THE PASSOVER QUESTIONS YOU NEVER THOUGHT TO ASK
I know it’s shallow to care so much about wearing designer labels, but I can’t help it. I think a lot about how the brand name on the tag shouldn’t make a difference and that all that should matter is the way the clothing looks and is constructed, but somehow I still feel different when I wear a top designer. Even if the outfit isn’t so sharp, I still get an extra kick of confidence from wearing a top designer. How can I lose this superficial and expensive habit?
Dear Miss Clothes Horse,
We read a few weeks ago about Gd’s command to the Jewish people to make special garments for the Kohen Gadol. Aharon, and his sons after him, were required to wear all of these ornate garments each time they ministered in the Holy Temple.
It appears that clothes do, indeed, make the man.
We also see that when a young woman gets married, she dresses up in an elaborate gown with lace and filigree and a 10-foot train following her to let everyone know that tonight - she is special.
There is no question that fine clothing transforms the way you feel and the way you act. Mesilat Yesharim confirms that the “exteriority bestirs the interiority.”
This concept began thousands of years ago when Hashem made kotnot ohr (tunics of animal skin) for Adam and Chava to show the superiority of man over the animals. We are the only living beings that wear clothing. Garments are not worn merely to warm and cover the wearer. They also demonstrate the dignity of man. (True you might see some French poodles wearing their expensive wool sweaters in cold weather, but that is usually to satisfy the owner, not the dog).
Covering your body properly, according to the rules of tsiniut, therefore, is the most fundamental way of using your outside to tell others who you are on the inside. Clothing makes the statement: “I am much more than what meets the eye. If you want to understand my mind, heart, and spirit, you’ll have to look deeper.”
As long as you realize that you are not your clothing, and that your essence is your holy soul that lies within you, which your clothing is intended to enhance and encourage, then there is probably nothing wrong with getting a thrill each time you wear “company” clothes. If you can afford it and it does not cause any shalom bayit issues, then go ahead and enjoy.
Your letter puzzled me. I read your question several times and I believe the answer lies within your own question. I will explain with a story.
A young rabbi once sent an email blast to the members of his congregation that read: If you want to be happy, be
The congregants wrote back: Rabbi, I only received half of your email, please resend.
He replied: What you received was the whole message.
And so I advise you, using your own words, ask yourself:
If you want to stop this shallow, superficial, expensive habit, stop