Skirts, Lights, and Truth

by Devoiry Rubin | November 13 2020

Sparkling and colorful Christmas lights flashed in front of me on that long, dark night of a cold December. They summoned my attention; from my neighbor’s house, or when I quickly passed by a goyishe street. I made sure to avert my eyes searching to return to the darkness — no lights. I was told that if I looked at the lights, my purity would be tainted, compromising my Yiraas Shomayim. I was afraid that by looking at those krazmach designs, I might spiritually damage the unborn child I would carry in my precious womb or erase the Torah learning of my young talmidei chachamim.

Is that really true?

This was not the first time I felt I had to protect my pureness. I remember staring out my brother’s bedroom window all the way in the back of our house. I was thinking, probably daydreaming… Suddenly, the room in the house right behind ours went dark, the light switch was turned off. Then, bright blue and rapidly flashing lights were emitted from a big black box. I sat up at once. ‘What is that?!’ I wondered, as my forehead was peeled to the window. Later that day I was told that if I looked at the screen through my neighbor’s window, my soul would not be pure anymore. I did not look at their TV again.

I began to wonder if I would have really lost my Yiraas Shomayim… or was it just another bubbemeiseh.

Years later, I began to wonder if I would have really lost my Yiraas Shomayim… or was it just another bubbemeiseh — a superstition — like, “opening an umbrella indoors will cause it to rain on your wedding day” or “step on a crack and break your mother’s back’ or walking under a ladder or being afraid of a black cat — the list is endless.

Is that really true?

In Mishlei (Proverbs) 18:17 it says: “He who pleads his case first seems just, but his neighbor comes and searches him out.” This gives me tremendous comfort, in my life now, especially with the overwhelming amount of rabbinical authority. The first person to claim something is believed, until another comes along and challenges it. Now, I walk through life with confidence over fear. I contain an internal peace of knowing that I am enough in the hands of Yeshua; It is the tranquility knowing that I have the power to search out the case that someone else might have pleaded. Rather than worrying if I am modest enough or about the length of my skirt, I know that I have the ability to think critically about the case today’s leadership presents and make my own decision.

One example of when I did research on a claim the Rabbinic Leadership made was on the topic of short skirts- there were flyers all over my neighborhood and I could not help but dive into the truth of the matter. So, on a cold winter Shabbos afternoon, I unearthed, dusty photos of my mother and grandmother when they were young. Pictures of my Bobby, back in Europe prior to the Zweite VeltKreig had her wearing skirts that were not four inches below her knees. This made me realize that the required length of skirts increased as did the modesty requirements. While it is said that tznius is the responsibility of the women, is it really true what the flyers proclaimed: that COVID-19, the death of a child or the loss of Yiraas Shomayim are caused by the shortness of my skirt or looking at Christmas lights?

Now, it does not matter where my eyes wander because I walk in pursuit of my relationship with the one who reigns over it all.

Thus, I came to the conclusion that superstition is not truth; we have to have our own barometer to measure truth. Just because something is passed down to us and has become part of the religion and culture does not mean it is right for our own connection with our creator—nor does it control how our relationship evolves with the One Above. Now, when I walk, it does not matter if the streets are lit by Christmas lights, what length my skirt is or where my eyes wander because I walk in peace, purpose and in pursuit of my relationship with the one who reigns over it all.

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