Thursday, July 5, 2007


You are what you Wear

Tzniut (translated loosely as modesty) begins with a different way of looking at yourself. Usually, we perceive things simply as they appear on the surface. We look at a house and see its windows, doors, and roof. We look at a tree and see its trunk, branches, and leaves.Yet every object or scene has more than one aspect to it, and if put in a different light, can become more than what it initially appeared to be. An old, gnarled tree becomes a stirring statement of the ability to endure and transcend time. Hebrew inscribed tombstone in a neglected Polish cemetery becomes a soul crying out from a lost world. Even a single object can take on very different or even opposite meanings. The Kotel (Western Wall) can be a symbol of mourning over the Jewish nation's fall from its former glory; yet, if viewed differently, that same wall can communicate hope and rebirth. As a human being, you are the most multifaceted creation of all, and can be seen in an almost infinite number of ways. Upon meeting you for the first time, people may immediately see "stocky build" or "curly hair." After spending a bit of time with you, they may notice "artistic" or "athletic." After getting to know you, they may be able to see you as "emotionally complex" or "a highly abstract thinker." And just as others can view you on different planes, so, too, there are any number of ways in which you can view yourself. Tzniut begins with looking past your more superficial layers and seeing who, on the deepest level, you are capable of being. Tzniut then means gradually learning how to convey an important message to others -- and instilling it in yourself. The message that tzniut asks you to project is "internality": that of all the parts of you, it is your innermost self by which you want to be defined. In order to convey this message, you must know when and how to reveal your body, your abilities, and everything else that makes you up, so that these don't hide but instead express who you really are. The challenge of tzniut is to project every aspect of yourself in such a way that it draws the focus to your true identity.
Tzniut means knowing and communicating to others that your identity equals your innermost self. The way to project this message is to transform the outside layers of yourself into an expression of your inside. This can be difficult, for the more obvious, superficial parts of you can easily outshine your deeper dimensions. As any photographer knows, too much light can wash out the subtlety and beauty of a photograph. In the same way, when all of your own light shines unfiltered, your inner self can be lost from the picture. The most outer, visible part of you, and that which can most easily destroy an internal self-image, is your physical self -- your body.

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One's belief in God must come through faith and not because of miracles. "Rebbe Nachman of Breslov"