On Being Hot

On Being Hot

A modestly dressed woman is sweating in the heat and thanking someone for telling her she looks hot

So it’s summer! Oh, sunny, lovely, sweaty summer. The time we pull out the little shorts and flimsy summer dresses. Except if you’re Hasidic, the people who continue to dress in nearly the same heavy layers of clothing, covering their bodies from head to toe. I remember that outsiders would often look at my Hasidic Palm stockings condescendingly, pity me endlessly, and ask “aren’t you hot in those… those.. ‘bulletproofs'”? “Bulletproofs, mind you, is a very original expression of outsider’s humor, and this word would punctuate these frequent statements of ‘utter’ compassion.

The truth is, despite the fact that I went to town with this cartoon, I don’t remember ever feeling extremely hot. I don’t remember ever wiping sweat from my forehead and back of my neck. No, thank you for your pathetic pity, I’m not hot. I’m sitting on this park bench with my stroller, not running, not skating, not biking, not doing push-ups, not rolling down a hill with my son or showing off my cartwheels or dancing on the grass to the rhythm of my spirit, just sitting politely and modestly watching you all with your wide sweat spots on the back of your A-shirts. No, I’m not sweating.

I’m not. hot.

I could have used being a little hot.

I first knew hot, real hot, only later, when I was free. When I’d ride my bicycle for hours on end, under the afternoon sun, climbing a hill with hands so sweaty they’d slip off the handlebars. And then when I’d get over the top, whipping downhill, I’d feel the sweat on my cheeks and forehead turn to ice with the breeze. That’s when I knew hot. When I stopped my bike for a drink under a shade and see my face in my rearview mirror clip-on; red as beat, my hair wet and curly under my helmet, so sweaty I looked like I walked out of a boxing ring. Then I was hot.

I don’t think too much heat is the problem for Hasidim. The modesty ideal that does not permit most forms of physical activity is much more damaging than the modesty rule of wearing an extra sweaty layer. Women are shunned if they don’t refrain from running, acting uninhibited, or getting too physical. Instead, they are meant to be in the home, away from the heat, an isha kasheira. Rebbetzin Hillary Clinton famously reminded us that the solution to heat is “to get out of the kitchen”. Which is what Hasidic women are in great need of doing. Get out of the kitchen, leave the nine days fancy blintzes for Green’s and go climb a mountain, hike through winding trails, run a marathon, ride down a scenic path, play tennis or go skating, or yes, dance to the beat of your spirit. Just for heaven’s sake, stop staring at others and get moving. Stretch your legs and work that body and let yourself be. Exercise those muscles and joints and reserves of kokosh you spent too much time in the kitchen making and eating anyway.

Then you’d be really hot.


  • Kevin
    Posted at 20:58h, 28 June Reply

    The question is are hasidic woman really missing out by standing up for their ideals and convictions, do they have a less full filling and happy life by not jogging dancing and living it up the american way. Can we honestly say we have a more pleasurable lifestyle that offers us a greater level of happiness.

  • Relatively speaking, of course
    Posted at 21:08h, 28 June Reply

    Yes, that is exactly what she, who has lived both, is saying.

  • Miriam
    Posted at 21:18h, 28 June Reply

    Yes, Kevin, they have a less fulfilling life. They don’t experience a fraction of the entertainment, sports, arts, culture and much more that the world offers, and which enrich our lives. And those who feel “enriched” and “fulfilled” from only taking care of their kids has never tried anything else.They don’t know what they’re missing.

  • Miriam
    Posted at 21:19h, 28 June Reply

    Love the cartoon, by the way. It’s just so wonderfully drawn and expressed.

  • Frimet Goldberger
    Posted at 21:32h, 28 June Reply

    Hilarious, as usual!
    No, the life of your average chusid is not less fulfilling. Yes, what they find pleasurable in life is radically different than what most of us do. The ones who sweat while sitting with their bugaboos next to Brad Pitt are those who experienced a little of what Miriam listed. As for the others, they are perfectly content doing what they do.

  • Miriam
    Posted at 22:00h, 28 June Reply

    Yes, Frimet, they are content. But content and enriched are two separate things. Their quality of life is not the same as someone who is educated, cultured, physically fit, well-read, well-traveled, etc.

  • Shragi
    Posted at 00:00h, 29 June Reply

    שפיצל האסט פונקט צוגעטראפן צום היינטיגן ניו יורק טיימס
    Dressing With Faith, Not Heat, in Mind

  • Dave
    Posted at 12:53h, 29 June Reply

    Not sure on what planet Chasidim this post talk about reside. Go on to the Williamsburg bridge at any hour year round sun or shine you will see tons of Chasidic women with white sneakers jogging back & forth with strollers or without in groups. Daily exercize has become part of the Chasidic womens yenta rituals for many years now. In fact most Chasidic women are fit in shape I see much more overwight non Jewish women around. I’d say it is the Chasidic men lacking physhical activity they should ride bikes not expensive cars. Chasidic women always walk which is healthy.

  • Shragi
    Posted at 16:39h, 29 June Reply

    און פארשטייט זיך אז די רבי ר’ דובער האט נישט גענומען צו לאנג פאר ער איז ארויס געקומען מיט א תשובה
    Another Valentine from the Times to the Hasidim of NYC

  • Henny
    Posted at 01:39h, 01 July Reply

    Hot in the sun? Of course! Not as hot as you think they are because these woman are used to being dressed that way. But the sun is a sun, it doesn’t diffrenciate between Hasidic or not.

  • thinker
    Posted at 16:40h, 01 July Reply

    Well said, thats true. when you don’t move you’re not hot.
    One of the reasons why Chasidishe Rebbitzens literally are never on-the-go, for they are always (told to be) pregnant.
    Leave out one year not making a Kiddush/Zucher, your dear friends will worry and ask you “is everything okay?

  • Mechl
    Posted at 03:40h, 02 July Reply

    About being content and fullfilled: ppl always say give the frum ones the chance. get them to know education sports art etc etc. but how about the other side of the story show the not frum ones how content and fullfilled real judaism can be. i am not saying force anything on anyone but givem the chance. Usually i mean those kids and gorwn up who were thought anything about yiddishkeit(like the secular in israel). i also believe that many frim women and men do enjoy something from the western world and still live chassidishe lifestyle, Noone can really say what works best for everyone.

  • Prag
    Posted at 12:01h, 02 July Reply

    Well drawn, but to me It’s a bit strange she says thanks, I mean “hot” to her would only mean warm, not “looking good”, so she would’ve answered something like, duh!

  • Chaya Leah Gittele
    Posted at 16:10h, 02 July Reply

    While I do bike a ride (in places where I dare not be seen), and work out.. we are very much used to the tights, and the long sleeves, and of course the sheitel and hat…

  • Fascinated
    Posted at 11:10h, 06 July Reply

    so well said! thanx for talking for many of us…. and as always Shpitzele, there are many who love your creation but not everyone understands what ur talkin about (unless they have been there…) i have been there and i feel blessed every day for being free and being able to walk around like every normal person – (and not be discriminated. life is difficult enough, but in the chareidic world they seem to constantly be looking for ways to make it even more difficult… (they hope to get more Gan Eden of course…) all i can say is Thanx a million ur doing a fantastic job and it might be more important than u think! KEEP UP UR WONDERFUL WORK! (it makes my day every time i find a new cartoon of yours! (especially lately with the excellent discriptions you add to them! you should think about writing a book, believe me it would be a best-seller… and for those who want to deny what you say, its just proof to the extent of the brainwashing in the chareidic community

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