Sunday, February 05, 2006
Chassidic Clothing and Kabbalah
A few people have e-mailed me about Chassidic Clothing, wondering what it is exactly, where to find it, and why does Kabbalah say that we should wear either black or white. The first part of this post will be boring, but scroll down to the bottom for my explanation about Kabbalah and what the benefits are of wearing black or white.
Firstly, Chassidic Clothing (I have it in caps because it is a title) is nothing other than dressing modestly. People think that the required dress needs to be a karpota or a shtreimel or a black hat, but the real answer is that chassidic dress is simply modest dress. If you are a Jew, you should dress like one.
I too have resistance to this, but if this is the way it is, then I am in no position to change it. The rabbis have always proclimated that Jews should dress in either ALL WHITE, ALL BLACK, or SOME COMBINATION THEREOF. They were much smarter than I am or ever will be, and they were much more learned that I am in Gemara (Talmud), Chassidus, or Nigleh (Torah). Once I am at their level (try in a few lifetimes if I am lucky), then I'll start debating whether they were right or wrong. For now, a Jew should dress in Black or White. Keep in mind that I am wearing blue jogging pants right now with a white stripe and a black tee-shirt that says "ARMY."
Okay, the dress of a Jew if you want to get more specific (and I'll keep this short). A Yarmulke or a Kippah (Hebrew for "a head covering") is required. So are tzitzis (fringes). I don't want to debate you on this one. I know people believe otherwise regarding the head covering. If you have a problem with wearing a yalmukah, wear a hat or a baseball cap. The tzitzis are essential. It's a big mitzvah (commandment by G-d). That's the basics. If you want to get fancy, start wearing a black hat, and once you're married, buy a Karpota (a.k.a. a Siltuk if I remember the word properly) and a Gartel (a belt that you tie in a certain way for davening). These are the basics.
Now for the interesting part: I credit Steg for influencing me to write this part because in one of my former articles he asked, "So what exactly is then the Kabbalistic reason for wearing black and white?"
Here's my answer:
I would probably say that there is a frequency that is given off by each color, and the black is the absence of any light being reflected off of the cloth and the full absorption of all of the light that hits the garment, and the white is the rejection and reflection of all of the colors off of the cloth. These light frequencies which are reflected or absorbed by the clothing we wear have some connection to the frequencies of sound (through which things are created or destroyed in our world by saying certain letters or permutations of the Hebrew letters or sounds in general). This is evidenced by the effects words -- which are combinations of sounds -- have on our psyche and our lives.
The frequencies given off by the the light based on which colors you choose to wear also have some kind of vibrational frequency which when resonated a certain way has some kind of effect on the energy that is attracted to the person or given off by the person wearing the white or black colors. Further, various colors give off various energy signatures, so probably the kabbalistic reasons for wearing all white or all black is that the frequency given off is conducive to bringing down G-dly energies. When you temper those energies with color, you change the frequency and you somehow taint it forming another energy signature. The only pure energy signatures that can tap into G-dly light are white or black. Any other energy signature will tap into another frequency or lower energy, and with Judaism, especially with Chassidic thought and within Chassidm, we are not satisfied with just tapping into any energy, we want to have access to the highest level possible which is closest to G-d. Therefore, we wear only black or white. That's my guess based on my limited knowledge of science. If you think about it, it actually makes sense. If you didn't follow the logic, let me know and if I have time, I'll write this out in a more detailed article. However, I think this explanation should suffice.