One People

Achdus is Hebrish for “unity”.

Judging how people dress

I’ve mentioned before that my mother-in-law has this idea. All Jews, especially Orthodox Jews, should celebrate Derech Eretz Month.

Derech eretz (rhymes loosely with “where-deck”/ “air-Mets”) literally means “way of the land,” but figuratively it’s a fusion of “common decency” and “way of life” or occupation. It’s Hebrew, FYO.

When my m-i-l talks about it she’s usually talking about common decency, good old fashioned manners, not to be confused with Family Values, but probably it is a family value, so if you’re a Bush Republican you’re familiar with it..

M-i-L was at a Friday night dinner last week and a guest (Orthodox) brought up how some people come to the synagogue dressed inappropriately. Sometimes women wear short sleeves, sometimes they even wear a man’s kippah over their hair, and worse, of course, they sometimes wear tight and revealing.

I know. You want to know, Where is this shul? I want to go there!

You have to remember that the women in this shul are separated from the men during prayer and afterwards, during the kiddish, when people socialize, well-trained Orthodox men who don’t want to be turned on by such a sight so they don’t look.

There have been concerted efforts to separate the women from the men during kiddish, but they haven’t worked. I sure can’t figure out why.

Anyway, my m-i-l was upset that the people she was eating with could be so incredibly judgmental. They thought, obviously, that they were among friends and could say what they wanted and not upset anyone. But I’ll bet my m-i-l is STILL upset, many weeks later. And, by the way, she let them have it at the time.

“There’s nothing more important, no greater issue, no greater threat to the Jewish people,” she asked, “than how people dress when they come in earnest to PRAY? How can you know what’s in their hearts when they pray? Why does this bother you?!?!”

One of the guests apologized and thanked her for giving her something to think about.

Complaining about others, I imagine, shows a derech eretz deficiency, especially if you’re not sure how well it will go over. But maybe even if you are.

Remember the Hebrew month of Elul IS Derech Eretz Month. Tell everyone to watch their manners and tell everyone else to do the same. It really is one thing that all Jews should be able to agree upon.

Appreciatively yours,


August 8, 2007 Posted by | Derech Eretz Month, modest dress, pray | Leave a comment