t reflect my personal relationship with God! That’s why!” Doesn’t it?
If you ran a rescue for prostitutes and one of those ladies came to know the Lord, would you not encourage her to dress a bit differently? If you ran an outreach to gangs to get young men out of the life wouldn’t you tell them the first thing they should do is to stop wearing the colors of their former gang? Why then are we so timid to take new believers, or believers new to Torah and teach them that they should change their clothes as well as their outlook on dressing? Shouldn’t we be encouraging people to change their uniform, to show the World who they are and who they belong to?
Romans 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
“God knows my heart.”
This is usually a phrase that is meant to fend off either an accusation or a conviction. If I tell you, “you don’t know what I meant, thought or felt, only God knows” there is no argument against that. You are right only God knows the inner workings of a man’s mind, but He tells us there are ways to tell what’s going on, on the inside.
Luke 6:45 “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good ; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil ; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.
We do what we do because the good or bad stored up in our hearts. Our actions and our words are a direct reflection of who we are on the inside. What we do and say reveals the character of our hearts. What are you revealing about your character? Are you being selfish? Displaying your body without thought to your brother? Are you being foolish? Pretending that what you wear does not define you?