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During my first stay in Jerusalem (I was 18 at the time) I once walked through a religious neighbourhood by accident (it was a shortcut). I was not religious at that time, but I wore an ankle-length wrap-skirt out of respect for the holiness of the city. When I walked through that neighbourhood, I was approached by a young women who tried to tell me something. My Hebrew was pretty bad at that time, but after maybe 10 minutes I understood that she wanted to tell me that I should stich up the slit in the skirt, because men might be able to look at my legs through it.

I have two issues here: The first (obivous) issue is of course that it’s none of her business. I don’t want to discuss this here. The other issue is something that has been bothering me in a lot of similar situations. Some girl wears a skirt that is just one inch too short? Immodest! No stockings? Immodest! A slit in a skirt? Immodest!

These very minor infractions in an otherwise very modest outfit lead to the general judgement that this person is immodest. What is missing is the nuances, the shades of grey. Isn’t there a difference between a miniskirt (or better said a broad belt) and a skirt that just barely reaches the knee? Between a bikini top and a loose t-shirt that bares the ellbows?

If we eliminate shades of grey, the person that is judged for the one-inch-too-short skirt might come tomorrow in a bikini – after all, what’s the difference? But we all (at least all sane people) agree that there is a difference. So please, can we stop the nonsense? We are too busy checking the measurable requirements of modest clothing and forget about the spirit. I can be very immodest in clothing that is perfectly fine by the letter of the law (google "hot chanie"). I also can be perfectly modest in a skirt that is a tad too short. It is the spirit that counts, not the exact measurements. There should be some margin of tolerance.