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A Jewish Woman: Enveloped Like a Sefer Torah

Published on Monday April 30th, 2018

Today's society only values a woman's external appearance, thus causing her to concentrate on her exterior facade and overlook her internal value.  In the 21st century, the message is clear, if you want to achieve anything and succeed as a woman, be free in your choice of dress, meaning, the more revealed the better!

The Torah, on the other hand, emphasizes the interior of a woman and commands her, out of modesty, to cover certain parts of her body in order to be able to concentrate on her internal value and not her external appearance.

In truth, it is not about hiding the body, but rather about wrapping it as one wraps a precious object.

Indeed, the notion of 'kosher,' has negative connotations whereas that of wrapping is more favorable. Truthfully, there is no precious stone that does not have a protective case. A pearl for example, naturally comes in a shell, and a fetus develops in the womb. Undoubtedly, the most precious objects are wrapped, protected, so that they should not be visible to the laymen that would not appreciate their value.

The most beautiful comparison to a Jewish Princess is that of a Sefer Torah. The Torah Scrolls are not only wrapped in valuable ornate fabric, but are equally housed in an Ark, an enclosed place which preserves the holiness of these scrolls.

The Sefer Torah is removed at certain precise moments, when there are enough men (there must be a minyan) to give it honor. We sing and pray whilst we uncover it. This 'uncovering' is done in a framework of Kedusha (holiness) and purity.

The Torah is the object that characterizes the Jewish people for centuries. It is what unifies us and gives us strength. Notwithstanding a Jew's level of observance, a Jew cannot stop himself from being moved by the view of an open Sefer Torah. He prays, he cries, because he feels connected to all the other Jews on the planet, across continents and across centuries. The Torah is thus OURS. Why lock it up? Why hide it? Why not allow everyone to see it? Why not place it at the center of the synagogue so that everyone who enters, no matter when, may see it?

The answer is because it is precious! By keeping it out for everyone to see it will become banal in the eyes of the people and will lose some of its value. People will discuss mundane matters in front of the open Torah scroll, and it will become a decorative feature to which people will end up showing indifference.

On the other hand, by keeping it invisible and wrapped up, and by only taking it out at appropriate times, its value stays intact. People await its appearance, they look for it as soon as the door of the ark is opened, and they act with respect and joy when they finally see it.

Similarly, Hashem grants women a place of honor, and to degrade her is not an option. The body is the case of the soul, it envelopes something holy and spiritual, the divine spirit. Therefore, it would not be fitting to only partially cover what is the most precious to us, with a torn piece of fabric, or one of poor quality.

Once we understand what is precious, we want to hide it, to keep it for us, and we would not hesitate to add a few centimeters to our skirt. Each extra piece of fabric helps us climb the ladder of Kedusha and makes us resemble a most magnificent Torah scroll so precious, and so unique.

Myriam H. - © Torah-Box

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