Living a Jewish life does not just happen on holidays or Shabbat or when looking for a good, kosher snack. Judaism is a way of life that is meant to influence everything one does, every step one takes, and the Torah serves as an instruction manual on how to do this.
In Exodus 20, God instructs the Israelites on the proper way to make an altar to Him. “And if you make Me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone, for if you lift your tool upon it you have profaned it. Neither shall you go up by steps to My altar, so that your nakedness is not uncovered thereon” (Exodus 20:22-23).
Although these verses refer to how one should act while bringing an offering, it is a cogent example of the subtle lessons found in the Torah that actually apply to everyday life as well. In this case, the lesson reflects the necessity of modesty. The concept of modesty is often discussed in the context of religious life, usually in reference to a dress code. Modesty, however, goes beyond dress. It is a way people carry themselves, the way they interact with the world.
Being aware that walking up steps might reveal one’s nakedness reflects a general awareness of one’s surroundings and the necessary appropriate behavior in those surroundings. There is a time for laughter and a time for seriousness. There are places where it is appropriate to dress casually and places where formal dress is necessary.
Being a modest person means knowing when it is the right time to walk up the ramp rather than take the stairs.
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