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Most Jewish men wear a white shirt, black jacket, black pants and black shoes. Their head is covered usually by a yarmulke [yah muh kuh], or kippah [kip ah], a small circular hat worn at the top of the head. It is worn in reverence to God.
During prayer times, the men wear a tallit, a rectangular cloth with four corners. Each of the corners of the tallit are fringed or knotted. These fringes or knots are called the tzitzit.
Many Jewish women wear tznius clothing, or modest attire, to show their devotion to God. Not to emphasize their physical attributes, their clothing colors are subdued; no knees, elbows, or shoulders should be exposed. Open-toed shoes are not worn.
A married woman must keep her hair covered. A woman who is not yet married may reveal her hair.
Tznius women wear a scarf or wig called a tichel. It is worn tight to the skull. Some women shave their heads before donning the tichel; this is not done for tradition, but for convenience.
Not all Jews follow these traditions as a result of the influence of other cultures.
In my own culture in the Deep South of the United States, I have seen major transitions in dress from the mid fifties up to the present. Sadly, I don’t see that we’ve made progress; the casual life has taken over and with it went morality and modesty.
If you are of any age, you can look back and see what was accepted apparel has drastically changed.
For myself, I can close my eyes and see families like mine heading to church in their Sunday best. In this day and age that is considered passe. I look at the shorts and sandals and manners and chewing gum and leggings that enter churches these days and shutter.
Behavior accompanies apparel. As a teacher for thirty-seven years, I saw respect, performance, and attitudes towards their studies regress. Parents showing up for conferences with tight revealing clothing, tattoos, rings through their noses and lips, reflected their own lack of respect for the educational institution. With that came the attitude that their wants and needs far outweighed what was best for their own children.
I longed for uniforms for teachers and students. Many studies prove academic achievement, behavior, and respect rise in the student and teacher population.
But I digress; closing my eyes, I see the ladies with their hats covering their heads at Sunday services. I see gloves covering their hands, high heels, stockings, and hem lines below the knees. Men wearing suits, ties, polished shoes, and as a sign of respect, removing their hats upon entering the sanctuary.
Maybe I am just longing for the past; maybe I don’t get the importance of spiritual attitudes vs. dressing for others’ approval. But the Jewish communities, the Muslim communities, and other religions that follow thousand-year old traditions do get it. I respect their adherence to those traditions. Now, where are my white gloves, heels, and hat; I must get on my Sunday Best.
Dear Lord, forgive my judgement of others’ styles, attitudes, and behaviors. Who am I to declare they lack respect. My old fashioned ways have not kept up with the world. Indeed, I am glad I am not of this present world. It brings to mind two particular sections of Your Word. I respect these traditions and can understand the reasons behind them. Please allow me to quote Your Word as an ending benediction to my thoughts for today.
Exodus 28:40-41 The Message
“Weave the tunic of fine linen. Make the turban of fine linen. The sash will be the work of an embroiderer. Make tunics, sashes, and hats for Aaron’s sons to express glory and beauty. Dress your brother Aaron and his sons in them. Anoint, ordain, and consecrate them to serve me as priests.
Exodus 39:1 The Message
Vestments. Using the blue, purple, and scarlet fabrics, they made the woven vestments for ministering in the Sanctuary. Also they made the sacred vestments for Aaron, as God had commanded Moses.
Might I also add that being full of care can apply to every single aspect of your life.
Matthew 5:7-9 The Message
“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
Psalm 19:14 New International Version
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen