Rabbi Shlomo Aviner,
known as one of the strictest Religious Zionism leaders when it comes to women's modesty, has formulated a new dress code in which he orders women to avoid wearing red, keep their hair tied in a braid and put on 40 denier stockings.
According to the new "regulations" published in the "Be'ahava U'bemuna" synagogue leaflet, a woman's garment must not be transparent or tight, must cover the entire body and be "calm and reserved."
Girls must be educated on modesty rules starting at the age of three, or seven at the latest, the rabbi stated.
So how does a woman ensure that her clothes are not transparent? According to Aviner, she must check the garment against the sunlight or any other bright light.
A piece of clothing is considered "not tight" when it conceals the shape of the body and does not emphasize any part of it, even for a short while. "Problematic fabrics," according to the rabbi, include a thin or thick jersey, Lycra and tricot.
Don’t let your sleeves roll up (Photo: Yoav Friedman)
In order to prevent accidents, the rabbi rules that a skirt must be "10 centimeters (4 inches) longer than the body dimensions in the widest place, and 50 centimeters (20 inches) in the knee area."
Another method is to "examine the skirt's width by lifting your leg onto an ordinary chair."
According to the rabbi, the body must be fully covered by the garment. "The neck can be exposed, but not the body. So the neck must be covered: A. On the sides till the place the body curves. B. In the back till the first vertebra. C. In the front till the bones. The upper button must be fastened of course, and a high neck is even better."
The arms, according to the rabbi, must be covered "till under the elbow in any case." Sleeves with wide edges must be avoided, "as the arm is revealed when the hand is lifted or any other movements are made."
Addressing the color of the garment, Aviner wrote: "The following colors must be avoided: A. Red. B. Nude. C. Orange, yellow or green, in bright shades. D. Gold, silver or shining cloth."
The length of a skirt or a dress must reach 10 centimeters (4 inches) below the knee. The rabbi noted that sealed socks must be added if the garment does not reach the foot ("the width is 40 denier, but more is needed due to a change in production") – so as not to reveal any part of the foot.
"A slit under the knees is forbidden because it attracts the eye, so it must be shut with a cloth in an identical color or one which does not stand out," he adds.
"A skirt must not be fastened with buttons due to various problems (the button may fall or open, exposing spaces) but with a zipper. With shirts too, beware of gaps which are too big between the buttons."
The modesty code also addresses women's hairdo. As for single women who do not cover their hair, Aviner wrote that the stricter rabbis believe it should be tied in the back and not shoulder length, while the more lenient ones say it does not have to be tied but must not be "wild and unkempt." His conclusion: A braid is the best option.
As for a head cover for married women, "some are against a wig and some allow it, but it must be modest and reserved and not attract the eye. The strict ones say every single hair must be placed under the head cover, while some allow showing a bit of hair – up to 4 centimeters (1.5 inches), which is two fingers."
Rabbi Aviner's ruling even addressed the type of shoes: "A. Not a strong and unusual color. B. Not a high and narrow heel which affects the walk. C. A gentle design. D. Not sensational."
From what age should these rules be maintained? "Educating a girl to modesty – some say from the age of three and some say from the age of education, which is about six," the rabbi noted. "Blessed be he that the internal passion for modesty is growing."
Aviner wrote in his introduction, "How wonderful and pleasant is the modesty of the Jewish woman. So much nobility and respect, purity and sacredness. Hiding the body respects the soul, which is the essence of the human being.
"So much tenderness and humility. Such a blessing. 'All glorious is the princess within her chamber; her gown is interwoven with gold.' How modest and holy were the great mothers of Israel throughout the generations and everywhere."
The Ne'emanei Torah Va'Avodah religious-Zionist movement said in response that "God's words, 'Walk humbly with your God,' are an important and key command which should lead us to comprehensive social repair, under the values of modesty.
"On the other hand, Rabbi Aviner's collection of instructions narrows down the value of modesty and damages the values of sanctity. The obsessive engagement in pieces of clothing is in itself immodest, and all this advertisement distorts Halacha, which seeks to reduce a person's engagement in matters of human urges."
"For the safety of our children and their Torah education, we call on parents to ensure that this is not expressed in any practical way in the schools in which the students of religious education study."