בגד עברי לעם עברי


Symbols rule the minds of men.  This is not hyperbole.  The human mind reduces reality to an array of symbols.  It manipulates symbols.  It comprehends only in terms of symbols.  It communicates externally through symbols.  It is no accident that every civilization that developed a system of writing also developed a tradition of magic based on its script.  It is no accident that every civilization that developed mathematics also developed a tradition of numerology.  Indeed, so tremendously important are symbols to the human mind that we recognize a disabling condition, autism, which boils down largely to the sufferer’s inability to translate reality into symbols.

Seeing that symbols have great power, it behooves us to ask which symbols have the greatest power.  To this question the Holy Torah provides an answer.  Our Sages tell us that the Jewish People enslaved in Mitsrayim descended to the 49-th level of impurity.  They violated Shabbat, engaged in sexual perversion, ate the flesh of unclean creatures and worshipped idols.  There was nothing, it seems, to separate them from their filthy Egyptian neighbors. Except for three things.  The three most powerful symbols of identity.

Even sunk to the 49-th level of impurity, the Jews had kept their Hebrew names.  They had kept their Hebrew tongue.  And they had kept their Hebrew garb.  Whatever they did, no matter what perversions and filthy rituals they indulged in, their identity remained distinct, separate, Hebrew.  It remained defined by the three great symbols of personal identity – tongue, name, garb.

All that a man is, all that he ever was, all that he ever will be, indeed all that he ever CAN be is hemmed in and defined on the most basic level by these three things.

And of these three symbols, which is the most powerful?  Here, history, observation and basic common sense combine to provide us with a definitive answer.  A man’s name remains unknown unless he is introduced.  A man’s tongue remains unheard while he is silent.  But a man’s garb is constantly on display.  It is the first form of communication encountered by all who see the wearer.  It is, before a word is spoken, the unquestioned definer of first impressions.  It is always on display.  It is never silent.  It blends in or stands out, welcomes or rejects, attracts or repels.  It proclaims allegiance, wealth, marital status, occupation, even intentions.  And it does so without any effort on the part of the wearer.

The clothes make the man.  This is no mere adage.  The soldier is defined by his uniform, the prelate by his cassock, the doctor by his white coat.  Not only do others perceive them in accordance with their garb, but they themselves unconsciously act according to it.  So powerful is garb as a symbol that men begin to act in accordance with their perception of the role defined by it simply as consequence of wearing it.

In fact, a 1960s university experiment to explore the power of this role-defining symbol had to be stopped after only a few weeks.  Innocent university students dressed as prisoners began to act as prisoners, while their classmates dressed as guards began to act like prison guards.  Even the professor, who was supposed to act as a neutral observer, began to act in accordance with his garb – as a prison warden!  What is more, students who removed prisoner garb and put on guards’ uniforms began almost immediately to act as brutal guards, while “guards” dressed as prisoners began to act as dehumanized prisoners!

The great leaders of history understood the enormous power of garb.

A Swedish king named Gustav Adolph needed to defeat the greatest armies of Europe.  His men needed to perform precise, identical movements in unison, loading their muskets with the greatest possible speed, then discharging them against the enemy again and again and again despite the chaos and terror of battle.  So he dressed them in identical yellow and blue coats.  Gustav Adolph became Gustavus Adolphus, Sweden became a Great Power and modern armies were born.

Tsar Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov needed to drag medieval Muscovy kicking and screaming into the 18-th century.  So he took off his Russian robes, shaved his beard and dressed like a Westerner.  Then he forced his subjects to shave, banned the kaftan and introduced western clothing at gunpoint.  Thus Tsar Pyotr Alexeyevich became Emperor Peter the Great and Muscovy became Imperial Russia.

But the most important case for our purposes is the curious case of a certain very famous British lawyer and his somewhat less famous disciple.

When British barrister M. K. Gandhi came to South Africa, he sought to achieve equality for his race within the British Empire.  He sought this by legal means, within the courts.  He encouraged loyalty to the crown and proudly served in the British Army.  Though his strict Jain religion prevented him from bearing arms, he served with distinction.  At Spion Kop, stretcher bearer M.K. Gandhi rushed again and again into a hail of Boer bullets and shell splinters in order to rescue wounded British soldiers.  Were it not for British racism, he would have gotten the Victoria Cross.

M.K. Gandhi, Esq., who sought justice in British courts

M.K. Gandhi, Esq., who sought justice in British courts

Stretcher bearer M.K. Gandhi, a loyal soldier of the Crown

Stretcher bearer M.K. Gandhi, a loyal soldier of the Crown

When the young man despaired of achieving his people’s rights through British courts, he took off his British suit and put on the garb that was his right by birth – the robes and turban of an Indian aristocrat.  M. K. Gandhi, Esq. became Mohandas Gandhi, the princely young Congress Party activist arguing for Indian autonomy in flawless King’s English.

Mohandas Gandhi, a young aristocrat who sought Indian autonomy within the British Empire

Mohandas Gandhi, a young aristocrat who sought Indian autonomy within the British Empire

And when Mohandas Gandhi despaired of autonomy, he resolved upon a struggle for independence.   So he did the only thing a Jain aristocrat could do.  He took off the princely robes of his birthright and wrapped himself in the simple cloak of the Hindu ascetic, the cloak of India’s most famous prince of all, Prince Siddhartha Gautama.  Mohandas Gandhi became Mahatma Gandhi.

The British Empire was willing to imprison him for decades.  It was willing to shoot his followers in droves and beat them to a pulp at every opportunity.  But in the end it could not defeat him.  For the British could fight a prince.  But they could not fight a saint.

Mahatma Gandhi, father of his nation

Mahatma Gandhi, father of his nation

When Gandhi first adopted Indian garb, he was ridiculed.  When a highly successful Indian barrister gave away his fine British-made clothing and dressed in Indian homespun like his friend Gandhi, the barrister’s wife, Mrs. Swaruprani Nehru, was mortified.  When her son followed suit, Mrs. Nehru was appalled.  It was one thing for her husband and son to talk crazy talk about independence.  Men get silly ideas once in a while, get all crazy and run off at the mouth.  Women just have to put up with it until the men calm down.  Everyone knows this.  It was all phase.

But when her menfolk took off their nice clothing and dressed like ragamuffin street vendors, why it was serious!  What was a wife and mother to do?  How would they make a living?  They could be arrested, imprisoned, even shot in some demonstration!  They could even get themselves hanged!  All for the impossible, unattainable, unrealistic dream of overthrowing the British Raj!  What clearheaded woman would not be appalled at such insanity?

History does not recall whether on 15 August 1947 Jawaharlal Nehru remembered his mother’s reaction all those many years before.  But history does recall that on the day the first Prime Minister of the newly independent Republic of India took his oath of office, he was wearing the same ragamuffin street vendor homespun that had so appalled his mother.

J. Nehru, a well dressed and loyal British schoolboy, poses for a formal photograph

J. Nehru, a well dressed and loyal British schoolboy, poses for a formal photograph

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, leader of his people, says goodbye to the British

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, leader of his people, says goodbye to the British

None of these things should surprise us.  We see the power of garb every day.  When we see “Orthodox” Jewish parties such as Shas and UTJ acting like corrupt ghetto dwellers willing to sell their brothers down the river for a few million shekels and a wink and a nod from the powers that be, we need not look any further than the garb that shapes their identity.

Look at their 18-th century black suits and outmoded black hats!  Look at the pseudo-Islamic turbans of $hade$ and his filthy ilk!  These are the clothes of the ghetto!  These are the symbols of the ghetto!  Those who wear them will never leave the ghetto, for the ghetto rules their minds with its black hats and frock coats and rekelech and shtreimels and bekishes and turbans!

Prisoners of the ghetto

Prisoners of the ghetto

And why should we be surprised that secular Israeli politicians act like goyim and order pogroms?  Look at those goyish suits and ties and high heels and power suits!  Look at the jeans and miniskirts of their constituents!

Is THIS Jewish garb?  Are THESE the symbols of Jewish identity?  These are the clothes of goyim!  These are the symbols of godless Western hedonism!  Those who wear them will never abandon their Western perversions, for these perversions rule their minds with Armani suits and designer jeans and Gucci handbags!

A bunch of Hebrew-speaking goyim

A bunch of Hebrew-speaking goyim

Our heroic Hilltop Youth are wiser than their elders.  They instinctively know the power of symbols.  They instinctively know the power of garb.  When you see giant kippot and unkempt beards and extra-long peyot, when you see tallit katan worn as overgarments, when you see  bandannas folded and tied to look like head coverings from a biblical illustration, look beyond the surface. Our youth are groping toward our identity.  They instinctively reject the garb of our shame, the penguin suit of the ghetto.  They instinctively reject the garb of perversion and hedonistic filth, the clothing of the West.  They grope toward our TRUE identity, the identity of a free Jewish People in its own sacred Land.  They grope toward THIS:

A free Jew in his Land

A free Jew in his Land

My brothers and sisters, this clothing is not a Purim costume.  This is not and must not be the domain of reenactors and actors, the costume of silly people who have nothing better to do on the weekends.  This garb is our TRUE IDENTITY.  It is simple to make.  It is comfortable.  It is suited to our climate.

Dye it OD green.   Add a few extra pockets.  Sew some camo netting onto the robe if you wish.  Put on a pair of running shoes or better yet a pair of good combat boots.  Don a boonie cap to keep the sun out of your eyes.  You have an excellent battle dress uniform.  Throw on some web gear, grab a rifle and you are in business, a Jewish warrior in a Jewish cause.

Until we take off the ghetto straightjacket of alien identity, until we put on the tunic and tallit and robe of our Jewish selves, we can never be free, for our minds will remain imprisoned. Our liberation must begin with the War of Symbols and our greatest symbol must be our appearance itself.  We are not Israeli.  We are not medieval ghetto dwellers.  We are Am Ivri.  Let us adopt Beged Ivri.  Let us free our minds.  Our bodies and our country will follow.

14 Shevat 5769


10 Responses to “בגד עברי לעם עברי”

  1. Rob Says:

    Is it practical to wear such garments today? sure, a couple thousand years ago this was the form of dress.

    does Torah support this dress code even for today? I understand your point though.

  2. Vienna Mike Says:

    The Torah clearly supports Jews dressing as Jews. Thus it is said “I have set you apart from the goyim.” In the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Chapter 3 Halacha 2 we find: “We do not walk in the paths of the goyim… …nor adopt their manner of dress…” The Talmud goes so far as to note that even in the manner of shoe laces the Jew must strive to be different from the goy.

    As for practicality, the garments are easy to make and easy to maintain. They are already worn on a regular basis by numerous Jews in Eretz Yisrael. The photograph you see on the previous post was, as a matter of fact, taken from a catalog that sells fine Jewish garments.

    It is important to point out that it is not material whether the garb is made from authentic hand-spun wool and other such nonsense. These kinds of details are important to reenactors and souvenir hunters. For our purposes, it is sufficient that the fabric be sturdy and serviceable and that the garments look presentable. Whether it is cotton or wool or ripstop camouflage or anything else should be dictated solely by considerations of use and economics. The wearing of Beged Ivri is an act of propaganda in the War of Symbols. It is an act of defiance, challenge and self-definition. When one is building a house, cultivating a garden, trading blows with a Yassamnik or planting an IED, considerations of fashion and authenticity are of no importance. Only considerations of physical utility and propaganda value apply.

  3. Judeanoncapta Says:

    I agree with every word of what you say.

    However when this beged ivri company sells it’s clothing at 400-800 dollars a pop, that guarrantees that this type of clothing revolution will never get off the ground.

    I’m thinking of starting a new company making beged ivri myself.

    We need to get the price down below 100 dollars to actually make this widespread

    If Mr. BenYehuda08 is interested in helping such a project along, he has my unpublished email address.

  4. Vienna Mike Says:

    Anyone can make beged ivri for under $20. All one needs is a sewing machine. You can find patterns for t-tunics, robes and trousers all over the web. Our tunics are even simpler than the medieval reenactors’ garb, as they have neither gores nor gussets and are slit to 51%. The reason the company you mention sells their garb for such ridiculous amounts of money is that

    1) They insist on using period fabric to create an authentic period look. Once a reenactor, always a reenactor.

    2) They are out to make money from American tourists

  5. Judeanoncapta Says:

    I don’t care about period fabric or any such nonsense.

    But if you know of a place where I can get cheap quality fabric for under 20 dollars a garment, I would love to hear.

    I think that if you know how to producr beged ivri for 20 dollars a garment, you need to be starting the company to do so. Or atleast tell me how, so I can do it.

  6. Vienna Mike Says:

    Here is a comment I got from a very brave person in Eretz Yisrael who keeps asking that I add him to my blogroll (By the way, friend, the answer is “Absolutely not!” You have a wife and children, I believe, and you place yourself in enough danger without such obvious incentives for the Shabak to put a bullet through your head).

    “VM, You’re right, of course. I just bought the material I need for 12.50 dollars. The labor may run about 30 dollars, as this is the first time my friend’s wife is making this for me, and it will require an extra fitting. Still, 42.50 is much less than hundreds.

    With my other friend’s yeshiva discount, tzitzith with techeleth will run me 40 dollars.

    I decided upon this design so that I can fulfill the misswah of walking around “wrapped” in tzitzith and techlet according to the Ramba”m {not hidden like scared Jews in {Poland, etc.}

    The Jews in Givat Ronen wear long shirts w/o tzitzith required. This was my other option, but then I would have to have an additional four cornered garment to wrap around myself. I can do that in the future. Spring and summer are around the corner. I wanted to keep that in mind.


    Note that this person is having a friend’s wife make the garments for him. Thus his costs are higher than normal.

    It is the philosophy of Vienna Mike that it is preferable for persons to make their beged ivri themselves, for the same reason Ghandi insisted that his followers spin their own cloth. It is a way to filter out many of those who are not serious about self-sacrifice, and with every stitch you have the opportunity to think whether your commitment to the liberation of our country is wholehearted. Will you face the Israeli enemy in the clothes you make, knowing that they will beat you to a pulp for your defiance? Will you proudly have these clothes as your burial shroud? Are you willing to sacrifice all for the liberation of our trampled country? When you make your own garment, you have time to think about these things.

    Nonetheless, the author of this blog does not disapprove of those who wish to purchase their beged ivri or have it made to order by friends and family. Nor does the author disapprove of those who wish to evolve a business model to produce and sell beged ivri, as long as such persons are strict about using only Avodah Ivri.

    P.S. Those who live in the Holy Land and wish to post comments here are strongly encouraged to visit torproject.org and to use this or similar software to mask one’s IP address. Further, as previously mentioned on the Scribble Board, the email address field will accept anything in the format of an email address, including items like “sodoff@noneofyerbusiness.com”

    Once your first post is accepted by the moderator, all subsequent posts that use the same fake email address and nondescript username will be automatically approved by the software. Further, if you are a blogger who uses wordpress, blogspot or any other affiliated blog engine, you must LOG OUT of your own blog before you try to comment on this site or else your blog address will be appended to your post and, if your blog is easily traceable to a person in the Holy Land, the moderator will DELETE your comment.

  7. Judeanoncapta Says:

    Actually it is possible to stretch the Techeleth out to be enough for two, or three perhaps even four garments.

    Most people are under the mistaken assuption that tzitzith are required to be 24cm long or even 28 cm long. This is based on the view of Rabbenu Tam, although the vast majority or poskim including the Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch say clearly that they need not be longer than a tephah which is around 8cm long.

    So you can buy the regular packet of tzitzith with tekheleth and have enough for multiple garments.



    [VM responds: Escribe en ingles por favor! This is an English-only site. I do not try with the goyim because I do not believe there is a point. Those who are true to the Bible will support the Jewish People. The rest will burn in gehinnom.]

  9. Anonymous Says:

    [VM: This is an excerpt from a private communication that is relevant to the discussion at hand]

    BTW, isn’t Beged Ivri a company name?? Don’t EVEN get me started on Reuven Prager. Check out who he’s been talking to….Messianics. Check the completely nontzniustik pics on his site, and women’s kippahs????

    Lo tiqah shohad, ki hashohad y’awer….

    He’s also made purple and gold clothing which the Rambam specifically says are forbidden to wear. I also question whether they are big enough to require tzitzith, and just how IVRI or jewish do they look to you?

    To me they just look like western shirt, which have been Jewisized.

  10. Vienna Mike Says:

    Beged Ivri literally means “Hebrew Garb”. Which is a great thing to call the clothing of Jews who make it a point to differentiate themselves from the Israelis and set themselves in opposition to everything Israel’s erev rav government stands for. By calling it “beged ivri” and not, say “beged yehudi”, we explicitly draw a connection between the wearer today and his ancient forefathers in this Land, from Avraham Avinu onward.

    I could not care less about Reuven Prager. If he wants to name his company “Beged Ivri” in order to make money from gullible tourists and Messianics, that is his business. In fact, the short tunic descending to approximately mid-thigh was as near a universal ancient Mediterranean garment as could exist. The reason it looks like a modern shirt to your eyes is because the modern shirt evolves from it by way of the garment we know today as the polo shirt. There is absolutely nothing wrong with making a short tunic that is a four-cornered garment with tzitzit.

    But none of this is very important. To me, what is important is the symbolism behind the wearing of clothing designed explicitly to look Jewish and explicitly to look very different from normal Israeli clothing in order to make the political point that the wearer does not belong to the same nation as the Osloite erev rav and those who support them. Beged Ivri is about explicit self-definition as a Jew and making the point that a Jew cannot be Israeli.

    Given that the point is self-definition and the building of an identity, there is no need to worry about whether or not the clothing is “historically authentic” from a reenactor’s point of view in that it is made with period fabrics, etc.

    Therefore, as far as I am concerned, the basic garment consists of a simple tunic descending approximately to mid-thigh, slit to 51% of length on the sides so that it qualifies as a garment requiring tzitzit. To this should be added a large kippah. One may also add a more historically authentic headgear or approximate it by tying a large bandanna around the head. Obviously, one needs a sash to wear with the tunic unless one plans to tuck the tzitzit through the belt of one’s pants to keep the tunic from flapping about indecently. The style of sash is immaterial as long as it is tasteful. A chassidic gartel works fine for those not interested in experimentation. Insofar as color and cut of the tunic, this of course varies depending on the purpose. If you are gardening, you want a sturdy long-sleeved garment that will take abuse. If you are performing military duties, you need camouflage. If you are hanging out with friends in the summer, something light and short-sleeved will go nicely with your sandals. And if you are going to schul on Shabbat you need something that looks worthy of wearing on Shabbat.

    Insofar as pants and footwear, obviously one should wear what fits with the occasion. If one wants to make simple loose trousers that match the tunic, this is fine. If one wants to have something more fancy, this is also fine. One could even wear loose jeans or shorts of a halachically appropriate length. Of course one would wear sandals when it is appropriate and boots when it is appropriate and so forth.

    For Shabbat and other such occasions, one would of course want to add a tallit of quality make. In cold weather, a robe should preferably be worn over the tunic, again in order to distinguish oneself from the Israelis.

    Now, regarding techelet, I have one practical issue. If we accept that the techelet currently produced from snails is authentic, we are stuck with our soldiers having a blue thread in their tzitizit. But blue is not a camouflage color and will give the soldiers’ position away in many situations, endangering their lives. Whereas if we say that even though the claim for techeilet looks very good, there is still a machlokes, our soldiers can leave the blue string off their camouflage garments and use tzitzit dyed OD green. Of course, this issue goes away if a competent Rav whose authority was universally respected were to issue a psak halacha stating that soldiers may leave the blue thread out of their tzitzit in order to protect their lives. But this cannot occur until after there is a large community self-identifying as wearers of Hebrew garb. Therefore, I would leave the issue of techelet until after independence, putting it in the same category as the need for a single common siddur.

    (Yes, I know that many IDF so-called “soldiers” wear tallit katan with white tzitzit that stand out like a sore thumb. The reason for this is that the IDF does not qualify as an army. Its “soldiers” do not fight like soldiers. When they bother to do anything at all and not run away at the first thrown rock, they play traffic cop at checkpoints and SWAT cop in Gaza. If you are going to stand at a checkpoint patting down Arabs or walk down the street like an idiot in order to draw fire so you do not “endanger the lives of innocent Palestinian civilians”, it doesn’t matter if you are wearing camouflage or day-glo orange.

    And, of course, some will say that one can simply tuck the pretty white tzitzit under the uniform, but then they forget that the moment the fighting starts and the soldier is running and diving for cover and shooting and climbing over obstacles and crawling all over the place, everything will come loose and dangle out. Or, worse, it will stay under the uniform and rub off skin until there is an open sore, which will inevitably get infected…)

    Anyway, this should give you an idea of what I mean by beged ivri.

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