My Journey to Tznius

8 years ago ToriElisheva 0

Tori Bischoff, St. Petersburg, FL

At about this time last year ­I was packing for my second CTeen Int’l Shabbaton in Crown Heights. After much consideration, I decided that for the first time in my life I would dress according to tznius, the Jewish standards of modesty, for longer than just shabbos dinner at the rabbi’s house.

It took hours just to come up with outfits to last four days; I literally didn’t know how to dress myself without jeans. At the time I didn’t even call it “tznius,” I called it “the skirt thing,” and I specifically remember texting an older friend the night before the shabbaton saying “I really want to do the skirt thing this weekend, but I’m not sure what I’m doing. Can you approve these outfits?” followed by a stream of #ootd-style photos.

The outcome was unrivaled support from my closest friend in my chapter and a variety of strange looks and comments like “What are you wearing?” and “Are you orthodox now?” For the first 10 minutes that we all stood together in the airport, I strongly questioned whether the decision to leave my pants at home was a sane one, and wondered if it would be even possible to enjoy the weekend in a skirt.

As soon as I stepped out of the taxi in Crown Heights I had my answer. I remembered how awkward I’d felt the year before wandering around in jeans and now I felt right at home with the rest of the women there. I didn’t feel out of place anymore, I felt normal.

Now, a year later, packing for the shabbaton was a no-brainer; the thought of bringing along a pair of jeans never crossed my mind. I’ve grown tremendously in my yiddishkeit over the past year—not necessarily physical things, although that’s part of it. My goals and priorities have changed, the whole mindset is different.

As much as I know how it feels to be happy, it’s incomparable to the pleasure Hashem feels when we do mitzvos. At the essence of every human emotion, is an “emotion” felt by Hashem, caused by doing mitzvos or aveiros, overcoming challenges, etc. Every single person has the power to serve Hashem, to make Him happy, and once I had really internalized this, there was absolutely no reason not to follow through. The journey wasn’t easy, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.