Miriam, 32, mother of six, is a Breslover baalat teshuva (returnee to observant Judaism) and a follower of Rabbanit Bruria Keren. She wears 5 skirts, two capes, seven scarves, and a veil angled to cover one eye. She uses the other eye to see in front of her, because she is disgusted by the idea of using her children as guide dogs.
This is the fifth part of the translation/summary of the Hebrew Maariv article by Sherry Makover-Balikov where the journalist interviews Rabbanit Bruria Keren and her followers.
To view all posts on the subject, and see pictures, click the label hyper-tzniut.
- The Rabbanit thinks that blue is a modest color.
- When Miriam said that her husband would like it if she dressed like the R. Keren, the R. Keren encouraged her with a motion of her hands.
- Gradually a large group of Miriam’s friends began to come to the talks, and layering on more and more clothes. At first Miriam felt like a mountain.
- As she felt herself come closer to God, she began to cover her face.
- At one stage she had doubts, so the Rabbanit sent another student to fetch her. Miriam told the rabbanit that she felt like a “Fatima.” The Rabbanit said, “Why does it matter? There is your will, and there is God’s will. And God’s will is what counts, not yours.”
- The rabbanit told Miriam how in the beginning she was humiliated by policemen who “scattered her bags and stopped traffic” [presumably they suspected her of being a terrorist]. Ready to give up, she got home she opened a holy book to a page that read, “One rises in holiness and does not descend.”
- Miriam feels that her beauty could cause men to stumble, so it is more important for her to cover her face than for a woman with average looks.
- She suffers in the summer, but the Rabbanit has asthma so how can Miriam complain?
- The Rabbanit emphasizes that each of them is an example to others, and if they regress in their level of modesty, they will cause 300 other women to sin [i.e. those women will continue to dress as they do].
- Miriam’s husband objected at first, but with the rabbanit’s encouragement she got him to accept it. Or at least not oppose her.
- In Ramat Beit Shemesh, many women dress this way so Miriam does not get too many comments. When she feels guilty about leaving one eye uncovered, she comforts herself with the fact that one eye forces her to hurry to get where she is going, so she doesn’t stop. [I think she means that she attracts less notice.]
- She doesn’t talk to men, but she chastised a pair who made fun of her on a bus, asking them whether their wives’ wigs were better, and whether “pritzut” (licentiousness) was preferable. That shut the men up. [Or so Miriam claims.]
Next up: A rabbi’s point of view.