Thursday, August 09, 2007

Rebbe Nachman Of Breslov On Clothing

(Picture courtesy of

A Yid commenting on Imposing A Dress Code:

When questioned on this subject, Reb Elozer Kenig answered that a Chassidisher levush is a holy and important component of the Rebbe's derech. Some people from a more modern background who are attracted to Breslov may hesitate to change their style of dress. This hesitation should not be an obstacle. One need not wear a long black jacket to study the Rebbe’s teachings and follow his guidance in ‘avodas HaShem. However, even if one is not ready to make such external changes at present, one may aspire to wear a Chassidisher levush. In any case, one should respect the traditional Jewish manner of dress.

Here are some quotes from the Breslover minhogim project on this subject (reference to Chayey Moharan isn't done properly according to sections, and uses "through" numbering):


The Rebbe cautioned his followers not to wear unclean, torn, or shabby clothes. Rather, a G-d-fearing person should wear clean and respectable clothing, according to his ability.

(Chayei Moharan 201)


The Rebbe praised the Chassidim for preserving the traditional Jewish style of dress and appearance, and for keeping distant from chokhmos chitzoniyos.

(Chayei Moharan 421)


Reb Noson discusses the mystical meaning of the centuries-old Jewish custom to fasten one’s shirts and jackets so that the right side is on top of the left side. This indicates the dominance of midas ha-chesed over midas ha-din. Chassidim are particular to use such garments, as opposed to those worn in the secular world, which fasten left over right.

(See Likkutei Halakhos, Hilchos Hashkomas ha-Boker 1:10)


The Rebbe once remarked that there is a connection between the fact that Jews in Germany in his day already wore short jackets in the modern, western European manner, and that the Zohar was not commonly available there.

(Chayei Moharan 422)


The Rebbe delivered awesome mystical teachings about the beard and peyos. He also related the removal of the beard to assimilation and religious decline.

(E.g. see Likkutei Moharan I, 20; Chayei Moharan 51, 86; et al.)


Reb Noson expounds at length upon the mystical meaning of the beard and peyos, which he relates to the Patriarchs Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, and the right, left, and middle columns in the array of the sefiros. He points out that these are not only symbols, but also channels for spiritual illumination.

(Likkutei Halakhos, Gilu’ach 1, 3, et passim)


At August 10, 2007 at 12:23:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Satmar and some others an accepted form of dress during the week is a short jacket some 3/4 length and some like a regular suit jacket and on shabbos many of the bochurim also dress like this

At August 10, 2007 at 1:10:00 AM EDT, Blogger Neil Harris said...

I think one of the attractions to Breslov is that you don't have to be pinned down by what you wear (on your head), it's Breslov-Baser Lev!

At August 10, 2007 at 1:16:00 AM EDT, Anonymous A Yid said...

This wasn't uncommon in Hungary. For example look here:
(See frames at 04:25 min and on).

But this was not the case in Poland/Ukraine/Russia before the destruction of Yiddishkayt. In Poylin, Ukrain and Russia even bochurim were wearing long kapotes (when they started to go to cheyder, and not from bar mitzva).

In today chasic world, Hungarian style is dominating (Polish and Russian is lost). That's why today yong bochurim wear short jackets until bar mitzva. (However in in Hungary bochurim did wear hats or kasketlach from young age - today no).

At August 10, 2007 at 1:18:00 AM EDT, Anonymous A Yid said...

Neil Harris: Probably, but this a a stick with two ends. Because anarchy isn't good too, and Breslov essentially isn't an anarchist club.

At August 10, 2007 at 3:23:00 PM EDT, Blogger Adam said...

"The Rebbe praised the Chassidim for preserving the traditional Jewish style of dress and appearance"

I think this is true, but one has to keep in mind that "traditional Jewish style" is rather broad. I doubt that the sfardim the Rebbe encountered dressed as he did. It is clear from Shvihay HaRan that the Turks had a hard time recognizing him as a Jew since he looked different than the Jews they had seen. And it is even more clear that the Rebbe did not dress excatly like Rashi, Rambam, Moshe Rabbenu, or Avraham Avinu!

I think a hallmark of Jewish clothing is modesty, formality, simplicity, and uniqueness, in the sense that aspects of it are unique to Jews. Both the long coat of the Jerusalem Chossid and the dark suit, tie, and hat of the New York Kollel gent serve this purpose. Many of these areas are somewhat contextual. What is considered acceptable in Bat Ayin may not be considered good form in New Square.

Kosher clothing is like kosher food: There are certain guidelines that need to be followed carefully to make it kosher. But as long as these guidelines are met, one is free to make pizza, borscht, chow main, couse-couse, tacos, or Danishes as one pleases.

At August 11, 2007 at 8:19:00 PM EDT, Blogger Alice said...

Sweet picture.

At August 12, 2007 at 1:26:00 AM EDT, Anonymous A Yid said...

Adam: Not so simple. Concept of long clothes and their purpose is discussed in sforim elsewhere (al pi Chasidus). Therefore short jackets are still not out of some critique :)

At August 12, 2007 at 11:30:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what defines long? maybe it's a tznius issue and a "short" jacket is one that only comes to the waist while a "long" jacket is one that goes below the "mokom erva" as a regular suit jacket does

At August 12, 2007 at 6:56:00 PM EDT, Blogger Adam said...

Good question. A yid, what length is considered proper al pi Chassidus? And how does this length interplay with the a length considered proper al pi halacha? And what about al pi kabalah?

At August 12, 2007 at 11:12:00 PM EDT, Anonymous A Yid said...

Adam: there is some issue with covering one's thighs (which al pi Kabolo represent Netzach and Hoyd). They correspond to mystical perception, and there is some reason why they should be covered because of that. However this is Chasidic/Kabbalistic reason, rather than Halocho obligation of tznius.

At August 13, 2007 at 1:47:00 PM EDT, Blogger Adam said...

I take it you mean that the upper legs should be covered in such a way that they are not seen as seperate, similar to what a long shirt or kilt would do. Otherwise the upper legs are certainly covered even if one wears pants. And if it is simply a matter of a double covering, a kin to what we see in hats, one could simply make sure to wear long boxers under the pants.

In Breslov there is some variation on what the masora is for various reasons, and for those who hold this aspect of Breslov in high regard, it would be unfair to claim that this is an encouragement to anarchy. Not all things are always pased down from teacher to student, and it is well known that Gedalie Kenig did not follow all of Avraham Sternhartzs'costums. If Avraham Sternhartz had seen a need to impress the importance of a long coat on Tzvi Aryah Rosenfeld I am sure he would have done so.

At August 13, 2007 at 2:01:00 PM EDT, Anonymous A Yid said...

What I said, that there are anarchy trends - the most anarchistic example being Na-Nachs. It didn't come out of nowhere. Since the Rebe isn't in the physical world, there can be a yetzer horo to say - everyone is a "head" and can do what he wants.

Surely, talmid isn't a copy of the rebe. However issue of clothes is discussed by Rebe himself - so I don't understand simply within Breslov the logic of those who didn't use them (people who are in Breslov for long time I mean, and not newcomers who are just searching for whom they want to be). American short jacket/shaving was very common. I never heard it to be justified that it is a Breslover approach. It just happend - yes. But not as Breslov, rather as American "way".


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