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What is the purpose of the uniquely Chassidic attire?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

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Question:

What is the origin of Hasidic attire? I recently read a book that simply wrote Hasidic garb off as a remnant of ghetto life in Europe but I'm wondering what the actual signifigance of the clothing is to contemporary Hasidim. – Beged

Answer:

1. It is true the Chassidic attire began in Europe. However, it was even then an exclusive "uniform" for the Chassidic group, different than the attire of the local (non-Jewish) populace.1 It thus was, and continues to be, a uniform signifying a sense of belonging to a certain group and/or philosophy.

Clothing create an attitude... When Chassidim dress in the garments accustomed to holy people, they feel a sense of holiness
2. The Chassidic attire today is also (in addition to a uniform) a tradition; a link to the past, a proud display of their connection to, and carrying on of, their beautiful heritage.

3. Clothing create an attitude. When one dresses sharp he feels sharp, and when dons a pear of ripped jeans and leather jacket he might feel like a biker, even if he never rode a Harley in his life. When Chassidim dress in the garments accustomed to holy people, they feel a sense of holiness. They are inspired to live by that holiness.

4. As a matter of fact, wearing a hat is actually symbolic of holiness. See Why do many Orthodox Jews wear a hat while praying? Chassidim want to apply the sacred awareness experienced during prayer to the rest of their day.

Footnotes

  • 1. "Contrary to popular belief, Hasidic dress has little or nothing to do with the way Polish nobles once dressed" - wikipedia.org. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasidic#Dress

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Daily Life » Clothing » "Jewish" Clothing

Chassidim
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) Following the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
Chassidic
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) A follower of the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).