The publication by leading national-religious figure Rabbi Shlomo Aviner of a
set of principles for modest dress for women last weekend evoked considerable
consternation within the community.
Aviner, dean of the Ateret
Yerushalayim Yeshiva in the Old City of Jerusalem and the rabbi of the Beit El
settlement, issued a list of directives for modest dress in his regular column
in the weekly Shabbat pamphlet “B’Ahavah U’ve’Emunah” (“With Love and Faith”),
which many saw as inappropriate and overly strict.
“Clothing should cover
the entire body, it should not be transparent, it should not be tight, and it
should be quiet and reserved,” the rabbi wrote.
The opposite of tight
clothing is a garment that conceals the form of the body and does not emphasize
any limb, continued Aviner, who is considered to be on the conservative wing of
the national-religious community.
By way of introduction to the topic,
the rabbi explained “how beautiful and pleasant the modesty of a daughter of
Israel is,” and how, by covering the body, the soul is honored.
also issued directives regarding the color of clothing to be worn, saying that
women should refrain from wearing anything red, body-colored, orange, bold
shades of yellow or green, gold, silver or anything shiny.
Arms should be
covered to at least below the elbow, but the sleeves should not be baggy because
any movement of the arm will expose the area above the elbow, but “how much
better and pleasant is it” to cover the arm up to the hands, Aviner
The rabbi’s directives continue to discuss skirt length, 10cm.
below the knee, stocking thickness, shoe type and color and other issues of
Rabbi Yehuda Gilad, co-dean of the national-religious
Maalei Gilboa Yeshiva, said that the level of detail that Aviner went into was
unnecessary and that “obsession with modesty is not modest.”
He also said
that the publication would be unlikely to have any effect since those accustomed
to being more stringent in the way they dress would continue to do so, and those
who are not so exacting would simply ignore the rabbis
Rabbi Ronen Neubert, director of the recently established
liberal-inclined national-religious group Beit Hillel, criticized Aviner’s
modesty directive as “intrusive, humiliating and immodest.”
in an op-ed published on Ynet that the issue itself must be dealt with
discreetly and that it was for female halachic experts and educators to talk
about modesty with their students – and not for rabbis.