Nudity and Chastity
Why does Christianity and Judaism prescribe women not to reveal their bodies before people? Maybe there is something shameful or demonic in a woman’s body? Of course not! Well then, if men are unable to control their attraction, then it’s their problems, not the women’s. Why do women need to hide themselves? Is it only because it leads others into temptation?!
These types of questions are often asked. Maybe you also believe that clothing needs to be modest only in order to avoid temptation? In fact, in the biblical manner of dressing modestly, the decisive factor is not how other people look at women, but mostly the way women look at themselves. To cover something doesn’t always mean that it is shameful. I will give some examples of religious practice. Do you know how Jews treat the Torah scroll? They never leave it laying open. It is covered with a cloth. The Torah is kept in a synagogue, in a cabinet, behind a curtain, covered in a mantle and strapped with a sash. It is taken out only when it is used for holy purposes, only then, when it will be read during the prayer service. During this special time, the curtain is carefully moved, the doors of the cabinet are opened, the Torah is taken out, uncovered and unwrapped. As soon as the reading is over it is immediately covered again and taken away.
Why do they do this? Why so much hassle to cover the Torah? Maybe they are ashamed of it? Or there is something in it that needs to be hidden? Of course not! But exactly the opposite. The Torah – is the most holy for them, it is so holy, special and valued – that Jews never leave it out on display if there is no need for it. They leave it covered because they don’t want to treat it disrespectfully. They don’t want to be so careless with it. If the Torah would be open and viewed all the time then it would become too familiar and its holiness would be brought to a minimum. Keeping it away from view and taking it out only in needed situations, they uphold the respect and esteem for it.
The same is with our bodies. The body is a holy creation of God. It is a holy house for the soul. We show our respect to our bodies when we keep it covered, clothed. Not because it’s shameful and disgraceful, but namely because it is wonderful and valued.
This is true also in relation to men’s body. And these laws apply for men also, but for the woman it applies even more. The women’s body has beauty and power that exceeds men’s bodies. That is why her body needs to be carefully covered from outside, curious and lustful eyes. We don’t need proof of the truth of this wisdom in the world where the body of women is downgraded to a cheap bait advertisement. There, where everything is on display, nothing is holy.
How Jews read the Torah, is how a woman can also be “read” but only by those who treat her with care. What is truly valuable to us, we keep covered because we cherish it.