Thursday, June 23, 2011

Iran's fashion crackdown moves beyond headscarves - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Iran's fashion crackdown moves beyond headscarves - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

You know, who am I to talk, right? How can I disagree with the Muslims and their need to enforce modesty? I mean, I live in Israel in an Orthodox neighborhood where women dress modestly, covering their elbows and knees, most wear socks or tights to cover their legs and close-toed shoes. You may even see a few women with shawls. All married women in my neighborhood cover their hair. So who am I to poke at this issue of forced modesty and modesty police in Iran? How can I, when I myself believe that women should dress and conduct themselves to a degree of modesty that is above and beyond the western norm?
Well, I can criticize it and I will. Calm down! Let me explain before I make myself into a hypocrite, ok? Yes we have laws of modesty in Judaism, which the Qur'an does as well I suppose. We live in Israel right, so why aren't we going around arresting women who don't comply with the standard? Well there are some differences in case you didn't know, to the Qur'an and The Torah, and there are differences between Iran and Israel.
Let me just point out a few.
Israel is a democracy for starters and very much interested as a State in preserving a western mentality, for better or for worse, but this is true. It is one of the only places in the entire Middle East where anyone can walk around dressed however they want without being harassed (Warning: Do NOT attempt to walk in Meah Shearim in a bikini to test my point... you will be more than harassed). What I am trying to say is there is respect and there is force. No one will be arrested for not dressing to the maximum level of modesty that you find in Israel and one will not be arrested for dressing to the minimum. You will see all types of fashion here to the very refined to the most honky-tonk-out-of-date-hope-you-never-see-it-again-nightmare styles. There is definitely fanaticism here, but it's individual. People decide their level of observance, if at all. I myself would never feel good living in an entirely Chasidish environment but I have a friend who only feels comfortable there. If I go there dressed in my hippie clothes (or as one friend puts it "Laura Ashley"), I don't get the feeling that I'm wrong for not fitting in. You can hear stories of fanatics who act like criminals but I wouldn't say that's everyday life.

In Iran, by contrast, this is the law. If you don't comply with dress regulations you are arrested. In Afghanistan you will be stoned to death. This is why this attitude is so appalling to the West because we take pride in our freedom. This is a G-d given right and it's our choice as a people to honor our Holy bodies or not. Our merit rests in the decisions we make whether or not to sanctify ourselves by keeping certain things private or not. But it's free will. Forcing someone only breeds resentment and contempt and isn't really religion. When someone resents the deed they are doing because they don't believe in the meaning of it or they don't have the choice how are they serving G-d ultimately? They are serving the regime.

In Judaism we serve G-d because we love and fear Him. But the love aspect is a higher form of service. Serving out of fear of punishment is lower because, well, common sense will tell you, no one wants to be punished. But serving the Creator out of love is the highest form of respect and giving. Especially to a Being that you cant see, this is true faith. The healthiest and happiest of His people serve Him this way, out of pure love and devotion to His Torah. I cover my hair and my body because I love G-d and I respect the wisdom in His commandments, therefore I want to be Holy to Him. I also love myself and respect myself, as well as my husband.

Do you see the difference here?

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