Modest Clothing and Attitude


Hello Rabi .. what is the perspective of woman’s wear in Judaism?

What about scarf or hijab .. can a faithful women dress in bikinis on beach or what?



  1. Your question is far-reaching and not easily answered in email forum. Although the commandment to dress modestly is not stated explicitly in the Written Torah, there are many verses in Torah that allude to dressing and behaving in a way that emphasizes our unique relationship with God. The main verse used by the Rabbis as the source for modesty in both men and women is the Book of Michah 6:8: “It has been told to you, mankind, what is good and what God seeks from you; which is only to do justice, and love kindness and walk modestly [hatznea lechet] with your Lord.”

    One reason for modesty is in order not to act in a way that is suggestive or alluring. But any behavior which stands out, as if to say, “Look at me,” is a lack of modesty. As mentioned above, modesty is applicable to both men and women, and is far more than a dress code. A person’s attitude towards modesty reflects directly on their entire outlook, attitude and approach to life. Are they interested in externals and what others think of them, or are they striving on an internal level, wondering what God thinks of them?

    However, after having said that, I think that it is important to point out that modesty does not require a person to look like a frump! When the Talmudic Sage Abba Chilkiya would return to the city, his wife used to come out to greet him wearing nice clothes and jewelry. Her intentions were to look attractive for her husband, see Tractate Berachot 24a. A person can, and should, always try to look presentable, see Mishnah Berurah 75.

    Personally, I think that the simplest thing to do is to read some books about the subject. Two that spring to mind are:
    Dr. Lisa Aiken, To Be a Jewish Woman published by Jacob Aronson Inc.
    Rabbi Manis Freedman, Doesn’t Anyone Blush Anymore published by Harper San Francisco

    Best wishes from the Team