Okay, so I was told by CK that Modern Orthodox look at short sleeved T-Shirts with some reservations. Of course, we assume that Haredim do as well.

I don’t know why, since I do believe that a good deal of how a shirt might look on a person involves the mindset of those who are looking at said T-shirt. But just to doublecheck, and to encourage you, dear Jewlicious readers, to decide for yourselves, I went on a little Google image hunt.

Two women hugging – one with long sleeves, one without. Does one look immodest while the other does not?

A woman with short sleeves hugging a child. The child also has, *gasp*, short sleeves.

Another woman who seems modest. She would probably get a pass in Meah Shearim.

Another woman with short sleeves who might get spat upon, or at least considered as an immodest woman. Notice the evil-looking man in the Blofeld-wants-to-take-over-the-world uniform next to her.

An obviously chaste and modest woman.

Another one wearing short sleeves. If this were my teacher, I would never be able to study.

This one with short sleeves seems to be flirting with me. The gleam in her eye and her bare arms tell me so. Or perhaps she’s just happy because she sells many t-shirts?

Aah, thankfully, she would be fine because she has long sleeves. In fact, if you travel to Russia, you could theoretically meet and marry her.

Four women wearing short sleeves. Is it me, or do you think they would be booted out of Meah Shearim?

And finally, proof positive that long sleeved shirts are indeed one way to know that a woman is modest. Klassy Lady. (Please don’t click on this one at work).

About the author

themiddle

48 Comments

  • So you’re making fun of a commandment that you don’t understand or practice. Your post isn’t making fun of any particular incident, just anyone that would be so stupid as to observe this ridiculous commandment. Very Jewlicious.

  • I happen to agree on this one… the fact is that the standards of, ahem, modesty are preposterous. And don’t forget pants! According to the orthodox, pants are way too sexy for us women to wear. Oh yeah, and our hair definitely has to go, especially when we get married.

    Although I respect the Orthodox, they’ve got to learn to be more tolerant of other types of Jews. You know, there were people who thought that they were better than Jews, not to mention everyone else… they were called Nazis!

  • Zooka, thank you for your comments. We haven’t even touched upon the subject of second-class seating for women at the synagogue.

  • TM: You’re a man.

    When you see a girl in a tank top or something, come ON…you certainly take more notice than a girl in a sweater.

    Every society sets standards dress…people can’t go running naked up and down the street here in the states (except in San Francisco, where public naked yoga is now legal…no joke)

    In this case, it’s not even a law…if you go into their neighborhood…just be respectful of their beliefs…sheesh.

    Regarding second class seating, I agree with this point. All the orthodox shuls in my area (that I’ve been to, anyway) are divided in the middle…equal sides – not one in back of the other.

    I realize this spitting event must have been very traumatic to spawn all of this – but seriously – Is this blog going to turn into your own anti-orthodox rant page? Save me time, let me know now.

  • Neocon, I’ve posted about quite a few other things. You’ll note that there are at least 4 other contributors to this blog, of whom at least two seem to be of the Orthodox persuasion (including the key-holder to this blog). Also, I don’t see anybody shutting anybody up. In fact, considering the state of the Jewish world, it isn’t a bad thing that I get to talk to an Orthodox rabbi, and he to me.

    Also, I cover a lot of other topics, and I couldn’t help noticing that you didn’t comment in my post about men using more cosmetics products in Israel. Shame on you!

    Nonetheless, I get your point and I promise to post more Left Wing and Centrist political stuff. 😉

    Anyway, yes I am a man, and women in sweaters interest me as much as those in t-shirts. As a public service and in the pure interest of intellectual mastur…er, discovery, I have conducted another Google image search.

    Behold the sweater:

    Sweater

    Another sweater.

    Yet another sweater.

    A lovely sweater.

    And my fave.

    The mother of all sweaters.

  • Oy. Let’s start with the following facts – the meaning of the word “Islam” is submission. On the other hand, the Jews are known as bnei Yisrael, the children of Israel. In Genesis 32:26–33, Jacob struggles with G_d, and is given the name Israel, meaning “he who has shown strength against God.” Our relationship with G_d is meant to be one of dialogue and not of blind submission.

    It is in that spirit that I welcome T_M’s comments and opinions despite the fact that I do not always agree with him.

    Now onto the subject at hand – Neocon makes valid points about community standards – while a woman may feel free to expose her breasts in public in Canada and in San Francisco, try that anywhere else and you’ll get worst than spit on, you’ll get arrested. Who doesn’t find the old fat guys on the beach in Tel Aviv in speedos or thongs offensive? But you don’t begrudge them that right do you? In that community it’s acceptable.

    Using Meah Shearim as an exemplar of all streams of traditional or Orthodox Judaism is just non instructive. How many times do I have to make that point? And besides, even then, they have signs asking people to respect their standards and no Orthodox or Haredi Rabbinic leader has ever told his followers to spit on people who do not respect their norms.

    As far as exposed elbows and pants being considered immodest – that’s just the way it is – you don’t have to agree but you have to at least respect the right of people to practice their religion as they see fit. For instance, I’m no great fan of the Muslim hijab, but I totally support the right of Muslim women to wear one wherever and whenever they want to.

    I hope that one day you can get over the spitting inident and move on. I know you are a very witty and erudite person with lots of intereting things to say about lots of topics. I seriously do not need us to be #1 in Google under Jewish spitting blog!

    😉

  • Dude, if I were you, I’d just stop bringing up the spitting because the more you talk about spit, spittle and spitting, the more likely you are to find yourself ranking high among the spitting links on Google.

    How’d you like the sweaters?

  • I liked the long blue one, the sweater coat – great lines and I know the wearer is going to be comfy cozy in it.

  • I keep waiting for someone to buy me a t-shirt with “Are You Looking at My Middos?” emblazoned across the chest. (You steal this idea, and you’re paying me, dude…)

  • My fave modest t-shirt is found at Islamica Shop. It’s a long sleeve shirt for women and the front says “Do you think I’m hot?” The back says “So is hell. Lower your gaze.” Other shirts include “Not a Terrorist,” the hilarious “Brincess” (not a typo), “Juma”done like the Puma logo, “Brown Trash” and of course “Salam.” Proof positive the Muslims do indeed have a sense of humour.

  • The Muffti is amused both by TM’s post and by the fact that Jewlicious is the number 1 jewish spitting site on google. Why fight it, CK? We welcome all here don’t we? Even those with a bizzare penchant for looking up ‘Jewish spitting’?

    Anyhow, the Muffti remembers being in Meah Shearim as a 16 year old and seeing not just spitting but small pebbles and dirt being thrown at women who were dressed in short sleeves. While everyone agrees that communities should be able to set standards of appropriateness, it doesn’t follow that communities should be allowed to take the enforcement of those standards into their own hands. If it did, I would spit on every guy who walked around with a mullet. The issue, then, has nothing to do with the arbitrariness of what is immodest; it has to do with what recourse you have to object to shows of immodest-by-your-standards. Spitting and rock throwing, I take it, are out in a civil society.

  • I never disagreed. And neither do the religious leaders of Meah Shearim. Spitting and throwing rocks at people who you disagree with is wrong. Let it also be noted that this only occures in a tiny, almost insignificant portion of Orthodox communities. Focusing on Mean Shearim ALL THE TIME is more reflective of a particular bias than it is remotely instructive of Orthodox standards.

  • look guys, dressing up to the standards of halachic modesty is, admittedly, a challenge for me, particularly in the summer. Nonetheless, I have chosen by my own free will to live in Israel, more particularly in Jerusalem, and so while personally I am comfortable showing my arms in public, I recognize the sensitivity of the community I have chosen to live in, and so I don sleeves.

    Modesty in Judaism (I can’t speak for Islam) is designed to keep women from being objectified, heighten sensuality and increase sensitivity to the human body. The more things we get used to the less turn us on. Personally, i don’t think it’s so bad.

    and by the way, there is an opinion that says that loose fitting (ie not hoochie mama) pants are fine for women to wear.

    and the orthodox shuls i go to are split down the middle also.

  • Loose fitting pants split down the middle at the orthodox shuls you go to? Hmmm… makes for interesting imagery.

  • CK, forget Meah Shearim, I’ve brought up the matter with the Yeshiva students in the Old City spitting on Christian clerics, and I mentioned the harrassment of women who worked for the municipality of Jerusalem. I forget the name of the neighborhood but it is near the Knesset.

    The problem for some in the Orthodox community is their lack of respect for others, not their sense of violation by others. They are not the victims here, CK. They are the perpetrators. To bring things full circle, this post exists primarily because of a post you made in another thread. Our ongoing discussion is about acceptance and tolerance of other streams of Judaism. Perhaps I should include the concept of respect for others as a fundamental problem that exists here. The certainty that comes with the faith that one’s way is god’s chosen way can easily lead to hubris and abuse of others.

    ‘Nuff said, I’m boring myself at this point and Jewlicious is probably losing readers by the thousands.

    Here’s a sweater shot to make up for my tediousness:

    Sweater

    Whoops!

    Here’s a better one!

  • and TM, if we want Heredim to start being more sensitive and accepting of us and our lifestyles, maybe we should start being more sensitive and accepting towards them, too.

    Look, I have my problems with them too, trust me, but it’s not fair to ask them to be open to us while we completely delegitimize their place within the jewish people. Tolerance is not a one way street.

  • Laya, discussing their unfairness to others is not delegitimizing them. In fact, the point is that in Israel they wield extraordinary influence over the lives of Jews who are not Orthodox and non-Jews who would like to be Jewish. How does that delegitimize them? They have traditionally been able to negotiate higher per capita education subsidies than were available to secular students. How is that delegitimizing them? They were sitting in the Cabinet until a few weeks ago, and will probably be back there in a number of weeks. How is that delegitimizing them? Have I said anything to Rabbi Yonah or about him that suggests he is illegitimate?

    I have a great deal of respect for our traditions and values. I believe that many Orthodox Jews embody the best of those traditions because of their devotion, devoutness, practice…and openness to other Jews. I wish there to be many more of those(and again CK, I wish upon you children as plentiful as the sand on the ocean’s shore). The only illegitimate part of any of this is when some Orthodox want to claim others aren’t Jewish enough or Jewish in the right way. That is illegitimate and should be stopped.

    Anyway, I apologize if I’ve hurt your feelings, that isn’t my intention.

  • I don’t get it, how can every part of a woman’s body be sexy? Especially when I look at internet porn all day, and bikini-clad women in beer commercials.

    Yeah, and kosher is stupid, too.

  • I want to read a blog about the mehitzah! Especially the good ol’ Sephardic one that puts women on the top level and men on the bottom. Even as a half-breed (read: half-Ashekenazi, half-Sephardi), I find the whole idea preposterous.

    Do you think I’m going to distract men by sitting anywhere near them, or dirty the Torah just by touching it? Someone help my cause here!

  • I am not willing to accept TM’s continual proclimations that the ultra-orthodox have “extraordinary influence”

    Pork is available for purchase, and anyone can walk down the beach in Tel Aviv in whatever skimpy outfit they prefer. You can go get a nice cup of coffee from a cafe on shabbat – even in Jerusalem! My personal preference would be that the pork is illegal and the bikini wearing can continue at will, but I don’t get to decide everything, it’s a democracy. Do they orthodox have influence? Of course! They’re a decent sized chunk of the population. Does Likud have influence? Of course! Does Labor? Of course! Does meretz? Yes, too bad about that one…

    Just because a few things they support are currently law, and you disagree with them, does not make them the dictatorial monsters you seem to think they are. Now, I disagree with quite a bit of their platform, but we all give a little and get a little in this form of government.

    Yes, they have influence, but I honestly don’t think it’s disproportionate.

  • See what you did T_M? You done gone and made me all agree with Neocon. Whoda thunk it was possible? 😉

  • CK, you were dying to agree with Neocon all along.

    Strange bedfellows…

    PS Meretz has far less influence than the Orthodox parties…

  • TM, I think you missed my ‘delegitimizing’ point, and rabbi Yonah is not, by any means, haredi.

    I hate to be put in a position where I have to defend Haredim, cause God knows I have my problems with them too, but your consistent attacks about all of religious judasim, mostly using the extremes as your examples, are really starting to wear on me. You are not hurting my feelings, and I hope I don’t hurt yours, but I need to say this;

    You obviously have some issues with religious Judasim, and your posts and comments demonstrate a lack of familiarity with the variations between different streams of orthodoxy.

    You look at religious Judasim and you see what you want to see.

    You also fail to really address the other issues brought up and so the discussion fails to move forward.

    It’s easy to complain about Haredim, but whats the point ranting about a demographic that would never read this blog on the basis of the lips in the corner alone? You consistently take cheap shots at an extreme segment of a population where it is all too easy to find fault, but what is the point, what is the hopeful outcome? that suddenly they will realize the error of their ways and give up what they believe in to look more like you? You are fostering hatred between us Jews, and THAT, not the Arabs, not the UN or EU, the failure of Jews to love one another despite and because of our differences, THAT is our biggest problem is Israel today, and you sir, are not helping.

    Can’t we spend our time and energy on something that might yeild some results? like fostering more unity rather than emphasizing stereotypes?

    It’s really easy to bitch and moan about the ills of Israeli society from your nice little house there in the Land of Plenty. If you want to really make a difference, GO AND LIVE IN ISRAEL! Vote for the party of your choice! Be a presence for commited-but-not-religious Jewry. Put your money where your mouth is. But please, stop the bitching.

  • Sorry Laya, I had to remove a piece of personal info about me that I don’t want posted. That’s not something that is the business of anybody out there, and you only know it because you’ve spoken to Dave.

    Your attack in general is personal and for that reason I’m inclined not to respond, but I gather you’re angry so I’ll try anyway.

    I reject your premise about my “issues.” I may have issues, but this matter is not among them – I don’t dwell too much on Orthodox Judaism. If I wanted to, I could also attack the Reform movement as well as the Conservative movement for the errors of their ways – and yes they have many faults. If I haven’t yet, it’s because the topic hasn’t come up. Given enough time, I’m sure it will…

    I am very familiar with different streams of Judaism, including Orthodox Judaism. Since there are a number of Orthodox parties in the Knesset and each party represents a different constituency and has had differing levels of influence within the government over the years, I have spoken about the Orthodox in very broad terms in these posts. That doesn’t change the facts regarding their general influence in civil life in Israel.

    I beg to differ about the matter of fostering hatred among Jews. It is those Jews who can say, without any shame, that other branches of Judaism are killing Judaism, who are fostering hatred and shame. Commenting on their egregious behavior is criticism meant to bring about change and healing.

    As for fostering unity, I’m all for it and hope the sweater images helped. In fact, I’m so much for it that I’d like certain people to be more inclusive of me…

    Finally, you have no idea whether my house is little or not, how I live or what I do, when I do it or why. You are welcome to criticize my comments, but please stop commenting about me because it is irrelevant to the discussion and whatever else Dave may have told you about me is personal. In fact, I’ve asked him not to share information about me with others.

    If by not moving the conversation forward, you mean that we need to foster more tolerance towards the Haredim, I have a couple of simple solutions: send their kids to the army; have them be more forthcoming about other Jews and their practices. If you are speaking about having more tolerance toward other Orthodox streams, I think they are doing just fine within Israeli society precisely because they are integrated with the rest of society.

    Please make your next comments germane to the discussion, your opinion of me and what I write is immaterial here.

  • CK: On this occasion of our agreement, I would like to quote the great philosopher, Homer Simpson.

    Upon learning that he was actually correct about something, he exclaimed:

    “I know kids, I’m scared too!”

    I know CK, and I’m scared too….

  • You are right that I have been angry, and I’m sorry if i got too personal.

    you said “I don’t dwell too much on Orthodox Judaism. If I wanted to, I could also attack the Reform movement as well as the Conservative movement for the errors of their ways”

    I kinda feel you do dwell too much on orthodox Judasim, and what bothers me the most, as i’ve discussed with you from the bronfman post on, is that you pick a subsection of orthodoxy and talk about it as if it is representative of all. And it’s hard for me not to get upset at that.

    and yes, If you wanted to you could attack reform and conservative judaism with the same vigor, but I and this blog have yet to see it.

    And the secular always have, and probably always will have more of an influence on ‘civil life in Israel’, but it is a democracy, and so its only fair the religious get to push their platform along side. Thats the point of a democracy, isn’t it?

    “Commenting on their egregious behavior is criticism meant to bring about change and healing.”
    Dude, i guarantee you Haredim don’t read this blog. I don’t think this is going to be the place that ‘change and healing’ happens, unless it is convincing the less-than-haredi people who DO read this blog to be more inclusive of them. You can only change yourself, you know?

  • At this point, I’m scared too.

    And to think this was supposed to be my lighthearted post of the week. Women in t-shirts – how could something so simple go so wrong?

  • The only other comment I want to address is the “changing of myself” and how the Haredim don’t read this blog so this isn’t the place to discuss these matters. Well, I can change myself all I want and it still won’t affect the political status quo anywhere.

    Changing the world happens by trying to change the world, not yourself. If they don’t read Jewlicious, that’s their loss. Bringing up issues here or in any other forum increases awareness and makes people think about the world about them in certain ways.

    The Orthodox in Israel, even if you were to combine all of their groups, are still a minority. So I guess that if enough people conclude that their influence in certain areas of civil life should be curtailed, then they will lose that influence. Israeli society (and diaspora Jewry, for that matter) will be better for it and if talking about it here moves us 0.0001% closer to that change, then I was glad to have this conversation.

  • Laya was trying to tell me that it’s not good to criticize and I”m doing it because I have “issues” and should just move there and try to influence things with my vote. I graciously disagree.

  • actually, i was trying to say that the constant criticism of all of religious judasim as (completely unfairly) represented by Haredim and thinly veiled ridicule of Jewish values like modesty in this post was getting to me.

    You say “Changing the world happens by trying to change the world, not yourself.”
    I graciously disagree.

  • If anyone is still interested in Jewish law and short sleeves, you might want to know that my Rosh Yeshiva in Israel does not agree that women’s upper arms are even slightly alluring. As long as there is a sleeve of some size, it should be fine.

    The concept behind these laws is something you guys should be very cool with. Simply put:

    Be attractive, not alluring.

    Women are not sexual objects and should not be treated as sexual objects. If they look attractive but not alluring, the hope is that men won’t see them as sexual objects.

  • CK, you do realize that I have Orthodox family and friends, right?

    You especially realize that many Orthodox Jews are very good and nice people, right?

    What I have a problem with is when Orthodx Jews reject and exclude a whole bunch of other Jews with cynicism and hatred (such as saying that one group or another is encouraging the destruction of the Jewish people), or forego concern about other human beings because of their “faith” (by, say, preventing the burial of a fallen IDF soldier in a Jewish cemetery because he was born of a non-Jewish mother who had not been converted to their standard). I hope you have the same concerns, even if you understand their source, as I do.

    Now quit taunting me before Laya beats me up again.

  • It’s not quite that easy with T_M E. T_M has invested countless hours defending Israel and Judaism against anti-zionists and racists. Granted he does evince a fixation on Haredim, but all in all he’s a good guy, an honest debater and he is in fact open minded. So let’s all play nice in the interests of open and instructive dialogue.

    But anyway, we’re super glad to have you back. Chill out and try to have some fun!

  • I have now come to the conclusion that Jewlicious with TheMiddle is super. I’m just glad the other members of the team have taken off the gloves and are helping him deal with his exilic issues.

    It’s great when diasporah Jews obsessively speak about Hareidim dodging the draft while they dodge not only the draft, but the entire Jewish Project by pretending their Jewish life in America has any practical significance on the stage of Jewish History.

    Send YOUR kid to the army, TM. Let’s see some discussion of the justification for staying in the Fleshpots rather than joining your people and lending a hand. Don’t be shy – tell us all about how Israel woudn’t survive without AIPAC and your letters to your congressman. Tell us all about your Israel bonds and New Israel Fund – we are really curious to know what is keeping you from using your God-given gifts to perfect this society you seem so concerned about.

    In short, I’m back – I’ve come to terms with your presence here – and I saying: “Bring it on.”

  • Oy, CK, I berated Laya for doing what you just did and what I apparently did a couple of weeks ago.

    Anyway, now that E is back, I guess I can leave again.

  • sorry TM, i guess the cat is out of the bag. And please don’t leave, i kinda like you, even when i find you incredibly frustrating and slightly offensive.

    on the sleeve issue…i wear short sleeves sometimes, i’m ok with it, it was just the tone of belittlement in this post that was sorta a last straw on the camel’s back thing. Sorry.

  • Only slightly offensive? Maybe it’s time for me to give up all the fine soaps and perfumes. Whenever you have a problem with my posts, Laya, feel free to wear it on your sleeve. 😛

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