Tzniut - Introduction - Modesty

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ב׳׳ה


צניעות

Tzniut  Lessons


INTRODUCTION


Modesty Meekness Chastity


The Lessons We Learn From Adam And Eve


By Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk

Dean of Jewish Studies

B'nai Noach Torah Institute, LLC


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Dr. Akiva Gamliel and Rebbetzin Revi Belk



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Dear friends, some of us perhaps wonder why we have issues at home, at work, with our spouse, our children our parents, and perhaps with people we think are our friends and so forth. There are reasons that we have issues. I have issues. Each of us has issues. Are you open to admitting that you have issues? So, we all have issues. How do we deal with our issues? 


The base of our issues has to do with our relationship with The Lord God. Our relationship with God reflects on how to take care of ourselves. The Torah teaches us how to take care of ourselves in a most excellent way. The Torah teaches us.  Are willing to learn? 


Our discussion is going to preview the great value of a tzniut life. The Torah Teacher, scholar and philosopher, Rashi defines this as The Path of Modesty.


A modest, humble discrete individual is distinguished by virtuous characteristics. A distinguished individual is appropriate, proper and suitable for every circumstance. A distinguished individual avoids inappropriate, indecent communication and immodest clothing.


A virtuous individual is one whose pattern of living has good, desirable moral standards.


How we live and how, we present ourselves is a choice that is founded within us.  How do we take care of ourselves? Do we want to be respected? Do we want to be appreciated?  Do we want to be regarded and valued and esteemed?


The Lord God is our Creator. Each of us was created in Gods Spiritual Image, Genesis 1.27. Our Creators Breath gave us life. We are created from the very best dust of the earth. We were gathered and formed by The Lord God from the dust surrounding The Holy Altar. We are special. This is our physical home. When we die, our body returns to the earth.


Our goal is to live up to our potential. We have The Lord God's Spirit within us, so we do not lack for potential. I understand, sometimes we do not feel or think we are special. And we may feel like our potential is limited. This is not unusual. This is the human part of us.


Life's struggles are between The Spiritual part of us and The human part of us. Our Sages teach that humankind was created from the dust surrounding the Holy Altar.  This tells us the location of our home. We were created from the place where atonement is made. We who are kids... we who are children Fashion by The Lord God sometimes need to go home to be reassured and to be comforted. Our home is the location of the Holy Altar. The altar is a symbol of our place of communication with the Lord God. When we have struggles between The Spiritual part of us and human the human part of us, we can talk to God. God answers us through The Torah. We have questions for The Lord God we find the answers in The Torah. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Jerusalem the Eye of the Universe, {New York, N.Y. Publishers: National Conference of Synagogue Youth / Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, 2002} pp. 13,14



We are heavily impacted by the human side. 


In this Weeks Parshat, The Torah Informs us that Eve did not assert herself when she was confronted by the serpent. Why? Humankind was made master over all of the animals, beasts fowl, etc.  creation including the serpent.


Adam did not get involved. He was standing near Eve watching and listening.


Appropriately Assertive

Being appropriately assertive is an important lesson to learn from the history of our parents failure. The word history is significant. I say history because if we are not careful, History repeats itself. However, history does not need to repeat itself.  The Lord God included Adam and Eve's failure in The Torah for a purpose. It is to teach us to be appropriately assertive.


Associations

Who do we associate with? Where do we 'hang out?'  Who do we keep company with? Who are our associations? Inappropriate associations lead to problems.  When we have an appropriate associations, we do things that later we are sorry for. We need to be very careful with those we communicate. Adam and Eve were hanging out with the serpent.



Responsibility

It is a mistake to think the responsibility in The Garden was only Adam's. The responsibility of guarding the Garden was shared. Let's return to a principle of Bible Interpretation that I shared in the discussion Forbidden Unions. The principle is Everyone is accountable to The Lord for the Instructions He Gives. We could also establish this point on equality. I discuss equality in my book, Eve of Creation Restored.


Genesis 2.16 - 17

And The Lord God Commanded The Man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it; for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.


The Torah clearly states that 'The Lord God Commanded The Man'. Nothing is said of Adam's wife, Eve on his children. 'The Lord God Commanded The Man' Yet, In Genesis 3.16 - 17 Eve is judged by The Lord God. She is punished for eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Lord God Instructed the Man yet the wife was also accountable. This is a principle. Everyone is accountable to The Lord for the Instructions He Gives. The Lord is accountable, Adam is accountable, Eve is accountable, and all creations is accountable. 


How could a just God Judge Eve if she was not equally accountable?


The Torah Informs us that God is Holy. Humankind fails to understand that being Holy is also being accountable. The Lord God is Holy. The Lord God is accountable to Himself. Being Holy and being Accountable has more than one side. One is not only accountable for their actions, but one is accountable for the actions of others. This means we are accountable to hold others responsible for their actions. The Lord God Held Eve accountable for her actions.


Why is it necessary for The People of Israel to learn and know all 613 Mitzvot of The Torah? Please think about this! No one can Observe each of the 613 Mitzvot of The Torah yet each of us is responsible to learn the Mitzvot and to know them. There Observance just for the High Priest. There Observance just forThe Priests. There Observance just for the Levim. There Observance just for Kings. There Observance just for a Nazirite. There Observance just for farmers. There Observance just for women. There are Observances just for wives. There are Observances just for men. There are Observances just for Husbands. There are Observances just for Husbands and wives. There are Observances just for children. There are Observances for Sabbath. There are Observances for each High Holiday.  There are Observance just for live stock.  There Observance just for lost animals.  There are Observance just for the Holy Temple.  There are Observances just for the Holy Place in The Holy Temple.  There are Observances just for the Land of Israel.


Dear friends, ignorance of a Mitzvot cannot be used as a reason to violate a Mitzvot of The Torah!! We are required to learn and to know all 613 Mitzvot to Observe Them. We Observe them by holding each other accountable. When one lives in a Jewish Community, each member of the community is being constantly held lovingly accountable by the other members of the community. When one is sick, the community lovingly assists. When one is hungry, the community lovingly assists. When one is lonely, the community lovingly assists. 


When I was a single man every Sabbath and High Holiday one or more members invited be to join them at their Sabbath or High Holiday table table.  Hundreds of time I joined members of the Jewish Community for a Sabbath / High Holiday meal. In a small congregation, it would not be unusual to receive a half dozen invitations on Sabbath Eve or Sabbath day. When I lived outside of the Jewish Community, I walked into the community for Sabbath prayers. When Sabbath concluded men from the community made sure I had a ride home. 


We are discussing being accountable. God is Accountable. God Does Not Sin! Other religions state God through The Holy Ghost impregnated Mary, the wife of Joseph. The Lord God did NOT do this. Why? Mary was the wife of Joseph. The Lord God is Accountable to HimSelf. Therefore, The Lord God would not do this. Did The Lord God Hold David accountable for taking Bathsheba? Did the Lord God send The Novie / Prophet Nathan to say to David, 'You are the man'? 


When men from the army of Israel would go to war,, they would write a decree of divorce for their wife. The purpose for the decree was to allow their wife to remarry if they were missing in action. Uriah wrote a divorce decree For his wife, Bathsheba. Technically speaking Bathsheba was a divorced woman. Yet, the purpose for The Divorce Decree was not to permit Bathsheba to marry David. Still, this is what happened. The marriage between Bathsheba and David was technically legal. David's intent was wrong! Some of David's actions were wrong. 2 Samuel 12


2 Samuel 12.9 - 11

Why have you despised The Commandment of The Lord, to do evil in His Sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10   And therefore the sword shall never depart from your house; because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. 


The Lord God is Holy. Because The Lord God is Holy, He holds us accountable for The Observances of The Torah. In this sense, The Lord God is also Accountable. The Lord God Does NOT sin. Because The Lord God is Holy He Holds us accountable. The Lord God sent the prophet Nathan to inform David that he was being held accountable for his soon.What did David do? He took the wife of Uriah for his wife. He impregnated Uriah Wife. 


The Lord God Judged David for his improper action. What David did was wrong in the eyes of The Lord and according to The Torah. Therefore, The Lord God would never take Mary, the wife of Joseph. This is how principals in The Torah Work. The Lord God looked upon the intent as well as the wrongful actions.


Responsibility

The Torah clearly states the purpose the Lord God placed Adam In The Garden.

Genesis 2.15

And the Lord God took everything from the Aleph to the Tav of the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it וּלְשָׁמְרָהּ and to Guard it.


Eve's purpose in being in the Garden was the same purpose as Adam's. Humankind was placed in The Garden to guard it. The Word וּלְשָׁמְרָהּ Voo Lih Shaw Mih Raw means 'And to Guard it'. Many translation uses 'Keep it'. The root Word שָׁמְרָ Shaw Mih Raw means 'To Guard'.  Eve had a responsibility to The Lord God. Eve had a responsibility to herself.  Eve had a responsibility to Adam.  Eve had a responsibility to the serpent.  Eve had a responsibility to every being living in The Garden. 


Remember we are discussing being Tzniut / Modest. We have a responsibility to the Lord God, to ourselves, to our spouse, to the members of our family, to our community, and to the world just as Eve had. Our service to God is important. Our self-worth is important. How we are esteemed by our spouse, our children, our relatives, our community is important.


Passivity

Let's discuss Adam briefly. Adam is also responsible for the exact same areas as we discussed for his wife Eve. Just because we are discussing Eve does not mean Adam is any less responsible. Adam is equally responsible! Adam had the opportunity to stand up but he didn't! Adam had the opportunity to get involved, but he did nothing. He just let his wife, Eve sin. He let it happen. He stood by and did nothing! He was passive! He accepted what was happening without an active response! Adam could have made a difference. 


Adam was appointed to lead by The Lord God. Adam was appointed and established to Guard The Garden of Eden. Adam failed to lead. Adam failed to take charge. What did The Lord God Say to Adam? The Lord God Said to Adam, 'Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it...,' Genesis 3.17 - 18. Please show me in The Holy Scriptures where Eve spoke to Adam. Eve did not speak to Adam. Eve spoke to the Serpent. Adam listened to the voice of his wife, Eve speaking to the serpent. 


Adam was NOT punished for listening to the serpent!! Where does Adam was punished for listening to the serpent? The Torah does not Say this. 


1. Adam was punished for listening to the voice of his wife.

2. Adam was punished because he violated a Command from The Lord God.

Adam ate from the tree The Lord God Commanded him not to eat from.


What did Eve say? We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God Has Said, 'you shall not eat of it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die,' Genesis 3.2 -3.


God did not say 'You shall not touch it' Eve added these words to the Command that the Lord God Gave. Adding to an Observance is a problem. Attributing the words, 'You shall not touch it' is an issue. Again Adam was passive. He knew what The Lord God Said. He knew the Lord God did not say, 'You shall not touch it', but he did not say a word. Adam heard Eve's voice and did nothing. It may seem so small and insignificant to us, but it's HUGE! Why? Eve altered the intended meaning and purpose. Eve changed the absolute Command, 'You shall not eat of it.'  No reason was given why they should not eat it. God Commanded. That's it! When Eve added, you shall not touch it the Mitzvah was changed. A new impression is given. By adding 'you shall not touch it,' Eve gave the implication 'It's poison!'  , 'you shall not eat of it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die', A rational person might think the reason the Lord God Said, 'You shall not eat of it.' is because the tree is position. Even changed the intent from one of being Observant to what The Lord God Commands to being health conscience. Don't eat it because it's poison. Rabbi Menachem Davis, The Shottenstein Edition Interlinear Chumash Bereishis / Genesis, {Brooklyn, New York: Mesorah Publications, Ltd. First Edition 1st impression 2007}, p 16


David wrote in Psalms 19 that The Torah of the Lord is perfect. If one Letter is changed, then The Torah of The Lord is no longer perfect. Eve's action may have been well intended, but she changed Letters and Words. Eve altered a Mitzvot of The Lord God. We are to pass the 613 Mitzvot of The Torah on exactly as the Lord Said them. We are not permitted to change even one Letter of The Torah.  Can you imagine what The Torah would be like if we were permitted to change a little here and a little there over 5776 Years? What would The Torah be like today if we had had NOTHING valuable to pass on to our children. The reason we have issues with Observance of  Tzniut is because we do not understand or believe The Words of The Torah are sweeter than honey from the honey comb and more valuable that the finest gold. If we truly believed this, we would alter how we live.


The Lord God is Teaching us we cannot be passive when it comes to The Torah. We must be preserved The Torah in It's original condition. A passive individual feels like I can take The Take what the Torah is Teaching today and tomorrow I may pass on what The Torah is Teaching. The Lord God Called Adam out for not stepping up and standing up in defense of what The Lord God Said.


Dear Friends, we must remember Adam was a King, Torah Teacher and Judge. Adam was not Created to be a passive king, a passive Torah Teacher or a passive judge. Being passive was an obstacle Adam faced. Each of us has obstacles we must face and work to improve.


Communication

Giving and receiving communication is one of the important functions of living. How we give and how we receive communications is extremely important. If we give an individual the wrong impression, we are misleading them. If we are frank, perhaps our frankness may hurt another individuals feelings. If we are not appropriately assertive, we may be taking advantage of. Our existence is dependent upon the communication we give or refrain from giving.In a similar way, we need to be very with the communication we receive. It is vital for us to learn the power of giving and receiving communication properly. A distinguished individual avoids inappropriate, indecent communication. 


Our communication has a power of giving life or death.


Proverbs 18.21

'Death and life are in the power of the tongue...'


We have the power to communicate encouragement or discouragement.


Proverbs 25.11

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.


We have the responsibility to guard ourselves against the wrong type of communication. In America, we have a phone, 'No Call Lists' for a reason. Skilled communicators phone us. We answer the phone. Our guard is down. They use their communication skills to sellers products.


Guarding Ourselves

Being careful with our selection of clothing helps us to guard ourself. The purpose of our clothing is to cover our body. A distinguished individual is appropriate, proper and suitable for every circumstance. This begins with the clothes we select. When we prepare to dress is it important for us to take into account our responsibility to God, our self, and others. Remember if we do not hold ourselves accountable, God will hold us accountable. 


There are other ways we guard ourself. I don't answer the door just because someone knocks. I Don't answer the phone just because someone calls. I don't respond to every email. I eliminate pictures from my computer screen. These are ways we can protect ourselves.


Internet dating sites are dangerous. They have predators! The Internet is dangerous. The internet can provide instance access to evil, vile, wretched predators. Adam and Eve let the serpent into their home. They let the serpent into their lives. The serpent was a predator. The Torah describes the serpent as being 'more cunning'. Read Genesis 3.1.


Predators

Each of us must be careful. We are vulnerable to predators. God Help us! Kah Naw Nah Haw Rah! Adam and Eve were covered by The Glory of God yet they were vulnerable. The serpent got to them! The Torah is Teaching us that our power of choice is very great. Predators are cunning. Predators know the power of choice is great. The Torah and The Glory of God do not protect us from our power of choice. The Torah Teaches us to make the right choices. Following the Torah is our choice!


When the Torah Informs us that Adam and Eve were naked, The Torah is Informing us that we are vulnerable. Read Genesis 2.25. 


The Holy Scriptures reminds us that a righteous man may fall seven times yet, he gets back up and continues. See Proverbs 24.16


The point is, it's easy to be caught off guard. Even the best of us sometimes error. It is necessary to be very careful!


Emunah

We must have implicit Faith in The Lord God and The Teachings of The Torah!! What did the serpent do? The serpent questioned Eve. Questions open doors! The serpent used a question to challenge what God Said. The serpent lied!  The serpent mischievously reinterpreted what God Said, for his own advantage. He lied. Eve looked upon the forbidden tree and lusted. Eve sinned. She took the f forbidden fruit. It did not belong to her. She stole.  She became a thief. She took what did not belong to her. Then she offered her stolen fruit to Adam.


After Eve ate the fruit and after Adam ate the fruit The Torah informs us that her eyes were opened. Dear Ones after we sin, and after we make mistakes, it becomes so clear to us. Our eyes are opened. 


Forgive Ourself

We may feel like the mistakes we have made are so foolish. We are ashamed of our errors. We don't want anyone to know. We blame ourselves. We blame others. We may put ourselves down. We put others down. Our errors can take us in so many wrong directions. Making mistakes can be depressing. Mistakes can lead us to make more mistakes. Adam separated from Eve for 130 years. Adam was righteous. Eve was righteous. On the other hand their son, Cain, was evil, defiant, rebellious, disobedient and a murderer! During the time, Adam separated from his wife because he was so angry Cain populated the earth with people like him. One sin led to others.


Forgive Others

Eventually, Adam forgave Eve. They had many more children. Each of us is descendants of these children.


Adam and Eve were punished for their sins. Then The Lord God Forgave them. How can any of us ask The Lord to forgive us on Rosh Chodesh and Yom Kippur if we are unwilling to forgive others?  We must avoid the actions of saying we forgive yet living like we forgave nothing.



The purpose for this Learning Group is to help us to learn these principles about Modesty in The Torah so that we can be the esteemed and distinguished individuals The Lord God desires us to be. The choice is ours. What will we choose?


Are we going to believe God?  Do we desire to please God or ourselves? We are just beginning to learn the rewards of being Tzniut / Modest. We learned methods on how to protect ourselves. We learned that when we employee modesty this helps us raise or to rebuild our self-worth. 


There is one area that we have not discussed. The Lord God Blessed Adam and Eve. Read Genesis 1.28. Do we understand what it means to be blessed by The Lord God? Adam and Eve had the seal of approval from the Lord God. They walked in His Ways and Observed His Statutes until they sinned. One is blessed when you observe the Torah. This is the only way to receive and keep The Blessing of The Lord God.


May The Lord Blesses help us in learning and following these principles in The Torah.  May we be successful.


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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Akiva Gamliel published on October 27, 2015 6:02 PM.

Gematria In Genesis - Lesson 3 - The Altar was the previous entry in this blog.

Tzniut Lesson 1 - The Lessons We Learn From Our Associations with Abraham And Sarah is the next entry in this blog.

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