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On a recent visit to a desert town in Israel, where summer temperatures reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit and over, I wondered about a large Hassidic community that reside there and their firm style of dress.

  • How do Hassidic men, dressed in long, black jackets and other layers, maintain their health in the midst of such unbearable heat?
  • Is there any literature/Hassidic opinion that links bodily discomfort as a virtue/ascetic value/etc? Is there any opinion at all that acknowledges the discomfort of wearing this clothing?
  • Are there any strategies (besides staying indoors) that Hassidim have for staying comfortable in the heat?

**This question is not meant to judge or mock anyone, but an honest question about religious garb.

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    Interesting and +1 but I am afraid the first and third bullet might get the question closed for not being about Judaism. The second could be and if you would recenter the question on that second bullet, it might stay open. – mbloch Jun 24 at 17:41
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    #3 is as much on topic as this: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/19096/… It is the type of question that has been on-topic on mi yodeya since the beginning. #1 falls under the same category, as the type of question practitioners of (a specific branch of) Judaism would be most likely to know the answer to. – Yishai Jun 24 at 18:08
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    When a particular hasidic rabbi whom I know is asked this, he replies with a smile that his coat is air conditioned on the inside. – msh210 Jun 24 at 20:55
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I live in West Texas, where in the summertime the temperatures can reach well over 100 degrees, oftentimes all the way up to 110 degrees. I admit I don't dress up too much, definitely not as much as some frum Jews out there, but I do not hesitate to wear my hat and jacket in the heat of summertime.

My daily clothing consists of long black pants, a cotton undershirt, a wool tallis katan, and a white button-down shirt. On top of that, I often wear a hat and a jacket.

Some people ask me if I get hot, and I tell them once upon a time I did. But my body became acclimated. In fact, I'd venture to say that since my skin is not in direct sunlight I end up feeling less hot.

If you take someone from New England and plop them in Texas they would complain about the heat, no matter what clothing they'd be wearing. In the same manner, someone would complain about the heat if they were used to wearing shorts and t-shirts all the time and you put them in the Chasidic uniform.

In other words, you get used to the heat, stay out of the sun during the heat of the day (which is a good thing no matter what you're wearing), and stay hydrated. And sweating is healthy. Your body does it for a reason.

  • they didn't always have air-conditioning +1 – Dr. Shmuel Jun 26 at 3:34
  • travel.stackexchange.com/a/140950/7657 there may be some science to this – Double AA Jun 26 at 12:26
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    @Dr.Shmuel Even in many parts of the U.S. North they don't use air conditioning the same way people in the South do. My mother can also tell you about the times when they didn't use air conditioning in Texas either. I don't think our heat tolerance is helped by the freezing cold air conditioning in buildings during the summer. Going from 100 degree weather to a building cooled to 60 degrees cannot be good for your general health. Which is why when we work outside out here during the summer, we try very hard to stay outside always, even during breaks. – ezra Jun 26 at 12:35
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There are different versions of the coats - for example, in the summer Hassidim will generally wear a frock coat made of a light weight, drip-dry polyester, without a shape-holding canvas lining.

That said, Hassidim wear clothing that are not natural for wear in summer heat and the strategy is generally to try to stay indoors or in the shade as much as possible and to drink lots of water always staying hydrated.

It's also mental though - because Hassidim typically dress like this their whole life, they don’t really feel hot more than compared to anyone else because they've developed a resistance to what you may feel if you wore their clothing (by being used to it) the same way that Arabs wear layers of clothing in the desert to keep from burning their skin.

I'm not aware of any spiritual literature on this but generally Hasidic Jews always have their mind on something related to Torah etc. So I think it is rare that they are thinking too much about the heat which is a strong mental strategy.

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    I thought Beduins wore layers of clothing because the air in between the layers acted as an insulation device. There wouldn't be a need for multiple layers only because of the sun. I'm also afraid the last para makes hasidim into super-heroes, my experience is that they are normal Jews and suffer from the heat the same as anyone else – mbloch Jun 24 at 17:43
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    My point mainly relates to strategies they use - if you are in uncomfortable conditions any person could advise you that having your mind engaged with someone else helps you avoid a portion of the discomfort. This doesn't make them super heroes. The IDF teach similar psychological techniques to keep your mind engaged. The fact that they are so used to it just means they probably are able to handle it a lot more than a person who doesn't wear a jacket in the summer would. – Mordechai ben Yosef Jun 24 at 20:16
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I can't argue with Mordechai's answer.

I can say that when I taught a computer class to a mainly Hassidic group, I did ask two of my students how they manage with those clothes in the summer. They offered a simple answer - "Hashem did not provide mitzvoth just because they are easy to perform."

Now, how can I argue with that comment? It's not saying that they're not hot and sweaty sometimes. They are. But, they live with the circumstances because this is how they feel they need to dress, look, and perform. I will say that I kept some bottles of water in the class just in case they or someone else dehydrates.

I can't fathom how hot the shtreiml must be on Shabbat, though!

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Many cultures that reside in the desert specially wear many layers of garments. This actually is cooler to the skin than being exposed to direct sunlight.

Sweating is also healthy, by the way. See here: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/can-saunas-detoxify-lead-from-the-body/

As for physical discomfort, I would direct you to read about the character trait of Prishus in Mesilas Yesharim by Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzato. Keep in mind that what he describes is not an obligation at the strict-letter-of-the-law-level, however it can obviously be applied to clothes. Also, see what he writes in the character trait of humility / anava.

However, anyone can take off their outer layers if they were, say, playing in a park. Wearing these layers applies mostly to walking in the street. I would also extend this to not only chasidim, but chareidim at large.

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