Home
In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 7, 2006 / 13 Menachem-Av, 5766

Limits of protest

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


Printer Friendly Version

Email this article

Should I boycott my daughter's fashion show?


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: My teenage daughter is very proud that she has been hired as a model for a fashion show, and she would like me to come. I have always considered these shows demeaning to women, and boycott them on principle, but my daughter doesn't really understand this and will be deeply insulted if her mother doesn't attend.


A. I commend your instincts. There's nothing wrong with women's clothing designers showcasing their new creations for potential customers, but most of these shows have men present and are showing off the models more than the clothes. Judaism recognizes the importance of beauty in strengthening the attraction between husband and wife, but our ideal of modesty completely rejects the idea of flaunting our bodies before anyone, and certainly before strangers.


It follows that boycotting these events as an act of protest, even if you personally are interested only in the designs, makes an important statement. The Talmud tells us that anyone who has the ability to make an effective protest and fails to do so bears responsibility for the lapses of others. The reason is that his or her silence will be interpreted as condoning wrongdoing.


"Anyone who has the ability to protest his family members and failed to protest, bears responsibility for his family members. Towards the residents of his city — he bears responsibility for the residents of his city. Towards the whole world — he bears responsibility for the whole world." (1)


The source for this responsibility is the concept of mutual responsibility, in Hebrew "arvus." The book of Leviticus describes the dangers which befall us if we abandon and despise G-d's commandments. Among the tragedies, it tells us (Leviticus 26:37), "And each man will stumble over his brother, as if before the sword, yet no one is chasing. And you will have no ability to stand before your enemies." The Talmud explains that this means that "each man stumbles in the sin of his brother — this teaches that all Israel are responsible for each other." (2) It seems unfair that one person should suffer for the sins of another, but it is understandable if we believe that each person is responsible for encouraging others to follow a constructive path in life.


The Talmud then goes on to explain that this responsibility is particularly great for a person's family members. And Maimonides writes that one of the most difficult things to atone for is showing insufficient care for the moral education of children. He counts among transgressions that are unique obstacles to repentance "one who sees his child in a corrupt lifestyle and doesn't protest, for his child is in his control and if [the parent] were to protest [the child] would withdraw; so if it is as if he actually causes [the child] to transgress. And this also includes anyone who has the ability to protest what others are doing, whether many or few, and didn't protest but rather abandoned them in their failure." (3)


So we must acknowledge that boycotting this demeaning event has an important educational message. Against this, however, we must notice a consistent condition mentioned in these admonitions of our sages. The first passage we cited opens: "Anyone who has the ability to protest." Maimonides explains that the parent is encouraging wrongdoing because "if [the parent] were to protest, [the child] would withdraw." The responsibility to protest is conditioned on the ability to make an effective protest.


But when our protest is likely to be unproductive, or counterproductive, we have to respond accordingly. The Talmud also teaches: "Just as it is a mitzvah [religious duty] for a person to say something that will be heard, so it is a mitzvah for a person not to say that which will not be heard." (4) This too applies particularly to a child, and Jewish law teaches that a person who rebukes a grown child too sternly may also be guilty of inducing him to transgress. A servant of the great sage Rabbi Yehuda the Prince saw a man spanking his grown son; she uttered, "This man should be placed under a ban, for he transgresses the commandment "Don't place stumbling block before the blind," and this refers to someone who hits a grown son." (5)


So while you can certainly not evade responsibility for trying to inculcate constructive values in your daughter and your community, careful thought is necessary before concluding that boycotting this event is the most productive course of action. If she is completely convinced of your support for her success and independence, then your absence could make a powerful educational message. But if she gets the message that you are trying to limit, control or manipulate her then you might find that you are weakening your educational impact on your daughter, rather than exercising it.


Given that you personally, as a mature woman, are part of the legitimate audience for a fashion show, and that your presence is of great importance to your daughter as a sign of your encouragement for her achievements, it may be that the lesser of two evils is to attend after gently explaining the reasons why in general you avoid these events. Then your presence will be properly interpreted. If conversely you decide not to go, you should emphasize to your teen that you are very proud of her success and independence, but it is really against your conscience to be present at an event which in your opinion reduces women to objects for men's amusement.


SOURCES: (1) Babylonian Talmud Shabbass 54b. (2) Babylonian Talmud, Shevuot 39a. (3) Maimonides' Code, Laws of Repentance 4:1. (4) Babylonian Talmud, Yevamos 65b.(5) Babylonian Talmud, Moed Katan 17a

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspiring articles. Sign up for our daily update. It's free. Just click here.

THE JEWISH ETHICIST, NOW IN BOOK FORM

You've enjoyed his columns on JWR for years. Now the Jewish Ethicist has culled his most intriguing — and controversial — offerings in book form.
HARDCOVER
PAPERBACK
Sales help fund JWR.



JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology. To comment or pose a question, please click here.


Previously:

Should you respond to all those annoying email pop-up requests?
Do I have to reimburse someone who tried to do me a favor?
Seeking credit card debt settlement
Can I threaten to spread the word about someone who cheated me?
How can the terminally ill tap into their life insurance?
Is there value in an unhappy marriage?
Where does the Almighty fit into your corporation's mission statement?
Does an expert witness have to be impartial?
Should I give recognition to a modest man who did a great deed?
In representing my firm, can I tell a white lie?
Defrauding insurance to save a life
Can top level management unilaterally give away money to corporate dollars to charity?
Loans to Family Members
How much worker supervision is too much?
Should I turn in a colleague for inappropriate acts?
Priority in charitable giving
Trolls and ogres
How many hours of work is too many?
Can I promote my product by having it unobtrusively written into a story?
He's not heavy he's my brother
All's fair in war?, II
All's fair in war?
Girth vs. worth
Is it proper to tax bequests?
Ethics of Being Overweight
Penalized for working swiftly
When is it a bluff?
'Rate and switch'
My paycheck is late!
Should schools cater to an elite?
All's fair in love?
Comfort and Competition
Do I need the caller's permission to put a call on the speakerphone?
Overtime for lost time
Is it unethical to play suppliers against each other to get the lowest bid possible?
Do family members have precedence in charity allotments?
What the world of business can teach us about our annual process of repentance and renewal
Are religious leaders subject to criticism?
Vindictive Vendor: How can I punish an abusive competitor?
Blogging Ethics: Is the blogger responsible for defamatory posts?







© 2005, The Jewish Ethicist is produced by the JCT Center for Business Ethics