[Avodah] Timely Notes for the Summer

Prof. Levine via Avodah avodah at lists.aishdas.org
Tue Jul 14 14:11:12 PDT 2015

The following is from an article by Rav Dr. 
Joseph Breuer,  ZT"L,  that appeared in the Mitteilungen, Vol. 2, June 1941

Timely Notes for the Summer

Can the heat of summer be termed “oppressive”? That is surely
something that is individual. If we think of the terribly oppressive
times a large number of our brethren are going through, we will
gladly tolerate the discomforts of summer and rather bless our
good fortune to be spared such pain.

Many of our newly immigrated brothers and sisters are struggling
with heavy economic burdens, and only the few can afford
the much desired relaxing rest. We are pleased for those who can
afford a vacation and expect that they will carefully select, as far as
the trustworthiness of its kashrus, the place where they plan to
spend their vacation. Obviously, they will not want to take a vacation
from the “yoke of the Law.” They want to return home, hale
and hearty, and not with a feeling of unease for having risked their
moral values in exchange for physical wellbeing.

The heat of summer calls for changes in clothing and appearance.
The conscientious Jew will carefully keep to certain limits,
which he will not overstep. Our Divine Law cautions us to have a
sense of shame, and that applies to summer as well.

The Jewish custom —according to the Talmud —requires men
and boys to cover their heads outdoors. God gave the first garment
to man when he forfeited his special standing by disregarding the
Will of God.Modest covering of his body is to be a steady reminder
of the higher calling of man. Jewish men were given the adornment
of tzitzis to admonish them to wear their clothes as proper Jews.
Even in the summer heat, our requirements for covering can easily
be heeded with lighter clothing. Comfort will not cause us to shirk
our duty. A soldier’s helmet is uncomfortably heavy, but he wears
it because it is required; God’s requirement should not be heeded?

As for the Jewish woman, Jewish law requires her to cover her
hair. The true Jewish woman will proudly do so, for it is a sign of
her willingness to adhere to God’s Will as the guide in her life. A
woman unworthy of this sign will have it removed forcibly by the
priest (Bemidbar 5:18). Covering one’s hair is merely a sign if a
woman does not conduct herself otherwise in the properly Jewish
manner. Similarly, there are Jewish men who bear the Milah-sign on
their bodies but sully their bodies in other ways.

Not covering one’s hair is probably — we are sorry to say — a
matter of ignorance, and perhaps such a Jewish woman was not
brought up to understand the importance of covering her hair.
Many women may carefully observe their Jewish duties in other
areas, and we would so much like to adorn them with this special
crown also. For the fact remains: covering of the hair for the Jewish
woman is a must.

The proud Jewish woman will conduct herself Jewishly in her
clothing and in covering her hair. The word Tznius is a Jewish
concept that is hard to translate exactly. It does not only denote a
“quietly humble way of living” (Michah 6:8), but everything else
that our people has so valued and esteemed in their Jewish women
at all times.
“quietly humble way of living” (Michah 6:8), but everything else
that our people has so valued and esteemed in their Jewish women
at all times.

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