How to enforce Tznius guidelines in a Kehillah

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  • #610549
    Leyzer
    Participant

    Can anyone offer practical and sensible advice how to deal with a Tznius problem in a Shul.

    A small proportion of the members do not dress according to the standards publicly requested by the Rov – specifically, one standard which is clear Halacha, which no-one in the Shul can claim to have a Heter for. It is very unlikely that the people who flout this standard do not realise what they are doing.

    What practical method would you suggest to get them to follow the requests?

    NB. This is a practical problem for which we are seeking a practical solution. Therefore, please do not respond with any off-topic discussion as to the propriety of policing Tznius (or, as opposed to any other Avera e.g. Loshon Hora etc etc).

    #976100
    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    What practical method would you suggest to get them to follow the requests?

    Have the Rebbitzen first call, then go to each one privately in their own home, and offer to discuss the Halachos of Tznius inside a real sefer (such as the Mishna Berurah). Many people don’t follow Tznius because either they think it is made up (blame the schools that really do make up Halachos) or they believe it is muttar (i.e. the famous misread Aruch Hashulchan). If you do it in public, it will never work, and it will boomerang so that they will not listen even if you are nice about it the next time.

    Hatzlacha.

    #976101
    eclipse
    Member

    A person can only control his/her OWN actions. If davening there disturbs your davening or your thoughts, not much choice but to daven elsewhere. Even the Rov can’t “control” how the women dress.

    Am I wrong?

    #976102
    akuperma
    Participant

    1. Set a good example.

    2. Look at anyone who appears in public inappropriately (e.g. too short a skirt, too low a neckline, too expensive a suit, too flashy a necktie, too expensive a car) as being weird.

    3. Consider how a law firm looks at someone who shows up for work in sneakers, shorts and a flashy “vacation” shirt — or how a geek-oriented hi-tech firm deals with someone who insists on wearing a suit and tie. Most of the human race has strict and intricate dress codes – without have to write them down.

    #976103
    Leyzer
    Participant

    Akuperma:

    1. As I wrote it is only a minority who dress this way, yet they do not look to the majority to copy their ‘good example’.(In fact your answer is so simplistic and unrealistic I wonder if you were being facetious.)

    2. How does viewing them as ‘wierd’ help the bad image they create for the Shul, the Michsholos they create for the menfolk and the bad example they set for the (weaker) femalefolk?

    3. I have no idea what your point is.

    #976104
    Leyzer
    Participant

    Eclipse said:

    If davening there disturbs your davening or your thoughts, not much choice but to daven elsewhere.

    My response:

    Are you serious? It’s not a nightclub…it’s a shul. If anything, the transgressors should be the ones to move on.

    But in any case, i do still harbour hope that there is a solution somewhere, rather than giving up as you are proposing.

    #976105
    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Are the same people who want to kick people out of the Kehila, the same people who dont understand why people go OTD

    #976106
    miritchka
    Member

    Leyzer: I think having another woman, best if its the rebbitzen of the shul, go over and tell her straight out that she may not be aware of the halachic guidelines in the shul and please dress appropriately. It’s been done in the past. I would imagine its the same idea as a BY. When a student even wears the wrong sweater, there is a knas or some sort of warning before the knas.

    Sometimes the best way is the blunt way.

    #976107
    Toi
    Participant

    eclipse- If it comes to removing any members, I believe it would be more appropriate to ask those not adhereing to the standards of the shul to leave. A shul has every right to make standards for its congregants.

    Maybe have the rebbetzin or rov start a shiur in a related topic that can quietly broach the subject biderech agav without being to confrontational.

    #976108
    Redleg
    Participant

    Are you a board member or officer of your shul or is it just you being anal? Son, tznius isn’t for you to enforce, it’s for you to observe. We are now in the aseres yemei hateshuva. I’d be careful about judging other Jews if I were you. better worry about your own failings.

    As a practical matter, there is no way to physically enforce a shul dress code that won’t land you in court or, worse, jail. Just look the other way.

    #976109
    MCP
    Member

    “specifically, one standard which is clear Halacha, which no-one in the Shul can claim to have a Heter for”

    Can you elaborate? Many “clear Halachos” are not as clear as they are made out to be. Additionally, I’m not sure what the issue is for the men – if there is a proper Mechitza they can’t see the women during davening anyways, and in the street, these women are no worse than anyone else the men will see.

    I understand that you are looking for a solution to the problem, not discussions as to whether or not it’s your job to police the problem, but unless we have more information, it is impossible to ascertain whether it is actually a problem.

    #976110
    no1
    Member

    How to enforce Tznius guidelines in a Kehillah (6 posts)

    Started 3 hours ago by Leyzer

    Latest reply from Leyzer

    Why Start the subject with Enforce and than say: “NB. This is a practical problem for which we are seeking a practical solution. Therefore, please do not respond with any off-topic discussion as to the propriety of policing Tznius (or, as opposed to any other Avera e.g. Loshon Hora etc etc).”

    #976112
    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    I think having another woman, best if its the rebbitzen of the shul, go over and tell her straight out that she may not be aware of the halachic guidelines in the shul and please dress appropriately. It’s been done in the past. I would imagine its the same idea as a BY. When a student even wears the wrong sweater, there is a knas or some sort of warning before the knas.

    Sometimes the best way is the blunt way.

    WADR, being confrontational will only push the women in the opposite direction. If your goal is to make those who are not at your standards no longer Frum and thereby remove them from your shul, this would be a good idea.

    #976113
    oomis
    Participant

    If it is a woman flouting the halacha (and btw, men might dress inappropriately for Shul, also), ONLY another woman, preferably the rebbetzin, should speak to the woman involved PRIVATELY, and in a really nice, hopefull non-judgmental way. “I am not telling you how to dress outside these walls, but when you come to Shul, you can best show Kovod for the Torah, for the Mikdash M’at, for the other mispallelim, and most of all, for YOURSELF, when you dress properly. By not exposing your neckline, knees or elbows, or wearing things that are otherwise just not appropriate for Shul, you are enhancing the kedusha of the Shul, and elevating the davening to a higher spiritual level. Please think about that when you dress for Shul next time. We love to have you daven with us.” If that sounds too hokey, then pick your own expressions, but you get the idea.

    #976114
    eclipse
    Member

    I will clarify: You would not be REMOVING yourself as if it’s a penalty, you would just be accepting “defensive living”. If another car on the road is being driven by a crazy maniac,I am not going to start teaching him how to drive safely because he clearly isn’t interested. I will get out of harm’s way, FOR MY OWN SAKE. There will always be poor drivers on the road, and there will always be TZNIUSDIG people attending all the shiurim on tznius, while the others struggle and cause others to struggle at the same time.

    #976115
    eclipse
    Member

    And those who suggested that the Rebitzen approach the women were making a lot of sense, too. But the success of that would depend entirely on how much those women look up to her.

    #976116
    eclipse
    Member

    oomis: Nice! (Are you a rebitzen? I’m asking seriously.)

    #976117
    apushatayid
    Participant

    1: Have the Rebbetzin speak to the offending woman (and their mother when appropriate) and the Rav to their husband or father.

    2: If it persists make sure the men get no kibbudim, ever.

    #976118
    writersoul
    Member

    Personally, if anyone said any of this stuff to me, I’d flip.

    It’s not (necessarily and IMHO) me being completely resistant to criticism- the point is that there are a lot of variables.

    If this is something so blatantly obviously a violation of tznius that the person just doesn’t seem to care, then MAYBE I would get the rebbetzin or someone with some kind of official capacity (NOT a random do-gooder from around the block) to broach the question. A lot would depend on whether the person would be willing to listen- it’s not a mitzvah to rebuke someone who doesn’t want to be told, IIRC, and it can actually make the matter worse.

    If the person is wearing something that in other communities is acceptable but in this one is not (eg. a knee covering skirt in a place where people usually wear mid-calf, a more bright but still tznius outfit in a more somber environment) then as long as there are no actual issurim being broken I think this is absolutely counterproductive. If you want, just keep the whole “holier-than-thou” mantra running through your head and whenever you see her, just remember that you’re better than that poor, deluded, pritzusdikke soul.

    (Yes, I’m bitter, thanks for asking. Though the actual advice is 100% serious.)

    I go to a pretty yeshivish shul where I am one of the more, shall we say, creative dressers. Nobody cares, which is nice. I have, however, been in similar shuls where some nice lady told me that my skirt is too short or my top is too bright. I don’t get dressed blind, and my mom doesn’t buy me clothing that she doesn’t think is tznius. If I’m wearing it, that means that my family and therefore my rav thinks it’s fine. (The most annoying is when someone tells me my shoes are too “trendy”- I mean, honestly, in three months you’ll be wearing them, and there’s nothing intrinsically WRONG with them tzniuswise. It just doesn’t make sense.)

    #976120
    Leyzer
    Participant

    apushatayid, thanks – you’re one of the first to mention talking to the husbands. I agree wholeheartedly – that seems to be a good point.

    MCP, the issue I was referring to was skirts not covering the knees while standing up. Are you aware of any Poskim (orthodox only please! no reform/reconstructionist) who are Mattir?

    #976121
    miritchka
    Member

    gavra_at_work: good point! Thats why i mentioned the rebbitzen should go over and not any other woman. A rebbitzen would know how to tell her the halacha in a gentle but firm manner. Whereas if i were to go over to a fellow congregant and gently but firmly say somehting, it would come across as “confrontational bluntness”. If a rebbitzen goes over and gently but firmly say something, it would come across as “gentle bluntness”.

    by the way, what does WADR stand for?

    #976122
    MCP
    Member

    Not covering the knees at all or not covering the whole knee? Which holy men are looking so closely?

    We’re not talking about women in shorts and tank tops here. I would say just look the other way. That doesn’t mean that a gentle word (once) isn’t a good idea, but I personally don’t think it’s something to make a big deal over.

    #976123
    Leyzer
    Participant

    MCP said:

    Not covering the knees at all or not covering the whole knee? Which holy men are looking so closely?

    My response:

    Your sarcasm is misplaced and unwelcome. Did it cross your mind that holy women have (also) noticed?

    In any case – your response smacks of the ridiculous implication that the men shouldn’t have been looking and that it is therefore their fault for the issue. Basically, you give carte blanche to a woman to dress however she wants, reprimanding not her but the man who looks.

    It’s not dissimilar to the nutcases who accuse rape victims of dressing provocatively and bringing it upon themselves. You, too, are confusing the ‘victim’ and the ‘transgressor’!

    #976124
    Leyzer
    Participant

    MCP also said:

    We’re not talking about women in shorts and tank tops here. I would say just look the other way.

    My response:

    Yes, but our Shul holds itself to a higher standard than merely avoiding shorts and tank tops. It’s called Halacha. Sorry for being so Orthodox.

    #976125
    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    WADR – with all due respect.

    miritchka: I just added that it should be done privately. IMHO (in my humble opinion), many Tznius offenses are not due to blatant disregard, but rather not understanding or having been mistaught. That can be fixed, but only in a positive and private atmosphere.

    apushatayid, thanks – you’re one of the first to mention talking to the husbands. I agree wholeheartedly – that seems to be a good point.

    Completely disagree, unless you want to ruin Shalom Bayis and create divorces. In fact, it is better to not say anything than to cause friction in the home. After all, the Sotah’s hair is uncovered in the Bais HaMikdash (not Tznius!?) to create Shalom. (and FYI, the gemorah cares less about that than Mechikas HaShem).

    #976126
    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    (HaLevia here.) MCP: why do you assume it’s the men being holy? Is it conceivable to you that a frum woman might care about this as well? Yes I would have an issue with the woman next to me in shul on RH/YK wearing a skirt that doesn’t cover her knees.(I am talking about a woman who knows better.) Who considers it a virtue to ignore kedushas beis haknesses? This is at least as big a problem as kids playing and being noisy in shul, I would think.

    #976127
    apushatayid
    Participant

    “that seems to be a good point.”

    It is a point that is lost on most people. The fathers/husbands are responsible for the spiritual atmosphere of the family. They should be very involved. There is also the not so small matter that they, for the most part, fund the purchase of the clothing that is not acceptable, hold them accountable.

    #976128
    steven2
    Member

    Is this woman dressing like that on purpose or not?

    #976129
    oomis
    Participant

    oomis: Nice! (Are you a rebitzen? I’m asking seriously.) “

    Nope. But thank you, I wish I were worthy of the title.

    #976130
    Torah613Torah
    Participant

    For women or men?

    For women, talk to the women individually.

    But honestly, you really cannot do so much. You can put up sayings about tznius and have Ateres and start chaburas on Rabbi Falk, and hope it filters through, but keep in mind it is a personal decision and there’s no guarantee it will work.

    #976131
    bklynmom
    Participant

    “start chaburas on Rabbi Falk”-

    There are several Rabbonim who have said that Rav Falk is machmir in many of the Tzinus halachos. (as most European/UK halachas are)I would not use his sefer as the ‘source book’

    #976132
    Toi
    Participant

    bklymom- i dont think you need a rav to say that. crack a SH”A and youll know yourself.

    #976133
    zahavasdad
    Participant

    The problem is the Rabbi Falk book has become the “Bible” of Tznius and it turns off alot of people

    #976134
    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    “start chaburas on Rabbi Falk”-

    So you want everyone in shul to stop dressing Tznius?

    🙂

    #976135
    MCP
    Member

    Leyzer, women should mind their own business. They have no excuse that the improperly dressed women will cause them to be mistakel. Other than lifnei iver, how someone else dresses, and someone elses kavod for the beis knesses, is none of your business. You can say that you prefer women dress a certain way, you can have the Rav talk about it. But I would bet that God would prefer the prayer of a sincere woman who’s skirt is an inch to short than that of a self righteous sanctimonious enforced who would prefer to drive someone away from yiddishkeit than allow them to daven with their chosen kehilla.

    #976136
    YITZCHOK2
    Participant

    To me this whole thread seems like a waste of time. The shul has a Rabbi and just tell the Rabbi what your issue is and only the Rabbi should deal with it. He will know where the woman is holding and if it’s worth making an issue or not. If your Rabbi feels he should deal with it he will and if you are not happy with the Rabbi’s choice of how to deal with it and you can’t control your eyes then just switch shuls. Any issue that I have ever had with how things have run in my shul I tell my Rabbi about and then I trust him to make the right choices. If you do not trust your Rabbi you should find another shul regardless of how this tzinus issue is resolved.

    #976137
    apushatayid
    Participant

    ViHakesef Yaaneh Es Hakol.

    Dont patronize frum establishments that sell clothing that is inappropriate. Dont patronize media establishments (print or electronic) that advertise inappropriate clothing.

    #976138
    apushatayid
    Participant

    “After all, the Sotah’s hair is uncovered in the Bais HaMikdash (not Tznius!?) to create Shalom.”

    What a distortion of the gemara!!

    #976139
    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    APY: You want to shrai, or you want to explain yourself?

    Yes, I’m proposing that Shalom Bayis is more important (as far as HKBH is concerned, not “frumkeit” or “Charaidism”) than Tznius. Prove to me that I’m wrong.

    #976140

    “The fathers/husbands are responsible for the spiritual atmosphere of the family. They should be very involved. There is also the not so small matter that they, for the most part, fund the purchase of the clothing that is not acceptable, hold them accountable.”

    First of all, not all families follow the man-breadwinner woman-homemaker model. It used to be that more yeshivish families were MORE likely to use this model, and now, as more men are being encouraged to learn full-time, even yeshivish women are taking on responsibilities of parnassah. Therefore, the clothing may in many situations be funded by the woman’s work, not the man’s.

    Second of all, and more importantly: I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ll gladly tell you what my family’s response to this situation would be. If someone in shul (it really doesn’t matter who) approached my husband (it really doesn’t matter how) to tell him that I was dressed inappropriately (it really doesn’t matter if I was or wasn’t) it would lead to feelings of anger and resentment from both of us, possibly a fight between us, and we would almost certainly switch shuls. So if your objective is to get these people to leave the shul at all costs (because after all it’s “not a nightclub”, and there is nothing in between dressing appropriately for a night club and dressing inappropriately for shul), even if it means causing some damage to shalom bayis along the way, then by all means speak to the husband/s.

    Now, if the rebbetzin were to speak to me privately and gently, in a way that made me feel humbled and welcomed and wanted, I would be very embarrassed and very grateful to her. I would immediately change my mode of dress. I would continue to attend the shul and hold my head up proudly in front of the rebbetzin, feeling like I belonged. And I would NEVER tell my husband what had happened, knowing that it would offend him more than it had offended me.

    #976141

    Oh, and also, what is this about the husband being responsible for the spiritual atmosphere of the family? I was always taught that that was the wife’s domain.

    #976142
    justanidea
    Member

    The Rav needs to start speaking about it weekly in a drasha format of the importance of the topic.

    Then the rav gets a group of important members to be maskim to a list of rules that the tzibur agrees to as a zechus to the tzibur or someone in the shul or community who can use a zechus.

    Then signs are posted all over the shul of the takanas that the core members agree to on behalf of the kehilla, it doesn’t have to be just for tznius it can be takanas for anything like Speaking during davening or krias hatorah or anything else.

    But that should work over time.Now remember most important is the rav giving weekly drashas about that inyans importance!

    #976143
    lakewood001
    Member

    You can’t “enforce” things like Tznius. The world is too open. If people get upset they will just leave your Shul and make freinds with people that don’t care about tznius. If you want people to keep tznius you need to sell them on it, and convince them to WANT to keep it.

    If you can’t make people want to keep something or see the value in it then there is other issues with it anyway.

    #976144
    oy1
    Member

    Be happy she’s going to shul!

    I don’t think we have any right to turn away women who dress “immodestly”. Yes. It might not be comfortable for some. But be grateful she went and got dressed to daven in shul!

    Give her some credit.

    #976145
    apushatayid
    Participant

    “Yes, I’m proposing that Shalom Bayis is more important (as far as HKBH is concerned, not “frumkeit” or “Charaidism”) than Tznius. Prove to me that I’m wrong.”

    You completely distorted the gemara. The gemara tells us that shalom is so great that hashem allows his name to be erased. It says nothing about the fact that he allows a pritzus situation to facilitate shalom. In fact, the stated reason for “uncovering” (see Rashi on the word pura) her hair has nothing to do with shalom, rather it is to shame and rebuke her.

    #976146
    apushatayid
    Participant

    “Oh, and also, what is this about the husband being responsible for the spiritual atmosphere of the family?”

    A husband is obligated to say something when his wife or children are not dressed in accordance with halacha. If he doesnt, he is shirking his responsibility as a husband and a father.

    #976147
    apushatayid
    Participant

    “First of all, not all families follow the man-breadwinner woman-homemaker model. It used to be that more yeshivish families were MORE likely to use this model, and now, as more men are being encouraged to learn full-time, even yeshivish women are taking on responsibilities of parnassah. Therefore, the clothing may in many situations be funded by the woman’s work, not the man’s.”

    1: What I was referring to was “Dad, can I use your credit card to buy a new whatever”, as a parent in that situation he should say as long as it conforms to this families standards of tznius, if not, it is going back. The mother of the family has a right to the same. I am not getting into family dynamics where one spouse uses his or her position as the breadwinner to withold purchases from the other. Tznius is the least of this couples problems.

    #976148
    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    You completely distorted the gemara. The gemara tells us that shalom is so great that hashem allows his name to be erased. It says nothing about the fact that he allows a pritzus situation to facilitate shalom. In fact, the stated reason for “uncovering” (see Rashi on the word pura) her hair has nothing to do with shalom, rather it is to shame and rebuke her.

    Yes, and so?

    If Tznius was so important, then it (uncovering hair) would not have been allowed in the Sotah ritual. By the fact that it is allowed shows that Shalom Bayis is more important.

    FYI, in general use among Achainu Beni Yisroel, the term “Hashem” is capitalized.

    #976150
    MDG
    Participant

    “2. Look at anyone who appears in public inappropriately (e.g. too short a skirt, too low a neckline, too expensive a suit, too flashy a necktie, too expensive a car) as being weird. “

    <sarcasm> I stare at those immodest women all the time to let them know that I disapprove. I think it has worked, as some don’t come anymore. Others complained that some creepy guy keeps looking at them. Must be someone else, as I’m normal. </sarcam>

    #976151
    miritchka
    Member

    In these past 2 weeks, i just noticed an ad in Jewish magazines and newspapers of part of a letter/statement from R’ Moshe Feinstein regarding the legnth of womens skirts. I dont know how long this ad was there, but I just noticed it 2 weeks ago and this past week. I have a big nisayon as my favorite skirts do roll up when i sit down, exposing parts of my knee. After i read this ‘ad’ I immediately threw out those skirts. As hard as it was for me, i know that i did the right thing and I hope that i can inspire others to do the same. Yes, it means i will have to spend money that we dont have available right now for new skirts, but I’m hoping that in this zchus we will merit bracha in our home.

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