As we continue through the summer months, when dressing modestly becomes a greater challenge, we present an op-ed by renowned author and educator Rabbi Moshe Wiener, who relates the Rebbe’s message as to whether dressing immodestly is a private matter, or something that negatively affects others.
by Rabbi Moshe Wiener
Some argue that whether or not one dresses in accordance with the laws of tznius is their private business.
Some argue that focusing on modesty of dress is a distraction from the more primary concern of whether one has proper midos and is a good and kind person.
At the farbrengen of 12 Tamuz 5730, the Rebbe refuted these positions and demonstrated that dressing immodestly causes harm and damage to others and is an act of cruelty.
Due to the importance of this message, the Rebbe meticulously edited this sicha.
Following is an English translation of the Rebbe’s sicha:
Immodesty: Provoking the Dark Side of Others
Those who don’t behave modestly do not only defy the path of Torah. Their behavior contravenes basic decency, basic morality, and simple common sense.
When one behaves immodestly by exposing a part of the body that ought to be covered, one’s intent is to provoke the evil inclination—the negative side of the other person.
This does not help the other person to become a better person. It will not stimulate his mind and make him smarter. Nor will it improve his character traits by positively affecting the respect he accords to his parents, brothers, or sisters, or even to his own wife. Nor will it influence him to donate more charity.
What is the impact of dressing in violation of the requirements of modesty? If until now, the other person’s negative side was hidden, or not excited and aroused—one provokes that person and inflames that side.
[And then one shares in the [responsibility] for the wickedness of the other person. One doesn’t benefit in any way, because it’s the other person’s wickedness—the other person fulfills his desire, whether through gazing, or in another form. Yet it is worthwhile to do everything, as long as one provokes another person—and not his positive side, but his negative side.]
One becomes a source of harm, may G–d save us, and not only to one’s own Divine Soul, but also to another person, and still another—in fact, to everyone one meets. What an utterly degenerate path—may Hashem protect us.
Sicha of 12 Tamuz, 5730