Myth: Women need to hide themselves and their faces to be more tznius in times like these.
Truth: Women have to take the same precautions as men, but we did not bring the geulah by hiding.
I was wondering if and when someone would find a way to blame the corona crisis on women. Unfortunately, it did happen. There have been flyers and posters in some neighborhoods in Eretz Yisrael telling women that we need to be more careful about tznius. I don’t know if any of these have come up in the US, but the fact that it’s around at all is troubling. First, how can anyone really assign blame for this? As my husband said, “Is there suddenly nevuah?” Second, we women were the ones who brought about geulah at this time and we certainly didn’t do it by taking blame.
From me, you get the truth.
One teaching that I have always loved is the one about the copper mirrors. In Mitzrayim, the men despaired of geulah and they separated from their wives, not wanting to father another generation of slaves. We women never lost faith, so we just got smarter. We found copper plates and made them into mirrors. We then put on nice clothes and did our hair and makeup. The men came back to their wives, and thus was conceived the generation that left Mitzrayim.
Later, in the midbar, the women donated their copper mirrors for the Mishkan. Hashem told Moshe to accept them because they were dearer to Him than anything else. In a shiur I heard last year, Michal Horowitz said that even after B’nei Yisrael were told to stop contributing, Moshe wasn’t allowed to turn down the women’s copper mirrors. She said that they served as a reflection point for everyone. Are we working hard on being the best people we can be and growing closer to Hashem?
Another teaching that I love is about Miriam bas Amram. Amram also separated from his wife so that he wouldn’t have to father a boy who could be murdered by the Mitzrim. Miriam told her father that he was worse than Pharaoh because he (Amram) was preventing girls from coming into the world as well as boys. Amram could’ve argued with his daughter that there was no point, but he understood that girls/women have their own inherent value and so he went back to his wife and thus was conceived Moshe Rabbeinu who led us out of Mitzrayim. Miriam was also the one who kept a tambourine with the idea that she would play it when we left Mitzrayim and she did exactly that.
It’s ironic that I have to wear a mask when I go out even though I’m writing a lot about the importance of not hiding. At least I know that the men have to do it too. It’s also not very comfortable physically. But while I intend to take all necessary precautions, I don’t need to hide myself otherwise.
Yes, we women do need to be careful about tznius, especially at a time like this. But we need to be careful with true tznius. Women and men need to be careful to present ourselves with dignity and reflect our real selves as best we can. This is one more reason I prefer to put on “real” clothes every day - it reminds me that I’m a human being with the inherent dignity of being created in Hashem’s image.
I’m using my mirror and I want to make sure it reflects a woman who is trying to be a good wife, a good mother, and a good person. I want it to reflect a woman who is trying to see the good wherever possible. I want it to reflect a woman who is trying to find the good lessons to be learned from all of this and who is trying to grow closer to Hashem. I want it to reflect a woman who has faith that Hashem will redeem us and will end all of this. I want it to reflect a woman who is taking care of herself and is ready to present herself to Mashiach ben David. None of that is possible if I hide myself.
Ladies, what do you want your mirror to reflect?
May Hashem grant a refuah sheleimah to the sick, continued good health to those who are not sick, parnassah to all, and may He bring us all Home very soon.