Made-a-Move #12 Putting thoughts into writing
Appreciating Beauty Within
To cover or not to cover – that is the question.
I think this is a basic principal of what modesty is all about – appreciating the beauty within. In clothing, speech, actions, etc. So often, the more that is revealed, the less the true beauty is seen. Ever hear someone you are not very close to talk about details in their life to the point you think “Too much information – I didn’t need to know that.” On the other hand, when you have a very close relationship with someone else, their divulging the same level of detail makes you appreciate them that much more.
An artist’s masterpiece painting
The artist themselves and other art experts can look at a finished painting and marvel at the beauty of the brush strokes, the materials used, how this piece compares to others done by that artist or by other artists, use of color, placement of the objects, and other intricacies. Some art enthusiasts would be able to recognize the beauty and author of the piece even in an odd location, or found rolled in a corner of an attic. For the general public to appreciate it as a masterpiece, the artwork is partially covered by putting it in a fancy frame, is hung on a wall with special lighting, and may even be covered at times with a curtain for protection.
Royalty – kings & queens
Close your eyes for a moment and picture a king and queen amongst other people. How are they distinguished from the masses? How do they speak? How do they carry themselves? How is their clothing different from others?
In the Jewish tradition, the holiest book, called the Torah, is generally kept rolled shut, covered with a decorated velvet covering (or ornate box), crowned and placed in a beautiful cabinet when not in use. It is clearly recognized by all, even those totally unfamiliar with it, that it is considered highly special. Those who are more knowledgeable about it, stand in respect when it is taken out, and appreciate the profundity of the words inside when it is uncovered and read. Those even more knowledgeable can even recognize the beauty of the details of each of the hand-inked letters and the parchment it was written on.
The Jewish Woman
So many people have the misconception that orthodox Jews make their women cover their hair and wear modest clothing to hide their beauty from other men to not tempt them. Their theory hits a brick wall when they then try to understand how these same women wear beautiful clothing, hats, and wigs. The modesty rules are not being bent hypocritically – it is the theory that is in need of adjustment. Just like the art expert, or very close friend, the woman’s husband and immediate family can appreciate her true beauty with or without the fancy coverings. Traditional Judaism recognizes the incredible beauty, strength, insight, and closeness to G-d that women have. The modesty customs are not so much to hide the women, but rather to provide a frame by which their special status can be recognized and appreciated by others. On her wedding day, the woman was recognized and treated like a queen. Modesty is a means by which she can carry that status throughout her life.
Through modesty a person’s inner beauty can shine through for all to see and appreciate.