Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Know Your Enemy

Previously, I presented a gallery of crazy examples of frum publications omitting pictures of women. Most (but far from all) of the readers here are of the view that erasing women is ridiculous and/or terrible. But is that really the case?

When people would hear that my books were banned for being heretical, they would often immediately extend words of support to me, saying things like "Rambam was also banned!" and ridiculing my opponents. This always made me uncomfortable. Yes, Rambam was also banned, but this doesn't mean that every banned book is as worthy as Rambam's works.  As the saying goes, they laughed at Columbus, they laughed at the Wright brothers, but they also laughed at Bozo the Clown. How could these people, who had not read my books and had not examined my opponents' objections, automatically assume that I was correct?

The notorious and extremely painful ban on my books was a growth opportunity in a number of ways. One of those is that I learned to appreciate the importance of understanding one's opponents. It would have been all too easy to just dismiss the ban on my books as sheer nonsense, utterly unjustifiable and absolutely incomprehensible. This was especially since the justifications that were being given for the ban were indeed sheer nonsense. But, after spending many, many months trying to understand what was fundamentally going on, I finally grasped it - even better than my opponents did - and I was able to write a defense of my opponents that was far superior to anything that my opponents had to offer. This didn't mean that I believed that they were ultimately correct. But only by understanding their legitimate concerns could I properly address why my works were ultimately justifiable.

And I took a larger lesson from this. In any disagreement, one shouldn't just dismiss one's opponents as "crazy." There's a reason why people take the positions that they take. It might not be the reason that they are consciously aware of. It might not be a very good reason. But there is a reason, and it's important to know what it actually is.

The same is true with the issue of erasing women. Many people - including warriors for the cause of putting women back in the picture - simply don't understand why erasing happens and dismiss it as baseless nonsense. This hampers their ability to fight for their cause, since their opponents recognize that these people just don't get what it's all about.

I saw this problem vividly demonstrated recently when I unwittingly caused a storm (again!). I am part of a discussion group on these issues, mostly consisting of women, and I posted a picture of a sheitel advertisement that I was surprised to come across in a parasha booklet in shul. Here it is:


To my mind, the problems with the picture on the left were so obvious that they didn't even need to be spelled out. The facial expression, the pose, the camera angle, the careful use of a fan together with a fast shutter-speed to get the "hair blowing in slow motion" look - it's all professionally designed to be sexually alluring. Aside from it making a mockery of the concept of modesty (the very thing that it is advertising!), surely it's simply not an appropriate picture for a parasha booklet.

Yet incredibly, some of the women in the group couldn't (or perhaps wouldn't?) see any problem with it! Some of them denied that the picture was intended to be alluring in any way; one said that it's simply showing how "REAL women" look in "REAL weather conditions of windy days." (I dryly responded that I don't know why the photographer even bothered setting up the shoot in his studio; he should have just gone outside and made use of whatever the weather was that day!) Another said that if I rate it as distracting, it means that I am a "sexual pervert." (I pointed out that if a woman is trying to be sexually alluring, then surely it's not perverse to be attracted!) The backlash against my post was so heated that many of the women who did agree with me had to write to me privately to say so; they were too afraid to face the wrath of others in the group.

Others had more serious arguments against my disapproval of the picture. Some said that it's deeply unpleasant to start policing which kinds of pictures can and cannot appear, and it's a slippery slope that can lead to the erasure of perfectly suitable pictures, and therefore it's best to make a "lo plug" (blanket policy) and allow all pictures. I'll return to that argument later, but meanwhile I would like to observe that this is the exact same argument used by those who do not print any pictures of women - that it's too unpleasant to start policing which kinds of pictures can and cannot appear, and it's a slippery slope that can lead to printing unsuitable pictures, and therefore it's best to make a lo plug and ban all pictures.

Another argument against my disapproval of the picture was that since the woman is following the letter of the law and covering all the parts that are required to be covered, there is no room for criticism. Ironically, this too is a mirror image of a problem that occurs with the modesty zealots, who transform tzniyut to a matter of centimeters and inches rather than being an attribute.

Unfortunately there are people who are unaware of some basic scientific truths that underlie the principles and laws of modesty. There are those who believe that there are absolutely no differences between men and women with regard to being attracted and distracted by the opposite gender. But the truth is otherwise.

It's basic biology - something that I see in the live animal collection at the Biblical Museum of Natural History every day - that males are more attracted and distracted by the opposite gender than the reverse. It's a simple scientific fact, for which there are biological and evolutionary reasons. Those who deny any difference between men and women are going against biology. (Ironically, this is a case where the charedi mindset is more scientifically grounded than certain non-charedi mindsets!) And if you want a striking example from the human species, there is the hacking of the Ashley Madison adultery website. It turned out that the active female users numbered just fifteen hundred, whereas the active male users of the website numbered over twenty million!
Men are indeed very susceptible to being attracted to, and distracted by, pictures of women. And given Judaism's emphasis on sexual attraction only being legitimate in the context of having (or trying to obtain) a marital relationship, this means that printing alluring pictures of women is a problem. But here's where the picture-erasers go wrong.

Yes, women can be distracting to men, more so than the other way around. However, that does not mean that it's best if women are minimized as much as possible, for three reasons.

First of all, once you substitute the traditional code and policy with an approach of "let's be more strict than our predecessors," then people will naturally apply this approach even further. And the logical consequence of that is the new phenomenon of charedi women wearing burqas. The "Burqa Babes" were too much even for the extreme Charedi Rabbonim here in Beit Shemesh; they issued a condemnation of them, citing the passuk of "Do Not Be Overly Righteous," pointing out that it leads to disrespect for parents, and causes others to have an aversion to tzniyus. But in a society in which it is forbidden for women to be seen even in pictures, it is hardly surprising that women start to wear burqas so that they will not be seen in real life either. And another natural end result is that women will eventually see it as an ideal not to leave the house at all, and it will ultimately become an imposed stringency.

Second, saying that women should be minimized as much as possible neglects the responsibilities that men have. Judaism does not believe that all the responsibility for avoiding inappropriate thoughts lies with women. Women have a responsibility not to try to be alluring, and men have a responsibility to try not to be allured. The principles of modesty make certain demands of women, but when they fulfill those (sometimes challenging) demands, it's then up to men to do their part, not to expect women to do all the hard work.

Third, aiming for a "higher standard of modesty" and "enacting safeguards" does not take into account all the problems that come with minimizing and erasing women. As the saying goes, every chumra comes with a kula. In this case, it brings a multitude of problems - causing financial disadvantages for women in certain professions, making Orthodox Judaism look crazy, turning women into sex objects, depriving frum girls of modest role models, teaching women that no matter how modestly they dress they will always have to erase themselves as a sexual temptation, and making women feel that they lack full existence in Orthodoxy, which causes all kinds of depression and resentment, and even causing people to leave Orthodoxy. Is all this worth it, just so as men won't have the challenge of seeing a picture of a modest woman?!

Finally, with regard to the "slippery slope" argument that it can lead to images such as the sultry sheitel advertisement, there are lots of things that can potentially lead to hirhurim, and yet Chazal did not prohibit them. This can lead to difficult judgments on a subjective case-by-case basis, but Chazal held that those judgments should indeed be made on such a basis, rather than simply broadly prohibiting everything. (This argument also works in the reverse; the challenges of making judgments on a case-by-case basis does not mean that frum publications should always print any photo of a woman who is covered according to the letter of the law. This does not mean that attractive women should not have their photos shown; but it does mean that photos which are intended to be alluring, such as the one above, should not be printed.)

Modesty is an obligation in Judaism. It is an obligation for both men and women, though it plays out differently for them. But taking it too far ends up costing a lot more than it gains. It's time to put women back in the picture.


For further resources, see www.chochmatnashim.org and www.frumwomenhavefaces.com

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58 comments:

  1. I appreciate the nuance in this post, kol hakavod!

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    1. Simulated pictures of aroused women posted for everyone to look at and talk about is "nuance"?

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    2. It should be up to each individual what they consider appropriate. It makes no sense whatsoever to have a top-down approach that forces everyone to follow the opinion of some minority of extreme rabbis. Each needs to figure it out. From each according to her blondness to each according to his desire.

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    3. Hi Zev,
      There are words in the article too

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    4. @Zev
      "Aroused women" ??? What post are you looking at?

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  2. Chochmatnashim's home page is a good argument for those who object to the politicization of women's photos.

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  3. Replies
    1. Oh, absolutely. Thank you for posting that really hot picture of the blonde for me to look at and while we .... yeah... uh...

      What were we talking about, again?



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    2. Is it supposed to be funny - How disgusting is this?

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  4. I thanks for your discussion on this issue! I think you left out an important option. Many look at this image and simply do not perceive it the way you do. To you it is obviously suggestion. To others it’s not. That’s not denial. They aren’t lying about what they see. It really truthfully isn’t suggestive to them. It’s subjective. See the brouha ha of the yellow vs blue dress several years ago. Different eyes perceive the same thing differently.

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    1. "Many look at this image and simply do not perceive it the way you do."

      ... only if they are liars.

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    2. Daniel - she is not lying, she is saying from the perspective of a fellow woman, not you - as a man.

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    3. There is a very small group that would feign innocence here. The ultra orthodox would not agree that it is subjective and neither would the secular who would unabashedly admit that there is a science of seduction behind modeling. This is similar to the case of extreme Islam where all are in agreement that they are a violent religion including them, yet some will still defend them as peaceful

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    4. Annkoffsky: Granting your assumption, what does that say about the larger issue? If you would concede that some will see it as sexually suggestive and others will not, what should the policy be in terms of publishing such a photo in a chareidi magazine?

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    5. And for some people, it's all about context. If I saw the picture of the blond woman in an isolated context, I would assume that it was shot that way in order to be alluring. If I saw it in a frum magazine in a sheitel advertisement... I would still think it was alluring (probably), but would also assume that it was done that way to show how the wig hairs move individually and do not appear to be one giant piece of plastic (granted, such plastic-esque sheitlach are not commonly seen, but they are not extinct!)

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    6. Yosef, the intent is secondary. The bottom line would be that if it can be determined that it is alluring, (a very complicated if not impossible thing to do), the person responsible should simply be apprised of that (in the most tactful way) and asked to act accordingly in the future.

      (I owe you a response from another thread. I hope to be able to get back to you on that one too.:))

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    7. An additional point - one that I just mentioned downthread- hair blowing in the face is Hollywood shorthand for alluring. So even if many do not "see" anything "wrong" with the picture, it doesn't change the fact that those who took the photo and chose to publish it followed the Chukos HaGoyim of How To Make A Woman Hot.

      So yeah - everyone in this little subthread has a point:
      -some ppl can look at the photo and not see anything wrong, such as Annkofsky, either bc of context or bc they are so pure (or bc they are women...)
      -most men would probably recognize the seductive nature of the pic even if they themselves are not actively seduced
      -the OBJECTIVE POSE is suggestive and therefore should be avoided DESPITE the above

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  5. Really interesting. Thank you!

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  6. You are not using the word "erase" and "erasing" properly. I'm not calling you a liberal, but misusing the English language is actually fairly common on the left. I would recommend you use a more a more accurate word to describe what charedi publications actually do. In the vast majority of cases, they simply opt not to display women's pictures. On rare occasions, they actually photoshop a woman out of a picture. Even then, the proper word is not "erase." Every time you use the word "erase," you are making a polemical point designed to elicit certain emotions. You are not actually describing reality.

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    1. If not erasing what do they do?

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    2. I did not know about the Charedi burqa sect. I thought we were above Muslims in terms of Islamic Shari’a law.

      I agree that women should be modest and that men should do their part also, but I do not think we should erase all women photos and I think Shari’a law is a violation of Torah laws.

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    3. Although not a fan as can be shown from the last post, I do like Mizrachi's point about burqas. Guess who only wears face veils in the Bible? Prostitutes.

      "Do Not Be Overly Righteous."

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    4. Yehudah, while many of us agree with criticizing the buzzwords or redefining of regular words that new social science and new activists come up with, sometimes the words used actually useful. Do you have an alternative to erase, if the word we are looking for is a word that implies that one half of the population is no longer to ever be seen at all?

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    5. When someone opts not to show pictures of women for tznius reasons, then then the correct words to use are: they don't publish pictures of women (for tznius reasons). The word "erase' is wholly inappropriate. In those cases where a periodical actually photoshops a woman out of a picture, the correct words to use are: photoshop women out of pictures. From an English perspective, "erase" is simply incorrect, and it also happens to carry a negative connotation as it implies a malicious intent.

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  7. Your naivety is so stark. You demonstrate so many wrong ideas that thoughts. You start off comparing yourself (with all due humility, of course!) to the Rambam ("no, I didn't"), talk about how Chazal that lived hundreds of years ago didn't forbid erotic-inducing print media, and then end up in a nonsensical slippery slope argument that you do not understand.

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    1. Fantastic trolling. You had me for a second.

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    2. What's your objective? You want to keep women locked in chains and out of print? Are you trying to keep them all just basefoot and pregnant for your entertainment?

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    3. Malka GreensteinJuly 16, 2020 at 3:55 AM

      @BDA,

      Do you hold that chazal would have made restrictions like this at the same time they created yichud, tzneeus, etc?

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    4. BDA: You start off comparing yourself (with all due humility, of course!) to the Rambam ("no, I didn't")

      False. He starts off by relating what others did.

      (And they referred to a well known case despite obvious differences that needn't even be mentioned.)

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  8. Amazing piece. Adding another defense: suggestive images are a real issue however they are just a mirror of actual society. One who is striving for religious piety can either glance over those pictures or avoid reading such publications, but to censor everything that is printed in order to create a "temptation free" world seems self serving and controlling

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    1. Censor everything? What? They are allegedly only censoring internal publications.

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    2. They have created a culture of fear that women cannot be in pictures. I mentioned in a comment in one of the previous blog posts about an older woman who participated in an educational program with my wife and a dozen or so other frum women. After the week-long program was over, and the women wanted to take a photograph to memorialize the week, this woman was afraid to be in the picture because "what if someone she knew saw it?"!

      And - again as I said elsewhere - like many chumros and minhagim, ideas DO spread to the more MO world, such as having the flyer for an event in my MO shul be called out because it had a picture of the female speaker - despite the woman being completely modest in the picture.

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  9. Thank you for posting this. I'm going to go out and get a shetyl like that cute one on the right because I'm pretty sure my husband will like it.

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  10. Good, thoughtful post. But regarding your characterization of animals as "males are more attracted and distracted by the opposite gender than the reverse" isn't it the case that it's usually the males of the species that are more brightly colored? (At least birds and fish) Doesn't that imply that it's the females that are more attracted?

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    1. I am no animal expert, but it seems to me that your statement leads to the opposite conclusion: Males need to be more brightly colored to attract the females, while the males will be attracted to the female regardless.

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    2. I'm no animal expert either but usually the point of colorful males in the animal kingdom is because the female *chooses* their mate, and color and display are meant to be competitive so the female can choose her strongest male.

      This isn't the case in the human species since an overabundance of females mean *males* choose rather than the opposite.

      Duller coloring of the female is practical so not to draw attention while roosting/laying/nursing, also sort of obsolete in humans since we are top of the food chain, and also religious behavior over millenia has curbed a lot of "Wild West" like free-for-all biological behavior.

      Humanity has the free will to an extent to choose for itself which behavior it prefers to encourage or avoid when propagating the species. And I guess like always ends up finding like somehow.

      --Unknown Leftist

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  11. " it brings a multitude of problems - causing financial disadvantages for women in certain professions, making Orthodox Judaism look crazy, turning women into sex objects, depriving frum girls of modest role models, teaching women that no matter how modestly they dress they will always have to erase themselves as a sexual temptation, and making women feel that they lack full existence in Orthodoxy,"

    Rabbi Slifkin I am somewhat disappointed (though not surprised) that you have parroted all the talking points of the anti-women erasing crowd as if they are all self-evidently true. Although some are true, some are certainly debatable if not demonstrably false.

    About depriving frum girls of modest role models, this one is demonstrably false. There are numerous Artscroll biographies OF WOMEN WITH THEIR PICTURES IN THEM. (Holywoman, Reb. Kanievsky, Reb. Henny Machlis, etc.) There are dozens upon dozens of children's storybooks and comic books which depict modest frum girls and women. There are dozens of theatrical performances and videos produced BY WOMEN which are extremely popular--even in Israel.

    About making women feel that they lack full existence in Orthodoxy, although we can't deny the fact that many women may feel this way, we can debate the assertion that this policy is "making" them feel this way. These women are seemingly ignoring the fact that the editing, writing and designing staff of the very newspapers and magazines which have this policy are actually dominated by women. These women have a huge social impact in frum society--they literally set the direction of the conversation about everything going on in frum society. Frum women never had this kind of power and influence in the frum world until now. Their names are all over the publications and are simply missing the still photo next to her name.
    If that missing photo next to their article is enough to "make" them feel that they lack full existence in Orthodoxy, then methinks the lady doth protesteth too much!

    I know I've made these points already, but you seem just as impervious to logic and reasoning as the women on your discussion board you are criticizing in this post.

    (One new point: Much of the offensiveness of this erasing women policy comes simply from the lack of tact in these advertisements--putting men and boys side-by-side with missing female counterparts is enough to make any woman feel excluded. It's just a total lack of sensitivity on the part of the individuals who are designing these ads. People should definitely complain and make sure this style of ad is never published anywhere. But it shouldn't be used to invalidate the sensible "lo plug" policy as a whole.)

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  12. R' Natan,

    Are there peer-reviewed journal articles that back up your view that men respond women more sexually than women do to men?

    Intuitively that may feel true (I feel it too), but is it really true? After all I have never been inside a woman's head. It may be biological, or it may be sociological - You may be interested in Hamann et al (2004):They used functional magnetic resonance imaging to test whether males and females indeed differed in their brain responses to sexually arousing images. The authors found
    greater activation in males than females in the amygdala, a brain region involved in emotional arousal, and in the hypothalamus, a brain region central to reproductive functions. What distinguished this study from a previous effort was that the investigators went
    to great lengths to select stimuli and subjects that would ensure similar degrees of self-reported arousal in both sexes. Thus, the
    observed brain differences are less likely to reflect sex differences in arousal; instead they reflect sex differences in the processing of
    sexually arousing stimuli. On the other hand. Lieblum (2010) states in her abstract: A nearly universal stereotype holds that men are driven by their sexual impulses or drives while women rarely feel desire. This paper will consider the reported differences in sexual desire between men and women and the biological and social considerations fueling these differences...The suggestion will be made that, while differences in sexual drive and its behavioral expressions certainly exist, these gender differences may be narrowing as women gain political, social, economic and reproductive freedom. Finally, it will be argued that these differences may be precisely what makes sex interesting and meaningful and more than the simple release of biological tension.

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  13. while the specific issues are important, I fear your important opening comments might get lost. A most important lesson I learned in college(YU) was in the introductory (university side) speech course, to win a debate you must be able to make your opponents best arguments better than they could
    She-nir'eh et nehamat Yerushalayim u-binyanah bi-mherah ve-yamenu,

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  14. "something that I see in the live animal collection at the Biblical Museum of Natural History every day - that males are more attracted and distracted by the opposite gender than the reverse"

    Wow! What do people really get up to in your museum?

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  15. I would respectfully add another item to your list of consequences. What constitutes "alluring" or erotic is contextualized by society. "In olden days / a glimpse of stocking / was looked on as something shocking / but now, God knows, / Anything goes."

    By eliminating most images of women, certain segments of society turn *any* image of a woman into something more likely to arouse inappropriate thoughts.

    We see that in the spectrum of responses to the model shots. If you're used to seeing the same sort of photo used to sell just about anything, it's just another photo and no big deal.

    As you say, finding the right balance is hard, and most slopes become slippery. But that is why we learn Torah, and learn to understand those who hold different opinions that are also divrei Elokim Chayyim, and strive to make our avodat Hashem meaningful.

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  16. I would have preferred the title of this article as "Knowing Your Opponent" rather than "Knowing Your Enemy". Hopefully those who disagree with each other on this issue are only on different sides of an issue but are not enemies.

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    1. I think so too. In the actual post he never returns to 'enemy', but only uses the word 'opponent' (about 8 times) and even has articles headed with that word--so I guess that's really his intent. It must be that like in newspapers, one person writes the article & someone else writes the headlines! ;)

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  17. On principle, I never buy a children's book with a "hechsher", because having story a set in Planet of the Men is just plain weird. (They are also inevitably vapid and infantile.)

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  18. As an aside, a gemorra in Meseches Kesubos notes that the desire of men for sex is greater than that of women with this pithy comment, go to the street and see who is paying who.

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  19. Excellent, excellent piece!

    Just felt your stock go up 1000%!

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  20. Dr. Slifkin,
    I am afraid you are mistaken on the facts, you wrote
    "The facial expression, the pose, the camera angle, the careful use of a fan together with a fast shutter-speed to get the "hair blowing in slow motion" look - it's all professionally designed to be sexually alluring."
    That is complete nonsense and indicates that you have bought into the damaging and pervasive problem of viewing everything about a woman through a sexual lens.
    If you saw a man posing in a professionally designed photo you would say the image is trying to portray an air of power sophistication ect...
    That the only thing you can see in that photo is sexual allure is deeply troubling to me.
    (I am saying this as someone who considers you one of the good guys)

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    1. Come on, we all know what different poses look like. Woman can also pose in way to look bold, powerful, and it looks very different than this picture.
      google bold powerful woman pose and then alluring woman pose. the images that come up are very different. this photo resembles the poses in the later category.
      comments like this show just how out to lunch some people can be.

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  21. Very thoughtful view and gets to the point if the whole "overly righteous" problem.

    --Unknown Leftist

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  22. It occurs to me that hiding all women from men which may be "to protect" the men from possibly having impure thoughts or whatever is actually similar to hiding the outside world from yeshiva boys and keeping them in kollel forever so as not to "corrupt" their thoughts.

    In both cases, sure, the young men will have avoided incorrect thinking. Unfortunately, this will have been accomplished by infantalizing the young men, fearing that they will too easily have impure thoughts from literally anything. It also demonstrates a total lack of confidence in yeshiva: all the years of learning and mussar are supposed to build up mental/emotional strength and equip the talmidim with the "tools" with which they can safely interact with the outside world/opposite gender. However, instead of releasing them to go do so, they are blocked and hidden. To mix metaphors, this is the ultimate in helicopter parenting - never ever cut the apron strings!

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  23. There's a lot to comment on. For now I'll just site a different post בעברית to point out how the comments are so polarized.
    https://www.kikar.co.il/abroad/313136.html.

    Also I don't think the "Finally" section addresses the need for "lo plug". There were many circumstances where they did apply "lo plug". The head of any organization Jewish or gentile also applies "lo plug". This is life. The editors of magazines can't make everyone happy and aim for the majority of the readers, with a "lo plug".

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  24. All pictures of faces is Avodah Zara with a legal loop hole. (Shulchan aruch yoreh deah 141.4) I think that was the Chafetz Chaim's approach, unless I am mistaken. We should really remove men's pictures as well. In Judaism it is substance that matters not appearance. The pen is more powerful then the sword. It is a form of self/man worship of grandizing a person with a permanent picture of them. Of course over the ages legally and culturally pictures have been prevalent is Jewish practice, but it is definitely not within the spirit of the biblical and Talmudic iconoclastic view. Humans are mortal and return to the dust. Only God reigns forever. In taking pictures in a way we are trying to preserve that which cannot and should not be preserved. It might be related to how I a general our century focuses on appearance instead of substance. Ads in general are trying to take advantage of our human failures of being visual animals instead of rational thinkers. So my opinion is both sides of the debate are wrong in spirit of the law. We should look to real people as role models, not to their picture. Real people are fragial they don't look perfect, and they don't stay the same way you saw them last. Real people die, and there legacy is in what they said and how they affected others. If we are focusing on pictues, we are going in the wrong direction. I am not righteous in this matter myself. I have plenty of pictures, I think I
    can preserve the past. That is impossible. So hay we all can be better at striving to focus on what is truly important in life.

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  25. "To my mind, the problems with the picture on the left were so obvious that they didn't even need to be spelled out. The facial expression, the pose, the camera angle, the careful use of a fan together with a fast shutter-speed to get the "hair blowing in slow motion" look - it's all professionally designed to be sexually alluring. Aside from it making a mockery of the concept of modesty (the very thing that it is advertising!), surely it's simply not an appropriate picture for a parasha booklet."

    Wow! When I read this paragraph, for a second I thought it was a haredi guestpost!
    This is crazy. Sexually alluring? What does that even mean?

    Both the picture on the left and the right are pictures of beautiful women. Very sexually alluring for any heterosexual male by virtue of the fact that they both have beautiful faces (and perfect fake hair to complement it).

    "Sexually alluring" is not a good standard by which to legislate tzniut. The standard should be the halacha. A face is not forbidden.

    Are you really arguing that the hair blowing in the wind turns this woman in the left picture from modest to sexually alluring for you? So what do you do when it's windy outside and there are women around in public whose hair might blow in the wind? Did this turn them immodest?
    What do you find so unique about the facial expression on the left woman? Both left and right are looking at the camera at an angle. Does looking at an angle turn it "sexually alluring" where it otherwise wasn't?

    I could understand if the picture showed this lady's figure in a super tight outfit, or her cleavage or something, then your argument would make sense. But it doesn't. The argument is totally out of place. You sound like a "modesty police" extremist and these are the same amorphous arguments they use to explain why certain color pantyhose or whatever perverted thing they obsess about has to be enforced.

    These two women are inherently attractive to straight males. Nothing will change that, even if you put them on this advertisement without makeup.

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    1. Basic attractiveness is not the issue.
      The blowing of the hair in the face is photographic shorthand for enticing. This is not news. I don't think that RNS's point is that all men who look at this picture will be filled with lustful thoughts. His point is that using the typical Hollywood behavior (I refer you to any shampoo commercial) is halachically irresponsible.

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  26. My wife said that, when she was learning in Michlalah, one young lady came into class with a hairstyle that covered one eye. The Rav giving the class felt that the hairstyle was inappropriate. He quipped, "The possuk says, "והיו עיניך רואות את מוריך". The intent is to look at your teacher with both eyes, not just one eye!"

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  27. Kol Kvuda Bas Melech PnimaJuly 20, 2020 at 3:00 PM

    As chazal say today the yetzer hara tells you to get angry and tomorrow he tells you to worship avoda zara you start out being mevaze our gedolim and making websites for sinas chinom and loshen hara before you know it you are trying to make it hard for those who are trying to do what hashem wants and aren't fakers. The Chofetz Chaim was staying somewhere and a girl kept walking by him and he said what does she want? Does she think I am a malach? but your hate for charaidim has blinded you once again.

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  28. @RNS, I think that that your criticism of the picture is included in what Chazal refer to as Das Yehudis. Rashi says it's what bnos Yisrael are accustomed to cover even though its not the technical Law. I would think that an alluring or shocking picture that is out of place is within that definition. Similar to the Kalsa in the Gemara. It is not erva to look at a kalsa, but since it was the standard to cover the kalsa with a redid, it becomes Das Yehudis. In a time and place that the redid is not the norm to be worn, the kalsa is no longer attracting that attention and would be permitted.

    Also, I think that the only reason why the rabbis condemned the Burka Babes is bec they didn't come up with the idea and view it as some woman leaving their control. Journalist Amnon Levi argued that it's actually a form of feminism. Maybe. Either way, it's not the frumkeit, or over tznius or causing others to be averse to tznius that's bothering them. It's that there is a movement that they are not leading that's bothering them.

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