Question: I attend a Yeshiva in Jerusalem and I have been wearing black and white as most of the students do. I’ve never had a problem with this, but now I feel I need to know a solid reason why I dress this way as I think about it all the time.
Answer: There is no requirement to wear black and white. Most of the Yeshiva students in the United States 50 years ago wore colored shirts. However, it became customary in the Yeshiva community to wear black and white because those are modest colors. See compendium Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Chapter 3 where he associates black clothes with humility. The Talmud states that the Sages of the Talmud wore white clothes.
Nowadays most people wear black and white because they want to associate with a particular community. This is not required by Jewish law, but the clothes you wear are a way to show which group you want to identify with. This is similar to Yankee fans wearing Yankee caps and t-shirts.
Clothes aren’t the most important thing but they may help us act in a certain way because we feel that people view us by the way we are dressed.
It is important to remember that clothes are for ones self. It helps a person see himself in a certain way. However, we should never judge another by the clothes they wear. That is merely external.
Rabbi Meir Goldberg
Rutgers Jewish Xperience