Gideon Aran: The Foot – Indicator of Religiosity

Among the Israeli Orthodox, the extent to which the foot is covered up is an indicator of religiosity. For instance, similarly to other Israelis, the modern orthodox often wear sandals during hot summer days.

Written By Gideon Aran

In yeshiva circles this is seen as proof of a decline in the neo-orthodox commitment to the Torah and its mitzvoth. In the national-religious youth movement a fierce argument rages between the tsabarim, who are accused of slighting their religion by wearing sandals with no socks, and those who do not take their socks off, thus termed by their friends-cum-rivals as being “on their way to becoming zealous proto-Haredim” (chnioks, or, “shechrim”). At the top of the pyramid of devoutness sit those who do not expose their arms, knees or feet.

Whether it is more serious to expose one’s arms or one’s feet remains a moot question. Since the Sephardim have made their presence felt in the Haredi world it has been argued that there is no explicit prohibition in the canonical texts against walking barefoot.

On the other hand, they mock those religious Ashkenazim who, sweating their way through prayers in the synagogue on hot summer days, dare to roll up their sleeves, if only a tiny bit. After all, not only does it say in the sources that only a shabbily dressed and reckless man (pocheach) would expose his hand, but Maimonides himself stated that one should not reveal even one’s wrists.

Taken from “Denial Does Not Make The Haredi Body Go Away Ethnography of a Disappearing (?) Jewish Phenomenon”.

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