The Time My Teacher Claimed Prophesy

Okay, this wasn’t actually a claim of prophesy. But God gave us the Torah, the prophets, the oral law, and a bunch other stuff, and there’s one crazy omission from basically most of it: particulars of modesty. (Minor exception: some discussion of what constitutes “ervah” in the Gemara. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t include a lot of stuff that would be considered inappropriate today. Including — relevant detail — ankles.)

One thing I can assure you of: until the wondrous tome known as Oz V’Hadar was published for the shtetl of Manchester, and went viral, the concept of one’s skirt being “too long to be tznius” didn’t exist. 

This from Tamar, about the time her principal knew for sure that God disapproves of exposed ankles. 

I was chastised by my Hebrew teacher once because my nails were too long. I’ve been warned that wearing long, to the floor, denim skirts was not tznius because it was fashionable with the goyim.
This story does not come out of a Bais Yaakov high school, but it was from [REDACTED], the “college” closely associated with Bais Yaakov (essentially my school was the feeder school for that college) that featured many of the same teachers/administrators/perspectives.
I was attending a summer course during high school. Dress code specified covering up your legs, but I didn’t want to wear tights/long socks so I wore a long denim skirt, to the floor, and paired it with Chinese slippers (if you don’t remember those, they were cheap plastic slip-ons that provided a bit of coverage for your toes). Hey, nothing was showing.
I like to sit with my legs under me on my chair, so at one point the skirt shifted and you could see my bare ankle *gasp*.
The [female] principal saw me and called me into her office to chastise me.
I said “You know what, you’re right. I violated the dress code and I’m sorry, I should have covered my legs properly.”
She said “No! You should care about covering yourself because Hashem wants it, not because of the dress code!”
The Time My Teacher Claimed Prophesy

One thought on “The Time My Teacher Claimed Prophesy

  1. DF3 says:

    Ankle length is fashionable by the rest of the world? In what decade was this so? Have they done surveys about the average skirt lengths of non-Jewish women? Have they factored in that non-Jewish women can also wear mini-skirts?

    The ultra-Orthodox world’s ideas about clothing don’t change very quickly. A famous comedy writer said this about Korea (as it was in the 1950s during the Korean War), but it applies to Boro Park just as much: “They’re fifty years ahead in being behind.”. I’m sure they’re proud of that, but “fashion”implies what’s contemporary. Have you ever seen a style of clothing be the dominant one for ten years?

    Styles change. Also, if they don’t want Jews to wear clothes that non-Jews were, why can one still find chassidish women shopping at Macy’s, Saks, Lord & Taylor, and Nordstrom? Let them all shop at the tiny little places with low-quality, but tzniusdik merchandise, that is more likely than Macy’s is to be paying its people “off the books” (in violation of American law). How long will the stuff from there last? Who knows? Doesn’t matter. Right? So long as it’s Jewish. Not everything “Jewish” is inherently good. Not everything called Jewish is inherently Jewish, and not everything labelled by some small subset of the frum world as “goyish” is attributable exclusively to non-Jews. If these are the same people who blame the internet for chillul Shabbos when they should be blaming poor education and bad parenting, is their word on “fashion” really worth all that much?


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