We’ve already seen that tznius is mentioned in many different discussions throughout the gemora, sometimes rather surprisingly. There are other places, however, where one would expect tznius to be mentioned but in fact it is not. Of course, tznius could still be an implicit concern within these discussions, as evidenced by the fact that occasionally Rishonim or Achronim will articulate a connection to tznius in their discussions of the sugya. Still, the Talmud itself chooses not to articulate such a connection. Are there conclusions to be drawn from observing where and when tznius is, or is not, explicitly mentioned?
These observations provoke us to question why it is that some discussions are associated explicitly with tznius while others are not? What is the significance of the heading tznius and what does it add to the actions which it categorizes? One option we can suggest is that tznius is a halachik category whose usefulness is in organizing like-mitzvoth into a single group? An example of a similar categorical heading would be kashrus. This type of labeling does not necessarily illuminate anything about the objectives of the halachot with which it deals.
Alternatively, tznius could be the shared objective of numerous, otherwise unconnected, halachos. If this second option is indeed true there are still two possibilities to consider. One is that, as an objective, tznius has halachik significance. For example, standing for one’s parents falls under the greater objective of honoring one’s parent. Therefore, if one’s parents do not feel honored by this action it is not necessary to perform it for them. We could say in these cases that there is a greater conceptual mitzvah, such as tznius or respectfulness, which is accomplished through numerous diverse actions. But, it is also possible that a mitzvah can have an objective from a philosophical or moral perspective that does not affect in any way the manner in which this commandment is fulfilled. The classic example of this is found in the Rambam, who explains korbanot as a necessary tool to wean us off idol worship, but nonetheless teaches that the commandment to offer korbanot is not dependent on whether or not this objective has been fulfilled. The objective is derived from studying the commandment so that we will hopefully come to understand a greater life lesson, but in the practical realm it is divorced from the action and therefore insignificant in a purely halachik discussion.
How are we supposed to look at tznius? Tznius is often presented as a moral character trait and it is traditionally viewed as the latter option, as an objective, not simply as the former option, a categorical heading. Of course, even if we accept that tznius is an objective, is it an objective that affects certain halachot or does it only explain the philosophic goal of them? Further research is necessary before we can begin to answer this question.