Posted on | August 7, 2007 | By Leah Levenson | 51 Comments
“”Tsnius” is a broad concept that encompasses more than just clothing.
We need to be tsnius in thought and demeanor, learning to speak softly and carry a soft stick, modifying how we speak to each other and how we react to those inevitable “event cards” in our lives. How do we learn to be pure in thought and action, G-dly in manner and deed?
For the fledgling BT, it’s not as easy as it sounds.
Growing up, I was known as “Foghorn Leghorn” in my family. As the disappearing middle child, I learned how to be noticed by developing a powerful set of lungs. I’m pretty sure I would have made it on the stage were I less shy than I was. In my family, you had to be LOUD to be heard, as rambunctious as we all were.
My aggressive and strong voice reverberates across the miles. People know I’ve arrived before I do. It’s just the way it is.
But just because I’m LOUD doesn’t mean I’m bold and confident. My ebullience masks a mass of insecurities and shrinking violet-itis.
I am a shy person. There you have it. Socially inept, tongue-tied and lacking in confidence, that’s me.
I don’t particular notice FFBs being modest and quiet all the time. In fact I’ve met some wonderfully outgoing and rambunctious characters in my travels – to my delight! I don’t think being a shrinking violet or a mouse is what is meant by being tsnius, modest and G-dly.
I do however need to smooth out the rough edges. I think we all have a desire to enhance our positive attributes while diminishing the negative – refining the nefesh to refine the neshama.
When I became frum, I tore into my wardrobe and eliminated the “not tsnius” clothing, mostly jeans and leggings. That was fairly easy to do. Okay, I admit it was a little hard to give away some of my favorite outfits, but I was never that flashy to begin with.
So now it’s time to overhaul my personality wardrobe.
I confess – I used to have a few swear words in my vocabulary. There’s nothing like a good expletive to make you feel better when you hammer your thumb. It just works.
I’m happy to report that I’ve eliminated these words, with just an occasional minor slip up, like when a pot falls out of the cupboard and hits me in the head. My husband always tells me to thank Hashem for the tikkun.
I’ve been able to successfully replace bad words with less damaging ones like “jeepers!” or “darn!”
I’d like to revamp me entirely though, so my automatic default isn’t anger or a negative behaviour mode when bad things happen.
I’d like to become the kind of person that doesn’t need to vent when things don’t go my way.
I’d like to be the kind of person that takes it all in stride and is comfortable knowing there’s not much I can do about life’s little annoyances, or even major catastrophes, since it’s G-d’s will anyway.
So, how do I do that?
How do I learn how not to let things get to me, to be less cranky when things don’t go my way? How do I quiet the internal road-rage when I hit life’s potholes and traffic jams?
How do I match my personality and demeanor to my tsnius skirts and blouses?
I think it’s by stilling the internal noise, and opening my mind and my ears.
Mishlei 23:12. Bring your heart to discipline and your ears to words of knowledge.