The Mitzvah of Tzniut

5 years ago Leighest 0

Sarelle Franco/ Los Alamitos, California

I definitely stand out in a crowd. As the representative of the Jewish nation in my school, I dress modestly, wearing skirts and shirts past my elbow. It’s a challenge, but it’s one that I enjoy doing. You may ask, how did I, a student in public school, make the decision to start dressing modestly? How did I get here? It started when I attended the CTeen International Shabbaton two years ago. After that amazing experience, I decided to take on the mitzvah of dressing modestly. Right away, my life began to change.

I came home so inspired from the Shabbaton. I had never before seen that many Jews in one room, especially that many teens my age who had as much enthusiasm as me being Jewish, and it was refreshing. For the first time, I went to a giant event full of teens my age, experiencing the same hardships as I do, even managing to have a five hour conversation after just barely meeting them.

Tzniut was something I did right when I returned home from the shabbaton. I knew this was going to be a change, but I don’t think I fully understood what kind of change. It’s interesting what you realize around you when you start to cover up. I lost friends over this issue, and people found me weird, but that’s okay. I noticed people wanted to talk to me, not because of my body, but because they enjoyed my company. Still, it was a challenge; I dressed modestly, but I didn’t fully accept or understand my decision.

I was trying to find out what was real in my life; dressing modestly was the first step in figuring it out. With that desire for something real, came my belief. To have a connection is the first step to have a good reason to become modest, and the second is to understand why. I began to dress modestly because it was my physical connection to G-d and my community (just as men have their kippah and tzitzit) and because I liked that people had to look at me for who I am rather than what I wear. I found that my peers respected me more and I always looked put-together. My modest lifestyle allowed me to look at my life as a whole and evaluate the kind of attention I wanted from people. I learned that you receive the attention you attract both in the way you dress and how you act. I found that when I dressed modestly, I got the attention I wanted. As a result, It forced me to think before I got dressed in the morning, which was very tough considering how much I loved my t-shirts and sweatpants.My modest style forced me to learn how to put myself together, even when I really didn’t want to.

I wanted to share my journey in order for people to understand that this choice is something I feel is important and it is something that requires a lot of sacrifice. It is something that I have truly embraced and felt a deeper connection to Judaism as a result.  I felt more respected by my true friends and community. Modesty is not just a choice but a way of life that will truly change your perspective of the world.