Graduations

For some reason, I’m recalling my high school graduation again.

I did the graduation video. I already wrote about it here.

But one thing: we weren’t allowed to include any photos or videos of the students themselves. Why? Because there would be fathers in the audience.

The graduating class would be sitting on stage, and that made the hanhala uncomfortable enough. (Imagine women being the center of attention at an event celebrating their achievements!) And so what if these students visited each other and presumably ran into each other’s fathers. That was real life, and real life is clearly different than the silver screen. Or projection screen. Whatever. Anyway, point is, once you blow up someone’s face and play it as a video, or show it as a picture, that’s just really bad for men to see.

If you don’t understand this, it’s because you lack the sensitivity to tznius that is the hallmark of a true bas Yisroel.

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Graduations

The Things My Teachers Said About Zippers

In the  post “Things My Teacher Said About Tznius” I had the following:

“…that I need to zip my sweater all the way up. Leaving it all the way open looks sloppy, and halfway zipped will attract male attention.”

There were many chortling responses of “Ohyez, my teacher said stuff like that too.” Here are some of the issues Bais Yaakov teachers have with zippers:

“Front zippers were also not okay.”

Front flies are not good. Because they draw attention to… well… there. (This is not an issue with men, apparently. It’s okay for men to have a there, and women can control their imaginations.)

“…Dresses were in style with the zippers down the front of the dress. Our teacher said, ‘Girls, one zip and you’re ready.’ We didn’t even understand what she was saying. Now I finally get it.”

Don’t teachers just have the dirtiest minds, sometimes? It’s a good thing they are there to prevent us from making it through adolescence with pure, unsullied minds.

“Just remembered re the zipper thing: we were told that taking off a sweater or sweatshirt in public isn’t tzniusdig because it makes people (re: men) think about you undressing. I’m still uncomfortable taking off my sweatshirt in anyone’s presence…”

That reminds me of the famous “don’t go out with wet hair or men will imagine you in the shower.” But that doesn’t involve a zipper, so it’s for a different time.

Before I wrap up, I just want to remind you that tznius is about personal dignity and refinement. It’s not about anyone else and therefore it exists no matter who is around. #InternalContradictions

The Things My Teachers Said About Zippers

Things Teachers Say About Tznius

Get a bunch of grads together and throw out a line, and you will be regaled for a good hour with “things you can’t believe my teacher said about tznius.” Add yours in the comments. 

“I had a teacher… who said verbatim, ‘The heat of gehenom is worse than the heat of wearing tights.'”

“I had a chassidish teacher in 7th grade who was waaaay too extreme for the girls in my school. Once she was at our class melave malka and was horrified to see that we were all wearing nude tights. She gave us a whole mussar speech about how terrible nude tights are (although most other teachers wore them). She ended with a fiery “Only bulletproof tights are fireproof — from the fires of gehenom!’ We were like “Waaaat?” Then a girl raised her hand and said, “But Mrs.  Principal wears nude tights too. Are you going to tell her this too?”

“I was told that my jean skirt is the cause of the churban.”

“Like, retroactively?”

“No, for each generation the Bais Hamikdash is not rebuilt, it’s like we destroyed it, and in our generation, it was my skirt that did it.”

 

“If you Flatbush girls wear nude tights, the boys won’t know your legs are covered and may do an aveirah and then it’s your fault.”

I was wearing my hair down and my teacher said I looked like “a shloch.” I have no idea what that was so I just laughed.

“Your shirt is so tight it looks like you left it in the dryer.”

“Nail polish? Do you want to be Jewish?”

“If you think your brother isn’t attracted to your kneecaps, think again.”

Things Teachers Say About Tznius

The Time I Tried an Interpretive Answer on a Hebrew Quiz

Another one from Rose, who knows what’s what, including elbows. 

Every week we had to memorize a hundred Hebrew words for our Safah quiz. In the beginning, I tried to. I remember the time it was body parts. I couldn’t remember the word for “elbow” so I wrote in “ervah.” She wouldn’t give me the point, even when I went over after and argued.

 

The Time I Tried an Interpretive Answer on a Hebrew Quiz

The Time Our Principal Was a Little Obsessed With Sexuality

Another one from Rose, who learned from her principal what is important to obsess over. 
We had an interesting principal.
One time our teacher didn’t come so she came in and told us to all get a Tanach.
“Open to the last Perek of Achrei Mos.” That’s the list of forbidden relationships.
She made us go around and read it all in both Hebrew and in English.
Then she gave us a speech that lasted two periods.
She went on about how the Torah wastes no words on these forbidden relationships. How harsh the punishment is. How we create gedarim go keep us away from them.
She pointed to two pillars on opposite ends of the room.
“If that one is tumah, and that one is tahara, then every geder around tumah pushes us closer to tahara.”
“Maybe it’s not necessarily true that  brushing someone’s hands while getting change will lead to znus, but talking to a boy in a pizza shop definitely will.”
I remember once she was talking about gedarim and she turned to the 12th graders and said “I just gave my Achrei Mos spiel to the ninth graders. Remember how uncomfortable you were? Now you understand why I do it.”
As the 12th graders filed out I overhead one say “I still don’t get why she did that.”
***
Another speech she took a period for:
She handed out printed sheets from Mishna Berura about davening in front of women.
“The reason that I can’t be in the room with my husband while he’s davening is so he shouldn’t have sexual thoughts about me. Similarly with keeping my hair covered in the house, in case he has to make a brocha.”
It was a weird thing to say to a bunch of ninth graders. If there was one thing we were pretty sure about, it was that nobody every had any sexual thoughts about any of our teachers.
***
Our school rulebook said socks should be “blue or black and shoes should be invisible in design.”
I remember in ninth grade I was so idealistic I spent days shopping for shoes that were the same color as my socks and even the stitches matched my socks so you almost couldn’t see them… my mother would joke for years about my shoes being invisible.
Anyway it was silly sock day, which means we wore colorful socks because of something to do with GO or Mishmeres.
In honor of silly, sock day, I went shopping for duck socks specifically.
Apparently nobody cleared this with the principal. So on Silly Sock Day, she was astonished to discover us all walking about brazenly in colorful, patterned, illustrated socks. She stopped a few students in the hall and asked about the socks situation — is this a new trend?
She was assured they would disappear tomorrow — it was Silly Sock Day.
She laughed. “I don’t mind girls expressing themselves with harmless trends. Only when it’s overtly sexual.”
Given how some high school principals are, I guess I should be grateful that she couldn’t think of anything overtly sexual about silly socks.
The Time Our Principal Was a Little Obsessed With Sexuality

The Time We Got Handed Bnos Melachim Newsletters

This story is also from Rose. Her conclusion: “Then, two years later the principal got ousted and the school went downhill quickly, and now they’re embroiled in a legal battle and scandal.” 

My principal in elementary school was really good – there’s been some positive stories about her on this blog already. She had a requirement that any paper handed out by any teacher had to be signed by her. Any homework or anything. I remember sitting in her office once because I was in trouble and she had a huge stack of papers to go through for the entire school.

She was very involved.

Once we got handed out a Bnos Melachim newsletter. It had tznius standards that were… not in line with the school’s. Things like your skirts need to be four inches below the waist and four inches of fabric out from the waist (so it isn’t snug), opaque tights and the like.

There were also three stories for inspiration. One was about a girl who threw out her skirts so she could buy new ones, and paid with a post-dated check because she had no money and had none coming in (which I think is technically stealing?)  and for some reason the check didn’t bounce; Hashem magically made the money appear in her account.

One of the other stories was about a woman who wanted to take a class to help her special-needs child. But the class was going to be mixed. She didn’t know what to do — how could she compromise her ideals, but how could she not do everything to help her child? I forget how it worked out, but in the end she didn’t need to compromise.

Many parents read the tznius standards and called the school to complain. They wore nude tights. They didn’t want to have to deal with the inevitable grilling from their 8th graders.

The principal gathered our classes together and came in and apologized that we got handed this newsletter, explaining that the standards expressed therein didn’t match those of the school.

But she added that the story about the special-needs kid’s mother did make her tear up, and she pointed out that disagreeing with something doesn’t mean you have to throw out any value it has.

She also offered to take back any newsletters that anyone wanted to get out of their possession.

The Time We Got Handed Bnos Melachim Newsletters

The Time My Teacher Assumed Too Much

This one is from BaisYaakovLiberal: 

My teacher was talking about the power of habit. She told a story to illustrate her point. There was a rabbi (sorry, I don’t remember his name) who never put his hand below his waist.

When he passed away, people tried to straighten out his arms [for burial] but they remained straight.

Clueless girl: “Why did he keep his hands there?”

Teacher: “It’s an inyan of zehirus.”

Clueless girl: *Looks confused*

Me: *cracks up*

The Time My Teacher Assumed Too Much