Thursday, May 14, 2009

Noisy shoes and tznius, followup

On a previous post about some folks thinking Jewish women should wear rubber soles, GilaB commented:
I had thought this was an issue limited to the Taliban (who banned hard-soled shoes for women when they ruled Afghanistan, on the grounds that they made too much noise and thus attracted attention), but apparently not.
This is a good point. Perhaps this does have some legitimate Jewish sources somewhere. But it certainly has mainstream sources within Islam. Thus, in the Quran, 24:31:
"And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty except what (must) appear; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display them except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom they possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments."
It is unclear what this means. Working just from a translation, I can say it means something similar to one interpretation of the pasuk in Yeshaya, that they deliberately strike their feet in order to call attention to themselves.

But it seems that many Muslim scholars in general forbid noisy shoes. Thus, we have the following Fatwa, in which the question is:
Asslamu Aleikum, What is the hadith on women wearing high-heeled shoes whether they be stiletto or wedge style? Is it permissable for her to wear them among other Muslim women or for her husband? Would you be so gracious as to cite a hadith in your answer insha'Allah. Jazakallahu Khayrun.
with a response of

In principle all clothing are permissible, and it is only what leads to a religious prohibition that is forbidden. Wearing high-heeled shoes is included in this principle. However, since in general wearing such shoes makes the woman’s walk enticing and seductive. Moreover, it may expose parts of the woman’s beauty or sometimes make attractive noises. Therefore, a woman should not wear them except in front of her husband or when being in company of women only.

Allaah Knows best.
Also, a Hadith:

Fazlul Maulana-- Al Hadis, Vol. 1, p. 614, that there is a curse on women who wear shoes. He said shoes are only for men.
And from this book, Infidel:

such that the tapping sound was not tznius.

Thus, it is established practice in Muslim law, not really established in Jewish law, though some might try to force some Jewish sources to say this. Could this be foreign influence, perhaps from jealously of Muslim stringencies, or else from Jews who lived in Arab countries? I don't know, but it seems a point worth pondering.


Rob Golder said...

A slightly less radical chumra can be found in much of the more right-wing tzniut literature: restrictions on painting toenails and exposing toes. I believe that I read about this chumra in R' Falk's Oz v'Hadar Levusha.

Not to get into too much of a tangent, but the entire discourse on tzniut requires a serious return to the original sources, in particular the prohibitions of shok (thigh?), hair and singing voice in Berachot 24a. I think you might be right in claiming that the shoe chumra is of non-Jewish origin.

joshwaxman said...

thanks. it seems rabbi falk is also not in favor of shoes that make noise. as mentioned in that previous post, he mentions it, but on a page not accessible to me.


Oliver said...

I can't imagine Rabbi Falk is studying the tzniyus chumras of the Islamic community. If the shoe thing did make its way from there, how do you think that happened- and what do you think is next?

joshwaxman said...

I don't know, and can't know at present.

Perhaps not at all. But if so, then:
1) see here"Some prominent spokesmen have said that the z’chus of yishmael is tznius and that am yisrael needs to “Fight” back on that ground by copying them in their area of strength."
I have seen this elsewhere.

2) He might have been exposed to it from British Muslims, or by news articles of this requirement in Afghanistan, which might have been coupled with his own distaste for the clicking sound of women in high-heels.

3) Sometimes these things spread organically, and culturally. Especially if it first manifested itself in some Jews from Arabic countries.

But I don't know.


Anon Sahadei said...

Isaiah 3:16

טז וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה, יַעַן כִּי גָבְהוּ בְּנוֹת צִיּוֹן, וַתֵּלַכְנָה נטוות (נְטוּיוֹת) גָּרוֹן, וּמְשַׂקְּרוֹת עֵינָיִם; הָלוֹךְ וְטָפֹף תֵּלַכְנָה, וּבְרַגְלֵיהֶם תְּעַכַּסְנָה. 16 Moreover the LORD said: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched-forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet;

joshwaxman said...

thanks. yes, that source was discussed (and dismissed, IMHO), in the post linked to at the top, to which this post was a followup. See here:



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