Sunday, March 02, 2008

Reconsidering the Burkha Babes

All of a sudden it came to me.

Remember that story about women in Bet Shemesh going for the burkha fashion style? Completely covering the head with layers of scarves?

Well, I was trying to come up with a traditional source to refute their claim of extreme modesty. It has been surmised that Leah wore a veil but that was on her wedding night (Genesis 29:25) which would only be natural although it isn't specifically stated. Rivkah uses a veil but only when she is informed that the man she sees from afar is her intended ("And she took her veil, and covered herself" - Genesis 24:65), an act which is related to marriage. In Shir HaShirim 5:7, a veil is used but again, it is connected to being in a love relationship ("The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.").

On the less savory side, Tamar uses a veil but Yehudah presumes that because of that, she's a prostitute! ("When Tamar was told, Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah...she took off her widow's clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself...When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face." - Genesis 38:13-15).

And then it came to me. Channah goes into the Tabernacle courtyard at Shiloh (my home town) to pray for a son and Eli, the High Priest observes her: ("And it came to pass, as she prayed long before the LORD, that Eli watched her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice could not be heard; therefore, Eli thought she was drunk." - I Samuel 1:12-13). Do you see it?

If her face would have been covered with a veil, Eli couldn't have seen her lips. Ergo, she wasn't wearing a veil, even while in one of the most holy of places, doing a most sacred act: praying.

So, can we assume that veils - and not burkhas - are appropriate to identify a woman's marital status but when engaged in other mundane or even sacred acts, the veil is not considered obligatory?


RHF said...

Nice attempt, but you need something that suggests extreme modesty is discouraged, rather than just unnecessary.

YMedad said...

II Samuel 11:2 - "And it came to pass at eventide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house; and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon."

Good enough?

RHF said...

Come on, that story is hardly an endorsement for immodesty. What about something involving the idea of Nazir? Anything there to suggest extremism is bad in general?

Kohelet said...

If you want to see so gorgeous burkha babes from Bet Shemesh (Nofei Aviv community), click on to this YouTube link from their Purim Shpiel:

YMedad said...

It's already up an hour already.