Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Garments We Wear

Rabbi Micha Golshevsky answering my question about wearing an atara:

If you want to change what your Rebbe said you need his ok.

I tend to have reservations about an atarah even on a Shabbos Talis because of this story:

Pesachim 111 brings tells that the demons taunted a mistaken Sage by singing, "He dresses like a chacham, but does not even know how to bless…!" We see from this anecdote, one among many in the Gemara, that the Sages could be identified by the unusual robes that they wore. Rav Tzaddok HaKohen zt"l explains that the special garments worn by the Sages were an outward manifestation of their inner state. Thoughts, words, and deeds that are sourced in the Torah itself are called the "garments of the nefesh, the soul," and since the Sages were completely immersed in the Torah, the quality of those "garments" was of a very exalted level. This was why their physical garments in this world were different than the common man's—they symbolized their inner state of attachment to Hashem and their dedication to His Word.

Once, one of the companions of the one who came to be known as "the Saraph" of Strelisk zt"l, dressed his friend in the kind of beautiful garment normally reserved for a Rebbe. Rav Uri of Strelisk was eventually called "the fiery angel" because he prayed with such ecstatic fervor.

Their master, Rebbe Shlomo of Karlin HY"D, sensed that this change of clothes was responsible for a deterioration in the quality of his disciple's prayers, and ordered that he change back to his usual clothing.

"This is another way to explain the statement of those 'jokers' in Pesachim 111b: Because he put on garments like the Sages normally wear, he lost his ability to say baruch properly!"

Usually, one wears an Atarah because it is their custom and they don't need to change to it or it the custom of most of those where he davens. The rule is - changing for no clear reason is dangerous.

However, as the Rashbam says in several places, there is an exception to every rule. Before I changed from my original Litvish dress to a long coat and round hat I was very slow to be certain that this change really and truly helps my personal avodas Hashem. If not why change? I am not saying there is no reason; merely that I would definitely not have changed.

I first put on a round hat and bekeshe for Shabbos (after quite a bit of heartfelt searching for around six months.) Over a year later I knew for sure that Chasidic dress helped my avodas Hashem so I put on a long jacket and round hat for every day. Around two years later I put on a streimel.

In my personal opinion, in order to change you need to be sure that this will help your avodas Hashem. In addition, if you asked someone great you need to explain and get his haskomah.

Rav Nosson explains that every good thing ties one to good paths of holiness and purity while every sin one does ties one to bad pathways as the Mishna says, "Each Mitzvah leads to another while every sin brings another in it's wake." Tzitzis strengthen the good ties of holiness and purity while at the same time breaking all the bad knots to impurity." We should feel different every time we put on our talis, let alone our tefilin which Rav Nosson explains fill one with holy vitality of living life to the fullest by making a completely new beginning every second of the day.

Hashem should help us yearn for the awesome levels of talis and tefilin which empower us to break the bad ties and strengthen the good and live life to the fullest!


At May 29, 2008 at 1:02:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Rabbi Dovid Sears said...

This is another example of the minhagim issue we have discussed in the past. If it is the minhag of your family or kehillah to wear a talis with an atarah, you should do so. If not, not. (For example, in Rav Kenig's kehillah this is not the common custom, so I don't.) None of this really makes much difference. The "simple Jew we aspire to be" has little to do with haberdashery. It has to do with our inner approach to life.

At May 29, 2008 at 1:49:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Rabbi Sears:
Very well put indeed. That is why I brought Rav Nosson at the end of my letter to ASJ.
I still maintain that every person, especially a Ba'al Teshuvah needs to find the correct balance for himself in what he does.
I brought the example of changing to chasidc clothes for a reason. Sometimes changing what we wear helps one to change inside. At other times this can harm one's avodas Hashem. I don't believe it matters why this is so. When this is truly so, then changing one's dress is an important element in one's avodas Hashem. I already wrote that the rule is not to change without a real reason.
On the other hand, "The clothes make the man."
Rav Nosson explains that we are prohibited to wear non Jewish apparel because how we dress shows what we identify with. Dressing in a non Jewish way shows one identify with non Jewish values. (The prohibition is in a case where there is a "Jewish dress" from which one deviates.)
Even though for mamy, there is no halachic obligation to dress a specific way,it seems to me that the same holds true for one who puts an atarah on his talis or changes his dress because he identifies with a certain Rebbe or group and this helps his avodas Hashem for whatever reason. This helps his avodas Hashem because he imagines himself going in the path of holiness and purity of the Rebbe or group. How we imagine ourselves clearly makes a big difference in our avodas Hashem.
One needs to be sure however, since such a change may very well harm his avodas Hashem through deep feelings of arrogance or other damaging character traits.
Rav Sholom Zalman Aurebach said that a ger should take on the customs of a particular eidah, community that he feels may sit well with him on condition that if he wishes to switch customs he may. He should "try on" each set of customs until he finds the correct set for him personally. Even though this is not the most essential part of Judaism (does it make such a difference what bana fide minhagim he takes on?) he needs to find the correct path for himself.
Although I definitely agree that for most "none of this makes much difference." What if its on someone's mind should he just ignore it? Perhaps.
But I think if its on his mind it may be a good topic for hisbodedus and deep considerations.
May be wrong of course as always.
Hashem should help us serve Him in truth by fulfilling His mitzvos with joy!

At May 29, 2008 at 3:10:00 PM EDT, Blogger yitz said...

I don't think I have anything to add to the deep wisdom of those who wrote this post, or commented here or on the previous Atara post.
I s'pose that ASJ may be interested in my own particular situation. Suffice it to say that I for many years had no interest in wearing a silver Atara, but then somewhat later, in the beginning of my fifth decade, I became somewhat interested. Perhaps it was when a peer/friend began to wear one.
In any case, it was not till a few years later, that my dear son bought me one, for a birthday present! How could I refuse? It was somewhat bigger [wider] than I wanted, so I exchanged it for a somewhat smaller one. I have worn it ever since.
BTW, the one I wear is actually sewn onto a separate piece of cloth, which is then clipped on to my tallis - so that in theory, ASJ, you wouldn't have to replace the original tallis your wife bought you. Something to consider!
It was somewhat later that I became more strongly connected to Modzitz Chassidus. There, many people wear Ataros, but not everyone, by any means. Most who do wear the typical "curly" Chassidic ones that appear in some of your pics you've posted here.

At May 29, 2008 at 11:26:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Yirmeyahu said...

"Rav Sholom Zalman Aurebach said that a ger should take on the customs of a particular eidah, community that he feels may sit well with him on condition that if he wishes to switch customs he may. He should "try on" each set of customs until he finds the correct set for him personally. Even though this is not the most essential part of Judaism (does it make such a difference what bana fide minhagim he takes on?) he needs to find the correct path for himself."

:) :)

This is a big Chizuk! Do you have, or can you find, a makor? My primary teacher was a talmid of R. Shlomo Zalman Aurbach zt'l, and being a ger attracted to Chassidus I love it!

At May 30, 2008 at 1:00:00 AM EDT, Blogger Neil Harris said...

Nicely stated. I, too, don't sport an atara (mostly b/c I found it too heavy to wear w/my head covered during davening).
R Micha's point about about how we dress affecting our Avodah is so true. I went through many months of debate b4 I chose to start wearing a hat on Shabbos.

At May 30, 2008 at 8:17:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Rabbi Ozer Bergman said...

Real temimus means being m'vatel your daas to the daas of your Rebbe, shlit"a.

At May 30, 2008 at 8:55:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Very true, Rabbi Bergman! Perhaps the silver geflucten atara is the antitode to my natural inclination to be self-effacing and self-doubting and teaches me to concentrate on all the sterling nekudos tovos. And as Akiva wrote, to remember that I am "only wearing it as a shaliach of the King".

At May 30, 2008 at 12:10:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

The source for the dibbur from Rav Shlomo Zalman zt"l is Chiko Mamsakim I:142. It is a newly released set that is wonderful--highly, highly recommended.
Gut Shabbos!

At June 1, 2008 at 5:33:00 AM EDT, Blogger yitz.. said...

i'm very confused.. from your initial posts on the subject, I had understood that you (ASJ) currently have a Talit with an atara that you have been wearing since you were married. And, that now you thought perhaps you shouldn't wear an atara?

(is this the case, or is it the reverse, which seems to be what people commenting have suggested, that you are considering adding an atara?)

At June 1, 2008 at 2:12:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

The tallis I wear now is a Chabad tallis that I got from my wife when we got married.

In order to follow the minhag the Sudilkover Rebbe told me about, I plan to buy a tallis with an atara, with Chabad tzitzis, but with non-Chabad pattern on the tallis itself.

At November 22, 2014 at 10:11:00 AM EST, Blogger Kirsten Dunst said...

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