Letter: Another Dimension | Daniel Ifrah LCSW

My decision to write this letter was not a confident one. I found myself wavering back and forth; will my comments on this loaded topic be viewed as another form of sensationalizing or should I share my perspective with those who are willing to keep an open mind. I will let the reader be the jury. I pray the verdict should be a favorable one.

Like many of you, I too read the letters. In full disclosure, while reading some of the comments I found my own perspectives whirling inside my head, alongside a heavy dose of entertainment and light hearted banter. But then it hit me like a ton of bricks…Something is very wrong here.

I refuse to weigh in and give platform to either side of the issue, however, there’s an overlooked third dimension to this somewhat illusive picture.

I think it is fair to say we all share one common goal of preserving our elite status of an Am Kadosh. We strive for this ideal within the context of navigating the harsh reality of our Golus. Achieving this ultimate feat is the long and short version of the discussion at hand. This ideology is surely the basis of many past, present and future themes to come.

Tznuis and Kedusha is a fundamental Torah theme we are all so very passionately fighting for. However, knowing when, where,with whom, and how to discuss such topics should be no exception. Tznius applies to speech and how we communicate just the same. Why trade one tznius standard for another? Being hyper-sensitive to the nisyonos in the goss (streets) without staying up to snuff on the blogs is somewhat selective and counterintuitive.

Without getting into detail, having men and women chime in on this topic in a public forum is a tragedy in its own right. If our premise is purely the preservation of our Am Kaddosh, this discussion in all its glory has proved to be yet another example of being fixating on the leaf in the forest.

The irony in my mind is that 25 years ago a grocery store issue would’ve been considered extreme for many, but had any of our Rebbeim seen how and where it was discussed it would’ve been condemned in no uncertain terms.

I remember back in the 90’s, when a presidential scandal of immorality rocked the nation. That news was the talk of every American. I recall how an Adom-Gadol labeled that president a rotzeach of epic proportions. He explained how there’s a huge difference when something is kept private vs when it becomes news and infiltrates our daily conversation. The actions of that president desensitized every individual’s sensitivity on some level, thus responsible for the spiritual breach of so many.

Discussions are often necessary. But, let us ask ourselves, did this discussion bring us closer to our goal of the preservation of Kedushas Klal Yisroel or Ch’v the opposite?

I wish to close with the following thought. Would any of us consider having the same dialogue in a public location, in person, and open to both genders? I venture to say that any grocery store issue would pale in comparison to such a venue. So, let us ask ourselves; why is it so much more ok if it is done anonymously behind a screen?

May Hashem guide us and grant us the Siyata Dishmaya we need to succeed in our common goal of being an Am Kadosh.

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  1. Very correct, indeed!

    However, this topic was way overdue. If the rabbanim in town can no longer speak about tznius because they fear retaliation and the loss of their income, as bide’eved as this forum was, it was very necessary.

  2. I don’t understand is the writer saying we should should continue sweeping everything under the rug as in the past with hundreds of other important issues that were too “sensitive” to discuss and look how those all turned out.

  3. Everyone is missing the elephant in the room! It’s the cashiers! Why can’t they have stronger dress code requirements? Its not a place for perfume etc. Those from without don’t share our sensitivities. Why is nobody posting about this????

  4. I am so glad someone finally said this. Of all the comments on this topic, I didn’t see this come up anywhere. When a topic like this is discussed at length and made into a “big deal” like it was, you are just bringing these ideas to the forefront of people’s brains. And whether you agree or disagree, want things one way or another, one thing is certain – you are bringing focus onto something that, on an individual level, everyone will tell you is best off just not focusing on. This is not pushing things under the rug, or having your heads in the clouds. When there are problems, then yes, absolutely let our rabbanim and leaders address them. But the way human nature works is that when a topic like this is discussed and amplified, you are automatically going to be thinking about these things more and looking out for these things more, whether you realize it or not. And that is worse than any of the issues originally discussed. Our approach to dealing with challenges in Kedusha was always to completely immerse ourselves into other things like torah, chesed, etc, because talking about it, even talking about not talking about it, just keeps it on our mind, like the “don’t think about a purple elephant” analogy.
    I know a very chashuve rosh yeshiva who agrees with this 100%. When there were big campaigns to “erase the lace”, he was very against the public discussion surrounding all of it because now, men will be thinking about and looking out for it. Whether he would paskin this way or that way doesn’t matter. This very public discussion and awareness does more harm then good.
    Let’s see how many men who never bothered looking around in the grocery will be doing so now…

    • I agree with this letter and I actually did post a comment when the separate hours poll came up. It is not tzniusdig to talk about tznius issues in detail in a public forum like this. There is a proper time, place and manner to discuss any issue.

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