C h a p t e r S e v e n t e e n
The Great Benefits for the Entire Jewish
Nation Resulting from every Individual’s
Cautiousness in Areas of Sanctity and
Modesty (Tzniut )
Part 1

  1. In areas of sanctity and modesty, halachic detail is brought
    at length in halachic and ethical works, as well as the great
    obligation to take care for every pitfall in transgressions in these
    areas. Great is the merit and the reward of one who is cautious
    in this, and Hashem forbid for the converse. There is no place
    here to discuss this further here. Here just one detail is
    discussed, on the topic of the benefit that there is for the entire
    Jewish nation from the care taken by every individual in these
  2. It is written in Tehillim about the splitting of the sea using
    the expression, ‘The Sea saw and fled’. Chazal explain that the
    sea saw the coffin of Yosef and explained with a ‘gezeira shava’
    comparing the expression of ‘fleeing’ which is used with Yosef
    when he fled from sin, to the expression of fleeing used here.
    They therefore explain that the merit which caused the sea to
    split was that of Yosef when he restrained himself from sin. We
    find more on the matter in the ‘Tikunei HaZohar’ where he
    explains that had he not withstood the test, the jews would have
    drowned in the Red Sea. [There is what to ponder about the
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    promise that was made to Avraham Avinu, and there are a few
    ways to resolve this, no place here for elaboration.]
  3. The restraint of Yosef from sin was in the topics of this very
    chapter. His test was very great. Yosef was a young boy,
    kidnapped away from home, with no one who knew him or who
    wanted to help him. Chazal tell us that there was a dread within
    him that were he to refuse, he would be put in prison for the
    rest of his life, like they actually did in the end. They imprisoned
    him for twelve years which was already a great trial, but there
    was more than this. Usually there would have been no hope that
    he ever leave prison, and normally he should have been destined
    to spend the rest of his life alone, and to die in prison alone,
    without his family. Had he actually gone ahead and sinned,
    naturally speaking, it would seem that no one would ever know
    about it apart from the two involved. He would have carried on
    his profitable life trusted as the chief servant of the great prince,
    able to advance in every area of success in life. However, due to
    his fear of Hashem he held himself back from sinning. This
    strength split the sea and saved the entire Jewish nation.
  4. in the end he miraculously acquired royalty and as a result
    returned to live with his father etc. etc. It was only because he
    held himself back from sinning that he met the chief butler and
    explained his dream, who then told Pharaoh about him, who
    brought him to incredible success. From a simple, superficial,
    present viewing eye, looking at Yosef in prison, it would seem
    that nothing would ever become of him.
  5. We see that in the merit of an individual’s cautiousness from
    sinning, the entire Jewish nation was saved. Here we spoke
    about restraint from a proper transgression, but we find that
    there is a unique power as a result of any good conduct in areas
    of sanctity, pouring blessings upon every Jew as will be
    explained soon in part 2 about Kimchit.
  6. Chazal reveal to us that in the merit of Yosef everyone was
    saved, as they explain from the pesukim. According to this the
    many individual Jews who, throughout the generations were
    vigilant in these areas, must have brought about salvation and
    deliverance for many Jews.
  7. Kimchifs sons all merited to become high priests, it was
    obvious to whoever saw her sons, that the behavior of this
    woman had brought merit to the Jews. Chazal connect the fact
    that her sons were so elevated, to become high priests, to her
    behaviour in areas of modesty and sanctity. Accordingly we
    learn that the carefulness of Jewish women throughout the
    generations in areas of modesty has in fact brought much
    deliverance and salvation for many Jews.
    Part 2
  8. We find more in Chazal about the carefulness of Kimchit in
    areas of modesty, and how this brought blessing to the Jewish
    nation. The gemora in Yuma 47a writes, “Kimchit had seven sons
    who all served as high priests. The wise men asked her, ’How did
    you merit this?’, she replied, ‘Never did the walls of my house
    ever see the hairs of my head.’ The wise men replied and said,
    ‘Many others also did this and didn’t achieve what you have!?’
    There is however a proof that Chazal did accept her words.
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  9. In the Talmud Yerushalmi we find various places in Yuma 5a,
    and in Megillah la and in Horayot 3b which don’t explain like
    the Talmud Bavli, and it says that the Chachamim did accept her
    words that she merited to this through her caution. A pasuk is
    brought to support this – see there.
  10. It could even be that the Talmud Bavli does not differ with
    the Talmud Yerushalmi. Whatever the case the wise men always
    agreed that this merit of Kimchit was the ruling factor in regards
    to her special merit. The Bavli simply means to say that this
    merit alone cannot suffice; it must be that she had some other
    private merit, or have inherited some merit from her ancestors.
    Still her merit was certainly the main causative one. Perhaps this
    explanation will do well to minimize the differences of opinion
    especially as the argument here is about something factual. [See
    what the Rashash notes on the sugya, how he brings from other
    cases where it mentions that many others did the same thing
    but didn’t achieve the same result. In these areas it is certain
    that the merit greatly helped, even though it was not sufficient
    and could not have been the sole reason]. Even were we to say
    that it is a direct argument, still the gemorah quotes all her
    words, and in a bartering way, pushing her words aside with
    only the proof that others had done the same and yet still not
    merited the same, meaning that there is logic in what Kimchit
    said. In any case the Yerushalmi definitely accepts her logic and
    the wise men accepted her words.
  11. What is so great about the fact that the walls of her house
    did not see Kimchit’s hair? If it means to say that she never
    exposed her hair in front of males, this is a clear halacha which
    all women surely kept. The gemarah does not say that this was
  12. reason either. What Kimchit was saying was that she never
    uncovered her hair, even when she was completely alone. This is
    something that is basically impossible to do. However Kimchit
    managed this difficult thing, investing monumental effort for
    the sake of modesty, thereby meriting to so much. This is not a
    new understanding of the gemarah. it is essentially written in
    the gemora, in the words, “Never did the walls of my house see
    the hairs of my head.”
  13. The magnitude of the merit of one’s son becoming a high
    priest, never mind having seven sons becoming high priests, is
    indescribable. The high priest holds the most unique and
    responsible position in the entire Jewish nation. He is the one
    who brings atonement to the nation and he is the only one
    permitted and indeed commanded to enter the holiest place in
    the world, on the holiest day of the year. There he would
    perform the service on behalf of the Jewish nation. In truth he
    would do service in the Holy Temple on behalf of the entire
    nation every day of the year, according to Torat Hakabbalah.
    Kimchit therefore in fact succeeded in bringing great merit to
    every single Jew, as part of the entire nation.
  14. Even though the gemarah mentions only one detail of her
    modesty, we learn from this the general greatness in every
    halacha and area of modesty and sanctity. This applies equally
    to men and women. [The Yerushalmi brings another good habit
    of Kimchit, thus implying that her merit was in the general area
    of modesty.)
  15. With we see Kimchit clearly how her ways brought merit to
    the whole Jewish nation, through her sons becoming high
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    priests. We will explain soon just what the exact connection is
    between Kimchit’s actions and her resulting merits. Still we can
    already learn from here how the many vigilances in areas of
    modesty that Jewish women throughout the generations took
    upon themselves, brought great salvations for many jews.
    P arts
  16. We have seen in parts 1 and 2 the power of being careful in
    areas of sanctity and modesty to bring down outpourings of
    deliverance and salvation for the entire Jewish nation. One must
    question why this strength is especially connected to areas of
    sanctity and modesty, in truth this is already explained at length
    in chapter 4, that really every mitzvah and distancing from sin
    that a Jew performs, results in salvations for the entire Jewish
    nation. This is because the good influences descending from the
    higher worlds are increased. We saw earlier in parts 1 and 2 just
    how far reaching this is, and how in these areas, every action of
    even an individual is much more powerful.
  17. We can explain this according to hidden understandings in
    many ways, it is hard to speak at length about things connected
    to the secrets of the Torah, but we will explain here, Hashem
    willing, one understanding of this, according to a fundamental
    and great principle brought in Kabbalistic works in various
    places. What is brought here is mainly from ‘Adir Bamorom’ of
    the Ramchal in his essay on ‘Yichud Hagan’, the language there
    is relatively easy to understand [it is interesting to know that
    there is a letter from the Gaon … a disciple of R’ Chaim
    Volozhin (and he himself was one of the greatest men in the
    world and his words are brought in the Mishna Berura) testifying
    in the name of R’ Chaim Volozhin in the name of the Vilna Gaon
    the incredible greatness of the Ramchal in areas of Kabbalah.
    Furthermore, in a letter, it was said to R’ Chaim about the book
    ‘Adir Bamarom’ of the Ramchal, that it is entirely revelations
    from the upper worlds, especially the essay on ‘Yichud Hagan’
    which is boundlessly awesome. R’ Chaim replied saying that this
    is certainly true. The rest of this topic is discussed later in the
    aforementioned work.]
  18. That is what we have discussed earlier about the way
    Hashem programmed the worlds, how through mitzvot and
    good deeds that the Jewish nation perform in this world, many
    higher worlds receive their rectification. As a result of this,
    spiritual and physical bounty descends to the Jewish nation in
    this world. The problem is that protection is required to ensure
    that this bounty reaches only goodness and that impure higher
    powers not take it or nurture from it. it is clear from the
    Ramchal that this is a very big problem, and that due to this
    only part of the bounty descends to this world. A very large part
    remains in the higher worlds so that it remains preserved. It is
    preserved for the Jewish nation in the world to come as there is
    no other way to preserve it – see the Ramchal. He brings further
    that if one has a way to preserve the bounty it is a tremendous
    merit that through it, the great bounty can come to the Jewish
    nation in this world. [This does not in any way minimize the
    bounty of the next world, rather this additional bounty which
    descends, greatly helps to increase the merits – note his words
    well and you will see how this comes out from them.)
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  19. Now it is proper for us to inquire as to whether we have
    some idea how to boost this safeguard, resulting in abundant
    bounty descending to the Jewish nation. One who looks carefully
    in the Torat HaKabbalah will see that there is a clear answer for
    this. This safeguard is formed through diligence to guard the
    laws of sanctity and modesty, whether through the carefulness
    of males in areas relevant to them, or the carefulness of females
    in areas relevant to them. Indeed any type of caution in these
    areas has a special and incredibly immense power to strenghten
    this safeguard. The reason why it is especially the mitzvah of
    modesty which increases this safeguard is difficult to explain
    here in detail since it is a long and complicated topic. We will
    however explain a little very briefly here. 1 hope that whoever is
    familiar with Kabbalistic ideas will understand these things. The
    main safeguard is dependent on the keeping of limited
    countings of the upper countings which have connection with
    the power called The Original Snake’ and anything similar to it.
    This in particular is dependant on the topic of modesty.
  20. With this we can understand how appropriate these
    warnings are to benefit the general welfare of the Jewish people.
    There is much Torah studied and many mitzvot performed
    throughout the Jewish nation, whether between man and
    Hashem or between man and his fellow. There are also plentiful
    prayers and all wonderful types of service of Hashem, all
    producing great bounty which has the power to activate
    salvations for the entire Jewish nation in literally every area. But
    part of all this bounty is prevented from descending to pour
    goodness over the Jewish people in this world due to the
    aforementioned powers of evil. This bounty is therefore saved
  21. for the future. Through vigilance in areas of sanctity and
    modesty a safeguard is produced thereby enabling the bounty
    which was already produced and preserved, from the Jewish
    nations’ serving of Hashem, to then descend to this world. It’s
    really something quite easy as this bounty does not need to be
    produced for the Jewish nation; it is already there, waiting to be
    given the opportunity to join the Jewish people.
  22. This was what could bring about the splitting of the sea and
    the success of the service of the high priests, since these are
    matters of salvation for all the Jews. It was necessary to use the
    merits of the entire Jewish nation as well as the aforementioned
    safeguards in areas of modesty. The power of outstanding
    individuals, the strength coming from the merits of the entire
    Jewish nation can also affect good and blessing in spirituality
    and physicality in this world for the Jewish nation.
    Part 4
  23. From all that has been said it is clear that a person must stir
    himself to take great care in the areas of sanctity and modesty.
    This can be either because of the greatness of the mitzvah, or
    Hashem forbid to the opposite, or because of the benefits for
    himself. [In truth every mitzvah or Hashem forbid it’s opposite,
    contains benefit for the entire Jewish nation as detailed in
    chapter 4].
  24. A person could also be moved to do this when he thinks of
    the unique and mighty power that lies in matters of sanctity and
    modesty to bring salvation for the Jewish people. This must
    greatly arouse a person, whether because he wants to bring
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    pleasure to his Creator, since it certainly brings huge pleasure to
    Hashem when a person spiritually and physically assists the
    whole of the Jewish nation, or it could arouse one’s feelings of
    mercy for the Jewish people, for an overall deliverance or for
    individual salvations, which so many are waiting for. It goes
    without saying that when a person merits to benefit the general
    community, his heaven sent reward is tremendous and eternal.
  25. Rashi speaks in masechet Avodah Zarah about general care
    against transgressions. He says that there are two types of
    vigilance. The first is at the time when the opportunity presents
    itself, to restrain oneself not to Hashem forbid slip up. The
    second is to be vigilant in the first place to prevent oneself as
    much as possible from coming into a testing situation. This is
    true in every area, but even more so when it comes to matters of
    sanctity and modesty, it is not sufficient that a person arrange
    that he remain completely holy and pure, rather he must
    arrange his deeds and business in a way that he will not come to
    a situation which will test him for a deficiency or imperfection in
    his holiness and purity. A person must therefore sort out his
    matters that he not enter places or situations which cause him
    to stumble, it is hard to bring details here on this topic, but in a
    general way it is possible to say that the best advice for most
    people is to try as much as possible to be in the Bet Knesset and
    Bet Medrash. These are places which protect a person from
    harm, and there a person can busy himself with the holy Torah,
    which is the greatest possible protection from harmful things.
  26. in particular, when a person is in doubt not just as to how to
    spend a certain amount of time, but also when settling one’s
    future, one must definitely take care that sanctity and modesty
    be a large factor in the decision. For example when it comes to a
    career, one should arrange as best he can to spend as much time
    as possible in the Bet Knesset and Bet Medrash, busying himself
    with Torah.
  27. There are places where if a person wishes to take care in
    areas of sanctity and modesty in their every halachic detail,
    people will mock him. A person need not be embarrassed before
    his mockers, as we find in the Shulchan Aruch at the beginning
    of Ohr Hachaim, “A person should know that the truth is with
    him, that we heed only the wisdom of our holy Torah, and in the
    world to come all those who mocked him will realize his
    righteousness that he kept Torah, and will thank him for his
    vigilance in it, which shielded and protected them so much.” His
    caution will greatly benefit the whole Jewish nation.
  28. On the rare occasions when people in his town or society
    poke fun at the way he performs the halachot, it would be good
    for him to move neighborhood or change friends so that he not
    come to a difficult situation. It is however difficult, for various
    reasons, to make general rule for this, since there are situations
    where for other reasons the move is not good for him. The
    necessary requirement is that the mocking not cause him to
    humble or lower his level of sanctity and modesty. It is hard to
    bring a final judgment here without knowing the details of every
    individual situation.