Ask the Rabbi

  • Family and Society
  • Modesty in Dress

what did they wear in biblical times?


Rabbi David Sperling

Adar I 28, 5782
Do we know? What did they wear? What did the styles look like? (not what they wore in europe, but way before that, what did the jews wear in Israel?) Is it optimal for us to try to dress like that, instead of dressing like the styles of modern society and europe?
Shalom, Thanks for getting back to us. Historically, there is some knowledge of how people dressed in biblical times. There is a field of historical research into dress – and as a historical, social studies project, it has some interest. However, from a religious perspective it means nothing at all. We are not commanded to dress as they did 4000 years ago. In fact, as I wrote, religious Jews throughout every society dress(ed) more or less the same as the local fashions of the time (with slight changes for modesty). As with every social grouping, people use clothing also as means of association. That is, business men will wear suits, and baseball fans will wear a certain type of cap. So too, many religious Jews will dress in a certain style (perhaps a dark suit and hat) – but this is a social issue and not a religious one. In short, keeping in mind the laws of modest dress (and tzitzit and head covering) there is no religious significance to one’s style of dress. Blessing.
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