Everyday, people are bombarded by images from the media that promote
sex, stick-thin figures as ideal, music, movies and books that idealize
relationships mirroring our disposable society. World famous fashion
models are dying before our eyes, wasting away for the "ideal"
In an everyday sense, we see things in the most superficial sense.
And, as you will discover, it will deeply affect your life, and your
Sometimes You ARE What You Wear! by Eliyahu
Safran emphasizes the value of tzniut , modesty, and challenges
us to see more than simply the surface.
Tzniut teaches us to not simply "look" but to "see,"
to "see with meaning." It teaches us to look upon some aspect
of creation and see not just its outer, most superficial qualities,
but its inner, more meaningful aspects.
By looking deeper than your most superficial, corporeal self and seeing
who you are at your deepest level, you are able to see the person you
are capable of being. And that person is the one that God wants you
to be, the one who does not do to others what he wouldn't want
done to him.
It is what is "inside", which has the potential for the greatest
value. What is "outside" should reflect that. Your physical
appearance should be designed to call attention to your inner worth
and nobility, to your good soul. If you can do that, then your reputation
will be assured.
Open your eyes and your mind to the compelling
insights of Sometimes You ARE What You Wear! and
discover the "you" who must shine through to others!
In an easy conversational style, Rabbi Eliyahu Safran writes
a discourse on Tzniut, the Orthodox Jewish rules of modesty, and why it
is relevant –nay, imperative, for today's woman. He extols the merit
of a vitally important truth that must be spoken –and heeded --if
we are to recover our self-respect. The basic argument of Sometimes
You Are What You Wear is that we live in a society which has
lost its respect for female modesty. Unaware of how much they are being
infiltrated by the popular culture women are enslaved to it; as they are
being objectified the feminine soul is being undermined.
With piercing insight Rabbi Safran encourages us to consider the power
to be found in the Jewish ideal. He maintains that the ideals and thus
morals of this generation are fundamentally flawed and persuasively
argues towards a modesty that, if rediscovered and given the right social
support can bolster a sense of dignity
With a heartfelt (and controversial, in that we have become so mired
within the influences of contemporary society that we no longer can
assess the damage to our daughters) plea, he sets out to unflinchingly
elucidate the problems that skewed societal pressure that encourage
not dressing with Tzniut has wrought: low self-esteem and disrespect
from men. There is true compassion for women in his promoting a return
to Tzniut that puts
women in control of access to their bodies thereby protecting their
His gentle reminder as to who we really are is a wake up call. Deep
down we know this truth but get caught up in the quagmire that is the
current culture, society and fashion.
Rabbi Safran unapologetically defends his position. The power of womanhood,
deserving of human dignity, is extolled. A respect for modesty would
reinstate her glory. And that would be a most beautiful thing indeed.
Nov. 3, 2007
Instead of davening mincha and ma'ariv and talking to people at the Sabbath's
third meal, I sat on my own and read Rabbi Eliyahu Safran's new book,
"Sometimes You Are What You Wear! An Argument For Modesty."
And there blazed across the cover was his name!
Why do those who write about modesty and humility always take care to
prominently feature their name on their work?
If you doubt me, check
out the back cover. Not only is there a picture of this modesty author,
there are reams of decidedly immodest self-praise (you can argue he did
not write these self-descriptions but he surely approved them):
Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran serves as Vice President of Communications
& Marketing of the Orthodox Union, the world's largest and most
respected kosher certification agency, where he has been serving as Senior
Rabbinic Coordinator and New Companies rabbinic coordinator for the past
13 years. He has escorted hundreds of companies around the world including
in Turkey, India, Egypt, Argentina and Greece through the complexities
of kosher certification.. He is also the Editor in Chief of Behind the
Union Symbol, the highly acclaimed OU magazine considered as the finest
kosher trade journal.
Rabbi Safran is renowned as a charismatic scholar in residence visiting
at schools and synagogues around the country, dynamic rabbi, educator,
lecturer and author – having served in both rabbinic and educational
leadership positions. Rabbi Dr. Safran was educated at Yeshiva University
in New York where he received rabbinic ordination and a master's
of science degree. In addition to his degrees from Yeshiva University,
Rabbi Safran also received a doctorate in Administration. He taught
Jewish history and philosophy at Yeshiva University, and led a major
Pittsburgh Orthodox congregation and served as principal of highly regarded
schools in Pittsburgh, New York and New Jersey.
The scion of a distinguished rabbinic family – his late father
was Chief Rabbi of Jasi, Romania and later Professor of Jewish Education
at Yeshiva University and his grandfather was the rabbinic leader and
Jewish legal authority of Romania, the author of major Jewish legal
Rabbi Safran is the author of several works, including Kos Eliyahu:
Insights into the Haggadah and Passover which is now in its second printing.
He is married to Klari Safran, internationally renowned designer and
manufacturer of Clary's Wigs. Together, they have nine children.
Rabbi Safran's employer sent out this immodest press release:
OU KOSHER'S RABBI DR. SAFRAN'S NEW BOOK, SOMETIMES
YOU ARE WHAT YOU WEAR: AN ARGUMENT FOR TZNIUT (MODESTY), TAKES ON STANDARDS
OF (UN)DRESS THAT VIOLATE JEWISH AND HUMAN MORAL PRECEPTS
Profoundly distressed by what he sees as a breakdown in the morals
of a sex-drenched society in which women's dress – or lack
of same -- emphasizes bare skin over modesty, a leading Orthodox Union
rabbi has written a searing and insightful book calling for a return
to the values that have been emphasized for centuries in Jewish life.
These values are summed up in the word tzniut – modesty. And
these values are not only for Jews.
Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran is the author of Sometimes You Are What You
Wear: An Argument for Tzniut, newly released by Xlibris, a Philadelphia-based
publisher. Rabbi Safran, Senior Rabbinic Coordinator and Vice President
of Communications and Marketing of the Kosher Division of the Orthodox
Union, usually spends his time dealing with companies around the world
on the process of certifying their products as kosher, as well as directing
a wide variety of OU educational programs for the Jewish community regarding
kosher laws and practices. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the acclaimed
quarterly magazine, Behind the Union Symbol, which explains all facets
of OU certification for executives and staffs of companies that are
OU certified and for thousands of others in the food industry.
However, as a long-time spiritual leader and educator in Jewish schools
in Pittsburgh, New York and New Jersey, he inevitably saw the absence
of modesty among today's youth as a severe problem that had to
be addressed for Jewish and non-Jewish audiences alike. The book is
the anti-Paris Hilton, the anti-Britney Spears, the anti-Lindsay Lohan.
Rather, it is a impassioned call for the wisdom of the ages to make
itself felt in today's world.
A Powerful Message
The book's message is powerful yet sensitive, contemporary yet
filled with the wisdom of the ages, and has already been lauded by spiritual
leaders and social thinkers as a volume long-awaited in our confused
One of those spiritual leaders is Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, OU
Executive Vice President.
"I am in the unique and privileged position to have known Rabbi
Eliyahu Safran since his youth. I have been witness to his growth into
a foremost rabbinical figure," Rabbi Weinreb declared. "This
new book on the topic of personal modesty is but the most recent of
his vital contributions to our sacred literature -- all based on impeccable
sources, and all relevant to the contemporary reader. He is able to
blend his stunning erudition with his keen insight into today's society.
Kol HaKavod (all glory), Reb Eliyahu," Rabbi Weinreb said.
"Modest dress is an essential part of the atmosphere of NCSY,"
declared Rabbi Steven Burg, International Director of the OU's youth
program. "It is understood for young men and women alike in our
programs that the way you dress can help to increase a person's self-esteem.
Rabbi Safran's book should be must reading in all homes in which a teen
lives, both for the young person and for parents, to reinforce the values
that lead to proper dress and an increased positive self-image."
The Decaying Morality of Modern Man
Rabbi Safran associates today's fashion phenomenon with the decaying
morality of modern man, and calls on the ancient wisdom of tzniut as
a remedy. "How we behave in the world – how we face ‘outward'
– is a question of ethics," Rabbi Safran maintains. "How
we behave in holiness – how we face ‘inward' –
is a question of morals."
Rabbi Safran emphasizes the need to incorporate tzniut if we are to
save our children from the superficiality, decadence and damaging influences
of our modern, "progressive" society. The book opens with
the simple question: "What can an Orthodox rabbi tell me about
my children or my life?"
Plenty, it turns out. Rabbi Safran discuses the modern world, the power
of spirituality, and the particularly powerful religious worldview of
Judaism. He presents the traditional view of modesty in the context
of Judaism's unique way of looking at the world. Judaism seeks
an appropriate balance between the physical and the spiritual, denying
neither and recognizing that the beauty of God's creative wisdom
He takes the position that the modern world has turned children into
"commodities" that serve to benefit a corporate bottom line
but not the children themselves. He declares that the superficiality
of the modern world, with its emphasis on body image, has done a profound
disservice to our youth, with the result being illicit sexual encounters,
alcohol and drug abuse, and eating disorders among other psychological
Tzniut, on the other hand, teaches the reader not simply to "look,"
but to "see with meaning." It teaches how to focus upon
some aspect of creation and not to see just its outer, most superficial
quality, but instead its inner, more meaningful aspects. Discussing
the concepts of "outside" and "inside," Rabbi
Safran maintains that physical appearance should be designed to call
attention to one's worth and nobility, to a good soul. "Beauty
diminishes but a good name endures," Rabbi Safran says, quoting
Jewish writings. Tzniut is the way to achieve an enduring good name.
The 157-page book is priced at $19.99 for the trade paperback and $29.99
for the cloth hardback. The book is available from the publisher at
xlibris.com or 888-795-4274. The books's website is www.modestybook.com.
Is it kosher for the author of a book on modesty to describe himself
as "a charismatic and dynamic rabbi, educator, lecturer an author"?
It's certainly not charismatic to call yourself charismatic.
I've read a ton of books on modesty (the best of the lot was by Gila
Magic Touch). Fat lot of good it's done me. I'm doomed to spend the
rest of my life having really hot but ultimately meaningless sex (which
tends to grow old after about 20 years).
I email Rabbi Safran:
Dear Rabbi Safran,
Thank you for your book. I read it today.
I've got some questions (for publication) which may seem rude but they're
* If modesty is so great, why put your name on the cover? Why describe
yourself as "charismatic" and all the other superlative self-praise
on the back cover?
* Fame is one of the good things God promises Abraham... It must not be
* Many Jewish women have saved the Jewish people through immodest behavior
(Esther, Lot's daughters, Monica Lewinski)...
* Without the desire for distinction, recognition and self-assertion,
people will only do the minimum to get by.
* Why do we need another book on modesty? There are a ton out there, many
of them Jewish.
* Where does your book break new ground on this topic?
* Howard Stern - is he good for the Jews?
Rabbi Safran responds:
Women (many) who have read the book, found that it gave them
a renewed sense of self, dignity and respect not conveyed in similar
books on the subject...Issues relating to modesty cry out for more and
continued intelligent discussion on the subject in all segments of
society... thus the book. Hopefully you found the book's positive messages,