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Home Questions in Judaism General Questions דת ומדינה יהדות וחברה IS BLACK DRESS A RELIGIOUS REQUIREMENT?
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IS BLACK DRESS A RELIGIOUS REQUIREMENT?
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IS BLACK DRESS A RELIGIOUS REQUIREMENT?
Question - - 02/28/2013
Why do so many orthodox men wear black suits?
Answer by Arachim
There is no commandment in the Torah to wear dark clothing. This is a personal preference of many Orthodox men in Western countries, but it is certainly not a religious requirement. Unfortunately, some people are put off by somber clothing, but there is nothing in Judaism that demands that one's garments be a specific color. This would be like saying one may not practice medicine or dentistry unless he first dons a white uniform. There does exist a certain convention among the medical profession to wear white, but it is far from obligatory.
Why, then, do so many Orthodox men show a pronounced preference for dark colors?
This is a custom of long standing, but nothing more. In some circles, dark colors are considered more formal or more refined, because they are less likely to attract attention than bright red, green, or yellow, for instance. However, there is no requirement to wear dark clothes, and this should not be a barrier to befriending someone who has chosen to follow a specific lifestyle.
It is somewhat amusing to note how often the non-religious strike up a conversation with a fellow traveler or casual acquaintance, dressed in the typical dark colors of the religious. After a short, engaging conversation, the strangeness of their companion's garb takes on secondary importance, and one often hears a comment to the tune of "You're not like the typical Orthodox Jew."
So many of us have been told that we're not typical that we're somewhat stumped at the question: "Who, then, is typically Orthodox?"
However, the color of one's clothing is not directly connected with the observance of the Torah. One can live a full, wholesome Jewish life while garbed in all the colors of the rainbow. While it is true that a black suit serves as a statement of belonging to a certain group, it is not a prerequisite to enriching one's life with the timeless spiritual values to be found in the world of Torah.
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