Friday, August 19, 2005

Chassidic Dress Not Required??

A serious question. You know that in general, I've been dealing with questions of halacha (law) versus minhag (custom) versus chumrah (stringency) versus dogma, trying to separate out the good from the bad. I've wanted to know that when I do a certain act, that I'm following the rules, and when I'm being lenient, I still want to make sure I'm within the range of right and not within the realm of wrong.

I know shirt colors are sincerely a small deal, and before I went to China in July, I broke out of the habit of wearing only white shirts and black pants. I posted what happened to me regarding colors on a shidduch date here.

Since learning from my rabbi that night that there is no requirement to wear a white shirt and dark pants, I stopped wearing exclusively black and white, and I've incorporated colored shirts and sweaters into my clothing. Further, last Shabbos when I was telling the rabbi that I wonder whether I should be looking for a less frum (religious) girl for shidduchim because I still watch movies and wear jogging pants and occasionally t-shirts, he stopped me and told me for the record that I shouldn't be occupying my head with what kind of shirts or pants I am wearing, because it is such a small part in religious observance.

So we've taken a full 180 degree swing from the rule I was understanding that I learned in yeshiva that a chossidish bochur (religious rabbinic student) must wear white shirts and dark pants to the rule that clothing isn't a big deal, as long as the laws of tsnius (modesty) are followed. Since I'm not exposing my chest, my crotch, my stomach, or any other body part that is not allowed to be exposed, my dress is tsnius both technically and stylishly I am not suggesting anything that I shouldn't be suggesting with my clothing.

If that is so that there are no rules regarding dress, then why do I always see religious people like myself wearing clothes like in the picture above?

Comment: I'm trying to understand this. Does anyone have any good reasons (other than the usual jests at conformity) why religious Jews wear white shirts and dark pants? I'm serious wondering about this, and I wonder whether people look at me funny because I dress normally and I fear that when I will be a parent with children, other parents won't let their kids play with mine because me and my wife might dress more modern and thus we probably don't keep a kosher house, etc.

You might scoff at these assumptions as being those of only evil religious closed-minded people, but seriously, I think I would consider not letting my children play or go over to a certain friend's parent's house if I saw that parent doing something immodest or halachically (per Jewish law) impermissible. The consequences of letting my children stay over at non-religious households are that 1) they might be influenced to be less religious, 2) their heads might get filled with foreign ideas, and 3) [worst of all], they might eat non-kosher food which would taint them on the soul level and I would protect them against that at all costs.

Keep in mind, I'm not married yet, and I'm just thinking out loud. Any explanations you have to offer are welcome.


Jack said...

I have always been told that it is a way to identify who is on your team, like a uniform.

But that explanation never did much for me.

Anonymous said...

in the non lubavitch chasidic communiies of NYC the main thing is mode of dress. nothing else really matter

Cohenrique said...

I understand what you are saying about clothing. I think that the saying "some things are lawful but not all are profitable" is the reason why these clothes are worn. Looking different and even "weir" to others can remind you of Ha Shem some times, so that your mind is on more profitable matters. I guess for the not so strong, like me, these things could be good and not a burden. In fact unlike you I am thinking of going the other way and wear more often traditional clothing. Do you know where can I buy traditional Chassidic clothing if I am not in NY? Can I find these things on line, in the internet? My e-mail is Thank you and ...,

Shabbatt Shalom!!

Zoe Strickman said...

Chassidic clothing is primarily wearing a black suit with a white shirt (sometimes untucked) with no tie. It's the black and white look that makes it chassidic. The beard is something that is grown over time, and suspenders are sometimes worn.

Anonymous said...

I was looking online for information about traditional clothing, and I came to this site. I have read some reasons why the black and white. The purpose of the "Chassidic attire" is for us to not being so pre-occupied with how we look per se, but it helps us not to judge fellow Jews for how they look. If an entire community "looked alike" the difference between them will be their personality, and character. Plus, it helps us to not worry about know we look, but for us to put more time towards, Torah study and mitzvot. Also if anyone, knows where i can buy some more traditional clothing since i do not live in NY, please contact me at
Shavua tov!!!

Anonymous said...

if anyone, knows where i can buy some more traditional clothing since i do not live in NY, please contact me at

Many many thanks

Anonymous said...

why should suspenders be worn?

Zoe Strickman said...

Suspenders are not required. In some circles, it is seen more often, but there is no meaning behind it. They simply hold up the pants that have become too large on us, or where a belt doesn't suffice in keeping the shirt tucked in. ;)