19 June, 2006
I am fairly observant by a Conservative standard (I go to the Mikveh, but do not leave my husband's bed, just abstain), but I have a friend who has become quite observant in the last few years. We have had lots of great conversations and I generally feel comfortable asking her most questions.
Now she is getting married, to someone she met on a shidduch. She plans to cover her hair completely (no hairline) after marriage. My question is about giving a gift for her Bridal Shower. I usually give the bride-to-be a present of lingerie, but I don't know if this would be appropriate for her. Does modesty extend to the bedroom? Would it be immodest for me to give her lingerie in the presence of other women? Is it simply out of the question?
I really want to maintain our friendship at the level of intimacy we had before she left for Israel, so it is important to me to give her something to reflect that.
Tzniut (modesty) can be expressed in every aspect of our lives. It is not only a "dress code," but a guide for speech and behavior for both men and women that enables us to focus on a person's inner essence rather than on the material and external. So tzniut can, and should, find expression within marital intimacy – although of course it will manifest itself very differently than it does in public.
The classic rules of modest clothing, however, do not apply in the married couple's bedroom. There are different perspectives on the use of lingerie by observant couples, although anecdotally its use would seem to be becoming more widespread. In other words, your friend might really appreciate the gift. But she may be more comfortable receiving it in private. You might consider purchasing a different, likewise meaningful gift to give publicly, and giving her the lingerie privately. Alternatively, your choice might depend on the atmosphere at the shower. Another approach would be to ask her directly before the shower, or to ask a friend in her circle if this is done.
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