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Tichel Tales: Chapter 3

Gabriella Roth

Moe delivers a kosher food package to Rob Morgenstern — who turns out to be the rude woman from the train

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

"M a, take a look at this!” Nine-year-old Racheli pulls me over to the couch. Her little finger touches a picture of Rebbetzin Elyashiv in the book Rebbetzin Kanievsky: A Legendary Mother to All.

“Look at this tichel she’s wearing. It’s sooo big,” she says pointing to a picture of a lady in a high tichel adorned with a gem. “And here’s a pic of Rebbetzin Levin, wife of Rav Aryeh, and she’s also wearing a tichel.”

“Wow,” I say as I join her on the couch. “Imagine that. Such choshuve ladies wearing tichels. There’s another,” I say rising from the couch to show her a book with tichel-clad Rebbetzin Auerbach.

I haven’t made too much progress with Dassi on the tichel front, so I’m happy that at least one daughter seems interested. “Racheli,” I say, “it’s not just the chassidim, or the Sephardim or the dati-leumi women who wear tichels. Wives of roshei yeshivah wear them, too.”

Although I’d been inspired by these holy women, my decision to wear tichels wasn’t easy. If it hadn’t been for the support of my dear friend, continued learning on the subject, and the positive feedback I’ve received, I’m not sure I would’ve had the strength to do it.

A year ago, my new friend in the neighborhood, Shoshana, called me. “Gabby, I’m having a Peninim meeting in my house Sunday night. Would you like to come?” she asked.

“Tzniyus isn’t my problem,” I told her. I have many nisyonos, but they don’t include wanting to wear short skirts or the latest fashions.

“It’s not about clothing,” she explained. “It’s about developing yourself and your relationship with Hashem. I think you’ll like it.”

I didn’t want to go, but I found it hard to say no. So a cold December evening found me in her den with five other women, along with books, a CD player, and flavored seltzer. Shoshana was wearing a beautiful tichel that night.

As the presentation began, the speaker said that tzniyus frees us from the burden of people-pleasing and helps us gain self-respect. My ears perked up. So this wasn’t all about clothing. We moved on to the reading. “When one is at peace with herself, she does what she knows is right without looking over her shoulder to see what others think. That is the middah of tzniyus.”

The insight hit me powerfully.

The next week I went without Shoshana’s prodding. That night, the subject was head coverings. I read for the first time that there were some poskim who were opposed to sheitels. It made me think: If the tichel was the traditional head covering of the Jewish woman, maybe there was some good reason for that?

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