Halacha for Thursday 1 Tammuz 5779 July 4 2019

Personal Modesty

The Gemara (Yoma 47a) states: “Our Sages taught: Kimchit had seven sons, all of whom served as Kohanim Gedolim (High Priests). The Sages asked her, ‘What have you done to merit this?’ She replied, ‘The beams of my house have never seen the braids of my hair.’” Rashi, in his commentary on this Gemara, quotes the words of the Talmud Yerushalmi which expounds the verse in Tehillim (45, 14) as follows: “All honor [awaits] the king’s daughter who is within; her raiment is superior to settings of gold”- A modest woman deserves to have a son who shall be a Kohen Gadol dressed in golden settings.

This means that Kimchit was so careful about her modesty that she had never even revealed her hair in front of the beams of her home! This was a result of her extraordinary modesty before Hashem, whose glory fills the entire world.

Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 2) writes: “One should not wear one’s robe while sitting; rather, one should insert one’s head and arms into one’s robe while lying down and by doing so, when one gets up, one will be covered.” We see that one must be modest even in a place where there are no other people present, for Hashem’s presence fills the entire world and just as it is improper to reveal themselves immodestly in front of one another, it is likewise improper for one to reveal himself immodestly before Hashem besides for when this is necessary, such as, when one is bathing since there is no other way to do so and this poses no concern whatsoever.

Let us now explain if this is an actual law and how much one must be careful in this regard.

The Gemara (Shabbat 118b) states that Rabbi Yose would exclaim about himself that the beams of his home never saw the lining of his robe (meaning that he would never reveal himself immodestly even when he was alone in his own home). The fact that Rabbi Yose praised himself about this shows that it is not an actual law; rather, it is merely a pious behavior.

Nevertheless, Hagaon Harav Menashe Klein zt”l writes in his Responsa Mishneh Halachot (Volume 6, Chapter 2) that the fact that the Talmud, Poskim, and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch write that one must not reveal himself within his own home proves that this is indeed a complete law and obligation. The reason why Rabbi Yose praised himself is not because this is a lofty level of piety; rather, this was because most people were not careful regarding this law and Rabbi Yose was proud that he was. He proceeds to prove this from the incident of Kimchit as well.

However, the above opinion is quite difficult to understand, for it is improbable that most people in the times of Rabbi Yose disregarded an explicit law and Rabbi Yose praised himself because of the fact that he merely observed this law. Regarding Hagaon Harav Klein’s proof from Kimchit, it seems that, on the contrary, Kimchit observed an extraordinary level of piety. Indeed, the great Menorat Ha’Maor writes that the Gemara exaggerated here, for it is impossible that the beams of Kimchit’s house never saw her hair since she did shower and comb her hair; rather, this is just meant as an overstatement because she possessed such a high level of modesty.

Thus, halachically speaking, although this is not a halachic obligation, it is good and worthy custom for one to act as modestly as possible even within the privacy of one’s home where no one else can see him. Similarly, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that this is not a complete halachic obligation and the above Halacha which we quoted from Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch is meant only as an excellent custom which one should adopt as much as possible. By doing so, one will likewise come to the realization that even when one is alone, there is always someone looking, listening, and writing down one’s actions. One will therefore grow in fear of Heaven and be spared from sinning, even when no one sees him.

 

8 Halachot Most Popular

The Holiday of Shavuot- Teachings of Kindness

The Torah introduces the momentous event of the giving of the Torah to the Jewish nation with the verse (Shemot 19), “On the third month from when the children of Israel left Egypt, on this day they arrived at the Sinai desert.” Our Sages in the Pesikta ask: Why is it that the Torah w......

Read Halacha

“Shover Oyevim U’Machnia Zedim” (The Twelfth Blessing of the Amida)

Question: In the Blessing regarding the heretics in the daily Amida prayer, how should one end the twelfth blessing: “Shover Oyevim U’Machnia Zedim” (He who smashes enemies and humbles the wicked) or “Shover Oyevim U’Machnia Minim” (He who smashes enemies and humb......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Fire on Yom Tov

In previous Halachot we have explained that Yom Tov and Shabbat are equal regarding all prohibitions besides for certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking, which are permitted on Yom Tov. Igniting a Flame One may not produce a new fire on Yom Tov, for instance by strik......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Cooking on Yom Tov

In the previous Halachot we have explained that although Shabbat and Yom Tov are equal in their prohibition to perform work on them and it is therefore a Torah prohibition to drive a car on Yom Tov, nevertheless, certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking and frying, are permitt......

Read Halacha


How One Should Conduct Himself in the Morning

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avot (Chapter 5) states: “Yehuda ben Tema says: Be bold like a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and mighty as a lion to perform the will of your father in Heaven.” Let us now explain this Mishnah. The Tanna writes that one must be as “bold as a ......

Read Halacha

The Holiday of Shavuot- Coronavirus

The holiday of Shavuot will be celebrated, G-d willing, at the conclusion of the period of the counting of the Omer this coming Friday (beginning from Thursday night), the 6th of Sivan (and outside of Israel on Shabbat, the 7th of Sivan as well). Let us, therefore, begin to discuss some of the perti......

Read Halacha

Reciting Kaddish

Question: What is the significance of reciting Kaddish for a deceased individual? Answer: When an individual departs from this world, his surviving children must make a concerted effort to pray with a Minyan three times a day in order to be able to recite Kaddish for their father or mother. Simil......

Read Halacha

Deceit and Trickery

One may not deceive or trick others when it comes to monetary transactions. Monetary Deceit If one knows that one’s merchandise is flawed or faulty, one must reveal this to the buyer. For instance, if one wishes to sell his home and he knows that the ceiling is full of mold because of a bu......

Read Halacha