Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What is modest?

Our near eastern ancestresses wore pants - that is a fact that can be proved archaeologically, through carvings, murals, mosaics, frescoes, and pottery. It is proven historically, through both written text and paintings and other artwork.

Yet when our ancestresses migrated to Europe, they ran into Greek and Roman based cultures, later morphed into the Roman Catholic Church, that looked upon pants as foreign and "semetic" and didn't permit them. Women were forced by Catholicism to give them up - and even upper class Jewish and Gentile European men didn't wear pants until the mid-1700s. They were considered low class and common - a wealthy man of refinement wouldn't have been caught dead in them. Following the lead of the Church and the Gentry, classy people wore long robes and tunics over hosen, not pants. Pants were so, you know, peasant-like. Ugh.

This is the world that European Orthodoxy grew up in - a world run by Catholics, where the Jewish people were generations removed from their near eastern ancestors and ancestresses and had no idea how they had originally dressed. The European generations then, in the early modern era, fixated on the Polish nobility as the "Jewish" form of clothing, and that bizarre and unhistorical model has stuck past the 19th and 20th century and on into the 21st. But it's not "Jewish."

Our origins were middle eastern peoples, not Europeans. Our original clothing is that of Persia, Babylon, Egypt, Syria and Judea - middle eastern clothing, which in which women wore pants and, in fact, pants were exclusively women's clothing. Men did not wear them. I have pointed out a painting posted below and to the right before, so I won't post it again here. What I do want to post today is a series of photographs from a website called eShakti, a women's clothing merchant. The nice thing about eShakti is that every order you make is given the option for either short, mid, or long sleeves, and either shirt length, medium tunic or long tunic length tops. You also get to specify the neckline of each order, choosing from a variety of styles - many of which well exceed the orthodox requirements for tznuit.

So even these pictures I'm about to show you are not "final" - the woman ordering specifies each aspect of the outfit. So, the question then becomes, why are these outfits not "modest?"















The fact is, all of these outfits are "modest." Even the ones with short sleeves (which eSkakti will gladly make into mid or long sleeves when you order) are not "immodest" by any intellectually honest standard. Yet recently a woman had her conversion revoked just for wearing "pants." No one accused her of wearing low riders and a spaghetti strap half-height top. No, she was just accused of wearing "pants," just like our ancestresses did in the middle east every day.

How exactly did wearing the same clothing our foremothers used to wear get to be considered grounds for expulsion from the Jewish community? This is insane, to say the least. Manipulative. Dishonest. Powermongering.

And yet it is happening.

This shot, however, is just a salvo in what is certainly a Jewish civil war. To make a long story short, the European ultra-orthodox have decided that their insular sect of Judaism is the only valid Judaism - an everybody else is apikorus, to some extent or another. Especially threatening to them is Modern Orthodoxy - the sect that insists that men work for living, wants everyone to get a decent secular education, and interacts with the modern world. Ultra-orthodoxy loathes these ideas, and has decided to do something about them. What, you ask? - delegitimize modern orthodoxy.

And clothes are the first shot in this war - all Jews will either have to dress like 18th century Polish nobility of Catholic controlled Europe, or have their identity as Jews taken away. For women, that means wearing long skirts and nothing else, since the Pope decided that's what decent European women should wear. The clothes of our Near Eastern forebears is off limits - far to "semetic."

If you're thinking that's fairly bizarre, for Ultra Orthodox Jews to reject their own historical clothing because of anti-semitism, you're not alone. I share that opinion. But this rejection is, in reality, just a surface manifestation of a deeper and darker ugliness that is seldom aired - many, possibly most, ultra orthodox Jews of European descent are quite racist, either knowingly or as a part of their sub-culture. They have little or no respect for people who aren't "white," which not only includes many foreigners but includes all Near Eastern Jews as well - their own brethren and ancestors. They are a "newer" and "purer" Jewish race - apparently taking a page from David Duke's playbook. All other peoples, including their own Near Eastern brethren and ancestors, are looked down upon with discontent, if not outright loathing.

The explusion of converts for the heinous crime of wearing pants is just the first step in a larger "ethnic cleansing" that will shortly include native-born Jews. They will do this under the guise of excluding those who will not be ultra-orthodox in religious practice, but in reality it is part of a quest for a mythical "racial purity" and "monolithic Jewish practice" that never existed historically.

They have become, in other words, the same as those who once oppressed them.

They have become the very inquisitors they once feared - envy of that power has made them this way. In the name of "G-d" they want to control us all, down to which shoe you tie first in the morning. It's all about money and power, class. And converts are just the first victims of their control-mongering. Native born MO Jews will be next.

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