oklahoman_gallery-4f8a9f0dc3769ad3b21c1f65deb85c32.jpgYES WE TAN

Enough Already About Obama’s Tan Suit! Let’s Talk Substance Over Style

The tempest over the President wearing a tan summer suit has virtually overshadowed the important messages he delivered on hostilities in Ukraine and Iraq.

What we wear should have no impact on what we’re saying, so why does it matter so much?

Sometimes a boring uniform can be helpful: It creates unanimity and a reassuring predictability. It’s why the military has uniforms. But America isn’t a Military state.

So All eyes were on President Obama’s baggy tan suit causing twitter users to post more than 6,000 tweets about the suit during the press conference. The suit was already being referred to as Obama’s “tanghazi” within minutes of the President’s appearance.

What does Judaism say about our clothes and how we should dress.

Judaism is an all-encompassing way of life.The Laws of Judaism have the purpose of adding spiritual aspects to our physical natures. This is a fundamental concept of Judaism. In all physical acts, we find a way to develop and express the inner spirituality inherent in that act, while still enjoying the physical act. The Torah therefore has Laws that pertain to all areas of life.

The Torah therefore says, "Know Him in all your behavior, and He will straighten your paths" (Proverbs 3:6). This is why we have Commandments in every aspect of our lives. In everything we do, we include the divine. The Commandments thereby lift up every act we do from the mundane to the holy. 

Therefore, we have standards for everything we do. We have standards for eating, we have standards for talking, we have standards for dressing, even about sleeping and going to the bathroom. These standards, these Laws, ensure that we bring G‑d into each and every action of our lives. Among the standards of clothing, you can find in the Torah such Laws as not mixing wool with linen, for men not to dress as women nor women as men and a few others.

There is even a Jewish way of Donning and Removing Clothes.

When putting on clothes, one should clothe the right side (i.e., arm or leg) before the left. When tying one’s shoes, however, one should tie the left shoe first. A left-handed person should reverse this order. One should be careful not to wear clothes inside out, as this can cause people to look at the wearer with disdain. Also, one should not put on two articles of clothing at once. When removing one’s clothes, one should remove the clothes from the left side (arm or leg) before the right. 

Shabbat Clothes

One should wear special clothes on Shabbat, in honor of the holy day.These clothes should be clean, and nicer than one’s weekday clothes. An additional reason for having clothes that are worn only on Shabbat is that the special clothes will remind the wearer to observe the special Shabbat laws. Some people are even careful to wear a special shirt, belt, hat, and tallit on Shabbat. The above dress code should be adhered to even if one will be spending Shabbat alone. 

While Praying

When praying, one should be dressed respectfully. For example, one may not pray while bare-chested, or barefoot. 

Are there “Jewish” Clothes 

There is an article of clothing made of four corners that is standard wear for Jewish men. By wearing this, we get to fulfill the Mitzvah of Tzitzis. Many people call this garment a pair of tzitzis, or more properly, a tallis katan (which means something like "small wrap-around garment."

Why women don't wear a Talit and Tzizit?

Women are not required to wear tzitzis, because it is required only on a garment that is worn during the day, and thus it is a time-dependent Mitzvah. Women are exempt from most time-dependent Positive Mitzvos. 

By way of brief explanation, women themselves are enveloping creatures; men are penetrating creatures, so to speak. Women have the capability of carrying and protecting an unborn child, which men cannot do. Women are in themselves a tallis, with the ability and requirement to surround the Jewish home and family with holiness.

The Midrash relates that one of the practices in the merit of which the Jews were redeemed from slavery in Egypt was the retention of their Jewish style of clothing.

For fashion fans, the Torah features a full detailed account of clothes worn by the Kohanim (priests) in the Holy Temple. Each garment was metaphysically designed for peak performance – from the gold plate across the forehead, down to the bells and pomegranates at the hem of the robe. (Don't ask about shoes; the Kohanim served barefoot!) An entire Torah Parsha dedicated to clothing?! 

Why do human beings need to wear clothes in the first place?!

We all remember the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden: They started out "naked and unashamed" (Genesis 2:25), but after eating from the Tree of Knowledge, "they became aware of their nakedness, and made themselves clothes" (Genesis 3:7).Why the shift? Before eating from the Tree, Adam and Eve saw each other first and foremost as souls. They knew the soul is the essence of a human being, with the body serving merely as a protective covering. Since Adam and Eve were focused on the spiritual side, they weren't self-conscious about their bodies. However, after eating from the Tree, their spiritual level dropped and "their eyes opened" to a focus on the body. The body had now become a distraction from the soul and it needed to be covered. Hence the concept of clothes was born. In this world typically relates to others as physical beings. In characterizing someone, we typically describe their physical appearance – e.g. he's the tall guy, or she's the one with curly brown hair.

Yet the most important aspect of a person is the spiritual dimension: talents, hopes, dreams and fears. And we struggle to make that voice be heard. How do we feel when we're seen only for the outward appearance? Cheap, demeaned, and dehumanized. Which is why the Torah is so strict about dignified dress. It is essential that we deflect attention from superficial appearance, to enable others to see us as the real person that we are. Judaism does not ask us to dress in a way that is ugly. Rather, we should not draw undo attention to the body by being flamboyant or provocative.

The Torah describes the purpose of the Kohen's clothes for "kavod and tifferet," meaning honor and glory (Exodus 28:2). The Torah is teaching that the type of clothes we wear speaks volumes about our honor and glory as human beings, created in the image of God.

This is not an issue of men or women. It is rather an issue of human dignity. The Talmud, for example, says that any Torah scholar who goes out in public with a stain on his clothes is subject to divine retribution. Judaism takes a strict stand because clothes don't just cover, they also reveal the inner self.

It is for this same reason that the Torah stipulates that when praying to God, we must be in a clean place and wearing nice clothes. It is true what they say: the clothes make the man. When we dress dignified, we are treated that way.

In other words, we need to feel good about ourselves… but that should not be what ultimately attracts others to us.

 On a deeper level, the Kabbalists metaphorically apply the concept of clothing to God Himself. The Talmud, in discussing the issue of why God is not more obviously manifest in the world, explains "that God wears the world like a garment." Just as a garment covers a person, so too the physical world conceals God. The Hebrew word for "world" (olam) comes from the same root as "hidden" (ne'elam).

But as a garment covers, so too it reveals – by making others look more deeply inside. God dons the garment of the physical universe, to encourage us to use our free will to seek and reveal Him. Just like you can only see the Invisible Man when he's wearing a shirt, so too God becomes revealed by the garment He dons. 

Let us end with the following thought. The word for clothing in Hebrew is beged- composed of the letters beth, gimel, and daleth. The Hebrew word for treason or betrayal is spelled with the identical letters.

These letters are also sequential; they are the 2nd, 3rd and 4th letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Clothes have a dual aspect. They are either a disguise worn by the traitor to help conceal his treachery, or they flow naturally out of the number one, and allow us to trace the wearer back to his true Source.