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HALACHA-----tznius/ chumras

grend123 Posted - 30 December 2001 22:24

I'm posting this here because it seems appropriate; move it if you have a better place.

Mod, something you said in another forum (halachos for the summer, sandals without socks) truly amazed me, and I wanted to move the discussion to a place where others are more likely to see it and maybe comment.

I pointed out to you that Rav Moshe held socks were a chumra, not a halacha, and you responded that I was correct, but other poskim disagree.

Now, accuse modern orthodoxy of pick-and-choose Judaism all you want, but this is the same thing in reverse: picking out the chumros you want. We all know Chava ate the wheat (what, you expected me to say apple ;-) ) from the eitz hadaas and was punished because Adam added an unnecessary geder of not touching the tree.

Today, Agudah types (in contrast to YI) are guilty of this as well. There's an attitude of, "well, it’s not assur, but what the heck, lets be machmir anyways" that

A) is NOT correct Judaism (see Rashi in beitzah 2b about makil vs machmir) and

B) like by Adam and Chava, can lead people off.

To use an obvious example, take tznius. There's tznius - for arguments sake lets accept rov poskim who require covered knees, elbows, collarbone, etc. - and then there's seamed tights and drab smocks and all the other wonderful accessories we've added that takes a beautiful mitzvah and turns it into a sorry joke.

Let me ask you: which girls is more likely to rebel: one who wears long denim skirts and long-sleeved tee's or one who wears a burka?? (An exaggeration, but by how much?) It's Newton's Third Law adapted for Judaism: the more chumros you push onto a person, the more they'll resist and push back.

Which brings me to the subject of my amazement. Until I mentioned the Rav Moshe, you presented the socks issue as clear cut halacha. Relying on Rav Moshe is far from dochek.

I have to wonder, if Rav Moshe had said they were assur and everyone else disagreed, would you still have presented the halacha as assur? Probably, because that’s the Agudah attitude - someone says it’s assur, so let’s follow them. And that, dear Mod, is not what "vichayisem bo"* is all about.

*"you should live in the torah "


PS- just so you know, I daven in an Agudah shul - not young Israel - and I cant and wont defend the permissiveness of many things among the young Israel crowd, even though I identify with them on many counts. However, just because it’s not "all allowed" doesn’t mean that it’s "all prohibited" either.

MODERATOR Posted - 30 December 2001 22:40

The problem with Chava was that she didn’t tell Adam that her Siyag was a Siyag - she lied, telling him it was what Hashem said. When a Halachah is portrayed accurately - D'Oraisa, D'Rabonon, L'chol Hadayos or Rov Dayos, Miyut Dayos, Hamachmir Tovo alav brachah, whatever - that is altogether proper.

The fact that a Posek permits something does not mean everyone should follow that posek. It depends on many other factors, including majority poskim - quantity and quality count here - minhag yisroel, the severity of the issue in question (d'oraysa, d'rabonon etc.), and more. Not following a minority of poskim especially where Klall Yisroel has for generations behaved like the majority does not constitute a chumrah at all. It means usually that it is proper procedure for someone who wants to do the right thing.

In the case of stockings, the majority of poskim - and this question is way older than Rav Moshe - hold that stockings are obligatory. When a man in Lakewood was castigated by Rav Aharon because his wife did not wear them, he said "But Rav Moshe holds it’s OK".

Rav Aharon said, "If you want to follow that shita, then move to the East Side [where Rav Moshe lived]."

Yes, Rav Moshe does hold like that, and someone who is a Talmid of Rav Moshe may want to follow him, but objectively, there are a majority of Poskim who disagree. Proper procedure is to follow the majority.

This does not mean that someone who follows the majority is a definite sinner, but it definitely means that following the majority is not a baseless chumrah.

One other note: Even where someone is machmir because of a minority of poskim (on his own, not forcing others to do so), it is not considered baseless, and certainly not in violation of "kol hamosef gorayah" - rather, it is considered praiseworthy Yiras Shamayim to make sure that your actions are kosher according to all great Poskim. As long as you understand that a chumrah is a chumrah and you do it because you accept it as such, you are praiseworthy.

grend123 Posted - 18 January 2002 16:49

But that's exactly my point. It's one thing to have a proper concept of chumra vs. halacha, and quite another to impose those chumros on a community and make them the norm.

There are many halachos which are specifically written for a "baal nefesh" and not intended to be forced onto the Jewish community at large. I'm not saying that it isn’t wonderful if someone accepts on their own to be mekayem all shitos about tznius, or to be machmir on any other halacha - you must have noticed that I was discussing specifically COMMUNAL attitudes.

My problem here is exactly analogous to Adam and Chava -chumros are being presented as real halacha and those who do not keep these chumros are as viewed in the same light as those who violate actual issurim.

To continue the above example, seamed tights are certainly a chumra however you slice them, yet they are a chumra imposed on the community; another good example is the new square rule against women driving - entirely a chumra, but enforced. By definition, a chumra has to be left up to individuals to accept upon themselves and therefore to earn the title of baal nefesh. To impose a chumra as halacha is a CLASSIC case of kol hamosef goreah.

sara73 Posted - 18 January 2002 16:49

HI, I posted a message but it doesn't seem to have worked so I’ll try again:
I agree, sometimes ppl go overboard with the chumras on tznius. for example: my skool calls black tights un-tznius, so we're not allowed to wear even navy or black woolen tights to school! can you think of anything more tznius then woolen tights? but no, that's not good enough for them!

MODERATOR Posted - 18 January 2002 17:50


Communities are allowed, even obligated, to impose gedorim and siyagim on their members when the Rav of the community feels that it is beneficial to do so. These siyagim usually become halachicly obligatory on the community members and often on their children as well. Someone in the community who violates these are indeed violating the Halachah that says they must adhere to the communal siyagim. If you don’t like that, you can leave the community -- and of course, lose the benefit of the siyag.

Furthermore, there are behaviors that some may consider a chumrah but others a Halachah. Seamed stockings, is not made to be a halachah in any community, but it is the opinion of many poskim - and in the "seamed stocking" communities they hold like that - that it is not good enough to wear stockings, but it must be obvious to the observer that they are stockings and not your legs.

The idea is, if stockings look like flesh, there is no point to having them. It is difficult to quantify, sometimes, which stockings are thick enough to fulfill this, and which can still look like flesh (dark flesh? pale flesh? in dim light? total daylight? at night? etc.) Therefore, these communities took it upon themselves to make sure their women wear only stockings with seams so that it will always look like stockings are being worn. Nobody ever said the seam itself it a halachah.

And no, it is not so that those who violate siyagim are considered like violating core halachos, but rather they are considered as violating siyagim, which is bad enough.

Chumros are not only the individual's choice, but those of the leadership of a community to choose where they feel it benefits the community. As such, they are enforceable within the community. That is altogether proper.

As long as each item is understood for what it is - D'Oraysa, D'Rabonon, Minhag, Machlokes, whatever - and in every single instance of community chumros, this is the case - it is proper and even obligatory to follow such behavior.

no, by definition, chumros do not have to be left up to the individual to follow themselves. Gedorim and Siyagim are community-binding as well, according to the rulings of its Rabbinic leaders.


I don’t think the objection to the stockings is they are not tznius, but rather they are "trendy", and your skool doesn’t want the girls involved in fashion trends. They may ambiguously call it "not tznius" but they do not mean the stocking in and of themselves are problematic, tznius-wise.

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