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H2. Modeling God's Holiness by Our Appearance & What We Wear.    [Make a Comment]

We are to model God's Holiness by our appearance & by what we wear.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed is He):

Key Scriptures

Leviticus 10:6 (Maimonides RN163, RN164; Chinuch C149, C150)
Then Moshe told Aharon and his sons El'azar and Itamar, "Don't unbind your hair or tear your clothes in mourning, so that you won't die and so that ADONAI won't be angry with the entire community. Rather, let your kinsmen - the whole house of Isra'el - mourn, because of the destruction ADONAI brought about with his fire."

Leviticus 19:19 (Maimonides RN215, RN217; Meir MN107, MN142; Chinuch C244, C245)
Observe my regulations. 'Don't let your livestock mate with those of another kind, don't sow your field with two different kinds of grain, and don't wear a garment of cloth made with two different kinds of thread.

Leviticus 19:27 (Maimonides RN43-44; Meir MN176-177; Chinuch C251-252)
Don't round your hair at the temples or mar the edges of your beard.

Leviticus 19:28 (Maimonides RN41, MN45; Meir MN163; Chinuch C253, C467)
Don't cut gashes in your flesh when someone dies or tattoo yourselves; I am ADONAI.

Leviticus 21:5-6 (Maimonides RN171; Chinuch C468)
Cohanim are not to make bald spots on their heads, mar the edges of their beards or cut gashes in their flesh. Rather, they are to be holy for their God and not profane the name of their God.

Leviticus 22:24 (Maimonides RN361; Meir MN143; Chinuch C291)
An animal with bruised, crushed, torn or cut genitals you are not to offer to ADONAI. You are not to do these things in your land ...

Deuteronomy 14:1-2 (Maimonides RN45, RN171; Meir MN28, MN164; Chinuch C467, C468)
You are the people of ADONAI your God. You are not to gash yourselves or shave the hair above your foreheads in mourning for the dead, because you are a people set apart as holy for ADONAI your God.

Deuteronomy 22:5 (Maimonides RN39, RN40; Meir MN178, MN179; Chinuch C542, C543)
A woman is not to wear men's clothing, and a man is not to put on women's clothing, for whoever does these things is detestable to ADONAI your God.

Deuteronomy 22:11 (Maimonides RN42; Meir MN181; Chinuch C551)
You are not to wear clothing woven with two kinds of thread, wool and linen together.

1 Corinthians 11:4-16
Every man who prays or prophesies wearing something down over his head brings shame to his head, but every woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled brings shame to her head - there is no difference between her and a woman who has had her head shaved. For if a woman is not veiled, let her also have her hair cut short; but if it is shameful for a woman to wear her hair cut short or to have her head shaved, then let her be veiled. For a man indeed should not have his head veiled, because he is the image and glory of God, and the woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man; and indeed man was not created for the sake of the woman but woman for the sake of the man. The reason a woman should show by veiling her head that she is under authority has to do with the angels. Nevertheless, in union with the Lord neither is woman independent of man nor is man independent of woman; for as the woman was made from the man, so also the man is now born through the woman. But everything is from God. Decide for yourselves: is it appropriate for a woman to pray to God when she is unveiled? Doesn't the nature of things itself teach you that a man who wears his hair long degrades himself? But a woman who wears her hair long enhances her appearance, because her hair has been given to her as a covering. However, if anyone wants to argue about it, the fact remains that we have no such custom, nor do the Messianic communities of God.

1 Timothy 2:9
Likewise, the women, when they pray, should be dressed modestly and sensibly in respectable attire, not with elaborate hairstyles and gold jewelry, or pearls, or expensive clothes.


A common feature of the Scriptures supporting this Mitzvah is that they speak against conduct that detracts from some aspect of God's holy order. By "holy order" I mean the natural order of things from the creation, before the "Fall", that reflects God's will and perfection. One would hope that the Scriptures cited are self-evident and that man would want to obey them. Sadly, however, there are many perversions rampant in today's society, and ungodly forces agitating to hold them out as acceptable.

The Scriptures that teach against wearing two species of thread (animal wool and vegetable linen) or sowing two species of seeds are symbolic of not mating two species of animals. With modern manufactured clothing such as we wear, it is not possible to know what kinds of threads have been used to make our clothing, but modern clothing is not known to combine wool and linen.

Today there is no universal standard of what constitutes a male or female garment. It is defined by the culture in which the garment is worn, and tends to change over time. For example, women in the western countries wear slacks, whereas in years gone by they did not because slacks were then thought to be for men only.

The prohibitions against marking one's skin, cutting one's flesh, and trimming one's hair and beard in certain styles deserve special mention because tattooing, body piercing, and bizarre hair styles have become increasingly popular. The commandments prohibiting them were given at a time when each of them was a recognized heathen practice, and anyone who exhibited any one of them was, essentially, declaring himself to be an idolater. Castration also mars the body, but its affect is more profound and will be dealt with separately elsewhere.

It is still the case that permanent markings, disfigurements, extreme hair styles, and cross-dressing are with us today. Idol worship in its classical sense is no longer the issue, but rebellion against godly norms is, as is illustrated by "Punk" and "Goth" appearances that emphasize darkness over light. In addition, tattooing, cutting, and gross piercing permanently disfigures the body that God gave us and, for that reason, should be understood to not be God's will despite any religious theme (e.g. a cross) that a tattoo or item of jewelry attached to piercings may have. A believer who receives one of these knowing beforehand that Scripture prohibits them commits sin; one who receives a tattoo innocently has not committed sin, but he or she should refrain from making it visibly obvious because of what it implies. Once a tattoo has been received it is permanent, and if the wearer repents in Yeshua, any sin that may have been committed concerning it is over and done with. In my opinion, there is no continuing responsibility to attempt to remove a tattoo surgically.

Classical Commentators

Maimonides, Meir, and HaChinuch treat the Scriptures cited herein similarly and literally, and connect them to the practices of idol worshippers. Gashing and balding the head (tearing out hair) over the dead are illustrative of those practices. HaChinuch refers to God's evaluation of the creation in Genesis 1:31: "God saw everything that he had made, and indeed it was very good." To attempt to alter what God made is therefore very bad, and is sin.


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