Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Way to Redemption Paved by the Jewish Family

Haftorat Masei (Matot/Masei)
Yirmeyahu 2:4 - 2:28
I have come to treasure my family more and more over the years, and do the best I can to give each member the attention deserved. It so happens that as we learn about the importance of the Jewish family from this week’s haftorah, I’m on a family vacation.

The Invisible Bond of Family
“Hear the word of Hashem, O House of Ya’acov, and all the families of the House of Israel” (Yirmiyahu 2:4). The Prophet Yirmiyahu makes it clear that the security of the People of Israel lies in the family unit; therefore, he stresses “House,” and “Family,” for no-one lives in a vacuum. Throughout the forty year journey of the Israelites in the wilderness, they camped according to the flags of their tribes, but traveled according to their respective families, (see Bemidbar 2:34). Even our personal journeys affect and are affected by the members of our families. One of the reasons that helped me make aliyah to Israel was that I already had a lot of family living here. However, when I was a teenager and more interested in friends than family, my mother would tell me: “Friends come and go, but the family is always there for you.” The longer I live, the more I value the family, my husband and children as well as our extended family. Even though we live far apart and do not share the same values, the invisible bond of family ties us together.

The Matriarch Influences the Holiness of the Jewish Family
The captain of the family-ship is the matriarch. She steers the entire family to secure shores. We can find an allusion to this from the fact that the haftorah precedes, “House of Ya’acov” to the “Families of the House of Israel.” It is well known that in the Torah, “House of Ya’acov” refers to the women (See Rashi, Shemot 19:3). Holy women create holy families. The laws of the mikvah are called the laws of family purity, rather than the laws of women’s purity, because keeping the laws of nidah meticulously, (separating from the husband during menstruation until going to the kosher mivkah) creates holy families. Children conceived in purity have a higher spiritual potential. However, this does not detract from the many great ba’alei teshuva (returnees to Judaism), who also have great spiritual potential. Avraham, our father, was himself conceived through nidah. Hashem always gives us a chance to rectify our past, yet, by keeping family purity and modesty, the Jewish woman influences her family with holiness. The Zohar elaborates on the blessings bestowed on the family of the woman who is covered even in the corners of her home: Her children are compared to olive branches (Tehillim128:3), that do not lose their leaves neither winter nor summer. Her sons rise up in importance above other sons of the world, just as the olive tree is considered more important than the rest of the trees because of its oil. “Not only that, but her husband will be blessed with everything – from the blessings of above and from the blessings of below, with wealth, with sons, and with children of children…As it states, ‘Hashem shall bless you out of Tzion, and you shall see the good of Yerushalayim all the days of your life. You shall see your children’s children and peace upon Israel’” (Tehillim 128:5-6), (Zohar, Parashat Naso 80).

The Way to Redemption Paved by the Jewish Family
“Moshe heard the people weeping throughout their families, every man in the opening of his tent.” (Bemidbar 11:10). “Everything goes according to the family” (Imrei Pinchas, Gate One). When the family is fenced against illicit relationships and when the door of their tent is sealed from improper intruders, Israel is protected against both internal strife and attacks from the enemy. The holiness of the Jewish women protects the “Tents of Ya’acov.” Therefore, not even the most cunning enemy, with all the dark powers at his disposition has any power over them. When Bilam saw the holiness of the Jewish dwelling, guarding the privacy of each family, his curse reverted to a blessing. The word “mishpacha” משפחה (family), shares the same numerical value (433) with the word hakochot הכחת (the powers). The holiness of the family has greater powers than a whole army, protecting us from any possible evil. Interestingly, the word הכחת can also mean “you have proven.” The servant of Avraham used this word when praying to Hashem to send him the right wife for building the continuation of his Master’s family. “…She shall say, drink and I will give your camels drink also, let her be she that you have proven [suitable] for your servant Yitzchak” (Bereishit 24:14). It is not an easy task for the Jewish woman today to keep the family together. We need to do everything in our power to prevent the dangerously increasing rate of broken homes in the Jewish world, and use the “wisdom of women” to build our home. The letters of the word משפחה can be broken up into משח פה – “Mashach po” –“The anointed one is here.” Through building holy families, we pave the way for Redemption.

The Tightrope of Balancing Family and Work
“The Shechina (Divine Feminine Indwelling Presence) dwells only on a family of distinguished Jewish lineage” (Babylonian Talmud, Yevamot 42a). A healthy Jewish home serves as a mini Temple, a place of serenity, respect, love, and holiness – it is a home for G-d. It takes the presence of the mistress of the home to keep the light of the Shechina present within the family.

There are many intricate Torah laws regarding relationships among family members. The basic foundation requires sufficient time to devote to raising the family. Today it is not a simple task for the working mom to be home whenever needed. A woman in my family was fired from her job as an assistant lawyer, because she requested to adapt her work hours to the schedule of the day care center. What is most disconcerting, is, that the lawyer who fired her, happened to be a chareidi Jewish mother of a flock of children herself. In the cruel corporate world, even the mitzvah-observant are being forced into replacing devotion to our families with loyalty to the company.

Climbing Big Corporation’s never-ending Ladder – a Spiritual Descent for the Jewish Family
Sarah Azulay on Jewish Family Life and Corporate Business, describes another, extremely articulate, corporate female attorney, who had been looking for a new position for more than half a year. In her job interview, she requested some flexibility, since, her children were young – “I could work until 6:00 or so in the evening, go home to my children, and after they are in bed, continue my work as necessary.” When, women are being cornered into proving unyielding dedication to climb up Big Corporation’s never-ending ladder, it causes a spiritual descent for the Jewish family. The descent of Western culture into obsessive thirst for materialism is a sledgehammer against a three thousand year old cement foundation, centered on family and spiritual development. The unfortunate result is reflected in the growing rate of divorces, critical health problems, violence in schools, crime, and other evidence of a society rotten to its core. Which material benefits can outweigh any of these disconcerting “side effects”?

The Intimate Sweetness of Tucking the Family into Bed
There is a place in society for the Jewish woman who insists on the “Golden Mean” advocated by the Rambam, and replaces excessive workaholic obsession with proper balance between time for work and time for raising the family. I believe the most vital moments, when our presence at home is absolutely essential are the times of waking up, serving breakfast, sending the children to daycare/school and the intimate sweetness of tucking the family into bed. In our day, it is not easy to keep our priorities in place, which demand strengthening our bonds with our spouse and guiding our children. However, walking the delicately balanced tightrope between family and work, is one of the secret pathways to building holy families, and redeeming Israel.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Monogamy – Reflecting Hashem’s Relationship with His People

Haftorat Matot
Yirmeyahu 1:1-2:3 
Printable Version
This week’s Haftorah compares Israel’s relationship with Hashem to that of a bride and a groom. This metaphor clearly alludes to the exclusive, monogamous marriage as the highest ideal in the Torah. Working on deepening our marriage strengthens our relationship with Hashem. So during these three weeks it is important to strengthen our family bonds. 

Comfort after Affliction
This week’s haftorah is the first of a series of the three “haftorot of affliction,” read during the Three Weeks of mourning for Yerushalayim, between the fasts of 17 Tamuz and 9 Av. Rabbi Avraham ben David of Luneil writes, “From  Parashat Bereshit through the 17th of Tamuz, the haftarah is chosen to correspond to the parashah topic by topic; but from there on, the choice of haftarah is determined entirely by the time of year and the corresponding historical events” (Sefer HaManhig, Hilchot Ta’anit, Din  16).

In spite of Exile – Hashem Never Casts Us Away
The first vision in the book of Yirmeyahu, the vision of the almond tree branch teaches us that just as an almond tree is very quick to blossom, so too, G‑d quickly carries out His plan to punish the Jews for their sins. The second vision of a boiling pot, whose foam was directed northward, was an allusion to the afflictions the Jewish people would suffer, at the hands of Babylon from the north of Israel. The kingdoms of the north would lay siege on Yerushalayim and Judea, because of Israel’s idol-worship and abandonment of G‑d. The haftorah ends with a reassuring prophecy. In spite of the punishments, G-d will never ever cast the Jewish people completely away.

The Love and Beauty of Your Youth
No matter how much we may stray from His ways, Hashem will always remember our original love and dedication. “…I remember the loving-kindness of your youth, your love as a bride, when you followed Me in the desert, in a land not sown… Israel is holy to Hashem, the first-fruits of His increase; all that devour him shall be held guilty, evil shall come upon them, says Hashem” (Yirmeyahu 2:2-3). Rashi explains that the word kelulotayich refers to entering into the chupah (marriage canopy) with Hashem, through the great emunah that Israel had during the Exodus. A bride is called a kalah from the same word, which also means completion or perfection such as in (Eicha 2:15) “perfection of beauty.” Likewise, a bride during her wedding is glowing with perfection of beauty (Metzudat Tzion ibid.).

As A Bride Following Her Groom to the Wilderness
According to Metzudat David, Hashem remembers his love for Israel when she was a bride, at the time of the chupah at Mount Sinai, when we received the Torah. That pivotal moment is compared to the wedding of G-d to His people (Radak Ibid). Malbim illustrates the verse as a metaphor in which Hashem is compared to a stranger who came from afar. A wealthy man’s daughter brought him into her father’s house, and was kind to him. Her soul cleaved to his and she married him. Finally, she left her father’s house to go with him to the wilderness, because of her great belief and trust in him. Each of the parts of this metaphor alludes to Israel’s merits. 1. “The loving kindness of your youth” – refers to our Avot (forefathers), who taught the whole world about G-d, when He was still unknown among the nations, who worshipped stones and sticks. 2. “Your love as a bride” – The marriage, corresponds to the Exodus and Matan Torah (Receiving the Torah), when Israel entered a covenant with Hashem. 3. “When you followed Me in the desert” refers to Israel’s strong emunah to follow Hashem into the wilderness with great desire to cleave to Hashem. 

Love after Marriage
Malbim demonstrates how the love between the bride and groom gradually increases; reaching a higher level only after the beginning state of marriage, when an even more trusting relationship develops. My personal experience, of having been married for more than thirty years, is that as we mature emotionally and spiritually, we increase our capacity for true love and unity. As a young bride, my own self-expression was the center of importance for me. Yet, as the years pass, I desire much more to unite with my husband in the highest way. Unfortunately, today’s world is full of distractions, and we, women, have so many “important” things to accomplish, that our relationship with our husband sometimes is pushed aside. Perhaps this is also a reflection of our relationship with Hashem, which easily goes down the wayside, if we do not exert a conscious effort. The first step to fulfillment in marriage is to place the relationship as the highest priority in our life. Realizing that the relationship between husband and wife is a reflection of the relationship between Hashem and His people, makes it easier to appreciate the fact that there is nothing more important than working on our marriage. The second step is to get used to praying for the success of our husbands daily, in as much detail as we can, including shalom bayit (peace in the home). I have seen incredible changes happen, as a result of a wife’s prayer for her husband. We all know the power of prayer. However, the prayer for shalom bayit is especially powerful, because it is like praying for what Hashem prays for already. The final step is to seek spiritual guidance together. Developing a relationship with a Rabbi as a couple, helps direct married couples to develop an evermore trusting relationship.

Monogamy – Reflecting Hashem’s Relationship with His People
The comparison between the relationship of Israel and G-d with that of a bride and a groom is a reoccurring theme in the Torah. This teaches us to value the exclusive monogamous relationship between husband and wife. Just as the Jews had one G-d (Ha-shem echad), G-d chose only one people (am echad). In the Garden of Eden, after creating the first woman, (note, Hashem created just one woman from and for man) Hashem describes the nature of the marital institution as the deepest union between a man with his pre-destined wife: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother, and cleaves to his wife: and they become one flesh (basar echad)” (Bereishit 2:24). The matrimony between Adam and Chava fashioned by no other than G-d, in the Garden of Eden, is a model for the ideal marriage. Noach, too, who, preserved human life after the flood, had only one wife. The “woman of valor” glorified in the Book of Mishlei is not “women of valor,” and rare was the rabbi, of the thousands of sages of the Talmud, who in polygamous times, had more than one wife. It is true that the bible includes several cases of polygamy. However, most of these cases were not only with the first wife’s consent, but even through her initiative. The rabbinic system of law, the halacha, allows polygamy for Sephardim, however, “In a place where it is not the custom to marry more than one wife, a man is not permitted to marry an additional wife besides his wife, without her permission…” (Shulchan Aruch, Eben Ha’ezer Hilchot Ketubot 76:8). From all this there can be no doubt that Judaism strongly upholds an exclusive, monogamous marriage as the highest ideal.

Frustrations with Marriage and the Diminished Light of the Moon
Unfortunately, many women are rightfully frustrated with the institution of marriage.  Innumerable women are single, unhappily married, or divorced. Gila Manolson, author of “The Magic Touch,” commented on my article: “Unfortunately, part of the reason why women are willing to be a pilegesh, is probably the statistical lack of eligible, quality Jewish men who want to get married.” I am personally, very keenly aware, to the depths of my prayers, of the difficulties many women encounter both in marriage and with the process of Jewish divorce. However, as frustrating as these situations may be, they still do not undermine the holiness of the Jewish marriage. The fact that Israel made a Golden Calf does not counteract the holiness of Matan Torah and our eternal covenant with Hashem. Hashem did recognize that there is something intrinsically unfair in the very fabric of creation, through the diminished light of the moon, which alludes to the woman. This is why Hashem asked for atonement for making the moon small (Chulin 60b). The suffering of agunot, abused and divorced women, whose ex-husbands dishonor the ketubah are manifestations of the diminished light of the moon, for which Hashem requested atonement. However, we need to strengthen our emunah that the end of days is near when “The light of the moon will indeed become like the light of the sun” (Yesha’yahu 30:26).

Strengthen Emunah and Do not Tolerate Polygamy and Exile!
The difficulties experienced during our pre-redemptive era, are all part of the contractions and birth-pangs of Mashiach. Just as a woman prepares herself for child-birth, so do we need to come prepared into the marriage, and do everything in our power, through self-development and discernment to avoid entering an abusive relationship. Nothing like steadfast emunah, prayer, and guidance by our true Rabbis and Rebbetzins can help support us through the suffering with a difficult relationships. The main thing is not to give up and settle for less. In spite of all the suffering during the darkness of exile, we need to work on strengthening our emunah every day, to believe that in spite of the punishments, G-d will never ever cast the Jewish people completely away. Hashem will indeed redeem us soon, and renew His marriage to Israel, His one and only people.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Soul Reincarnations

Haftorat Pinchas
1 Melachim 18:46-19:21
Printable Version
My Haftorah commentary this week is all about reincarnations as learned from Zohar, Arizal and his students. Learning about soul reincarnations strengthen me in my desire to perfect myself here and now, and accept difficulties as they come, as we never know which prior life they come to rectify or atone for.

Eliyahu – the Soul Incarnation of Pinchas

Rebbetzin with Shoshana Hararri  
According to the Zohar, Eliyahu was a reincarnation of Pinchas (Zohar, part 2, 190a). They both were zealous on G‑d's behalf, in spite of the dangers involved. Therefore, they were both rewarded that the Angel of Death had no power over them. The evil queen Izevel, nevertheless, was trying very hard to kill Eliyahu. Her hatred of him stemmed from his confrontation with her priests of idol-worship on Mount Carmel, which led to their execution. “Then Izevel sent a messenger to Eliyahu, saying, …by about this time tomorrow,  I will make your nefesh (soul) as the nefesh of one of them” (1 Melachim 19:2). 

Rectifying the Migrating Souls of Nadav and Avihu

Arizal explains that the souls of Aharon’s sons, Nadav and Avihu were impregnated within the soul of Eliyahu in order to reach their tikun (rectification). Their original sin was not just offering a strange fire, but moreover staring brazenly at the Shechina  (Divine Indwelling Presence) during the giving of the Torah through eating and drinking (See Rashi, Shemot 24:11). Their souls were rectified when the entire people fell on their faces, as Hashem’s fire descended on Mount Carmel to consume the sacrifice of those who followed Hashem. Their sin was atoned when they did not gaze at the fire that came down from heaven, as they were falling on their faces on the ground. After their souls were rectified, they no longer needed to be impregnated in Eliyahu’s soul, so they left him. 

The Witchcraft of Izevel, Queen of Israel

Izevel, King Achav’s wife was a great witch. Through her witchcraft she knew that the holy souls of Nadav and Avihu had departed from Eliyahu. Therefore, she understood that his everlasting protection from the Angel of Death no longer applied, since he originally received this covenant of eternal life and peace for the sake of Nadav and Avihu, who originally were part of his soul in his incarnation as Pinchas. Therefore, when she told him “I will make your nefesh (soul) as the nefesh of one of them,” she was hinting that Eliyahu’s soul would become like one of the souls of Nadav and Avihu which were burned up through the fire of the incense. Since Eliyahu felt that his gift of eternity was lost from him, he feared and ran away to Mount Chorev. This explains why it states, “When he saw that, he arose and went for his nefesh (life)” (1 Melachim, 19:3). Now he only had his own single soul (without the protective souls of Nadav and Avihu). He was, therefore, afraid of Izevel, (Arizal, the Gate of Reincarnation, Introduction 32). We can learn from this to be super careful not to trust all kinds of spiritual healers, charlatans and astrologers. A person may know many secrets and even perform wonders, but if he is not connected with kedusha (holiness), his power emanates from the other side: the evil forces of witchcraft and black magic. Only a G-d fearing person can be trusted to be a pure channel for Hashem’s holiness. Unfortunately, many so-called “Kabbalists” and “spiritual healers” are not necessarily trustworthy. If they charge an exorbitant fee, it is a sure indication that they are motivated by selfish desires rather than being a pure conduit for holiness. 

The Soul Travel of Izevel from Korach’s Wife and Kozbi, to the Wife of Turnus Rufus

The Rama of Pa’ano explains an additional reason why Izevel was so hot in her pursuit and desire to kill Eliyahu. Izevel’s ingrained hatred for Eliyahu stemmed from her earlier incarnation as Kozbi the Midyanite woman whom Pinchas killed while engaged in intercourse with Zimri, the prince of the Tribe of Shimon. She was, therefore, hungry to take revenge on Eliyahu for having killed her when she was Kozbi during his incarnation as Pinchas. As, a person’s soul consists of many parts it can be reincarnated into different people simultaneously. Izevel, was also, the reincarnation of the wife of Korach, who instigated Korach to rebel against Hashem’s appointment of Aharon as his chosen Kohen (The Rama of Pa’ano, The Book of Soul Reincarnations, Ot 1). Since she had never repented her previous sin, Izevel was placed in a situation from which it was even harder to repent. As King Achav’s wife she now had the opportunity to either enact a very great rectification, or to sin in an even greater capacity, by turning the King of Israel against the prophets of G-d. The Ramchal points out that the numerical value of Achav is twelve corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel. He could actually have been the Mashiach son of Yosef, and the king of all twelve tribes, had he not been led astray by his evil wife. We learn from this how deep into the mud a person can sink when not taking the opportunity to repent. In the end, however, even the evil Izevel became rectified as the wife of Turnus Rufus who converted and married Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Akiva was actually the reincarnation and rectification of Zimri, when he didn’t sin with Turnus Rufus’s wife who came to his doorstep to tempt him, but only married her after she had converted. The soul- reincarnations of Izevel teach us that no matter how low a person falls, eventually, Hashem will help us all repent and reach our ultimate perfection.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Walking Modestly With Hashem

Rebbetzin dancing at an alumna's wedding
This week’s haftorah includes the famous verse urging us to “walk modestly with Hashem”. I would like to call on you dear reader to share your perspective on how to apply this principle in our time. 

Haftorat Balak
The Tenth book of Trei-Assar (The Twelve Minor Prophets)
The Book of Michah 5:6-6:8

Miriam – Inspirational Teacher of Women
For I brought you up out of the land of Mitzrayim, and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moshe, Aharon and Miriam (Michah 6:4). Reading about this great team of Jewish leaders at the present time is a tribute to Aharon the Kohen and Miriam, the prophetess, who passed away in last week’s parashah, Parashat Chukat. Targum Yonatan adds in his translation of this verse: “Miriam to teach the women,” just like Moshe Rabbeinu was the first “Rosh Yeshiva,” Miriam was the first Torah teacher of the Jewish women. Rav Aviner explains how humanity is created in the image of G-d, both male and female. Our physical and spiritual differences, make it impossible to teach men and women in the same manner. Each gender has its own way of learning and requires its own separate guidance.

Men Report while Women Rapport
If Miriam is the role-model for all female Torah educators of women, why is it not mentioned directly in the Torah that Miriam was the teacher of women? There is a vital difference between the teaching method of men and women. Since, men need formal teaching such as lectures, however, women learn from many different modalities of education. In a formal lesson, only the intellect is engaged. In real life, the entire personality relates. Since women may learn more from behavior than from a formal shiur (lecture), Miriam did not necessarily apply the formal way of teaching. In the national bestseller, You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, Deborah Tannen explains that men report while women “rapport.” Whereas, men seek information, women care most about “gaining closeness through more intimate self-revelation.” For this reason, Miriam is not described directly in the Torah as “the teacher of women,” because she was not a formal teacher. When she went among the women with her tambourine and danced, they were motivated to get up and join her exhilarating praise of Hashem. It didn't state that Miriam told the women to go out with drums and dances, only that “Miriam the prophetess…took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances” (Shemot 15:20). It was her charismatic personality and righteousness, which inspired the Jewish women to follow her lead. Miriam, the prophetess, taught all the daughters of Israel by way of her righteous deeds (actions). From Miriam, the entire nation of women learned how to improve their behavior and connect with Hashem.

Why is Tzniut (Modesty) Enumerated as one of the Three Main Mitzvot of the Messianic Era?
The conclusion of our haftorah describes how in the messianic era, the Jewish people ask for guidance how to serve G‑d. The prophet reminds us, that all we need to do is contained within the Torah and the mitzvoth, which he sums up as follows: “He has told you, O man, what is good, and what G‑d requires of you: only to do justice, love kindness, and walk modestly with your G‑d” (Michah 6:8). The Hebrew term for “modestly” used in this verse derives from the root of the word tzniut. This teaches us about the vital importance of tzniut for men, as well as women, especially at the messianic age. The three most important character-traits we need to cultivate are justice, chesed (kindness) and tzniut. It is easy to understand the centrality of kindness and justice in the Torah. Hashem created the entire world for the sake of chesed (Tehillim 89:3), and the Torah is permeated with stories of the chesed of our patriarchs and matriarchs. Without justice, the world cannot continue to exist. Therefore, establishing a court of justice is even among the seven mitzvoth for B’nei Noach (gentiles). However, what is so important about tzniut, that it is included in the three main attributes Hashem requires of us?

Emulating Hashem’s Modesty – “Walk modestly With Your G‑d.”
It is interesting to note that only tzniut is described as walking with Hashem. Although some mistranslations may read “before your G-d,” the Hebrew word im does not mean “before,” but rather “with” (Maharzav, Bemidbar Rabah 1). Through developing the mida of tzniut, we emulate the ways of Hashem as the following midrash demonstrates:
Hashem spoke to Moshe in the ohel moed” (Bemidbar 1:1), the private tent of meeting. Hashem had spoken to Moshe earlier from the burning bush, in Mitzrayim and in Sinai. Once the ohel moed stood, Hashem said: Tzniut (modesty) is beautiful, as it says (Michah 6:8), “to walk modestly with your G-d.” So said David, (Tehillim 45:14) “Every honorable bat melech (princess) dwells within.” Bat Melech refers to Moshe... Hashem said, such is My honor, that I will speak from within the ohel moed (Bemidbar Rabah 1:3).
Rabbi Mordechai Willig learns from this midrash, that our pasuk from Michah refers not only to man’s tzniut before G-d, but also to Hashem’s own modest behavior. Hashem acts with utmost tzniut by speaking from the interior covered space of the ohel moed. We acquire closeness to Hashem by emulating Him through tzniut behavior. Therefore, we must be tzanua with Hashem, who modeled tzniut to the point of being invisible.

Co-ed Bathrooms and the Honor of the King’s Daughter
In contrast, I was made aware by some of my Shabbat guests, that the female students in certain very well respected colleges, like Yale, have no option but to share bathrooms with their fellow male students. “What exactly is wrong with co-ed bathrooms?” asked my guest. “There is nothing specific in the Torah against that.” I’m not even going to attempt answering the question, as the issue seems to me beyond basic. I am saddened about how decadent our Western Society has become, that we have lost all sense of decency and modesty. Even the Moabite women were permitted to convert to Judaism precisely because of the notion of modesty. While the Moabite men are forbidden to convert, “because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when you came out of Miztrayim” (Devarim 23:4-5), this did not apply to the Moabite women, since it is not the way of a woman to go out towards wayfarers, to bring them bread and water (Babylonian Talmud, Yevamot 77a). Now tell me, is it the way of a woman and “the honor of a king’s daughter”  to go out to the co-ed bathroom, brushing her teeth next to a man shaving, even if she is perfectly covered by her bathrobe?

“Tzniut is Beautiful”
Although tzniut applies to men and women alike, women have the potential to express this attribute to an even greater extent. Perhaps, this capability is related to the inherent beauty of women. The phrase “tzniut is beautiful” is a recurring theme in the Oral Torah. In our midrash from Bemidbar Rabah, Hashem calls tzniut beautiful. Prior to the giving of the second luchot (tablets), Hashem told Moshe, “No man shall ascend with you [up the mountain]” (Shemot 34:3). Rashi explains, “…there is nothing more beautiful than modesty.” The Torah giant and landowner Boaz, noticed Ruth because of her exceptional tzniut (Rashi, Ruth 2:5).The midrash commenting on this verse, explains, that since he [Boaz] saw her beautiful deeds, he asked about her “(Ruth Rabah 4:6). Through her beautiful deeds, Ruth merited to become the mother of royalty, the ancestress of King David, and ultimately, the Mashiach. Likewise, if we, Jewish women learn to excel in tzniut and model exemplary modest behavior, in spite of the immodest spirit prevailing in our current Western Society, we will b”H walk with Hashem on the path of our final redemption.