What Is The Virtue of Modesty?

There’s a lot of confusion out there about the rules of modesty, particularly with regards to the Orthodox Jewish community. There is a notion out there that the purpose of modesty rules is to stop men from being tempted to sin by the sight of a woman. This is not the case. Modesty rules can’t stop sin.

Modesty isn’t there prevent something from happening. Modesty is not the means to an end, it is a good thing on it’s own.

Human being have a special ability that even angels do not possess. That superpower is intimacy. We can be intimate because we have parts of ourselves which are intimate. There is a part of ourselves that is just for us. It is vulnerable. It is deep. It is private.

This part of ourselves is extremely delicate and must be handled with the most extreme care.

It is well known that human sexuality and violence are closely related. It is because to enter somebody else’s intimate space is violence. To invade that part of somebody that is private and only for themselves is the ultimate violation.

The only way to enter somebody’s intimate space without being destructive is to do so knowing that it’s not your place. You are entering a place where you have zero rights, you shouldn’t be there. The only reason you are there is because you were invited, but you don’t belong there.

With this attitude we enjoy the greatest pleasure on heaven or earth: the pleasure of being intimate with another person.

But if somebody goes into another’s intimate space with a feeling of familiarity, like they have some right to be there, like they have some ownership of another’s private space, it destroys intimacy.

This is why we have modesty. It is to protect our intimate space. In a world where sexuality is degraded as just another form of pleasure, where sex is considered natural and “no big deal,” we need modesty more than ever.  We need modesty because we are being encouraged to be familiar with each other’s intimacy, and intimacy and familiarity cannot coexist.

It short, modesty rules aren’t about what might happen, they are there because of what might not happen. If we lose intimacy, it is a colossal tragedy.

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