By Miriam Shaviv
July 24, 2008
First, we had Orthodox Jewish women wearing burkas. Now, we have Charedi women coming back from weddings and other simchas being told they should wear 'overcoats' - because the sight of them in their best clothes in the street could be too much for some men. (According to the Kosover Rebbe of Boro Park, "Though it may be hot in warm weather, it is a good thing".)
The burkas were bad enough - but at least (if there is an 'at least' when you are talking about women feeling they must cover up their own faces) the initiative came from the women themselves, and was really not supported by most rabbis or others in their community.
But the idea of women having to cover up perfectly modest, but nice-looking clothes, comes from another source: a commercial company, called Modest Design, which came up with the idea, and then sought rabbinic precedent and approval.
Let's hope that what is after all simply a money-making scheme does not evolve into a completely unnecessary social norm, as these chumras are prone to do.
(See also Parshablog)