Friday, April 24, 2009

Vaad Tznius

To see these poster more clearly and learn about tznius laws in the Torah, go here:

The news media will have you believe that the Muslim world is the only place where religious police (muttawa) roam the streets looking for sin. And lately, we have been seeing a lot of news pieces about men in Afghanistan throwing acid in the faces of women and girls.

The media suggests that this type of religious fanaticism is exclusive to Islam.

But do you know that there is an equivalent to the muttawa in the Jewish world?

They are called "vaad tznius" or the "modesty patrol."

They are mainly active in the ultra-orthodox areas of Jerusalem. However, if you follow the link to the poster above, you will be shocked to learn that the poster is part of a tznius campaign in New York City Jewish neighborhoods. Will we be seeing "modesty patrols" in New York City?

Notice how similar the Hebrew word "tznius" is to the Arabic word "zinna."

Tznius are the Jewish religious laws that govern the dress of women, and the conduct between the sexes.

Enforcement of the tznius laws go in this order:

1. father

2. community rabbi (if no father)

3. husband

4. community rabbi (for divorced and widowed women)

The rabbi can elect another man or a group of men to enforce tznius if he chooses.

Any father or husband who fails to enforce tznius laws is accused of permitting his women to be promiscuous, or encouraging them to commit adultry.

The "modesty patrol" has been known to attack both Jewish women and Jewish female children for being "off the derech," meaning off the path of the religious way of living. This is similar what Muslims call being "off the deen."

The tznius patrol has been accused of throwing acid on a teenage girl in Jerusalem. One Jewish woman was beaten by the tznius patrol for refusing to sit in the back seat of a bus.

Worse yet, even Jewish women have gotten into the act although they technically are not responsible for enforcing tznius laws. One woman reports walking out of a store in Israel wearing a dress she had just purchased. Another Jewish woman approached her and threw paint on her dress.

In the Spring 2009 issue of Lilith magazine, one woman describes her encounter with the "modesty patrol."

"When Michal, 28, opened her apartment door one Saturday night in June, she was expecting to find a client for her hair design business. Instead the Israeli divorcee, who left the Orthodox fold some three years earlier, found several ultra-Orthodox Jewish men. They threw her on the floor, gagged her, kicked her all over her body and questioned her relations with men, according to official accounts. After they beat her for at least 10 minutes, they warned her that this was 'just the beginning' and that if she continued to live there she would be killed."

Charges were filed in the attack, but Michal is still trying to deal with her ordeal according to the Lilith article:

"If I was doing something that was not OK, God has enough ways to punish me. They don't have to take the law into their own hands. Who made himself God's policeman? Who has God given the right to come and beat someone in His name?"


Jamaican Hijabi said...

Assalamu alaikum Sis, I didnt know that Jews had those laws, thats pretty interesting, we are not the only ones who have rules for modesty. And those men beating that woman just goes to show there are fanatics in every religion and the media always paints a picture of Islam being the only religion with fanatics

Salam said...

The Saudi society and others are too concerned with the outward and not the inward. What is the usefullness if a woman wears hijab or a man grows his beard but fornicates or drinks alcohol or back bites.

Irving said...

Male arrogance and self-righteousness knows no religion, and is a crime and sin no matter what the perpetrators call themselves. It is a way of controlling women, making them subject to male laws that essentially make them and their bodies property of the husband and the community. It is archaic and stupid and all who beat women for whatever phony reason should be punished by the law.

Ya Haqq!

Ya Haqq!

Quratul Ayn said...

Masha'Allah Sis, an enlightening post! I live in an ultra-orthadox/ orthadox Jewish area and always wondered why so many things seem similar in both our faiths - especially the concept of modest dress! Subhan'Allah I didn't think they would have 'muttawwa' in England though!

al-Ghariba said...


Unknown said...

What is wrong with some people? Do they not get it? It seems to me there are a lot of people who are willing to condemn others but ignore their own faults. The first place to begin improving this world is in the mirror.

Anonymous said...

all religions and people who arent religious find excuses to harm others. shame, isnt it? there are great jews in the world, great muslims, great christians, etc. i believe everyone is great at heart