Public Opinion
Moshe Ben-Chaim

The Jewish community is making a grave error. People are concentrating on what others say about them, and do not feel obliged more towards what G-d thinks about them. And what is worse, foolish parents and shadchanim (matchmakers) prevent young men and women from dating each other due to such unimportant criteria as clothing. It is absurd, and in my opinion, completely forbidden. One violates "v'ahavta raacha camocha", "love thy neighbor as thyself" when insulting a person for doing absolutely nothing against the Torah. To prevent a young man from dating a girl just because he does not wear a black hat is completely wrong and violates Torah philosophy. I ask these people, didn't Joseph wear a coat of many colors, and not wear a black hat? None the less, G-d loved him.
G-d clearly admonishes us from judging superficially, and even reprimanded the prophet Samuel for doing so. G-d stated, (Samuel I;16:7)"ki hadam yireh l'aynayim, v'Hashem yireh l'lavav", "Man looks with his eye (what is external) but G-d looks into what is in one's heart". G-d states that one must look only at one's heart. Externals are of no consequence in G-d's eyes. Also, we find that Rava wore Roman Red garments when sitting shiva. The Talmud also says that if one is to sin, and cannot control himself, he should dress in black and go to another city to do so. How can the Talmud tell one to dress in black, if they were already dressed that way? The answer is that they evidently did not dress in black. They must have been wearing other colors. We see clearly here from the Talmud that today's Jews are prejudiced towards that which the rabbis of the Talmud did not care about, I refer to, black hats, black and white clothing, beards, and other irrelevant externals which in no way define a person's ahavas Torah and ahavas Yisroel.
These barometers of one's piety are nonsense. A thinking person should not allow externals to effect his or her estimation of another's character. Rav Aaron Kotler once admonished a student for growing a beard. Why? Apparently Rav Ahron was against one trying to "demonstrate" his own piety. "Demonstration" of piety is an inherent contradiction. A beard does not make one pious, and growing one when one is young can not be construed as being done for a correct reason. There actually is no reason for the positive act of "growing a beard." The reason I feel many rabbonim have beards, is that their concern for self image is not so central. This is a high level, and therefore they do not bother with shaving. There is no need. Rabbis who don beards are not doing so as a positive act. They did not "grow" a beard as a goal. Rather, due to their lack of interest in the self (due to an extreme love of learning), the self was of no consequence. Einstein too had long hair, as fitting the norm of contemporary hair styles was not his interest.
Moshe rabbeinu instructed the Jews upon the Exodus to take the Egyptian's garments. Rashi states that the Jews treasured these garments more than the gold and silver booty. Again, we see a clear lesson teaching how the Torah approaches this area. As the Jews were now leaving Egypt, there was no fear of assimilation through wearing the Egyptian garb. Additionally, wearing clothing of a former oppressor uplifts those formerly oppressed. It was a smart move psychologically to elevate the morale of those enslaved for 210 years. I believe this is also why Hashem commanded the Jews to ask of things from the Egyptians prior to the Exodus (Exod. 11:2), "v'yishalu ish ma-ase ra-ayhu, v'isha ma-ase ri-usa, klay kesef uklay zahav", "a man should ask of his fellow, and a woman of her's, silver and gold vessels".
As an objective thinker, and one who desires to follow the Torah and the rabbis, you must ask, "do you want to follow the masses because it is difficult to oppose them, or would you rather follow what G-d and the rabbis hold as important? We must use our minds in all areas, if we are to have the happiest existence, and the existence willed by G-d.
Living for our neighbor's approval is futile, and only leads to our own frustrations. However, thinking into what Hashem has commanded will engender in us a true appreciation for His Ultimate Wisdom, and we will delight in acting in a way which makes sense, and is pleasant.
I urge you to always consult the shulchan aruch or your rav before acting as others do. Do not be misled. Many Jews doing something does not validate such a behaviour as part of the Torah. Many times in history the Jews erred as a people. Numbers of people have been wrong then, and can be wrong today. By verifying that a notion or idea is truly part of the Torah, not only will you be following the Torah, but you will be correcting grave errors which are unfortunately widespread.
We should be a light unto the nations, but we first must illuminate ourselves to what's the honest truth.
I urge anyone who sees this nonsense being followed to speak out respectfully, but by all means firmly and with passion, clearly denouncing this corrupt practice of allowing external dress to be a factor in setting up matches. Explain the reasoning we discussed here, so others may see clearly why they must abandon this practice. Having clear understanding will hopefully outweigh the need to follow others.