By Rivka Perlman

March 1, 2012

Dear Sara Miriam, To answer your question……

hi aunty rivka malka! i figured doing the interveiw by email will be easier for me and you. Here are the ques.

how did you grow in tznuis? (modesty)
what influnced your growth?
what were your challenges in tznuis?
what helped you overcome these obstacles and difficulties?
thank you soo much
love you
HI Sara Miriam,
Thanks for your questions.¬†I’ll try my best to answer them!
How did I grow in tznius?
My growth in tznius has really been in direct proportion to my growth in confidence.
When I was young I didn’t know how special it was to be a Bas Yisroel. I knew one thing, I wanted to look good.Even more, I wanted to look cool.
I wished I could dress in certain ways that “cool” girls dressed. My parents did me a great favor by having very clear guidelines about tznius. Because of those guidelines I almost never dressed in those ways. Having my knees, neck and elbows uncovered was not an option.
But I still tried to inject as much cool as I could within that. I pushed the limits.
¬†So even though I was “tznius”, I had a lot of growing to do. I didn’t understand that dressing with dignity is a way of expressing your inner dignity.
As I grew older and my relationship with Hashem/G-d grew I started to see myself differently.

 I began to have a self-worth based on the choices that I made in my yiddishkeit (Judaism) and in my chesed (kind deeds).
I grew from the inside out. Because of that, I started to choose my clothes based on things other than how ‘in’ it was. I actually saw those other types of clothes and realized that¬†that’s not me.

 

I have a few challenges in tznius.
I’m a very creative person and color is my art form. I love color, it makes me happy and I use it every day. I literally pick out my clothes like color therapy, what color mood am I in?
It’s a very delicate line being creative and being tznius.There’s no question that wearing something bright and pretty stands out. On the other hand, something short, tight and black doesn’t stand out b/c so many people are wearing it – but it’s not tznius at all. The same goes with wearing tichels. They may stand out but does that mean that they are immodest?
What do I do with this dilemma? Believe it or not, although I’m colorful, I hold back. I can always think of another bracelet or a scarf and tichel pin that would look amazing. And I don’t put them on, I”ll limit it. I can buy shoes that are wild and wonderful, but I don’t. ¬†I try to be honest with myself about whats too much. (And too much is different for each person)
Another challenge is that tznius today is very corrupted. Even amongst my religious peers clothes can be so tight and even above the knee. I feel this desensitized¬†me and sometimes I feel that I don’t have as clear a sense anymore about what’s too fitted and whats just right.
Every ¬†once in¬†¬†a while I go through my closet and take out all the things that I just know are too tight. The ones that I have to play games with myself every time I put them on. After many years of doing this, I’ve noticed that the amount of items I need to get rid of is very little by now.
I have a lot to work on and not just in dress. Tznius is about knowing what it means to be a Bas Yisroel, a daughter of the King. And knowing that doesn’t just happen by itself. Our whole culture teaches us the opposite. So I have to stay connected, to read the right books, to fill my mind with holy things so that I remember who I am.
I’ve gotten a lot of amazing feedback about my colorful clothes. As far as I can see it makes a great kiddush Hashem to dress nicely and cheerfully. I even visited a friend with cancer recently. She opened the door, looked at me and said, “You spread simcha! Look at those wonderful colors!”
And its an always thing. People love it.It shares an important message; the Torah is sweet as honey. It’s the most wonderful thing. A Torah life doesn’t look too nice when people are dressed the same and /or in an uptight, black outfit. It’s just ¬†not sweet, it’s severe and that comes across.
Thanks Sara Miriam for the chance to think about these things. It’s really helped me to get in touch with this process. You’re such a fantastic girl, I’m so proud of you! love, Auntie Rivka Malka

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