Jewish clothing

Jews dress in a manner that reflects a Torah-true life.

This means that it is possible to exhibit in public articles of clothing and a manner of wearing a beard which depict that the wearer seeks to follow the commands of the Torah respecting hair style and religious symbolism.

There is a book called Vayikro, which means “and he called”. These are the three words with which the book begins. Chapter 19:27 of that book may be translated: “Do not round the corner of your head, neither shall you destroy the corners of your beard.” There are other prohibitions concerning the shaving of hair so that an orthodox or Torah true Jew wears long sideburns known as Payot Harosh or, in Yiddish, Payes.

Shaving or trimming the beard is not permitted on Holy Days, particularly on Shabbat, which is the Holiest Day in Judaism. The use of a straight razor is also prohibited, so that in the past Jewish men used depilatory powder (Nair) while now electric razors may be used.

In addition to the influence of Torah on appearance, there are those Jews who wear a beard and sideburns because they want to appear Jewish.

Jews wear black clothes because the medieval church and state demanded that Jews wear black at all times. The European countries generally decreed so-called “sumptuary” laws. These laws required each social class in the feudal system to wear clothes appropriate to their rank. Hence, the upper class wore gaudy clothes of many colors and ornamented profusely. By law, Jews were non-persons and had to wear black clothes so they could be identified at once. The Jews also had to wear a yellow armband or star or other mark. This was abandoned in the eighteenth century but re-instituted by the European killers during the years 1933-1945.

Black clothes are also known to Jews as a symbolic expression divrai yirah shomayim, which means “fearing heaven”. To some Jews life is very serious and the Jew is always conscious of his relationship to G’d. Therefore black is worn so as to avoid frivolity and also place distance between the wearer and everyone else.

Orthodox Jews also wear a prayer belt called a g*rtel in German or Yiddish. This belt is to indicate that the wearer separates his upper body from his lower body as the head is the location of all that is inspired while our bottom serves lesser purposes.

Many orthodox Jewish men also wear a black hat and some wear a streimel , i.e. a fur lined hat. The hat style may vary according to the European origin of a Chassidic sect. Therefore, Lithuanians may wear a different head covering than Galicians, although all will wear a skull cap all day.

The wearing of the skull cap, also known as a kippa or yarmulka, shows respect for G’d, who is thought to live in heaven above us. Hence separate themselves from the divine presence by wearing a hat or cap at all times.

Jewish clothing has entered the non-Jewish world. This is particularly true of the garb worn by Christian priests. Tallit, or prayer shawl, is called a stolaby R.C. priests, using the Latin word. The entire Christian priestly garb is derived from the description of the clothes worn by the Jewish priests at the time the Temple stood in Yerushalayim.