Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Special Joe-Jameel Book Club Review

Long time readers remember when the Joe-Jameel Book Club used to write these amazing reviews and criticisms of Jewish books that were relevant to the topic of the day.

Unfortunately, that blog and its posts were lost in the crossover to New Blogger.

Anyway, the Joe-Jameel Book Club was asked to write a review of a book that is now being advertised on this blog.

For the sake of disclosure, I haven’t read the entire book yet, just different excerpts from it, but I believe I get the gist.

The book is called, “Sometimes you ARE what you wear!” by a Rabbi Eliyahu Safran who also works in the OU.

The catch line of the book is “an argument for Tzniut (modesty)”.

My wife tells me that in the Beis Yaakovs (plural, she was thrown out of a few of them, but not for Tznius issues) where she went to school they used to constantly give them speeches about the lengths of their skirts, covering their elbows, their hair styles and the like.

But Rabbi Safran’s book is clearly not about the length of your sleeves or the color of your shirt.

His book is about the internal aspects of Tzniut which Rabbi Safran describes as dignity, nobility, self-worth, self-respect, and self-image, and also how that translates into moral actions.

Rabbi Safran maintains that Tzniut is an internal state that is outwardly revealed by one’s choice in clothing.

Conversely, he holds that there is also an inverse and symbiotic relationship between one’s clothing and one’s sense of self. The clothing also makes the man, or as scientific studies have shown, while one may smile as a sign of internal happiness, people that smile tend to end up feeling internally happy.

To quote him, “How we dress influences more than just those who look at us, it influences how we see ourselves. If you don't think this is the truth, see how differently students behave in a classroom when they are wearing shirts and ties versus when they are in their gym clothes.

Tznius he argues is about bringing your body and soul into alignment and it isn’t just for women.

This isn’t a book about permissible fashion statements.

This is a book about internalizing and projecting a positive self-image from a Jewish perspective.

It’s an interesting idea. Read the book.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


Anonymous said...

i haven't read the book (but i did recently hear about it) so i can't really offer a true critique, but there are more than a fair share of people who behave as if they're "covered" (pun intended) if they simply look and dress the part. the behavior displayed is horrific. what good is dressing "al pi tzniut" if the person's behavior is disgusting?

Anonymous said...

Also a point having nothing to do with the book (haven't read it- not so interested),

Why is it that at this point in the history of our nation, the frum world (and i mean the froom world, but it seems to be seeping into the more MO/RZ community) is so incredibly obsessed with the idea of Tzniyut?

It seems that this is THE mitzvah (even though technically, it's not a mitzvah at all). Evils that befall the world, the fate of our nation, etv- it all comes down to tzniyut.

Why? When did this happen? How can froom people violate clear issurei d'orayta in order to protect this concept of tzniyut (if you don't know what i'm talking about, check a few blogs...)

Can someone explain this phenomenon?

Holy Hyrax said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack Steiner said...

Long time readers remember when the Joe-Jameel Book Club used to write these amazing reviews and criticisms of Jewish books that were relevant to the topic of the day.

I think that there was one.

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

What about Wendy Shalit's A Return to Modesty?

Jacob Da Jew said...

I saw on XGH's blog that Rabbi Safran threatened to sue him over some remarks he made.

Another OM case coming up.

Anonymous said...


I think we (or at least I) wrote at least 5 reviews on that blog - and all modesty aside, they were good.

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