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Unread 12-24-2001, 09:58 PM   #1
moshe
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Black Hats and Suits, Why?

I am a Bal' Teshuvah and half my life i have been wearing a black hat and suit and i just don't know what is really behind it?? Why not a shrieble? etc...
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Unread 12-24-2001, 10:00 PM   #2
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Why do religious Jews always dress in black?

Here are two related Q&A courtesy AskMoses.com:

QUESTION: Why do religious Jews always dress in black?

ANSWER: They don't.

While halachah emphasizes the qualities of the color black, and indeed, many Chassidic groups literally wear only black (and white), religious Jews generally dress in dark, solid, conservative, and businesslike styles, not necessarily in stark black.

There are several reasons for this code of conservatism:

1) To maintain a distinct identity

Our sages tell us that our forefathers survived the Egyptian exile for three reasons: they did not change their language, their names, or their style of dress. They maintained a distinct identity that helped them to prevent assimilating into Egyptian society.

2) To maximize human potential

There are two reasons human beings wear clothes: to protect the body from the elements, and to draw attention from other humans. In contrast to modern fashion that draws (unwarranted) attention to various base features of the human body, the Jewish dress code is unassuming, covering what we have in common with the animal kingdom (no details necessary), and exposing what distinguishes us from the animal kingdom (the head and hands).

3) Uniform responsibility

When you wear a uniform, it identifies you to others as someone bearing certain responsibilities. It also serves as a reminder to the one in uniform that his or her responsibilities are different from those not in uniform.

The Torah tells us that Jews are a "...nation of priests and a holy people (Exodus 19:6)." The Jewish dress code serves as a constant reminder of this.

* * *

QUESTION: What is the reason that Chassidim always wear black?

ANSWER: It's really a matter of tradition--that was, it seems the style of dress that the earlier Chasidim wore is because it is the most conservative of colors, and is most inconspicuous--or modest, if you will.

The fur hats and all stick out in a crowd, but that is relative to society today--anytime one particular group of people adheres to their own standard, be it in dress or other values, and do not move along with the changing trends, they will at one point or another become conspicuous.
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Unread 12-24-2001, 10:01 PM   #3
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Post The Rebbe on Black Hats

Herbert Weiner in "Nine and a Half Mystics : The Kabbala Today" writes that in Yechidus with the Rebbe, the Rebbe once told him:

"My chassidim think that to be a Chassid you need to wear a black hat, in truth this is not what matters. To be a Chassid they need to do what the Rebbe tells them to do"

(This is not an exact quote, but that was the punchline. If someone has the book, i'd appreciate it they could post an accurate quote.)
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Unread 12-24-2001, 10:02 PM   #4
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Why do very religious men wear long black garments only, even in summertime?

This article may also be useful (from this weeks chabad.org magazine):

QUESTION: Why do very religious men wear long black garments only, even in summertime?

ANSWER: Black, scientifically, is the absence of color. Wearing black only indicates lack of concern for color and other dictates of fashion, and thus helps keep priorities straight. In old sociological terms: to be inner-directed rather than other-directed. Anyway, it certainly eliminates the pressure of deciding what to wear each morning!

Long garments are a sign of respect. Nowadays, most people wear them only at the fanciest of affairs. Some religious Jews wear them only on special occasions, such as Shabbat and the Festivals. Others feel that every moment is a special occasion, because at every moment one has to be constantly prepared for prayer, Torah study, etc.

Now, if there are good reasons for wearing long black garments (at least, you'll grant, in the minds of those that wear them), why should summertime with its higher temperatures make a difference? If you were invited to a formal affair or to an important meeting that you would wear a suit-and-tie or a long dress in the winter, if it were in the summer would you wear a tank-top and shorts instead?

"Aha!" you say. "My summer outfit would be made of much lighter material." Believe me, the thinnest cloth you will ever encounter is that black stuff draped over some of those very religious men. And if you say, "Well, white would be cooler still," my answer would be, "Maybe it is not the most important thing in life to be as cool as possible" (pun intended).

By the way, in this latter part of the question, about comfort in summer, I detect some chauvinism. You look for overdressed-for-summer religious people and see only men! What about the long sleeved, stockinged, and bewigged women?

Seriously: those long black coats you see on the men is at most a custom. For women, these matters are tied up with the laws of Tzniut (modesty of dress and behavior). Varying traditions and interpretations play a role too. Thus, the different "dress codes" traditionally adopted by different communities. But covering the hair (for married women) and the body (for all women and men) is a matter of Torah law.

Some women wear a wig because they feel it is ultra modest, as it securely hides every strand of their own hair. Others prefer scarves and the like because they feel wigs are too natural-looking and attractive, which is the very reason that yet another set of women prefer wigs to scarves. I guess from every perspective, wigs are the hottest items (again, pun intended). On the other hand, some women wear scarves or hats in a manner that allows some hair to show, relying on the authorities that permit such and not wanting to appear too extreme.

I once overheard a conversation where a girl in shorts asked a women in stockings on a 90 degree day, "Aren't you hot?"

The latter shot back, "Aren't you hot?"

"Yes."

"Okay, so I?m a little hotter."

She didn't add, "But I don't care because it?s worth it," but you could hear it anyway.

The person who suffers most from heat is not the one with the heaviest clothes - it's the one with nothing else to think about other than one?s own comfort. Next time you get caught in a heat wave in Israel or New York, look at faces as well as clothes, and see who seems to be bearing up the best.

By Yrachmiel Tilles. Rabbi Tilles is co-founder and educational coordinator of ASCENT OF SAFED, and editor of Ascent Quarterly and the Ascent website.
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Unread 12-24-2001, 10:05 PM   #5
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While on this topic, is the standard of dress dependent on where you live? For example, just as it is okay not to wear a hat and jacket in Kfar Chabad and it is not okay in Crown Heights (as the rebbe told a bochur), is it that standards change depending on places? As in, like don't wear a tan shirt in Crown Heights, but out of town it is ok. Is that right?
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Unread 12-24-2001, 10:06 PM   #6
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Yes, there are different ways of dress for different places, BUT, let's remember the story the Rebbe told about the bachurim on Mercas Shlichus, and what impression their Chasidishe look made on the people who merely saw them.

Tan shirt okay out of town? Maybe not ... The big question is WHY? Why not wear the same white shirt, dark suit, hat, that Chasidishe bachurim are required to wear in yeshivos worldwide. Is it to be cool? hip? less Chassidish?

We are very influenced by how we're dressed, and as in the above story, our dress reflects a certain image. What sort of image is a tan shirt trying to convey? For that matter what about the jeans, plaid shirt, baseball cap (with tzitzis out and a beard of course ...) look?
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Unread 12-24-2001, 10:12 PM   #7
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Thanks for your answer. My question now is, though, what if it's NOT stemmng from the desire to look more hip or cool? Supposing that it is simply that he likes that "tan shirt" and in Crown Heights it is simply inappropriate to wear it! Maybe that "shirt" is simply more comfortable or looks better.

It's a far cry from wearing jeans, which is flat out not chassidish levush! --It really can't compare with that.
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Unread 12-24-2001, 10:12 PM   #8
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Or what of he doesn't really care what clothes he wears? I finished yeshiva before the white-shirt policy hit my yeshivos, but it had never affected me in either way because I simply couldn't care less what clothes I wear. (Obviously, there is a difference between jeans and tan shirts, isn't there?) In otherw ord, whatever is in my closet, I'll wear... Is that Right? Wrong? In the middle?
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Unread 12-24-2001, 10:13 PM   #9
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How do those particular clothes end up in your closet?

Just curious - how would you dress for yechidus with the Rebbe? How would you dress for a date? For an interview? On mivtzaim?

No matter who we are or what we do, we are walking advertisements. Our way of dressing says a lot about us, and we don't just "happen" to dress the way we dress.
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Unread 12-24-2001, 10:14 PM   #10
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Right, our dress certainly does reflect our views. That's why the jeans would be out. The tan shirt, though, is a different story--that's why there's a question. For example, in Israel, girls do not wear jean (skirts). In america, it is 100% okay (obviously depending on how formal the occasion is, where u're going, etc.) to do so. It isn't WRONG to wear denim/jean--it just depends where you're going or where you live. Certainly, one wouldnt' wear that to a yechidus, b/c you wear that to a ballgame, not to a yechidus!

I'm mentioning that only as an example. So sometimes there's nothing wrong with dress, it's only dependent on where you are. Like there's nothing wrong for boys to wear t-shirts in camp! Right? So...where do you draw the line? (Are you saying that only white shirts are good, not even blue or other conservative colors?)
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Unread 12-24-2001, 10:16 PM   #11
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<<In america, it is 100% okay (obviously depending on how formal the occasion is, where u're going, etc.) to do so. It isn't WRONG to wear denim/jean--it just depends where you're going or where you live. Certainly, one wouldnt' wear that to a yechidus, b/c you wear that to a ballgame, not to a yechidus!

<<So sometimes there's nothing wrong with dress, it's only dependent on where you are. Like there's nothing wrong for boys to wear t-shirts in camp! Right? So...where do you draw the line?>>

I would modify the denim example to say that in America, in many circles, denim is 100% okay. Back in the years when uniforms were not required in girls' schools, denim was discouraged or even not allowed altogether. The reason? Clearly denim skirts were meant to copy denim jeans which frum girls couldn't wear of course. The history of denim as everyday, casual wear is something relatively new. Denim overalls or jeans used to be worn EXCLUSIVELY by constructions workers and people in similar type jobs. The back pockets, outside seams, and durable material were practical for ditch diggers etc.

It became popular in the sixties when all barriers broke down and even people from middle and upper class homes dressed in "dungarees" (with strategically placed holes) to make some kind of point.

Hence, denim is still not 100% acceptable to OTHER CHASSIDIC GROUPS. It is not considered refined or at all suitable for a bas melech. Why does the over-all Lubavitch girls' look more closely resemble Flatbush, Queens, and the modern Orthodox than that of other chassidic groups?

Btw, needless to say, neither girls nor boys from other Chassidic groups attend baseball games in denim or otherwise, as it's not considered a place for frum people to be (yes, I'm sure there are exceptions).

As far as camp clothes, I once heard R' Berel Bell speak, and he referred to the goofy clothes and hats that some people wear in camp for shtick. He commented on the fact that people forget where they are, and come to shiurim in the same funny hats ... not having the sechel to draw the line as to where it's appropriate and where not. (btw, his own son wore a white shirt in camp)

I personally do not like the T-shirt look, even for boys. I think a polo shirt with collar and three buttons is fine for camp, or even regular shirts, though in more practical colors.

The principal of Oholei Torah was once asked why the school rule for the elementary school is formal shirts, white or light blue background, buttons, collar, and only black, gray, and blue pants, when the Chassidic boys under 13 in Boro Park wear polo shirts of all colors and even green pants. He answered that years ago, when people (namely parents) had good sense, it was no problem, but now that parents are not dressing their children appropriately, they have to make these rules. He pointed out that despite the colors worn by Chasidic kids in B.P., they never look cool (not his words) and always look Chasidish, short hair, peios etc. He's right!
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Unread 12-24-2001, 10:19 PM   #12
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I do have to admit that I'm surprised with some things you say, Jude. (I don't mean that in a neg. way). I think it's really beautiful that you're on such a high darge that you wouldn't even wear t-shirts in camps, but I don't know that it can be said that it's actually wrong, right? In any case, I only brought up that example b/c i thought it was 100% fine to wear t-shirts in camp. Fine, so let's say even the polo shirt--you wouldnt' wear that in Crown Heights, during the year, but in camp it's appropriate. So there ARE diff. standards of dress dependent on the environment.

I actually think it's quite funny how the forum on boys' hats managed to turn to girls' style of dress. Just like secular studies automatically turned to girl's schools. About denim/jean: When I said "in America" or "in Israel" I was referring to the Lubavitchers in america/israel, not the general community. Obviously, most people would have the sense not to wear denim in Williamsburgh, out of respect for them, just as she wouldn't do so in Israel. Also, bear in mind that there is denim and there is denim, there is jean and there is jean. E/thing depends on the look. There are all kinds, each sending different messages.

<<Btw, needless to say, neither girls nor boys from other Chassidic groups attend baseball games in denim or otherwise, as it's not considered a place for frum people to be (yes, I'm sure there are exceptions).>>

I agree. I only mentioned that theoretically speaking, what the use for jean is, as opposed to going to yechidus, not in practice or anything like that.

<<Why does the over-all Lubavitch girls' look more closely resemble Flatbush, Queens, and the modern Orthodox than that of OTHER CHASSIDIC GROUPS?>>

A very good question. I've often wondered myself. The question is though, SHOULD lubavitch girls be looking like either of those extremes? I have wondered if the goal should be to look like the other chassidic groups, and have been informed, "not necessarily." There is nothing wrong with looking good, or pretty--the torah absolutely encourages that! (As long as it's within the bounds of tznius, obviously.) The Rebbe himself asked why there were no mirrors in Machon Chana! I really don't think that Lubavitch authorities think it necessary for Lubavitch girls to wear seamed stockings or only plaid pleated skirts. There's no denying that there's a lot to be learned from those that do dress that way, but I doubt that that is our goal. In fact, I'm pretty sure that that ISNT' our goal.
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Unread 12-24-2001, 10:19 PM   #13
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When the Rebbe gave Beis Rivka guidance on tznius standards, he told them to consult with Beis Yaakov ...

My understanding of that is, the B.Y. look is favored by the Rebbe for his own community because they adhere to halacha (obviously), don't promote forms of dress like seams, and generally bec. they promote a respectable, attractive though tznius, not trendy look, more classic ..

As far as t-shirts in camp - I don't know about dargos, I think it's a sensitivity ... we would all (boys and girls and adults) benefit from sensitivity training (if there really is such a thing).
It's sad to see young people who are utterly clueless about what a refined look looks like ... who will even go so far as to denigrate it ...
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Unread 12-25-2001, 06:55 PM   #14
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About turning to Bais yaacovs: totally correct. (However, there are all kinds of Bais Yaacov's .) Nobody's saying that lubav's should be less tznius or look less dignified/respectable than Bais Yaacov girls! My point was that the authorities in Chabad seem to hold (including the rebbe) that looking tznius and looking good is not a contradiction. Therefore, you can be and look 100% tznius and still not look like a Satmar girl! And that's okay! Their look is not our goal. Right? right.

"..we would all (boys and girls and adults) benefit from sensitivity training (if there really is such a thing)."
I'd say sensitivity is a skill to be picked up, not a subject that can be taught.
"It's sad to see young people who are utterly clueless about what a refined look looks like ... who will even go so far as to denigrate it ..."
Are you trying to hint something out to me?
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Unread 12-25-2001, 06:56 PM   #15
Jude
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When the Rebbe said Beis Yaakov he meant the original in America (I don't know the precise year the Rebbe said it, so either it was in Williamsburg at the time, or on 15th Ave.)

I agree with you - no need to look like Satmar

sensitivity - agree, it's mostly picked up rather than taught, though it would be helpful if different issues were presented to teens so that at the very least, they are exposed to other views

if you didn't denigrate anything (and I don't think you did) - there's nothing to worry about
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Unread 12-25-2001, 06:57 PM   #16
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<<While on this topic, is the standard of dress dependent on where you live? For example, just as it is okay not to wear a hat and jacket in Kfar Chabad and it is not okay in Crown Heights (as the rebbe told a bochur), is it that standards change depending on places? As in, like don't wear a tan shirt in Crown Heights, but out of town it is ok. Is that right?>>

Jac, here's a personal question: Why are you asking? If it's because you feel a bit guilty wearing a tan shirt out of town, and you wear it anyway -- that's a problem. it's prikas ol, sort of. and one things leads to another. Once you pass your boundries on one thing, it is more likely for it to happen again, and in other areas of life.

in other words, the type of clothes itself is not so much of an issue as the statement you are making to yourself and to others by doing so.

but that's all it is, there is no intrinsic "tum'ah" in tan shirts... so if you have a reason to dress like that, and you know it's not because of "prikas ol" - there is nothing wrong. it won't have any negative affect on you.
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Unread 12-26-2001, 07:05 PM   #17
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Col, good point, thanks. Actually, I wasn't really worried about me wearing a tan shirt, per se, I was just wondering about the inyan of it.
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Unread 01-21-2002, 09:26 PM   #18
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Talking "It's not what is worn, but the way it's worn"

The specific dress code is not relevant. What is relevant though is the fact the as a group of chasidim, we identify with eachother, and as equals (even more so - yedidim). The dress code among chasidic groups is one of those things that allows for the chasidim to identify with one another, that despite there differences (we know alot about that) nevertheless we are equal.

This is proven by the fact that even within chabad, the dress code has changed through the years. But think, where did the borsalino come from? Where was the frierdiker rebbe's borsalino? The truth is, the rebbeim often wore the clothing of the time, and most often it was not only the clothing of the comonor, but the clothing that the royalty and respected would adorn ( as a matter of interest, the traditional "kapote" was an item of clothing worn by army generals 100's of years before us).

Yes, we must be tznius, this goes without say! But red, black, green or blue. There is not one person here who wouldnt put on a red hat if that were what the rebbe o'bm wore. We all want to feel like we're part of a collective.
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Unread 01-22-2002, 07:53 PM   #19
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there is a difference between looking 'COOL' and looking 'GOOD' - the two though, need not contradict

i wanted to bring this point up, there is a certain shliach - i'm not going to say names, who wears a t-shirt, and a kapote, what kind of impression does that make on people, they think he fell off the moon, if he would be wearing a tan shirt - it would be looking good - lav davke cool, lav davke not,

the bottom line is this

when someone looks at a lubavitcher, and sees that he r"l has a tshirt, a hat, and jacket, - the person gets a bad impression - this looks like they fell of the moon

but when someone wears a tan shirt - they look good - not nessecarily 'chasidish' but you look normal, - the truth is that there is nothing wrong with a tan shirt, - although there is nothing right with it either.
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Unread 05-23-2002, 11:29 PM   #20
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baseball games

Since I am relatively new to Judiasm, and have chosen Orthodoxy as the only group, and Lubavitch as the road that I will travel on my journey......please. please explain to me as stated in post #1467 why Lubavitch boys or girls wouldn't be found at a baseball game. I know, this thread is relating to modes of dress, but please answer this post.
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Unread 05-24-2002, 12:08 AM   #21
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Never having gone to a baseball game I can't vouch for it personaly but a) the environment is not the most chassidish b)idolizing baseball players is a subtle form of idol worship b/c we are giving them importance where there realy is none.
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Unread 05-25-2002, 11:00 PM   #22
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I don't think you are speaking for all of Lubavitch when you say they wouldn't be found at sports events-
i think it depends on the family, the community standards where you live, and what is accepted or not, when it comes to such areas as gray as this one.
personally i know plenty of good Lubavitchers who enjoy a game...I'm not arguing for or against-there are definitely holier and more worthwhile ways to spend an afternoon, but technically, i see nothing wrong with the actual issue
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Unread 05-26-2002, 01:02 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by WanderingJew
personally i know plenty of good Lubavitchers who enjoy a game...I'm not arguing for or against-there are definitely holier and more worthwhile ways to spend an afternoon, but technically, i see nothing wrong with the actual issue
Define a "good Lubavitcher"? I doubt that you could find one mashpia that would approve of any "good lubavitcher" going to a game (I'm obviously not including going for mivtzoim etc.).
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Unread 05-27-2002, 08:49 PM   #24
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Define a good Lubavitcher?
How about, you define that one for me and i'll tell you if the specific sports-minded pple i know fit your criteria?
What i was trying to reiterate is that it is not black and white as you think. it's not assur! And plenty of Lubavitchers do participate in such events, although admittedly not the majority...
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Unread 05-28-2002, 08:50 PM   #25
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Did you ask a lubavitcher rov whether it is ossur? How about bittul torah? how about lo sasuru?

As to defining a good lubavitcher someone who does what the rebbe want of him/her to the best of their abilities.
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