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BS"D

Outside/Inside

A Fresh Look at Tzniut

GILA MANOLSON

From the author of The Magic Touch and Head to Heart

First edition published 1997 by
TARGUM PRESS
22700 W. Eleven Mile Rd., Southfield, MI 48034
E-mail:
targum@netvision.net.il
Revised and expanded edition published 2005
Copyright 2005 by Gila Manolson
ISBN: 1-56871-341-x
107 pages

Tzniut the Jewish term usually translated as "modesty" is:
A dress code.
Only for women.
Designed to keep men's heads in the right place.
If you answered "true" to any of the above, this book is bound to be eye-opening.

Tzniut is seeing yourself in a different light.

It is for both men and women.

And its purpose is to transform your life

by connecting you to your deepest self.

Dedication

To my children:

Chananya Baruch

Elyashiv Devir

Yair Simcha

Temima Sara

Emuna Rachel

Ayelet Ora

and Yisrael Leib

Your coming into the world taught me about the potential within us all.

NEVE -YERUSHALAYIM

We live in a generation searching for its own identity. The "isms" that once assuaged the thirst for meaningful self-definition often seem no longer relevant or applicable. While the Torah way of life has an unrivaled radiance and depth, it is unquestionably under-explored by those on the "outside" and often undervalued by those on the "inside." A major cause is the stereotypes people have of the Torah lifestyle none of which is more damaging and untrue than those surrounding tzniut (modesty).

Gila Manolson has, once again, presented us with a book that will do more than pry open closed minds. Outside/Inside provides in-sight and inspiration to those of us who share her values but have not explored beneath the surface. The beauty and clarity of her writing is a rare gift.

I have known Gila for many years. The living example she provides in her sincere pursuit of truth, her empathy for her fellow seekers, and her striving to integrate genuine tzniut into every aspect of her life, makes her authorship of this book most appropriate.

Tziporah Heller Neve Yerushalayim

Preface

Several years ago, I wrote a book called The Magic Touch: A Jewish Approach to Relationships (originally subtitled A Candid Look at the Jewish Approach to Relationships). Addressed primarily to young adults, it offered a practical rationale for refraining from all physical contact with the opposite sex before marriage being "shomer negiah." The book received many positive responses (at least from females one told me, You're famous among girls and infamous among our boyfriends!") and has been widely read among newcomers to Judaism. Many schools and programs have since asked me to address their students on this topic.

On one such occasion, a young woman approached me after class. "Everything you've said makes so much sense, and I really want to be shomer negiah. But," she sighed unhappily, "there's one problem." "What?" I asked. I'm afraid my boyfriend will break up with me."

That's when it hit me: It's hard to be shomer negiah if you lack self-worth and the inner strength it creates. And this lack affects not only relationships but other areas of life as well.

To address this problem, I wrote Outside/Inside. Since then, I have more to say on the subject hence this new revised and expanded edition.

If The Magic Touch challenged your beliefs and lifestyle, Outside/Inside is likely to challenge you on an even more essential level. More threatening than changing your behavior in relationships is the prospect of rethinking who you are. Yet a deep exploration of your identity and its implications is what this book asks of you. I hope you will approach it with an open mind, and face the challenge.

G.M. Jerusalem

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the following people from the bottom of my heart:

My teacher Tziporah Heller (author of More Precious than Pearls: Selected Insights into the Qualities of the Ideal Woman and Our Bodies/Our Souls: A Jewish Perspective on Feminine Spirituality), for giving me the essential understanding of tzniut which underlies not only this book but my life;

Rabbi Zev Leff, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes-Cardozo, and again, Rebbetzin Heller, for generously taking time out of their busy lives to review the manuscript;

My very special and wonderful friends: Rhonda Halpern, Yehudis Golshevsky, Dina Coopersmith, Devorah Fastag, Chaya Rivka Jessel, of blessed memory (who provided the book's title), for their indispensable comments and critiques; Rachel Averick, for supplying an important missing; Shaina Buchwald and Leah Shachter, for providing impetus for some major overhauling; Simi Peters, for reviewing the original draft of the chapter on individuality; Batya Friedman, for (along with everything else) her exceptional depth and insight in identifying what more needed to be said; and Marina Goodman (author of Why Should I Stand Behind the Mechitzah When I Could Be a Prayer Leader? The Traditional Jewish Response for the Contemporary Jewish Woman), for her tremendously helpful suggestions and continual intellectual and emotional support; Shlomo Aharon Fenster, Mordechai McKenney, Justin Levitz, and Rachel Templeton, for their sensitive and tuned-in comments; Ro'i Furer, for suggesting some important organizational changes, and for his ongoing encouragement; Rabbi Marc Kujawski and Devorah Nov, authors of the article l" Ayeka: Mekom HaOtentiut BaMachshava HaYehudit ['Where Are You?': The Place of Authenticity in Jewish Thought]" (included in the book Kanfei Ruach: P'rakim BeZehut, Yetzira, VeYachasei Guf-Nefesh-Ruach [Wings of Spirit: Reflections on Identity, Creativity, and the Relationship between Body, Mind, and Soul], which I look forward to reading); Sarah Schneider, author of Kabbalistic Writings on the Nature of Masculine and Feminine; Shaina Sara Handelman, Ph.D., author of the articles "The Concept of 'Modesty': A Torah Perspective" (in The Modern Jewish Woman: A Unique Perspective) and "The Paradoxes of Privacy" (in Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility, November 10, 1978); Rabbi Moshe Meiselman, author of Jewish Woman in Jewish Law; Wendy Shalit, author of to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue; Malka Touger, author of Just My Style: A Tznius Reader for Teens; Rebbetzin Yitti Neustadt, Rabbi Raymond Breyda, and once again, Rebbetzin Heller, for their audiotapes on tzniut, which have deeply enriched my understanding; and Shprintzee Herskovitz, for a beautiful idea from her book Rays of the Sun;

The many program and seminary directors who have allowed me the privilege and pleasure of sharing these ideas and others with their audiences;

My students from here, there, and everywhere over the years, for nurturing my mind and soul with their questions and appreciation;

A certain friend, for providing insight into what she called (while unknowingly possessing it) the "lost art";

And finally, my incredibly wonderful, devoted husband, Avraham, for being a constant role model of tzniut, a source of valuable input, and a bedrock of support and love.

May Hashem continue to bless them all with the ability and energy to make a difference.

Introduction

Since age 22, when I began exploring Judaism, I've spent a lot of time talking with people about something called tzniut (pronounced tz'neeOOT). Tzniut translates loosely and rather inadequately as "modesty" and is inevitably one of the first issues a newcomer to Judaism confronts. Initially I was an adversary, challenging the proponents of tzniut to explain why a woman would necessarily become more spiritual upon trading in tight jeans and a tank top for a skirt and sleeves. In time, however, I became an advocate, attempting to communicate to those who stood where I once had the power of an idea and practice I was struggling to make my own. But it was not quite a new idea for the more I learned, the more I felt I was rediscovering something I already knew.

Tzniut may be new and foreign to you, or you may already somewhat familiar with it. If you're in the latter group, chance are you subscribe to some commonly held beliefs about tzniut. The first is that tzniut is a dress code. The second is that it is only for women. The third is that the reason for tzniut, ironically, has nothing to do with women but with men. Males, it has been observed, have trouble focusing on spiritual matters when around less than modestly clad females. Given the impracticality of asking them to don blinders, the rationale goes, Judaism instead tells women to be good sports and cover up.

It's not hard to see where these beliefs have come from. Dress is a strong focus of tzniut; tzniut is stressed more among females than males; and women are indeed held responsible (within limits) for the effect their attire has upon men, just as all Jews are responsible for one another. Still, viewing tzniut as a restriction of women to protect men is a tragic reduction of a profound concept. As a result, perhaps the most dynamic agent of personal and social change is belittled or,at best, ignored.

We can scarcely afford this loss, for much needs to change. So many in our society suffer ongoing unhappiness whether a throbbing pain born of outright failure (most often in relationships) or just a haunting feeling that beneath our apparent success, something is missing. For despite the proliferation of self-help books, tapes, and e-mails, most of us haven't yet acquired deep, stable, spiritual self' knowledge and it's hard to find happiness when we haven't found ourselves.

Yet we can. And today, tzniut is truly a light in the darkness. For tzniut is infinitely more than what we wear it's about who we are. It's the potential within every one of us, male and female, and Judaism enjoins us all to actualize it. Tzniut is the key to all spiritual growth and therefore to a healthy society. Rather than restricting, tzniut is, in the most profound sense, liberating.

Anything spiritual is difficult to capture in words. Tzniut, too, can be truly understood only through witnessing it, or better, living it. Still, I hope my words, however limited, will dispel misconceptions and deepen our appreciation of a fundamental Jewish idea one that, if taken to heart, can revolutionize our lives.

CHAPTER ONE

Your Body/Yourself

Usually, we see things as they appear on the surface. We look at an old tree and see its trunk and branches. We look at a tomb and see cold granite. We look at the Kotel (Western Wall, in Jerusalem's Old City) and see ancient stones.

Yet if we look more deeply, things are more than what they seem. The gnarled tree offers a stirring affirmation of timeless endurance. The Hebrew-inscribed tombstone in a neglected Polish cemetery represents a soul crying out from a lost world. The same object can even be "read" in different ways: The Kotel symbolizes the Jewish people's fall from glory, or with fresh greenery bursting out of its cracks Proclaims that same people's rebirth in its land.

We too can be seen superficially, as objects or as people radiating a message. To a large extent, it depends how we relate to our outer selves our bodies.

Judaism teaches that God wants us to perceive each other in depth. God therefore empowered the first man and woman to see each other's outer and inner selves as one. When Adam gazed at Eve's body, he saw her mind, heart, and spirit. As Eve appreciated Adam's exterior, she appreciated his essence. Humans saw each other in their entirety, with outside and inside inseparable.

But this idyllic state was short-lived. A fatal error destroyed humanity's vision, and we fell into a world of confusion and illusion. The body now assumed an independent identity, its glare obscuring the inner self. And that's how we often view one another today.

Imagine running into someone you haven't seen for some time and discovering that she has had plastic surgery and gained (or lost) 100 pounds. It would probably be difficult to relate to her as the same person. The outside blocks our vision of the inside.

Originally, when man and woman saw through each other, outside to inside, nakedness posed no obstacle to perception.

Today, it does. Every society has therefore embraced Adam and Eve's solution: clothing.

To understand what clothes mean to us, look at how we expect different creatures to dress. Animals, for example aren't expected to wear anything. No one I know has ever gasped, "That dog is walking the streets stark naked! What ever happened to decency?!"

Humans, however, do wear clothes. Yet our "dress code" depends upon age. You would probably find it adorable if your neighbor's toddler innocently showed up at your front door straight from the bath. If the same child repeated that behavior at age 10, I suspect you'd be less amused. And if the visitor were an adult, you'd call the police.

Why the difference?

Simple: The farther removed a person is from an animal, the more we expect that person to wear. A dog can trot around au naturel without being considered "naked," since (animal lovers, please forgive me) it is essentially a physical being, governed by senses and instincts. A baby is similar it cannot yet make moral decisions, delay gratification, or put another's needs before its own. Thus, while we call it "naked" in recognition of its inherent humanity, no one blushes at its bare bottom. A 10-year-old, however, is already (hopefully) way beyond that, and a 20-year-old even more so which is why an adult who parades around without clothes is not cute, but an exhibitionist.

Clothing likewise reflects "mode." Poolside, for example, is appropriate to wear very little, because sunning and swimming are physical activities. But you probably wouldn't accept a Nobel Prize in your bathing suit.

Covering yourself is therefore the most fundamental way saying, "I'm more than a body." The Hebrew word for Nothing is levush, related to the word busha, shame. The body isn't shameful, but being seen as no more than a body. Nothing removes that shame by directing attention past the outside to the inside. It's the first step in asserting our personhood. And the more of our bodies we cover, the less they eclipse who we are.

I read a story (recounted in my book Head to Heart) about a female college professor who was set up on a blind date. As she was a bookish intellectual, her date was warned that she might dress primly but she showed up in a low-cut dress with a thigh-high slit. "Wow!" he blurted out, taken aback. "Your brains don't show at all!"

Women have trouble believing bodies are so distracting. "When I meet a man," insisted a woman in one of my classes, "the first thing I notice is his personality."

I turned to the men in the room. "Guys, when you meet a girl, what's the first thing you notice?" Silence and guilty grins. The fact is that no man sees a woman on the street and thinks, "Is her personality ever a knock-out!"

The more you emphasize your body, the more easily others unconsciously mistake it for your real self.

A friend of mine, newly observant and married, was driving with her uncle.

"Look at your oppressive lifestyle," he argued. "You're covered from head to toe. How can you possibly express your personality in such a sexist society? In the religious world women are nothing!"

Just then, they passed a billboard advertising a perfume called "Personality." Featured was a barely dressed, provocatively posed woman gazing seductively at her audience, perfume bottle in hand. The caption read, "You can see she has Personality."

My friend shook her head. If that's "expressing your personality," she thought, in whose world are women nothing??

Society has trained us that "if you've got it, flaunt it." The message is: "Look how I look!" But if you move toward concealing rather than revealing, you can make a more powerful statement: "I'm much more than meets the eye. If you want to see the real me, you'll have to look inside."

But does it matter if others see the real you? "When I go downtown and guys ogle me," a scantily clad woman told me, "I ignore them. It doesn't affect me. I know who I am."

Yet even if you know who you are, how others see you does affect you.

In fact, even before anyone sees you, your dress affects how you see yourself which is why you wear what you wear. For instance, my friend got all dressed up to take her comprehensive exams for her master's degree. When I jokingly asked her if she had a date with her professor, she replied, "Remember the book Dress for Success? Looking my best helps give me the confidence I'll need to do my best."

I once came across a book called How to Marry the Rich (too late I was already married). The author advised gold diggers to enter exclusive boutiques and try on the most expensive clothing available. By repeatedly experiencing yourself in thousand-dollar outfits, she explained, you'll come to I nch, which will give you the air necessary to attract millionaires.

The Torah (Genesis 39:7-12) narrates the story of Joseph's encounter with the wife of the Egyptian officer Potiphar. According to Kabbalistic tradition (Zohar, "VaYeshev" 238), she knew that to seduce Joseph, he would first have to dress and therefore feel like an immoral Egyptian. But Joseph, too, understood the power of clothing, and resisted her by retaining his Hebrew garb.

Once, in a program in which I was teaching, a participant hotly denied any significance to his attire. He "happened" to be wearing a faded T-shirt, torn jeans, and running shoes, as well as a beard and ponytail. I told him, "If what you wear means nothing to you, come back tomorrow with a short haircut, clean-shaven, and in a three-piece suit." He stuttered and stammered, attempted a weak self-defense, then sheepishly conceded the point.

Let's face it: When you put on clothes, you put on a self-image. And every time you look in the mirror and adjust your outfit, that self-image is strengthened. Even in the privacy of your bedroom, therefore, there are styles you would probably never wear, simply because "they're not you." Indeed, some people's defensiveness in confronting this issue testifies to how tightly their self-image is bound up with their clothing. They know that reconsidering their wardrobe means reconsidering who they want to be.

What's most important, however, is not whether you dress rich or poor, earthy or businesslike. What counts is whether you dress "body" or "person."

But the impact of dress upon your self-image is only the beginning. The minute you hit the street, people respond to the image you're projecting and you pick up on their response. Sociologists call this "symbolic interactionism": How you dress, how others react to you, and how you see yourself all affect each other, shaping who you become. Your self-image is not merely self-produced. It's constantly formed and reformed through contact with others.

This knowledge is empowering. For by choosing how to present yourself, you can largely ensure that your interactions contribute to the self-image you want.

When my friend Shira was dating her future husband, Avi a pretty strait-laced yeshiva student they decided to visit a community of very spiritual ex-hippies for Shabbat. Before sunset, Avi went off to change into Shabbat clothes. To Shira's shock, he emerged in white denim pants, an embroidered Indian shirt, and a rainbow kippa [yarmulke]. "In these clothes," he explained, "I'll be seen as one of the 'chevra' [community] and because I'll then feel more like one of them, I'll be able to experience Shabbat as they do." Sure enough, before she knew it, someone had thrown his arm around Avi's shoulder and said, "Hey, holy brother, let's go daven [pray]!" And she'd never seen him pray and sing and dance as he did that Shabbat. By dressing to elicit a certain reaction, he altered his self-image for 24 hours and accessed a different side of his spirituality.

"Clothing can make such an impact for one day, think what happens when you dress a particular way for months or years. As time goes on, you become who you appear to be which may be far different from who you "know you are."

Of course, it helps to resist. If you react to construction workers' catcalls by closing your eyes and reminding yourself, "I am a spiritual being," you stand a better chance of preserving your selfhood than if you live for such attention. Still, slowly but surely, repeated assaults on your dignity erode your sense of self. Knowing who you are can't protect you if your appearance tells the world you don't.

I recently leafed through a book about models who have succumbed to anorexia or bulimia in a desperate attempt to remain marketable by society's current beauty standards. A recurrent theme in interviews with these women was their inner emptiness, their absence of self. It's hard to be healthy inside when you're all about your outside, and what others think of it.

The Relating Game

Bodies are perhaps most distracting in relationships especially when we start off on the wrong foot by dressing "body" instead of "person."

Judy was visiting her friend Laura, who'd just passed the bar exam. Sifting through Laura's closet, the two were deciding what she should wear to an interview with a prestigious law firm the next morning.

Judy, who'd recently become religious, pulled a miniskirt and tank top from a hanger. "How about this?"

"Are you crazy?" Laura exclaimed. "What female lawyer would wear that to the office? I want to be taken seriously!"

"But when you go out on a Saturday night, hoping to meet a man with whom you can have a genuine relationship . a man who'll take you seriously this is what you wear?"

Playing with physical attraction is a temporary ego-booster. And everyone seems to be doing it. But if we would step back and clarify what we want in a relationship, we'd probably present ourselves very differently. Like Laura, we're neither stupid nor shallow. We're confused about what makes us valuable, who we are, and why we deserve love.

Your body is a beautiful gift from God but you're so much more.

CHAPTER TWO

Show and Tell

Once you move past identifying yourself by your body, it may seem more "real" to define yourself by what you do: "I'm a great keyboard player," "I'm a Rhodes scholar," or "I'm a successful lawyer." Talents, intelligence, and achievements are certainly legitimate and valuable parts of you but they're still not your truest identity.

My close friend Jan told me a story that taught me a lot about presenting oneself more authentically.

Jan, then 21, was camping on the Sinai coast with her roommate Sue when a bronzed, rugged-looking soldier approached them. Jan's eyes lit up as she prepared to enter flirt mode." But then the question hit her: Was the mere appearance of a good-looking guy going to "flip her switch" and turn her into an attention-getter? Could she be so easily plated? Irked, she resolved to stay centered within herself and ignore this fellow.

Meanwhile, the soldier introduced himself to Sue as Yoni, and the two began talking. After a while, however, he turned his gaze toward Jan.

"He's a paratrooper," Sue told her, "so I mentioned that you've gone parachuting."

"Just once," Jan said.

Yoni continued talking with Sue but frequently looked over at Jan with obvious interest. When Jan eventually joined the conversation, she was struck by the fact that Yoni wasn't just looking to pick up a girl. He actually possessed considerable refinement and depth.

Several months later, they happened to meet again.

"You know what intrigued me about you?" Yoni told Jan. "Most girls flaunt whatever they have to impress a guy. But you didn't seem to feel the need."

In other words, Yoni was interested not because she had once jumped out of a plane, but because she hadn't used that fact to score points. That led him to believe she must be made of deeper stuff.

We crave attention particularly as teenagers. Unsure who we are, we look to externals for identity. Yet even as adults, many of us persist in defining ourselves, if not by our bodies, clothes, or music, then by "what we do" our hobbies, carreers, or accomplishments. But this still isn't "it." Furthermore, when we look to others (such as friends, teammates, coworkers, or employers) for our self-worth, we make ourselves vulnerable to forces beyond our control and the results often show.

Years ago, I was passing through Grand Central Station in New York when a very self-assured young man strode by. I thought I recognized him. Unable to resist, I approached him and asked, "Excuse me, were you in the movie Fame?"

He smiled broadly and answered, "Yes," basking in his celebrity status. How neat to be famous at his age, I thought.

Years later, in Jerusalem, I met someone who'd been at Manhattan's High School for the Performing Arts when Fame (which featured students from that school) was made.

"I knew all those actors," she told me. "They were the most insecure, messed-up, miserable kids you could ever meet."

Fame doesn't have to be negative. Yet pursuing it is dangerous, for you can become addicted to others' appraisals of you. A young woman once told me, "I'm a professional entertainer. After a show, the first thing I have to know is, 'Did they like me?' If they did, I'm elated if they didn't, I'm depressed. I guess I'm really a professional approval-seeker." And deep down, approval-seekers are rarely happy. For people who act as if "all the world's a stage" seldom look inward and ask, "Will the real me please stand up?"

I heard of someone else in the entertainment industry who became a millionaire at age 25. To mark her "arrival," she bought a Porsche, decorated it with ribbons and streamers, and threw a huge party. The champagne flowed as her friends and coworkers toasted her and showered her with congratulations. At the peak of the celebration, amidst cheering, she sat down in the driver's seat of her new sports car for the first time. Then she put her head down on the steering wheel and cried. For suddenly it hit her: "Is this all I'm about?"

Other people take longer to wake up. I know a middle-aged man who had always seemed together. But when he lost his job in a recession, his world collapsed and he couldn't function. No one realized how much his self-worth was bound up with his income.

Then there's academic success. A first-year student at my highly competitive university was so driven to excel that he already had an ulcer. Ivy League suicide rates are a tragic testimonial to how, in extreme cases, failure to "make the grade" can feel like failure as a human being.

While the examples above include both sexes, it is males who, when asked, "Who are you?" more often answer with a job title or an account of their worldly conquests. While females become sex objects, men become success objects. Both miss the boat in the voyage to self-discovery.

Career, money, academics, sports, travel, politics, the arts, the social scene the arenas for "proving oneself are endless. Yet they all share a common denominator: The status they grant you doesn't do justice to your true self.

CHAPTER THREE

Rebel with a Cause

Let's say that, as rightfully proud as you are of your abilities and achievements, you no longer want to define yourself by them. You know there are more significant pursuits from which to derive self-worth. So you involve yourself in a cause.

The world is full of worthy causes: helping the poor, assisting the handicapped, protecting the environment, defending the abused, and more. All can provide tremendous satisfaction and contribute significantly to your personal growth and sense of self. As someone once wrote, "Service to others is one of the cornerstones of building a good life here on earth." Still, no cause, or even group of causes, can serve as your identity.

I spent some time with the "I am my cause" crowd way back when. Sitting cross-legged on the floor in Lower Manhattan one evening, I listened as a massive anti-nuclear demonstration was planned on Wall Street. I heard (and shared) the organizers' disdain for investors in nuclear energy, who put profits above human lives. And I observed how my fellow activists derided those members of the corporate establishment as image-oriented clones, defined by their identical three-piece suits.

Initially, I felt privileged to be in the company of such idealists. But I soon noticed everyone there was wearing a flannel shirt, jeans, and a down vest. Apparently, the no-nukes movement had its own "three-piece suit." And as the meeting progressed, I sensed that many were participating less out of conviction than to be cool making them as superficial and homogeneous as their enemies on Wall Street.

During this time, I was also working for an anti-hunger organization. Here, I felt, were genuinely caring individuals with a true calling. Yet their concern for starving children in Biafra didn't extend to people closer to home. The most glaring example was the director herself, the mother of a juvenile delinquent, who was having an affair with her neighbor's husband. Her social values were admirable, but her private life and morals were a disaster.

So maybe there were pitfalls in seeking identity through a cause. But they really showed up once I started exploring Judaism. Even before my first class, I got into a heated discussion with another student about the necessity of religion.

"You don't need religion to give your life meaning," I argued. "For instance, I'm a vegetarian. I get a lot of meaning out of that."

My opponent shot back: "So you're going to worship a carrot?"

Cute, I thought. But her point hit home. Vegetarianism addressed my relationship with animals, the earth, and the world's starving masses, but not my relationship with the people in my own life or God.

Causes can add meaning to your life, but they can't be its meaning. They can define a valuable, healthy part of you, but not the whole you. You're more.

CHAPTER FOUR

The Soul of the Matter

It can take work to get past defining yourself by "what I look like," "what I do," and "what I support" (and while we're at it, let's throw in even weaker sources of self-definition, such as "whom I know," "where I've been," "how much money I have," "what music I like," "what brand of cigarettes I smoke," and whatever else you can think of). If you're having trouble weaning yourself from any of these identities, ask yourself: Who would I be if I didn't have them? If I'm a model, who would I be if I gained 50 pounds? If I'm a marathon runner, who would I be if an accident left me a Paraplegic? If I'm an environmentalist, who would I be if corporations decided to be earth-friendly?

The only thing you could be is something that can never be lost, be taken away, or disappear something eternally ours. This is your core. Judaism calls it your soul. It is nothing less than a spark of God.

......

......

Your soul is your essence. You have a body, abilities, and causes, but you don't have a soul - you are a soul. Judaism teaches you how to reflect it, using everything you have to be everything you are.

......

Judaism encourages you to look good - but without flaunting yourself. It urges you to downplay your body in order to reveal your soul. This doesn't mean wearing shapeless, drab clothing. It means being attractive in a way that draws attention past your physicality to your personhood.

 
Beginning chapters from the book, Outside/Inside by Gila Manolson

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