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Esther Petrack's Mother Speaks: Esther is observant, it was all editing

Esther Petrack © CW

A few weeks ago I wrote about Esther Petrack, the modern orthodox contestant on America’s Next Top Model (ANTM). I responded to a post I read on Tablet Magazine that reported a conversation on the show purporting to show that Esther gave up Shabbos observance to pursue a career in modeling. See Esther Petrack: Modern Orthodox Jewish Girl on America’s Next Top Model Drops Shabbos on Television

Esther is popular and the post has been the most popular post on this blog since the day it was written. The point of the post was two-fold. One, there is a drama (contrived or real) to seeing someone drop their observance. One moment they are observnt and the next they are not. I found that drama (real or contrived) compelling. Second, the writer at Tablet claimed this was a “blow to modern orthodoxy”. I vehemently disagree. All streams of Judaism have defectors and even if Esther was “leaving” modern orthodoxy it was no “blow”, just a causalty like any other young adult choosing a different life from their parents.

Last night, Esther’s mom (Marina) commented on the original post. (link: Marina’s Comment)

The fateful words “I will do it” in an answer to the question about working on shabbat were the result of editing. Esther never meant or said that she would give up shabbat for the show, neither did she do it. These words were taken from a long conversation about the principles and laws of shabbat and how Esther was planning to observe them. The producers cut out these 4 words to create a more scandalous storyline; judging from the amount of reaction, they were quite successful!

This is very exciting news! It is obscene that ANTM found it necessary to manufacture drama at the cost of someone’s religious beliefs but on the other hand, it is a relief that it was manufactured.

I apologize to Esther, her friends and family and any other persons affected by the assumption that the edited conversation depicted something close to reality. It seems it was not “reality television” rather it was “manufactured television”. I will leave the original post up with a link to this post and Marina’s comment.

Marina added:

Careful viewers could see that there was editing and I would have hoped that non careful readers would have gieven Esther the benefit of the doubt, kaf zechut…

Some people saw that and correctly did not assume. Kudos to them and to the rest of us, the rebuke is warranted.

Finally:

I’m proud of Esther’s midot and comittment to mitzvot which she carried through the show. As a cute example, since you probably know that the girls were housed in a house overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Venice, Esther used the ocean to [ritually] dunk (tovel) a pot she bought to cook for herself in the house.

Isn’t that nice?

Plus, I had no idea that Esther was so close to my shul – I would have invited her for a shabbos meal if I had known… And apparently, Esther remained committed to her Jewish heritage and principles while on the show. Nothing could make me prouder.

Readers: Please help spread the word that Esther was harshly edited by ATNM and she never gave up Shabbos. It was wrong of them to edit her that way and now that we know the truth we have a responsibility to fix the wrong.


91 Comments
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  • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

    You didn’t label her behavior. What you did was print the label and put it right next to her behavior. Any coherent person would see that your label applied to her.

    It’s just like saying “no offense, but you are a moron”. Saying “no offense” doesn’t make it any less offensive. Saying “I’m not labeling her” and then labeling her doesn’t make it any less obnoxious. Sorry.

    • http://mikeage.net/ Mike

      I’d rather not discuss her personally, but a theoretical figure who acted in the way she did.If your blog was more “drasha” oriented and less “sermon” oriented, perhaps this would work better [no, that’s not an insult or a complaint, but what I assume is a reality of many of those you try to connect with]. Honestly, I have no idea what she believes, and, quite frankly, I’m not that interested. If I knew she was nearby, I’d invite her for a meal (with my wife’s permission, of course… ;) ), and if I wanted to drink mevushal wine that she poured, now that it’s pretty clear that she respects Shabbos, I would do so (if I drank wine, that is). Beyond that (and in the absence of a l’maaseh situation for the second), I have no interest in her personal conduct; like you said, it’s not my business, and not my place to comment. I do think, however, that the halachic status of such a person is an interesting case, and one that I would enjoy discussing. I also think that when a public proclamation is made in the name of (or by) someone representing “Orthodox” or even “Observant” Jewry that one can violate Shabbos for material gain, a protest needs to be made. A statement that “tznius can be violated for material gain”, while also objectionable in my view (and, I assume, yours), perhaps does not require as strong of a response. I need to think more about that; I would welcome a post with some sources on unsolicited protests.I would gladly welcome any suggestions for editing to make this clearer in any of my comments.

  • http://Yeedle.weebly.com Yeedle

    First of all, for the record, there is a Gemara in ketubot saying that a woman who dresses immodestly cannot be considered a bat yisrael and therefore cannot claim her ketubah.

    Now, I’m really proud of Esther for staying connected to her heritage, for even making sure that her pots are toiveled and I was relieved to hear that she actually did not drop shabbat observance. But, and here is the big but, it is still not the ideal behavior that I would have expected from someone calling herself Orthodox. I know there are many Orthodox women who have no problem dressing the way she dresses but I’m not sure how many MO’s would have showed their almost completely naked body for thousands of men and women. This is still something that makes me question her commitment, and it’s definitely nothing to be proud of.

    • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

      Why would a single girl need to collect her ketubah?

    • http://Yeedle.weebly.com Yeedle

      It’s the reason that the gemara gives that makes it scary. The gemara is saying that she can’t be counted as a daughter of our Imahot, in other words, she is excluding herself from being a bat yisrael.

      • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

        A) it’s saying a married woman who acts this way can’t collect her ketubah and is a moredet al dat. Not the same for single women.

        B) moredet al dat does not mean she is not a bat yisrael. Your “in other words” is imprecise.

  • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

    For single girls?

    Source?

  • WrathofG-d

    Excuse me…

    I appreciate Esther Petracks mother ensuring us all that she is Shomer Shabbat, but after watching her daughter lift up her shirt on national television exposing her breasts, after a brief public conversation regarding her breast size to the television audience, Shabbat observance should not be our community’s only concern.

    • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

      Maybe our “community’s” concern should be you watching inane television shows…

  • Moshe

    Huh? If acting the way she has acted is OK with modern orthodoxy (shabbos observance notwithstanding), something is *very* wrong.

    Even if parading around half naked is neither D’oraisa nor D’rabanan ,as Rabbi Fink claims.

    Sorry, I just don’t buy it.

    (And no, I don’t watch the show. I was send the link on YouTube, like many others)

    • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

      Where is there approval from anyone about her modeling?

      The point is that she was unfairly criticized for breaking shabbos on TV when that was a manufactured scene created by producers.

      And many orthodox men and women break traditional halachic norms all the time. That doesn’t make those behaviors acceptable, it makes the actors human.

      • Moshe

        Rabbi Fink,

        1) If the only criticism is that of Shabbat, we are close to being Karaites. Shabbat observance is simply one of the many laws we were given by God.

        2) A line must be drawn in the sand. Parading on national TV in one’s underwear and being proud of it is on the wrong side of the line, IMO. People who are gripped by urges –> commit an aveirah and are thereafter ashamed of their deeds are quite different. If people habitually ignore Jewish law and are proud of that fact, I cannot see how they can be considered orthodox.

        • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

          A line must be drawn in the sand.

          Why? WHY? WHY?

          Why does anyone feel the need to draw the line in the sand? Why do you feel the need to decide who is and who is not orthodox. Leave her alone.

        • Sarah

          Why do we need to draw line? Does it affect you, your family, or your community, if you do or do not? How she defines herself is her business, not yours.

      • Anon

        The issue is that she did it befarhesia, and what a farhesia, on prime time tv, and youtube. Public behavior is open to public scrutiny.

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  • Jhyman613

    As a fellow Maimonides alumnus, I too was drawn into this show. Having been on t.v. and quoted in newspapers, I too have been victimized by editors tricks. Once quoted and on the record, they can edit in new questions and twist your quotes to say what they want. When I saw the episode of controversy, I believed that this was probably the case as well.

    However appalled I am at the show for their subterfuge, I am not shocked. These things go on all the time.

    Thank you for your retraction! I was about to formulate my own response when this news broke. So, I apologize for thinking bad thoughts (along the lines of ‘kishmo, ken she’hoo’ in regards to your last name.

    I am pleased to know that my perceptions were accurate. Keep up the good work, Esther. I raise my glassful of rare single malt Scotch in salute and say: “L”Chaim!”

    • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

      I apologize for thinking bad thoughts (along the lines of ‘kishmo, ken she’hoo’ in regards to your last name.

      If you actually read the original post you would have seen that I did not state the Esther had done what was portrayed on the screen. It was a post about seeing what it felt like to see what was portrayed irrespective of its truth.

      (Oh and if your name is Hyman, you might not want to be poking fun at other people’s names… just sayin’…)

      • Jhyman613

        There has been a host of harsh criticisms over this, and I apologize for mistaking your post… My impression of yours and others was that Esther was being trashed for throwing away her heritage on national t.v., which I didn’t think was the ‘emes’.

        As far as my name goes, I have taken much worse than schoolyard bullying over that (especially since growing up in the only Jewish family in an all Irish-Catholic neighborhood)… I remind myself that the name, regardless of spelling, means ‘important person’.

        Thank you for your candor. “L’Chaim” to you as well.

        • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

          No worries. Thanks for stopping by, I hope you’ll come back to read other posts. Your comments are always welcome.

          (Fink means spark) :)

          L’chaim!

          • Jhyman613

            We could start a club for people whose names have multiple meanings… lol

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  • Greg

    OK, so now that she truly said, “Ain’t gonna work on Saturday”, it’s Kosher to be a runway model?

    Houson, we have a problem . . .

    • Yahadut is Meaningful

      I agree with you 100%. If Rabbi Fink thinks that she was a good representative of MO, then he should be sadly mistaken since he misses the whole point. SHE MODELED. The whoole point of modeling is to say “looka t my body and not my nishama. all that matters are my externals.” your comment essentially refutes everything which Rabbi fink is talking about.
      The issue here is not a nitty-gritty “is tzniut drabana or diorisa”. Rather, it is beyond that- it is a meta-philosophical one. Eshter clearly therefore did not represent MO or our nation at all.

      • http://twitter.com/MarkSoFla Mark

        Lmnop613 – The whole point of modeling is to say “look at my body and not my nishama. all that matters are my externals.

        Wearing a “hot chanie” dress, a fancy sheitel, and calf-high boots is ALSO saying “look at my body and not my nishama”. Bang, boom, zoom, half of the 5-towns is suddenly out of Orthodoxy!

      • Cactus

        The whole point of modelling is to say “look at these products and buy them”, models advertise. If all you look at is a model’s body and not the clothes/accesories on them then shame on you and your backwards thinking.

  • David

    You have got to be kidding! Did you watch the clip yourself? This “Modern Orthodox Jew” displayed herself like a promiscuous “kurvah” on broadcast TV. She was photographed almost naked, sauntering around with everything “jiggling”. In the face of this what the mother wrote is most disingenuous and ridiculous.

    • http://twitter.com/MarkSoFla Mark

      David and some other folks commenting on this post, are you generally available to determine Orthodoxy or not in people? Sometimes we need such a determination during blog conversations.

  • Izzy

    While I think you did the right thing by pulicising the fact that her words were edited to make it appear that she said something that she didnt, especially since you pulicized the orginal story, I think your retraction goes a little too far. To say “and apparently, Esther remained committed to her Jewish heritage and principles while on the show. Nothing could make me prouder.” Is a bit much. Proud? Really? Do you think that her actions were in any way a kiddush hashem, just because she upheld SOME Jewish principles, while publicly acting contrary to others? This is a lot like the situation where Mark Mezvinsky, a Jew, married Chelseas Clinton, a non-Jew, while proudly wearing a yarmulke. An Orthodox rabbi intitially blogged about the kiddush hashem that day (a position he later backpedeled from). Are you also “proud” of Mark Mezvinsky for remaining “committed” to his “Jewish heritage and principles” for wearing a yarmulke during a ceremony in which he married a non-Jew?
    A few more random thoughts about the issue:
    -You criticise others for “judging” her. Didnt you judge her in your initial post?
    -Her mom wants to know why people were not dan her lakaf zechus. ASFAIK, one is only required to judge favorably one who has a chezkas kashrus. She may have lost that chazkas kashrus merely by appearing on the show, and certainly by some of her actions on the show (none of which I have watched, thankfully).
    -She may ahve the din of a tenkos shnishba, depending on her upbringing.

    • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

      Re “nothing could make me prouder”, see this comment: http://finkorswim.com/2010/10/19/esther-petracks-mother-speaks-esther-is-observant-it-was-all-editing/#comment-88229501

      I never said it was a kiddush Hashem. If I wanted to say that I would have.

      It’s not like the Clinton wedding at all. Intermarriage is a d’orysa and the end of a Jewish line. Modeling is not in consenence with maintsream orthodox ideals but a far cry from intermarriage. Further, that Rabbi wrote that it WAS A kiddush Hashem.

      Re judging her: No I did not judge her in the OP. Refresh your memory by reading it again.

      Re dan l’kaf zechus: The gemara says that as long as someone is not a rasha you have to be dan l’kaf zechus. (Brachos somewhere near the beginning)

      Re tinokes shenishba: It’s certainly possible.

      • Moshe

        “The gemara says that as long as someone is not a rasha you have to be dan l’kaf zechus.”

        Two questions:
        1) I am not knowledgeable in all of Shas, but I do not recall such a comment from the beginning of Masechet Brachot. There is a gemara there that speaks about seeing a Talmid Chacham who sins in the evening – that you should be sure that he has repented by the next morning. Is that what you are referring to? I also think the Chafetz Chaim discusses this point of being dan l’kaf zechus.

        2) How do you define a Rasha?
        (Please don’t assume that I am calling Esther a Rasha – I simply don’t think she is orthodox. I am curious how you would define a Rasha – or how you would even judge someone to consider the option of him possibly being a Rasha.)

        • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

          1) Probably

          2) A rasha is someone who has more sins than zechuyos. Can any man claim to know who is a rasha. I don’t think so. Are there a few exceptions? Probably. Choteh u’machteh, an apostate…

      • yossi

        Dear Rabbi,
        Ok, so I know the previous rabbi at your shul, who was also a Ner Israel graduate, and I have to say that he seemed to have more halachic knowledge than you do. Let me tell you a little about the Halachos of Dan Lekaf Zechus.

        1) The Chafetz Chaim actually brings the halachos very clearly in the Be’er Mayim Chayim on the bottom of Sefer Chafetz Chaim. He says that one is obligated to judge favorably only when it doesn’t look incriminating; when it is a fifty/fifty chance that the person sinned. However, when it is incriminating lookin- “noteh lekaf chovah yoseir”- there is no obligation to judge favorably. Here, there isn’t much benefit of the doubt to give. What you see is what you get; a woman exposing herself in an inappropriate way.

        What she transgresses is a different question, but it is at least clear that she transgresses lifnei iver. In addition, there is a possibility that we are dealing with abizrayhu dearayos. In other words, when dealing with issues of sexuality, even things that are only sexually suggestive can actually be prohibited according to the Torah. In other words, if a woman who is an erva (i.e. a nidah) then attempting to look attractive to other people in a suggestive way is probably prohibited by the Torah. Just thought you should know, as you are the Rabbi of a shul ;). Hey, don’t worry, I’m in outreach, so I know, you don’t always have to know a ton to get the good position. Maybe it’s your good looks, your charm, or the fact that you are a great speaker. But don’t forget Halacha!

        • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

          Smileys dont make insults less insulting.

    • Daniel

      I was in Esther’s graduating class and have know her since she was 8 years old. I’ll tell you right now, she was NOT a tonok shenishba.

  • Lisa_demarais

    To me, Esther is using modeling as a gateway for orthodox exposure. She may not be perfect, but she is definitely showing people a side of religion many people don’t get to see often. She is not forgetting her roots (she struggles to remain kosher throughout the show), but showing that she is a MODERN Orthodox Jew. Modeling is not about showing off yourself, but is advertising by being part of the picture for a product or item. As a model Esther could speak up about religion and show girls how to be beautiful without being overly revealing.

    • anon

      Are you joking – “without being overly revealing”. She pranced around practically in her birthday suit. This is not a side of religion. What she is doing is antithetical to Judaism. Jewish women are supposed to dress and behave modestly, not show their tits to the world on youtube.

  • Swissyankee97

    With all due respect, I can’t think of a more anti-Torah thing to do than desire for, apply to, and actually appear on a show that clearly promotes an anti-Torah value. Tznius is no less an integral part of the Torah as is Shabbos. Unfortunately, this is a very sad case of a very confused young woman who quite obviously never learned a thing about what it means to be a Jew who is honest about her Judaism. I don’t know anything about her bio, but who were her rabbis, teachers and parents who allowed this girl to appear on this show? Let’s be honest here, she plainly stated when joining the cast of the show that she has no interest in upholding the Torah in its totality. You can’t keep one mitzvah while abandoning another, and be considered an Orthodox Jew. Not only do I feel sorry for Esther, but more so for anyone who actually felt appearing on this show was a proper Jewish expression and advised this nice Jewish girl to do so.

    • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

      You can’t think of a more anti-Torah thing to do?

      How about murder? How about avodah zara? How about adultery?

      And actually Shabbos is more integral than other parts of the Torah.

    • http://twitter.com/MarkSoFla Mark

      SwissYankee – Tznius is no less an integral part of the Torah as is Shabbos.

      Really? I know Shabbat appears in many places in the Torah. Where exactly does Tzniut appear?

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  • pierrefranz

    I’m sorry, but…knowing she’s not fry makes her that much more attractive…on it’s own, a girl who’s just religious? Eh. Sharp and ambitious? Bah. Just beautiful? Feh. Beautiful, sharp, ambitious and religious? Priceless…

  • Yank

    This woman is sorely lacking in tzniut; I would hesitate to call her observant.

    • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

      So you don’t allow women who are not tzniyus to be considered frum?

      Is there a particular reason you’ve made this division?

      • Yank

        There is no objective qualification for the vague term “frum” or “Orthodox”. I said observant.

        • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

          So why did you choose this to be your qualification for observant?

          Especially seeing as it is not d’orysa or d’rabanan…?

          • Yank

            I didn’t choose anything. We have a Shulchan Aruch. We can’t pick and choose which stuff we like and keep and which not. We must “observe” all the laws. Shulchan Aruch states that when a girl reaches 3 years and a day she must maintain the tznius laws.

            • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

              I see. So whenever a Jew breaks a law in shulchan aruch they lose
              their status as observant?

              Gosh. You are harsh. I’m glad you’re not God.

              • Yank

                If they continually dont observe the laws, how can they be referred to as observant? If they slipped, but intend to keep it, that would be different.

                • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

                  So if a man skips Mincha all the time would you “refer to him as observant”

                  Or he’s out of luck too?

                  • Yank

                    Does he make a public announcement that he doesn’t daven mincha and couldn’t care less about it, like a prutza who goes in the street or on TV effectively publicly announcing her utter disregard for Shulchan Aruch? In either case I would reach the same conclusion.

                    BTW, what is this I see you discount tznius throughout this comment section with lines such as “it isn’t d’orysa or d’rabanan”? Does Shulchan Aruch or “shok b’isha ervah” mean anything to your brand of Judaism? Sounds awfully close to Reform.

                    • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

                      It means a lot to me. What it doesn’t mean to me is that one who does not follow a tenet in Shulchan Aruch should entitle others to define or determine what they are. That is my point.

          • http://twitter.com/MarkSoFla Mark

            Yank – We have a Shulchan Aruch. We can’t pick and choose which stuff we like and keep and which not. We must “observe” all the laws.

            Oy vey, I just realized that 98% of the people in my shul are NOT* observant! Do I need to switch shuls? Or is Yank wrong?

            * SA OC 124:7

          • Yank

            Do I need to switch shuls?

            If 98% of the people in your shul talk during chazaras hashatz, yeah, I’d probably change shuls in a heartbeat.

          • Yank

            See what Mishnah Berurah 124:27 says about a violation of SA OC 124:7.

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  • http://finkorswim.com/ rabbifink
  • http://twitter.com/MarkSoFla Mark

    Yank – We have a Shulchan Aruch. We can’t pick and choose which stuff we like and keep and which not. We must “observe” all the laws.

    Oy vey, I just realized that 98% of the people in my shul are NOT* observant! Do I need to switch shuls? Or is Yank wrong?

    * SA OC 124:7

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  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KeQBVE-FsY Chalom Jerusalem

    Exclusive video interview with Esther Petrack; this time interviewed in Jerusalem by a MO journalist

  • http://profiles.google.com/briarmoss11 Alexander Rich-Shea

    Hey look! There’s only misogyny here! Everyone is so eager to castigate the woman in a bikini. It must be because they all have perfect religious observance. They’ve already studied all of shas, and now must fill their time with calling women whores on the internet. What an orthodox thing to do.

  • Avrohom

    Rabbi Fink,
    Isn’t it peculiar that so many comments were removed? Is it becuase they disagreed with waht you were saying? I want to know what my fellow readers said! Because you removed so many comments, it makes me think that you sensored this to fit your agenda.

    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

      Hehe. No no. Not at all. This post was the last post on my previous blog
      host. When I moved the blog over to my current host this post had tons of
      duplicate comments. Those were the only deleted comments.

      As all my readers and commenters know I almost never censor comments. Even
      direct attacks against me

  • Avrohom

    Rabbi Fink,
    Isn’t it peculiar that so many comments were removed? Is it becuase they disagreed with waht you were saying? I want to know what my fellow readers said! Because you removed so many comments, it makes me think that you sensored this to fit your agenda.

  • Avrohom

    Rabbi Fink,
    Isn’t it peculiar that so many comments were removed? Is it becuase they disagreed with waht you were saying? I want to know what my fellow readers said! Because you removed so many comments, it makes me think that you sensored this to fit your agenda.

  • Anonymous

    Our girl has joined the IDF –  http://www.idfblog.com/2012/03/25/from-america-tank-instructor/
    Now that’s a real kiddush Hashem!

  • Moshe

    Rabbi Fink:

    When someone identifies themselves as being orthodox, and then parades around in their underwear – it is very fitting for people to stand up and shout: “This is NOT orthodoxy”!

    If you want to consider her orthodox (based on her words), or simply ignore it – be my guest. However, I have every right to state my opinion and not take flak about not categorizing people.

  • RJM

    I appreciate your desire to defend her against false charges, but I don’t see the need to defend the aspects of her behavior that were clearly inconsistent with halakha and hashkafa, even if less severely so.

  • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

    I asked you “why” and you answered “because”.

    Not very sophisticated…

  • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

    I’m defending her to the extent that anonymous yokels on the Internet have no obligation or incentive to push Esther out of their particular brand of Judaism. It serves no actual purpose. All I have been asking is WHY do people love drawing lines and putting people on the other side of the line…?

  • http://mikeage.net/ Mike

    Several questions for thought; feel free to respond to as many as you want. It would make an interesting post, methinks.

    1. Can we judge the situation without condemning the person?
    2. Can we respond to unqualified praise with a different perspective?
    3. Do you think that kavod shamayim ever requires unsolicited comment? If so, when?
    4. Have you ever encountered in the secular world someone who asks you “why can’t you do XXX? So-and-so is Orthodox and does it…”? I’m not referring to something like not wearing a yarmulka at work or shaking hands with a member of the opposite sex, but something universally agreed upon (at least by Rabbis) as forbidden; why won’t you work on Shabbos if it’s a really tight deadline? How do you respond? If the forbidden action was publically known (newspaper, TV, etc), do you think that a pre-emptive protest would help more people than it would hurt, or vice versa?
    5. Is judging forbidden, or sharing the results? Surely when we decide to praise something, we’ve judged first, and found it worthy. Do you oppose that as well?
    6. Are you equally critical of those who regularly choose to condemn those on the left who choose to exclusively highly RW failings, proclaiming them to be ignorant, biased, fakers, hypocrites, and not deserving to belong to the tradition to which they claim to be heirs?

    BTW, I don’t know if I’m an anonymous yokel; My real name and picture is public, and while I can yodel, my only reference for the criteria of a yokel is Cletus from the Simpsons, and I’m significantly less inbred than he is.

  • Moshe

    Rabbi Fink:

    As far as I understand (please correct me if I am mistaken), each blog has the ability to disallow anonymous comments. To allow these comments and then deride them as being “anonymous yokels” is a bit pretentious, don’t you think?

    Why do I have incentive to push Esther out of Orthodox Judaism? Obviously, I don’t. However, I do have incentive to push women (or men) who prance on a stage on TV in various stages of undress. I have children – I have siblings – I have nieces and nephews, and I have many other dear friends who I hope and pray that they will continue in a Torah observant lifestyle. They are all exposed to the media in some form or the other, and when people (and Rabbis) don’t stand up against a travesty against the Torah, they – and others – can and will be affected. These things slowly infiltrate and poison the rest of the society.

    פורץ גדר ישכנו נחש

    I challenge you to find a single case of a model who acts as Esther is acting and claims that she is still orthodox.

    To claim that Shabbat observance is the only thing necessary to be considered orthodox is ridiculous.

    You keep on making this about a single person – when it is not. It is about any person who would act in the way Esther is acting. Sorry, toveling dishes in the ocean can’t make up for the other actions going on here.

  • anon

    The halacha draws lines, and Esther put herself on the other side by showing her tits to the world. This is not the behavior of a bat yisrael.

    But you do seem hell bent on defending her. A bit strange in itself.

  • Lmnop613

    Dont you think that one day she will want to marry?

  • Yahadut is Meaningful

    Okay RabbiFink. You just said “let God decide what is aa chillul Hashem”. Did you not jsuut write an article essentially ligitimizing her activity on ANTM??? Dont put up double standards.

  • Izzy

    Her best as an observant Jew would to not be in that situation at all.

  • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

    There are anonymous yokels and anonymous non-yokels. Anonymity is not what makes someone a yokel. It’s the yokeling.

    You’re paranoia about your dear family leaving orthodoxy betrays your lack of confidence in orthodox Judaism.

    Our lifestyle and traditions are special and meaningful enough that seeing a girl poretz geder is not a reason to “give it up”.

    Oh and the Shulchan Aruch makes the declaration that shmiras shabbos is “line”. Not me.

  • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

    I did not “legitimize” anything. Please read the post again.

  • Moshe

    Rabbi Fink,

    1) Personal attacks and name calling is beneath you.

    2) Maybe I am paranoid. Maybe not. However, I think many people would agree to me that we are affected by what we see and hear. I hope that my children never hear of Esther. However, with the world as it is, I understand that there is a chance that my kids will hear of her – and as such, it bothers me to see an orthodox Rabbi defending her actions.

    3) The Shulchan Aruch does not deal with “orthodoxy”. The SA deals with halakhic issues of who is considered a מומר לכל התורה כולה. If you define orthodox as = someone who is not a מומר, then you are correct. I don’t think that definition is what is commonly accepted as orthodox, although I could be wrong.

  • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

    1) I apologize. I didn’t think yokel was a term that would be taken to be too pejorative.

    2) I am not DEFENDING her actions. I am saying it is not necessary for Jews to constantly be drawing lines in the sand.

    3) Unfortunately, orthodoxy has taken a life of its own. Now you are starting to see my point. We have created an environment redefines orthodoxy based on our personal preferences. That is why I have a problem with defining Esther out of orthodoxy.

  • Moshe

    As an example, eating non kosher food does not make one a מומר לכל התורה כולה, yet if someone would get on national TV and eat a pig in a pig eating contest – while being שומר שבת, the majority of people I know would not consider him/her to be orthodox.

    This might be because I live in an isolated and insular community, but I doubt it.

  • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

    As I have mentioned before. Stripping to one’s underwear is quite different from eating pork in a pork eating contest. That’s part of it.

  • http://mikeage.net/ Mike

    How would _you_ compare the two (theoretically, of course)? What practical ramifications, if any, would each have (you mentioned that they’re different… how so)? To me, both are mumar l’teiavon, and therefore, while possibly passul from a communal honor (but that’s a call for the local mara d’asra), full fledged Jews, and entitled to call themselves Orthodox or whatever other term they want. I would challenge neither on such a call, although I would note that certain aspects of each of their conduct does not represent Judaism.

    Unless, of course, either claimed that their behavior was sanctioned or encouraged by Judaism. It would seem quite clear to me that both are incorrect, and as such, might very well fall into the category of apikorsus.

  • Izzy

    I responded to the comment you referenced.

    So we can agree that its not a kiddush hashem. Would you say its a chillul hashem?

    I’ll agree, its probably not d’oraysa, although its probably a derabanan.

    You are right – I reread your earlier post – your point was not to judge her – alhtough its a little difficult to tell what your point was in that post. My point is not to judge her in the sense of determining whether she is a good or bad person, or anything of the sort. She can be a nice, generous person for all I know. However, she engaged in very public behavior while identified as an Orthodox Jew. It is those actions that we are discussing here, as you did in your previous post.

    If you get a chance to find a more precise cite, I would like to the gemara you mentioned, and how we pasken. I was always under the impression that it was dependant on a chezkas kashrus.

  • EstherG

    I disagree totally. She tried her hardest to do everythign she can. She keeps Kosher still and probably does other stuf but it doesn’t show it on TV. Who knows she might still be lighting cnadles Firday night?!? We really don’t know the whole story, they don’t show everything on the show, you are just jumping to conclustions that she’s totally dropped her Jewishness.

  • http://finkorswim.com rabbifink

    Try again in lashon nekiah.

  • Sarah

    You know what’s also on the other side of the line? Speaking that way about a bat yisrael. Or anyone. Whatever she did or didn’t do, do you think it stops her being a bat yisrael?

  • Anon

    I described Esther’s behavior in a manner befitting her actions. It is not my language that should be seen as shocking, but her actions.

  • anon

    It’s irrelevant what she does in private. She’s a Jewish girl exposing herself in public, causing a huge desecration of Hashem’s name.

  • Sarah

    Actually, because tzniut is not very important in the wider, non-Jewish world (though that’s not to say there aren’t many individuals for whom it is), non-Jews don’t look at her and say, “Eww, those Jews are gross.” They think it’s pretty normal. Only Orthodox Jews are worked up about her.