Mother’s Prayer

By Anonymous

This story is just so perverse
I thought it best to say in verse.
I’ve got a daughter, aged 23
Already grown up, you say to me.

I raised her right at least I tried.
Sent her to Bais Yaacov to bring me pride.
But the long blue skirt she threw away
And guess what she wears today?

A skirt so short
That I’m not proud
To show all that skin is not allowed!
But when I say her skirt’s too short
She says I don’t provide enough emotioal support.

She says it’s her right to show her knee
And that I love her conditionally
Perhaps my mother’s love has a flaw
But it’s Hashem’s who made the law

And when she flouts it I’m in pain
But she can’t hear me so I won’t say it again
Hashem I’m giving her over to you
Please make her value tznius , dress as a loyal Jew

Let her outsides reflect her inner glow
And let her sweet neshomo continue to grow

Originally Published 12/6/2011

59 comments on “Mother’s Prayer

  1. Judy,
    Even “OTD” I don’t show my skin. I have more pride in myself than that.
    I still however, am OTD. Years of emotional abuse will do that. I know that god loves me. I also know that my family does not.

  2. Love yourself! Come back not because of your family. Come back because G-d loves you. Unconditionally.

    The laws G-d gave us to observe are actually good for us. You’ll notice that women who are valued for their brains and ability (judges, doctors, politicians, bankers, CEOs) dress with Tzenius. They don’t have to show off skin, they’re not at the beach, they’re powerful capable women and not lust objects. We don’t have to be leered at by strange men.

    Shabbat, Kashrut, Niddah : these laws protect us women from all kinds of illnesses and psychosocial problems.

    Observe because YOU love YOU – not for anyone else.

  3. Bas Yisroel,

    I wish you were my mother, because I went OTD, and my family disowned me. 3 hours and 47 minutes after yom kippur, I received an email from them telling me that it was time to repent or I was going to go to hell, which only made me say “hypocritical much?”. Mind you, I’m almost 40 years old.

    By the way, your child, whomever they may be, is a very very lucky person, with loving parents, and had I been shown that level of unconditional love, perhaps I would have considered “coming back.” As it is, there isn’t a snowball’s chance in you know where, that this is going to happen.

  4. In the old days, the wicked son would at least show up at the seder! We’ve “progressed” since. In his case, anyway, the instruction is to blunt his teeth; I guess that falls under tough love.

  5. It’s been said a hundred times before by people with professional credentials, but I would add as a parent that it is essential to have COMMUNICATION and RESPECT. Trite but true.

    COMMUNICATION and RESPECT, hopefully starting from a very young age, and not beginning the effort to establish rapport only when confronted with a bratty, defiant youngster or a rebellious, sarcastic teenager.

    Of course, kids push our buttons in many different and unpleasant ways, starting with the colicky baby screaming all night long and continuing through the public meltdowns and loud tantrums of the terrible twos, when the only COMMUNICATION and RESPECT we can think of is a hard potch right on the tuches.

    Nevertheless, at some points, COMMUNICATION and RESPECT can actually shine through, such as on a hot summer day when parent and child are each happily licking away at a double-dip ice cream cone, or at the Seder table when all of the kids whip out their Haggada sheets and chime along on the Mah Nishtanah. (Why is this night different from all other nights? Parents and children are actually talking to each other).

  6. Tesyaa, from my perspective there’s never a simple answer. Every issue has tremendous depth, nuance and complexity.

    However, discussing the concepts involved helps one understand things better and therefore it’s useful to talk about parenting, disappointment, love, paths in Judaism and minimal halachic observance and all the other things we discuss here.

  7. I’ll add that some of my peers have talked to me about problems with their teenagers (such as a boy who wanted to talk to girls), not knowing what to do – they had all heard stories about parents who cracked down on their children whose children became less observant, as well as about parents who cracked down on children whose children stayed on a high level of observance.

    Parenting is hard – or would I sound frummer if I said “tzaar gidul banim is a mechaper”? :)

  8. To be fair, I forgot several more scenarios:

    7) The parent’s disappointment will continue, but will motivate him to be a better Jew, to do kiruv, etc.

    8) The parent’s disappointment will have an impact on younger children, who will see the disappointment and be more observant than their sibling

    9) The parent’s acceptance will enable the younger children to see them as tolerant and loving, ultimately enhancing their view of the parent and bringing the younger ones closer to Torah.

    Yes, these are getting silly. My point is that there’s no simple answer.

  9. would you suggest that the parent widen their path to include minimal observance as an accepted practice for their child, to avoid disappointment?

    Depends on the situation. Here are some scenarios:

    1) The parent’s disappointment will lead them to take steps that will ultimately bring the child closer to Torah

    2) The parent’s disappointment will lead them to take steps (maybe the same steps as in (1)) that will ultimately drive the child further from Torah

    3) The parent’s disappointment will not change the child’s behavior, but will continue to eat away at the parent, leaving him or her in a position where it’s impossible to be happy (if I say “b’simcha” instead of happy, will it change how this scenario is interpreted?)

    4) The parent’s lack of disappointment (apparent acceptance of minimal observance) will bring the child closer to Torah

    5) The parent’s lack of disappointment (apparent acceptance) will encourage the child to be even less observant

    6) The parent’s lack of disappointment will not change the child’s behavior, but will leave the parent in a state where he or she can function emotionally, and not degrade his or her ability to grow in Torah

    Maybe someone else could state these better. The point is that each family situation is unique, and a parent has to weigh his or her own actions and try to anticipate how the child will react. It’s very difficult for the people involved, but almost impossible for an outsider to make a blanket statement like “acceptance of minimal observance is bad”.

    Of course, since I’m answering Mark’s question, I write this with the assumption that the ultimate goal is the child’s observance level being higher than minimal. For this analysis I am not considering any other goals that some people (like me) would consider worthy, such happy and loving family relationships, etc.

  10. I didn’t write the poem, but I share the author’s sense of sadness, as I also have one adult daughter who is just “not into” Hilchos Tznius. Although I love this daughter unconditionally, I feel sad that she does not appreciate the beauty of dressing like a CEO rather than an as an object of gratification. It is no coincidence that the “power suit” worn by professional women includes a high neckline, long sleeves and hemlines covering the knees, as it seeks to concentrate attention on a woman’s intellectual abilities rather than on her figure.

    As for a child following a higher halachic standard, my youngest son (the 21-year-old yeshiva bochur) has decided to follow the hilchos of Yoshon / Chodesh. I respect him totally, although I was somewhat disappointed when he wouldn’t eat my home-baked chocolate chip cookies. I couldn’t prove to him that the flour I had used, which did have an O-U on the bag, was either “winter wheat” or “Kemach Yoshon.” (I believe that true Yoshon followers have to read guides each year for the product codes and cutoff dates on flour and pasta and other products which use “spring wheat”). Of course I love this son and I will now do my best to buy products which are “Kemach Yoshon.” Luckily this is only a problem half the year, from Sukkos to Pesach. I already know that this son is “makpid” (strict) on Cholov Yisroel and on Pas Yisroel, so I am careful to buy cream cheese and milk and bread that meet his approval whenever he comes home from Yeshiva. Sort of turning the tables on this BT mom (myself) who did the same thing to her own parents thirty-six years ago.

  11. I think my children are great despite my parenting skills. :)

    Your question kind of brings us full circle back to the poem. The mother appears disappointed at what she perceives as her child going to a “minimum standard” in skirt length.

    Your question doesn’t have to be exclusive. I can both imagine a parent being disappointed AND would suggest that they both broaden their outlook and make sure they are looking at the totality of the person in order to minimize the feeling of disappointment and maintain a solid relationship with their adult child going forward.

  12. Menachem, it’s great that you’re not disappointed in your children and yasher koach to you for your parenting skills.

    What if a child went to a minimal halachic standard from a higher standard. Can you imagine a parent being disappointed, or would you suggest that the parent widen their path to include minimal observance as an accepted practice for their child, to avoid disappointment?

  13. I hope I didn’t imply, btw, that I’m in any way disappointed with my kids. Each of them continue to make me proud in their own, yet unique, way. (Some of them read this blog. :)

  14. Mark,

    “normally halachic” is a really loaded phrase and I’m not touching it with a ten foot pole right now! :)

    We are all human and Jewish parents to top it off. The chances of being “disappointed” are great. It’s genetic. I’m just suggesting ways, based on the experience of having 3 adult children, of minimizing the feeling of disappointment.

  15. Menachem, sorry you did say within an Orthodox world, the ambiguity of “remain true to our heritage” phrase threw me off.

    Do you think there is room for disappointment and unconditional love to co-exist?
    Do you think disappoint would be an appropriate reaction if someone was raised normally halachic and then moved to minimal halachic observance?

  16. Mark,

    I clearly said,”within our orthodox world”, which would exclude from this discussion people who orthodoxy considers “not observant”. Nor was I specifically talking about “minimal” observance.

    What I was saying could just as easily apply to a parent who raised his child in a philosophy of Torah Im Derech Eretz who then decided to sit and learn for 30 years. The same advice of seeing the big picture could help minimize that parent’s disappointment.

  17. Menachem, I’m not exactly sure what “Remain true to our heritage” means, but I think there are people who are not observant who make that claim. I’ll assume you meant halachically observant.

    Minimal halachic observance might be the right place for some people at some point in their lives, but I don’t think it’s a good place to settle. For someone who was brought up keeping the normative halacha (no chumras), I think it would be acceptable to internally disapprove of a move to minimal halachic observance. How (or if) you would express that disapproval is a different question.

    I also think it’s important to distinguish between disappointment and unconditional love. In life, people will disappoint us, but we can still love them, care for them and support them with all our heart and soul.

  18. There’s a difference, at 23, between caring what your parents have to say and walking lock-step with them. There’s no indication in the poem that the daughter doesn’t care what the mother has to say, only that she doesn’t agree with her. (That, btw Gary, is why the halachic discussion of skirt length is material.:)

    We all put a lot of energy into raising our kids and trying to inculcate them with our values. However, kids grow into adults with actual minds of their own and they may, very intentionally, choose to vary from what their parents consider to be the “straight and narrow”. The straighter and narrower path you expect for your kids, the greater chance that you’ll be “disappointed”. Those parents who are able to take a step back and look at the big picture and see that within our orthodox world there are many ways our children can go and still remain true to our heritage, the greater chance that they won’t suffer emotional torment if their children don’t tow the proverbial line.

    The narrower we make the “derech”, the greater chance there is of “falling off”.

  19. Ron, in #39 I was addressing the woman’s sadness as a feeling that I do not question. I was questioning her objection as a suitable action in response to her daughter’s mode of dress.

  20. I think this as good a place to ask ourselves whether the mother is “getting herself all bent out of shape” over what may or may not be an halachic problem — which to a lot of people matters a lot — as it is to declare that “I think that at the age of 23 such objections are neither appropriate nor likely to achieve the desired outcome.” (This is “not questioning her feelings”?)

    I certainly cared what my parents had to say when I was 23. I hope my children will, too. I hope that, unlike the author of this poem, I am not disappointed on that score.

    But I also know that some of what my parents told me when I was 23, and which I may not have had all that much use for, became more compelling to me later on. Perhaps when she is 25, or 30, or raising children of her own, the daughter here will reflect on what her mother expressed to her at that time.

  21. I don’t think that this is the place for us to discuss halachic/Jewish law views on skirt length. The themes that I think are most relevant are:
    1. A mother’s sadness that her daughter did not follow a family tradition.
    2. The suitability of asking Hashem to “make” somebody value something.
    3. The appropriate response when our efforts are not successful (Hashem’s answer to our prayers is sometimes no).

    1. I claim no right to question her feelings.
    2. I would pray for success in transmitting the value, not for someone else to accept the value.
    3. I believe that the writer expresses recognition of her daughter’s intrinsic value as a person while objecting to the daughter’s style of dress. I think that at the age of 23 such objections are neither appropriatea nor likely to achieve the desired outcome.

  22. That’s a good point — once something is meant to rhyme, I guess it does get hard to kind of pin down exact factual premises!

    Menachem, thank you for providing that answer citing the respected modern orthodox posek, R’ Yehuda Henkin, who is known as an activist in the area of women’s roles in orthodox Judaism. He seems to be unique in this ruling and many others, but to those who rely on him what can one say? Presumably the author of this poem is not one of them.

    I see a related post, in terms of the tzenius issue, on this blog here, by the way.

    Menachem I see the “positives” referred to and I appreciate your quoting them. They suggest if anything that the mother does indeed love her daughter very much.

  23. Bas Yisroel:
    Kol Hakavod. May I ask, now that your daughter is in the “shidduch parsha” what is your perspective on dating? Do you feel you should intervene to try to circumvent inter-dating? Do you thinkg there is any potential for frum parents in this situation to help one another to make sure their kids marry Jewish?

  24. I was pretty clear in my first comment that there is uncertantly in this poem. Like Mark said, it’s a poem. Poems, by their very nature, cry out for interpretation.

    As to Ron’s assertion, “Except that there is nothing in this poem to indicate what those “positives” may be.” I would respond with the last two lines of the poem:

    “Let her outsides reflect her inner glow
    And let her sweet neshomo continue to grow”

    As to the accusation by the daughter of “conditional love” it could be the daughter lashing out at a mother who is overbearing on this particular issue or it could be a sign of something much worse. (Showing that even Ron is playing the interpretation “exercise”.)

    As I mentioned above, R. Yehuda Henken holds that the minimum for skirt length is a tefach above the knee. The Mishna Brurah also says עד השוק which he then parenthetically says is the “קניא”.

  25. “Sent her to Bais Yaacov to bring me pride”

    I think it’s important to realize that she’s not a kid anymore, and at age 23, her decisions are about her, not you. You can’t dictate to her what to do anymore so that it brings you “pride.”

  26. Ron, perhaps there’s a difference between poetry and legal briefs in that poetry calls out for interpretation based on less information. The insights written can be helpful even if the particular writer does not necessarily have all the characteristics attributed to her based on what was written in the poem.

  27. The problem with attempting to scrutinize this in detail is that because it is written to rhyme we don’t really know precisely what the issues are other than to recognize a level of discomfort with the daughter’s behavior. If you think otherwise, then what about the first line where she describes something as being “perverse”. Huh? It’s a poem and that’s all. Unless the author admits to really thinking it’s perverse, in which case there are really serious issues, then just read it as an expression of pain and stop with the overanalysis.

  28. Actually the young woman’s response is “she says it’s right to show her knee,” but that may or may not encompass the full extent of the poet’s description “so short that I’m not proud … to show so much skin is not allowed.”

    But let’s say you’re right, Menachem, and let’s also accept your premise that wearing a skirt above the knee is not “an objective indication that ‘she’s off the track.'” While I may not agree with the second proposition, in any case I would agree that you’re also right that the mother should focus, generally speaking, “on the positives.”

    Except that there is nothing in this poem to indicate what those “positives” may be. It’s nice that we want to read them into this, but I don’t see any. In fact, I see an accusation by the daughter of “conditional love” which does not seem, as I wrote earlier, justified by anything found in the poem. That suggests something less than an ideal positive basis on which this discussion might take place.

    So this has become like a modern-day literary interpretation class! We read into the poem what we want to. The assumptions set out here include “she loves her daughter conditionally”; “she is living vicariously through her daughter”; “the skirt is only [sic] just showing the knee”; “there are positive aspects of the relationship that the mother is ignoring”; and “the mother is acting at least in part out of social pressure” — none of which are based on or, I would argue, are reasonably deduced from, the text!

    Pretty interesting exercise.

    I would like to know, Menachem, which rabbonim say that it might be ok to wear a skirt above the knee?

  29. From Bob:

    “According to some, the mother’s poem should have been:

    She’s off the track
    What, me worry?”

    The only information in the poem regarding this women’s (not girl’s) frumkeit is that her knee is showing when she wears a skirt. There’s no objective indication that “she’s off the track”. The mother’s expressed anguish seems to revolve solely around this issue and that the daughter doesn’t “value tzinius” in the way the mother would like.

    Either the mother is reacting to a single issue, which she may not even realize may very well be within “Hashem’s law” or this is a symptom of a larger problem. I don’t think anyone is saying the mother should be flip about what she perceives as a deviation from the way she raised her daughter, but given the limited amount of information in the poem, it’s very reasonable to advise the mother to re-focus on the positives.

  30. Bob,

    You’re probably right (which explains why I’m the only one who commented about the line).

    As I have read and heard in person for those involved with in-risk and at-risk kids/adults…often people see observant Judaism as an “all or nothing” deal.

    The mother who wrote this poem has a double challenge in dealing with her daughter and those outside her family that she is close with.

    I am often told by my wife that I need to pick my battles with my kids. Currently (well, since after YM) it’s been my son’s every bushy uncut hair. However, his hair isn’t a halachic issue. Plus, he has yet to use the “My hair isn’t as crazy as your was when you were in high school” card. LOL

  31. Neil (11:40),

    The wording might be misleading. Possibly, her own pride was the end result of, and not the main reason for, the choice of school.

  32. Someone commented that this was a “cute” poem. Frankly, I found that comment to be a little disturbing. What was cute about it? A mother was expressing her pain.

    BTW–I come to this site often and recognize many of your names. Thank you for giving me the religious education that I never got while growing up in my mostly secular Jewish home.

  33. I think part of the reason this post struck a negative chord with some readers is that the focus is on an externally visible and “measurable” –though not in any way unimportant– behavior of the daughter.

    I wonder what the reaction would have been to a poem that said “my daughter covers every inch of herself as required by her community’s accepted position and halacha as well as its communal norms, but every time we talk she seems to put someone down.” Or any number of other things that a child could be doing that would worry a sensitive religious parent, but which don’t relate to the “uniform” that identifies someone as “one of us.” Again, this is not meant in any way to deny the significance of the issue actually raised.

  34. With respect to the author, one line sticks out:
    Sent her to Bais Yaacov to bring me pride

    As a parent of a child who will be entering high school in a 3 years (which seems like TOMORROW) I have spoken with rabbeim I am close with about school options and the overwhelming theme is to pick a place for my son and not for me. I have seen parents try to live a frum live vicariously through their children and it rarely turns out well.

    We know people (frum professional women) who shomer kashurus, shomer Shabbos, shomer negiah, but do not dress “according to Orthodox tradition”. Would I want that for my daughters, no. But it beats the alternative…

  35. According to some, the mother’s poem should have been:

    She’s off the track
    What, me worry?

  36. I thought a long time about this issue, as I see several “young ladies” who are doing the same thing as the author’s daughter. I think, just simply, we must realize that everyone has a yetzer hara, and in today’s culture, there is immense pressure on young women to look good and cool and attractive and stylish. It is very tempting for someone with a sense of style and who is attractive, to wear shorter skirts. This doesn’t mean these girls are OTD or even approaching OTD. It means they are imperfect beings and they have succumbed to a strong yetzer hara.

    These young people are on their own journeys in life. They are not highly mature yet, even though they are adults. As they age they will (hopefully) progress in their own avodas Hashem, just like we (older adults) did. The author’s daughter has a Bais Yaakov education, and I am sure the lessons learned there are deep within her, and she will call on them when the time is ripe.

    I need to remind myself sometimes of what I was like when I was 25.

    People are just not perfect.

  37. Ron Coleman said:

    …it’s a common rhetorical device to defame “right wingers” (or anyone who posits firm positions on moral issues) as “haters”…

    Ron Coleman’s point is true, relevant, and important to know.

    I wish that Ron Coleman would join my web site for quick Torah quotes:

  38. What I said I found not believable was not the proposition that sometimes we will judge someone’s religious commitment by how they dress; that is true and it is also often very reasonable. Nor that some people will base their opinion solely on how a person dresses; that is also believable, if in some cases stupid — and certainly irrelevant to this post.

    What I don’t believe is this:

    This woman believed that wearing a black hat was a higher priority than: Shabbat, kashruth, tzitzit, Shmirat HaLashon, honoring parents, Torah study, etc.

    If she did believe that, she is simply not mentally competent, and certainly her views are of absolutely no relevance to this post.

    Steve, I am not sure why writing a poem about her pain requires “balancing” of any kind or why we are in a position to tell this mother that SHE is the one who has to do a cheshbon hanefesh [spiritual accounting]. She wants her child — by the way, I don’t see an adolescent being described here; we “sent her to Bais Yaakov” — that was then, not now — to be a good Jew and to act in a God-fearing manner. The author of this poem should have to do a Cheshbon Hanefesh if she did not feel this pain.

    I don’t know why this idea of unconditional love has been mentioned here time and again. It is, in my opinion, a complete red herring.

    I am bristling at this, and it’s not you, Steve, you’re just the last one to have repeated this point, because it’s a common rhetorical device to defame “right wingers” (or anyone who posits firm positions on moral issues) as “haters” — i.e., non-lovers. For example, if you are not in favor of civil rights to protect homosexual conduct, you are said to be a person who “hates gays,” even though there is no necessary link whatsoever between the two.

    To the contrary: It is a fundamental tenet of our faith that what is “best” for a Jew is determined by what is prescribed in the Torah, and that is what we all want for those we love. The author of this post not only displays no chance of failing to love her daughter if she doesn’t do the right thing, she demonstrates precisely the obvious — that she wants the best for her daughter, whom she loves, as we all do for our children.

  39. Parents IMO have to realize to some degree that adolescence is a stage of life where rebellion, whether temporary or permanent, may very well happen, no matter where they live, and send their kids to school. IMO, preaching about a child’s deficiencies or even writing a poem about the same have to be balanced by some serious Cheshbon HaNefesh by a parent and a lot of patience that an adolesecent will make the right decisions and that you will always love your child, regardless of their choices in life.

  40. I was kind of kidding about the Burqa, right now most Rabbis are saying that it is Chukas Akum but I believe that will change with time. However, in some of the more extreme strongholds such as Mea Shaarim, RBS B, etc. it is becoming common for women to dress in primarily black and wear capes/shawls.

    As to the other end of the spectrum, R. Yehuda Henkin holds the minimum as a tefach above the knee, also the elbow.

  41. Menachem,

    What recognized Torah authorities say that either of your outer limits above (i.e., burqa and above knee) complies in all respects with objective halacha? Maybe the burqa is chukas akum!

  42. I would say, rather, that there are some modes of dress that our outside of halachic parameters. Some communities are more, some less, judgmental regarding these parameters. So even dress that is outside of those parameters would not necessarily be out of line for some communities.

    That said, the range within halachic parameters is wide; from our own burqa babes to dress that our mom above may not consider tznious, but which actually might be. (There are opinions that showing the knee is ok.)

  43. Menachem,

    Would you accept that there are SOME modes of dress that are out of line in ANY Orthodox community? This goes well beyond group style preferences or prejudices or obsessions; it’s a matter of Torah observance.

  44. “I don’t know anyone who believes that.” “I don’t believe you do either.”

    During the confrontations we had here in Bet Shemesh for a couple of months at the beginning of the school year, extremists were terrorizing little girls because they wore socks instead of tights.

    My daughter, a married woman who covers her hair and dresses modestly, confronted a group of the extremist women. They basically told her that they consider her to be a “Chiloni” (non-religious secular woman).

    I had a similar exchange with one of the men. He told me flat out that he doesn’t consider me to be frum. I held up my tzitzit, my kippa, told him I’m Shomer Shabbat and Kashrut and learn regularly: no matter.

    Because our “levush” (mode of dress) doesn’t match theirs, we are not considered to be Torah Jews.

    Obviously this on the extreme end, but I also know of parents who are so tied up in their kids’ “look” that any change is considered to be a religious disaster.

    Is it common? I really don’t think so.
    Believable? Totally.

  45. I once spoke with a SJF who told me that: “Wearing a yarmulke is the most important mitzvah in the Torah; that is the main difference between Jews who are religious and those who are not.”

    I was not in the mood to argue, so I did not bother telling her that wearing a yarmulke is not one of the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

  46. Even if you give your children a flawless Torah education, they still have free will to choose between good and evil.

    Yitzchak and David had children who chose evil, even though their fathers were great in righteousness.

    When one child abandons the path of Torah, that should help us appreciate the greatness of the children who remain loyal to Torah.

    And most Orthodox children who rebel as teenagers eventually come back.

  47. There are people out there who totally judge the “piety scale” by chitzonius (externality), but that’s mostly due to lack of exposure to other people.

    This poem hits home, because for those who have kids, there’s always that “what if my children go OTD” feeling.

    Sometimes, all you can do is daven and just let the other know they are loved.

  48. My daughter is 24. She wears tank tops and jeans. She eats on Yom Kippur. But she is mine. My daughter. and I love her.

  49. I am tired of Jews using external appearances to measure each other’s “level.”

    I once knew an observant woman, whose son abandoned Judaism, including: Shabbat, kashruth, tzitzit, Shmirat HaLashon, honoring parents, Torah study, etc.

    She shocked me when she revealed to me her belief that her son’s biggest problem was that he no longer wore a black had. She literally prayed that her son would start wearing a black hat again. This woman believed that wearing a black hat was a higher priority than: Shabbat, kashruth, tzitzit, Shmirat HaLashon, honoring parents, Torah study, etc. In other words, this woman believed [and still believes] that external appearances are the most important part of being Frum.

    She often says things like:
    “That man is VERY religious; he wears a streimel and has a long beard.”

    REALITY CHECK please!! Is that the true definition of being “VERY religious”? Wearing a streimel and a long beard?


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  50. But it’s Hashem’s who made the law

    And when she flouts it I’m in pain

    But she can’t hear me so I won’t say it again

    This mother has the right approach – voice her pain on Beyond BT and stop harping on the issue with her daughter. Cute poem.

  51. Why is anyone accusing Anonymous of imposing anything on her daughter? This is an expression of pain and a prayer, not a command or an order to her daughter.

    The writer confronted her daughter, which she certainly has the right to do as a mother (and a concerned fellow Jew), about the issue. She says that the skirt is shorter than halachically permitted, Ilana, so we can take her word for it — as Bob says, not everything is a matter of “interpretation.” But there’s nothing here about coercion or “taking away choice.”

  52. 1. Some modes of dress are outside the allowable range and unacceptable in all Orthodox communities.

    2. When a child alleges conditional love, that may be a true or false statement.

  53. If she were a little kid, doing the same thing, and you asked why – and she answered that you love her conditionally… wouldn’t that be a clue that whatever problem you perceive is not an external problem? Listen to her words. She’s told you what she needs. You can’t change how she dresses or acts. She’s made that clear. All you can do, as a mother, is care more, show more love, and unconditional approval of her as a person doesn’t mean the same thing as approval of every choice. She knows how you feel about skirts… so let that be. Its her choice. You wrote its “God’s law,” but that is simplistic. God gave each person choice and power as well. Its not fair for you to try to take away the choice God gave her (according to your beliefs, although maybe no longer her beliefs).

  54. You need to realize that your daughter’s life, and body, is her own. You don’t own her and you can’t make her choices for her. She is in fact a grown woman (I say to you), and you can be disappointed all you like, but she is under no obligation to dress according to your interpretation of tzniut.

  55. Is tznious the only issue? If so, then I think you need to work more on your attitude and worry less about her skirt length and yes, love her unconditionally. Tznious is not just about how one dresses. If she truly has an inner glow then you need to focus on that and, like you said, let God worry about her mode of dress. Also, there’s a lot of leeway in strictures of external tznious, much of it based on communal standards.

    We live in an era were people have gone overboard in the area of external Tznious. (Here in Bet Shemesh, we are at the epicenter of this extremism.) All things being equal, if your daughter is a decent, caring, religious person focus on what you have to be proud of.

  56. I think as a Ba’al Tshuva community we have to accept that just as we have different standards from our parents, and in many cases our parents have differents standards from their parents, yet we expect our parents and grandparents to accept us as we are, we have to accept and love our children even if they adopt standards different from ours.

    Our kids may adopt chumrot or minhagim that we don’t approve of, or adopt different level standards of dress, such as in the article above.

    We can (and should) express our disappointment, but ultimately once our kids are adults, they have to adopt a level of observance that works for them.

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