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Unread 03-05-2006, 02:52 PM   #1
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how to be modest at work?

Shalom everyone,
im new to this board, i would like to say first how glad i am to have found this site... i am in the process of taking my first real steps to becoming religious,
I come from a very non releigious family- my father is not Jewish and while my mother and grandparents are they dont practise and i wasnt raised as observant. about a year ago i decided to become more observant.. eventually i would hope to join a Lubivitcher/chassidic community.
my first step on this road is Tznius... ive been wearing skirts and long sleeves for 5 month solid now..every so often i encounter problems.. and my latest one is this..
i live (at the moment) far from any frum community in an area where most people have never come into contact with frum/chassidic mother included..
so i was wondering... how do i explain to people(including my mother) at work that there are somethings that i will no longer do- such as shaking hands or being alone with men- without causing offence? it seems really hard to explain with just one sentance why i have suddenly decided to refrain from doing things that i used to. at the moment its not possible to move from my area or job for financial reasons or although my goal is to eventually move to a chassidic/Lubavitcher community.

i was wondering if anyone has had similar experiances and could offer me advice as to the best way to deal with this situation?

also is there some kind of check list for tznius at work? for instance.. is it ok to sit next to a male colleague at a desk in an open plan office?
also i know that tznuis includes behaviour as well as dress.. this is something i am keen to kearn more about as i think its very important... where can i find out more about this part of tznius..?

sorry to ask so many questions in one go- this is something i believe in very much and i want to make sure im getting it right..


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Unread 03-05-2006, 06:52 PM   #2
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5, Adar, 5766


About the laws of modesty, I would suggest consulting your local Rav.

About explanations: I actually used a "one liner" successfully for years in an academic setting: "My religion prohibits me from having physical contact with women I am not married to." Far from offending others, it consistently gained their praise and respect for my religious commitment.

Occasionally, people asked "why is that." I usually gave them the simple truth: G-d created men and women with a natural attraction to each other. Our sages of blessed memory took these measures as precautions. Usually this is sufficient, but to concretize the concept for them, you can cite well publicized examples of how things went wrong even at the "highest levels" of society (e.g. by political figures). Then, they are usually satisfied. Noteworthy is that the times I found this (step) necessary were more rare.

Keep up the good work!
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Unread 03-05-2006, 06:54 PM   #3
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I too came form a small town and moved to the city to learn and be more observant. There's just so far you can go with library books about Judaism and doing what you read online.
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Unread 03-06-2006, 01:04 AM   #4
Join Date: Jul 2004
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What I've done

Depending on the situation, you can say that one-liner "my religion prohibits me from..." or you could just say "it's a Jewish thing" in more casual company. I don't know what your job is, but unless you are meeting customers constantly, your coworkers will adjust quickly. If you are constantly meeting new people, practice taking charge of the situation and keeping it non-physical. If you just state the facts, it's amazing how people just say, "okay".

Hang in there. I agree with the previous poster. If/when you want to take the next step, you need to attach yourself to a community and integrate yourself. You may be experiencing tremendous spiritual growth right now, but with that comes a lot of pain, especially during that time when you feel marginalized from your old lifestyle and not yet integrated into a new community. Don't be alone. Keep looking til you find your place.
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Unread 03-06-2006, 09:05 AM   #5
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as far as shaking hands: I've never actually seen this done, but here's something i thought of...u could make 'business cards' that explain the basic concept of shomer negia, then when someone extends their hand to shake, you just hand them a card.
If you're just going to do a one-liner, I find it more effective to state it in the postitve (I only shake hands with women) instead of the negative (I don't shake hands with men).
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Unread 03-06-2006, 08:37 PM   #6
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i have run across the same issue... fortuneately, i happen to have a great supervisor (not Jewish), who usually speaks up for me whenever a new guy comes to our work location - he informs him prior to meeting me that I am religious and don't shake hands with men... i never asked him to do this, he just did
anyway, in those situations, i generally just tell the man, "Due to my religious practice, I don't shake hands with men" - and i have never had any problem with that - and have even gained respect from the person - and here's the best part... a couple of times, it presented the perfect opportunity to find out that the guy was actually a non-religious Jew and do some kiruv!
i had a friend who would use what (i think) The Rebbe used to say, "My mother always taught me never to touch what doesn't belong to me."

Last edited by Yedida; 03-06-2006 at 08:41 PM.
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