Op-Ed: The Yidden Who Cry Teshuva

change op edBy A.G. I have heard many ordinary Jews (and I guess I now include myself) saying how we need to do teshuva. It is easy to say, “We need to do teshuva.” It is very hard to actually do teshuva.” I have discovered that many people have their limits when they talk about teshuva. They are willing to try to be nicer, more polite, speak less loshan hora, and maybe even donate an extra few dollars to tzedaka. Don’t get me wrong. These are great things and they should be zcusim for the Jewish people. However, very few (including myself) are willing to do teshuva that hurts. Very few people are actually willing to actually change their lifestyle.

Let’s take myself for example. I am guilty of occasionally watching movies (among other things) I am sure that when the Ribbono shel Olam wants to see me do teshuva He has included in His list of demands that I give up watching movies. Baruch Hashem, I am usually to busy to watch movies these days, but in order for me to do a meaningful teshuva this year, I need to give up watching movies b’shita.

Let’s take tznius issues. There are some women in Lakewood – and elsewhere – who wear tight clothing or designer clothing. I get the need to look good, but I also think that the need to look good needs to be taken into consideration with the need to dress modestly. Many of these women will tell you that they are doing nothing wrong. They will say they are properly covered according tznius guidelines. Dressing is a way of life. Thus, some dress with tight and fancy clothing because that is their lifestyle. Teshuva requires one to change one’s lifestyle. I imagine it will hurt for a woman who likes to dress fancy to change the way she dresses in order to live up to a higher standard of modesty. However, that is what teshuva is about. It is about destroying the idols we hold on dearly to.

Let’s talk about talking in shul. For those who talk in shul a kabbala to keep quiet almost makes it not worth going to shul all together. Unfortunately, the Yetzer Hora tries to convince some that shul is a social place instead of a makom kedusha. Teshuva requires returning to the guidelines of halacha. The guidelines of halacha state that it is usser to talk in shul and is a tremendous sin. When we call upon ourselves to do teshuva let us call upon ourselves to not talk in shul.

Let’s talk about Choshen Mishpat. There are those who rely on kulas in Choshen Mishpat. Granted, many of these kulos are legitimate in halacha. However, the Torah says, “Kedoshim t’yu in parshas Kedoshim in order to teach us that we need to sometimes forbid even that which might be permitted to us. A Jew will never lose by being as honest as possible when it comes to money matters.

I could continue with the list, but the point I believe is clear. When we talk about the need to do teshuva we have to put our money where our mouth is so to speak. We need to hit ourselves where it hurts. We need to do more than offer Hashem lip service or make small sacrifices, which we can bare to make. We need to stop watching movies, dressing in a way that fulfills the idea of the halacha, we need to go above the letter of the law, and we need to turn our lifestyle Judaism into a way of life. Each of us needs to personally reflect. Let us ask ourselves what it is that we love the most in life, which might not have the greatest heksher. That is what we need to give up in order to do teshuva.

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  1. Start with civility. Give pedestrians the right of way. Shovel your neighbor’s yard if you see they on up on years. Drive the speed limit and show people that you care for their welfare.

  2. Firstly, a women dressing in designer names is no issur. A women dressing in tight clothes just looks plain ugly and is not so right according to halachah. I dont think now is the time to point fingers at women dressing inappropriately. As a man, you shouldnt look and women do have the responsibility to dress tzniusdik. However, everyone has a yetzer hara for different things and for many women, it is with dress. You even stated that your yetzer hara is watching movies.

    You did not write about many more important issues that need to be worked on. What about all the fighting with parents and schools and all those poor children who feel so rejected for not being accepted in to a school? What about the person’s shidduch that got ruined because you spoke lashon hara or motzei shem ra? What about the person you weren’t so nice to and didnt treat with respect? What about your family member who you picked a fight with? What about your neighbor who you make sure to put up high trees so you should never have to see or speak to them again because they annoy you? What about your davening?

    There are so many important things in life that one can take upon him/herself in memory of Leibby a”h. But who are we to say what people need to work on?
    Each person should take a moment to reflect on him/herself and decide what needs to be worked on. I see that you have decided already what you need to improve. Derech eretz kadma latorah-derech eretz is more important than torah-this would translate to mean that is it equally important for someone to work on derech eretz as it is for someone to learn Torah. Derech eretz includes many of the points i stated above. Tznius falls into the category of Torah.
    Let’s not forget that there are a lot of important things in life that we neglect to focus on because we are making sure that all the women around us are wearing 70 denier tights.

    May God comfort all the mourners of Zion and may God grant all His children the clarity needed to be Torah-true Jews.

  3. Tesheva: Korov eilecho hadovor meod!
    Very easy, stop procrastinating and whining about how hard it is. Just do it, now!

  4. To #1and 3 you just prove his point you will do anything and say anything just not to give up your pleasure in life a woman can daven mincha for 1 hour if she is not dressed tznius it isn’t worth anything choteh umachti do you think rashi would talk to you if your wife dressed not tznius but you were a nice guy wake up

  5. A.G. beautiful article, you should have stopped after the paragraph describing what you need to do better. We’ll figure out on our own what we need to do.

  6. Thank you for your post – i think it was very inspiring – and to the commentors – there is nothing in this article that should not be taken to heart – tzniyus is a major issue, so is movie addiction, so is lashon hara, jealousy, etc – it’s not time to point fingers, it’s time to work on ourselves, and that is what the author was saying – each person has to be willing to look at themselves honestly – and correct, correct, correct. May we be zoche to do teshuvah without any more wake up calls.

  7. I had a thought….Just a few weeks ago there were three Tzadikim that were niftar in a short period of time. In my humble opinion hashem was trying to send us a clear message to do teshuva. We (myself included) did not get the message… This past week hashem gave us a very very clear message….

  8. I once heard from an Odom Gadol that the nisayon for a woman to dress b’tzniyus is akin to the nisayon a man has with Bitul Torah. So before we go on bashing others, we can stop right we are and look right at ourselves, right in our own bais medrash

  9. I agree with # 1 . But I might add that we need to do things according to halacha ( with the right kevana . We need to treat people (Jews, Non-religous Jews and non Jews) with respect). After we get that down then we can try to worry about doing things in a more stringent way.

  10. #3, aeiou, please, just, please. Stop already. You’ve proven the OP’s point exactly. Your long and drawn out explanation can basically be summed up like this:

    “Your letter touched a nerve because I’m one of those women who have to wear designer, tight-fitting clothes, and CHAS V’SHALOM that my skirt should actually COVER my knees (as is the style these days, unfortunately) and despite whatever hints and tradgedies that H-shem is sending us, I will continue to stubbornly bury my head in the ground, because this is something that I cannot even begin to comprehend giving up, and besides, everyone ELSE is doing it, so why shouldn’t I????????”

    Your petty excuses that the OP did not post about all the *OTHER* bad things people are doing is pretty much a dead-giveaway that you ARE guilty, and it’s making you SQUIRM.

    It’s people like you who are dragging us all to hell.

    Last week, after we heard the tragic news about Leibby, I went to NPGS Jackson, and I went on Avi Solomon’s line. Whatever you want to say about the man, he was sitting at his register, learning Shaarei Teshuva, which is more than I can say for all the people who were sitting and hocking on and on about it in shul and everywhere else.

    People like HIM, who have their priorities straight, are going to bring us the geulah.

  11. #3
    Who said a man wrote the letter to me it seems it was written by a women. And who cares who wrote the letter. HASHEM wrote the laws of TZNIUS THATS WHO!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. #3 – sounds like somebody touched a raw nerve – for some reason when it comes to any other issue even if people are unwilling to change they will admit the issue and excuse themselves with something like “its so hard – ill try,” but when it comes to tznius which is such an obvious issue the reaction is one of indignation and self-righteousness as if the one raising the issue is either a fanatic, not watching trier eyes, or simply not placing the emphasis on feel-good social issues.

  13. I don’t see any message. I see humans dying at close to 100 (halivat oif mir).and I hear of a sicko killing a kid. messages are given thru neviim to interpt not every (moderated)

  14. uncovered knees are just as assur as mcdonalds cheezeburgers.
    Talking during davening is a sin too great to bear.
    Hurting other people is out.
    So is Machlokes.
    What are we to do? How about streightening up.

  15. #3

    Somehow many people get very unnerved when the Tznius issue is brought up. I wonder why. Noone’s talking about 70 denier here. Someone who chastises himself for occassionally watching movies is obviously not some radical frummie as some would say. He’s talking about BASIC Tznius halochos, many of which have been completely forgotten by many. He/she makes it very obvious that there are many issues that can be discussed. He wasn’t even “blaming” this incident on lack of tznius. His point is that everyone has their “tough” area and that is where Teshuva should begin. YOUR tough area is apparently Tznius. Thanks for confirming.

  16. wow with all the things wrong in this world this is for sure the most ridiculous statement i ever heard ” A women dressing in tight clothes just looks plain ugly ”
    how about worrying how we treat each other , obeying the law , being a good parent, being civil to each other, I guess you get my point ~ how one dresses is really not a huge issue its how we treat each other while its really no concern of mine how anyone chooses to dress I think those who seem deeply concerned about how others decide to dress really have very little to much free time on their hands

  17. Dear Kvetch, Three gedolim dying, regardless of their ages, in a two week span is a message.
    A precious, innocent little boy brutally murdered by a monster is a message.
    If you can’t see the Yad Hashem, then you’re either heartless, senseless, brainless or an atheist. In any case, you’re to be pitied.

  18. what i found interesting here is that everyone is jumping on one person who commented which obviously proves that person’s point. all everyone yells about is tznnius. what a shame.

  19. #14
    Everything Hashem does has a message & you dont need a Navi to tell you what you have to improve as the saying goes: Adam yodeia maras nafsho. By the way if you spend just a little time learning mussar or even discussing with your Rav you can easily find the MESSAGE. So hatzlacha to you and all of us on our striving to improve! If we only wnt we ca change a whole lot.

    Tznius happens to be from the main fiber that Klal Yisroel is made up of. That is what keeps us & the Shchina together not to say that Shalom is any less important, but lets not try to wiggle around it . It is from the greatest source of Hashpah & boy do we need that!

  20. to #15, nothing’s wrong with designer clothes, except when EVERYTHING has to be a brand name, and as we know, there aren’t that many clothing that have a label and are completely tznius. Also, when people start becoming overly-obsessed with Juicy and Ralph Lauren, you have to wonder who they’re really looking up to, but that’s another deck of cards.

    If you can find designer clothes that conform to hilchos tznius completely (or you modify them to conform), then you have my heartfelt bracha that H-shem should give you much hatzlacha and success (and $$) to continue finding these clothes and making them affordable to you ^__^

    #20, we’re all jumping on #3 because she proved the OP’s point about burying our head in the sand. And if women would dress more tzniusly, then we wouldn’t be yelling about it all the time. We’d be yelling about people talking in shul more, or passing people illegally on the right cause their driving exactly the speed limit. The list goes on.

    Tznius just gets most of the rep because it’s the one issue that’s so OBVIOUS that you’re supposed to follow (I mean, really, forget sensitivities, is it THAT HARD to cover your knees?? I mean, omg, NO ONE needs to see your knees! yet despite it’s easiness, some just ignore what is the hallmark of a Jewish woman, and continue to deteriorate along with all the shmutzim and prutzim in the streets!

  21. I happen to appreciate all comments made above however if I may. I think an important thing to work on is loving and caring about each other. If we pay attention to all comments from one blogger to the other is that there is a lack of respect for each other. Once again I believe that all points made are real and important. But what are we feeling when we are typing in (or reading) all the opinions let’s find a way to overcome our personal feelings and stop knocking each other and start looking down at each other. The girls that you may consider immodest. Is in many situations really modest but the type of clothing that is offered out there make her feel ugly. Instead of knocking her point out that that the real beauty is within not how people view you
    And the guy watching movies. Don’t knock help find better things to do with his time. He’s only watching cause he’s bored
    I will finish with a role model of the old. Aharon hacohen. His focus was to treat everyone with respect even though they may hade done aveiros. But when that person was about to do his aveira again he remembered the respect that he got from aharon hasadik and thought to himself “how can I sin and still face aharon and not feel guilty. Point being when we treat each other in a positive note that will solve half the problems.

  22. When our machaneh is not kodosh, the Ribbono shel Olam removes himself from us, and we have no protection from the forces of evil. The way women dress today is a shrek; tight fitting maternity clothes!! There has never been anything like it before. It has nothing to do with designer clothes, it’s a matter of tznius. This little korban was for OUR aveiros, and we better wake up fast.

  23. I, a female, living here many years am personally shocked by the lack of tznius I see in the streets. Some things are “border-line” or a higher madreiga to dress better, but some of what I see is so so wrong, so so ossur, just as bad as eating cheeseburgers and driving on Shabbos. Tight fitting clothing that shows everything underneath. Arayos is one of the three cardinal sins. Have people no shame to walk in the streets so exposed!! Even non religious (older) people have commented to me about it.
    Go home and change now!! Do it for the zechus of the Kalla in a coma, for the children who need to get accepted into schools, for shidduchim of all the single girls you know. Specify to Hashem what yeshuos you are asking for, and I think you’ll see results.

  24. i think every person should worry about fixing themselves and stop yelling at others to fix their tznius. tznius applies to a man just as much as a women.

  25. Here we go again I left a comment with just my oppinion and its left in moderation because the obviously the moderator does not agree with my thoughts! nothing offensive or disrespectful said that I could understand not posting it . this site obviously wants only oppinions which only thoughts that are in line with the moderators. guess freedom of speech not a consideration here! for that very same reason this probably will not get posted


    #26 We will NOT STOP YELLING ABOUT TZNIUS until every last women dresses PROPRLY!!! Who gives you a right to be Machshil people constantly. If it hurts one screams If you dont scream that means it doesnt hurt. And BTW only you people who dress improperly have a right of FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION? why cant the ones who it bothers have freedom of expression!?! And this is the expression of OUR TORAH!

  27. I don’t see why there’s a need to find things to chastise people about.

    I think the lesson not external but in the tragedy itself.
    Just sit for a minute and meditate on the fragility of life.
    Appreciate and be aware of our children and all those precious gifts Hashem gives us and we take for granted.

    Everyone knows deep down the areas they need to work on…

  28. you just look like a (moderated). work on yourself first. If you are so into tznius, start a campaign that treats people with respect while trying to change the way people dress. yelling gets people nowhere in life.

  29. #30
    Obviously some dont! and they are brazen enough to stick it in your face and have the CHUTZPA to say mind your own business or dont look. Well guess what it is my own business! And we dont have to see this every time we go to a simcha etc. Never mind tznius for some of them, how about human dignity!!!!!!!

  30. #31
    I can certainly feel the anger in your keystrokes.
    But certainly you must realize that you are not going to MAKE anyone else change..right?
    So why don’t you sit down and try to work on strategies for yourself..that you shouldn’t be nichshol. Why don’t you focus on the part that is truly in your control?

    That’s what I’m talking about..

  31. when i see a woman not dressed properly i think of her as nebuch because that means she has no inner pride. She has no self worth…. like other pple in this town who walk around half clad u can tell in essence they are worth nothing. we have to work on instilling into our nation who we are, what we are and where we come from and how we should act.

  32. I see the mods saw fit to remove parts of my comment. Are you afraid the truth will be too much for people to bear??

    #36, please do not mix-up gashmiyus with a breach in halacha.

    Yes, when a guy finds his self-worth based on the kind of car he drives, it’s sad. But in essence, there is no halacha that says you can’t own a lexus.

    THERE IS, however, a halacha that says you cannot where clothing that do not cover your knees/elbows/collarbone! And when you cannot even keep to this basic tennent of yiddishkeit, then you have no right to…well, if I finish that sentence, the mods will edit it again, so I’ll just let you fill in the blanks.

  33. dear mouse, please keep your comments to yourself as you have no business looking at what type of cars people drive. Face it-there are shallow people out there! There also is a halacha that one cannot talk lashon hara but do people talk lashon hara? yes! my advice to you is work on yourself and dont worry about others. we live in a town where there is a lot of awareness of tznius and if some reason a woman doesnt adhere to it, its her issue. you posting on here with cynical comments wont help it.

  34. 37..
    But again, realistically you’re not going to get everyone to dress the way you want them to. And what about non jews that cross your path?

    Why are you then focusing on things that are not in your control, instead of shoring up your own fortitude?

  35. I regards to teshuva, tzniyus is by far one of the most important things a woman should work on, if need be. Unfortunately, we forgot what it means to look beautiful. Once upon a time it was beautiful to be beautiful. And it’s OK to look beautiful and be beautiful. Its desired to look beautiful. What I don’t understand is how beautiful became something else. And that is what the women/girls of this generation need to work on. The generation that we live in has so much shmutz, that if we cannot do anything to fight it, then we will chas’vshalom go down to the mem tes shaareh tumah. Cmon girls, buy longer skirts and looser tops, tie your hair back, or trim it a bit and bring some zechusim to us all.

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