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Apr 27, 2007

I am frummer than you

Ynet had an article about Hava Mond. Hava Mond is a fashion model originally from Tzfat (Safed) who is religious and has remained religious despite the profession she has chosen as one of Israel's top models.

The discussion around the internet and various forums, Areivim included, has centered on the question of whether such a woman can really be classified as religious or not. She chooses a profession in which it is nearly impossible to not do aveiros.
While true she might be performing admirably in many issues, as she says she only eats kosher which sometimes means she does not eat all day as the only food available is often not kosher (she shoots a lot in the international scene), she davens twice a day, she keeps shabbos, etc.. other problems arise. The greatest issue is modesty. While she has her limits, she does model in non-tznius attire.

So, is such a woman religious/frum is the question people are debating.

My thoughts on the discussion are, and I wrote this to the Areivim forum and another forum,:

I do not understand the discussion. Are we all perfect? Do none of us commit any aveiros, often willingly? Are the aveiros these people are committing any "worse" than the aveiros we might be committing in the privacy of our own homes without the newspapers letting everyone know?Would any of us consider ourselves not frum because of the aveiros we do?

We each have our pekalach and we each have the mitzvos we enjoy doing and do better than other people and we each have the aveiros that we are more prone to doing than other people. This is the aveira that this woman does. Does that make her less frum than me or you?

It is not for me to decide. My relationship with Hashem is between me and Hashem, yours is between you and Hashem and hers is between her and Hashem. Just like I do not know the details of your life, your mitzvos and your aveiros and it would be wrong and even impudent of me to assume I know how Hashem cherishes or not your relationship with Him, it is wrong of us to judge her and assume we know the details of her life and relationship with Hashem from one sketchy article and it is impudent to allow ourselves the liberty of judging the relationship she has with Hashem.

30 comments:

  1. [Most of] my response from Areivim:

    I'd propose two things:
    1. She may very well have a close connection with Hashem. However, she cannot be said to be practicing Yiddishkeit as it's observed by the vast majority of its adherents. That doesn't negate the possibility of her being a spiritual person, or a shomer shabbos/kashrus, or a moral human being.
    2. Of course we all sin. Nevertheless, we have categories: Willful justified aveiros are significantly more serious than inadvertent mistakes or times we know we've done wrong, but succumbed to our yetzer hara. Perhaps she's justified this as OK, or perhaps she's in a category of "omer mutar" (and/or the "heter" of R' Huna).

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  2. but maybe her choosing modeling was not a "willful" sin. Maybe that is what pulls her and she has a hard time avoiding it, just like any of the aveiros I do or someone else does.

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  3. I really like the comment you made over at the other place - and I really wish that more people has that attitude. What works for me works for me, and what works for you, works for you, and that's fantastic.

    If you could find a way to skywrite that, the world would be a better place.

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  4. it's interesting. and so true that we each have what we are comfortable with and everyone has a different view on what makes them 'frum'. that's something I've been thinking about recently after a discussion with a friend regarding dating and what is considered 'frum'.

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  5. rafi

    you make me proud!

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  6. If we judged others as she is being judged, many less people would be given kibbudim, like honorees at dinners, aliyot, etc... What her nisayon is, happens to be in public. But as you said, it's not for us to judge her "frumkeit". Some who regularly cheats on taxes, or his employees and suppliers - (even from goyim acc to RMF is assur di'orayso) is just as an avaryan. Just because he isn't in the public eye as much, doesn't mean he isn't willingly cheating people and doing aveiros!

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  7. I think there is a difference between "frum" and "religious."

    Being frum is about being a member of a specific community. Being religious is about having one's own code and compass.

    Also, what is tzniut? It is not a d'orysa. It is hinted at a few times and the rabonon made alot of rules about it, but back then women were typically considered property.

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  8. mike - I find this comment reprehensible "However, she cannot be said to be practicing Yiddishkeit as it's observed by the vast majority of its adherents."

    what does this have to do with anything? her nisayon is hers - for others it's genaivah or gambling or tarfus, etc.... which vast majority? sefardim, chareidim, mo? using a teabag or making "sense"? stealing from medicaid or regular and public lashon hora? which practice are you reffering to? It's very judgmental of you to decide that her aveira pasuls her from being frum. Her aveira is bein adam limakom, so how can you be the judge of her "frumkeit"? does this make her pasul for eidus? no, this is between her and god alone.

    Mike, I only know you from other comments, but I'm dissappointed here that you are so quick to be judge and jury.

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  9. I am probably not in a position to comment as I would have to work to become as religious and observant as Hava.

    But if I were to comment, my thoughts would be similar to yours Rafi - if not quite as eloquent.

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  10. actually she is passul for eidus because she is female

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  11. Shaya,

    Let me attempt to justify my comment. First, I'd suggest that the main point of my comment was the line about how she may very well be a religious (ok, before I wrote spiritual ... same difference) person.

    However, her deliberate behavior, which she clearly feels is acceptable, contradicts with all streams (at least that I know of) of what are generally considered religiously based Judaism.

    If you presented me with someone who knowingly, willingly, and repeatedly committed ANY aveira, with no remorse of any kind (including the "I know it's wrong, I'm not working on it, but I'd like to work on it" type), then yes, I would also say that such a person may be considered as not practicing Yiddishkeit as observed etc. No matter how they're dressed, what they've written, or who they are. Period.

    My definition of Judaism would have to include both observance and belief in the importance of observance. Based on the context in the article (and yes, that's always a risky assumption), I see no indication that she sees anything wrong with her modeling, nor the existence of any justification (her red lines notwithstanding).

    Incidentally, my judgment here would have no halachic status. That is, she's not mechalel shabbos befarhesia nor is she's not a mumar on any mitzvah l'hachis. In at least one area (and possibly only one), she's certainly appears to not be following any known or recognized halacha. Bottom line: so what?

    In fact, it's entirely possible (and I mean this completely seriously) that her moral conduct and commitment to what she views as important is, to the wider audience of humanity, at least as positive a contribution to the betterment of society as any mitzvos we may do in our little isolated homes and neighborhoods.

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  12. actually she is passul for eidus because she is female

    Only for things requiring eidim. She's kasher to give eidus on, for example, her kitchen's kashrus (although I suppose she'd give eidut on her kitchen's kashrut ;) ).

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  13. I think she may be considered frum. Don't we all violate halacha fairly often?
    But I don't think frum + model +news, any more than "Frum man periodically speaks Loshon Horah!" is news.

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  14. rafi - BOOOOOOOO you! "eid echad ne'eman bi'issurin! as well as other situations where she is accepted!!!


    mike,
    thank you for the clarification. when people talk about "spiritual" rather than religious, it denotes a different level than "frum". In my experience, she may be just playing tough, so as to avoid other questions. She may really feel that her tznius behavior is acceptable, or she may privately say to herself, it's something to work on. In public though she may be playing tough so as not to be hounded by other follow up questions. remember " dan l'kaf zchus", even if her behavior is suspect, her reasons may not be.

    Thank you again for clarifying, I was worried you had turned into one of the "others" on me! lol

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  15. i know it's a matter of symantics, but most of these ambiguous words, "frum", "religious", "spiritual", or even "orthodox" really erk me. i really try to use the word observant at all times. none of the above words really convey what we are trying to get at. a person can be religious without even being jewish. one can be spiritual by finding meaning to their inner self, without once having made a bracha.

    a person who is observant, on the other hand, or as they say on frumster, "shomer mitzvot", (at least attempts) to observe mitzvot to their understanding and ability.

    without repeating everything that's already been said of every individual's own "aveirot", which i don't actually identify any aveirot off the bat anyway that she has done, a very large portion of observant jewry would be categorized as MO, which for better or worse, also neglect halacha in many cases. they do not cease to be observant.

    shabbat shalom.

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  16. I like your answer. Thank you

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  17. I agree with Rafi.

    For the rest of you...don't you have enough to worry about before you start judging others. You're full of it if you think your choices allow you to pass judgement. Nobody owns a signular definition of Yiddishkeit. It's this sense of entitlement and snobbery that I find utterly disgusting into today's "ultra-orthodox" world.

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  18. I am trying to figure out what the issue is. Are we talking about mitzvat tochacha? Are we supposed to publicly criticize her and tell her to change her ways?

    To me this whole discussion is Lashon Hara.

    "Al tidon et chavercha ad shetagi'ya limekomo"

    Shabbat Shalom

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  19. A person is frum if they:

    * keep kosher
    * keep Shabbos
    * keep taharas mishpacha

    Hava Mond sounds frum to me.

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  20. Several comments rolled into one:

    "Frum man periodically speaks Loshon Horah!" is news.

    Is the chiddush [only] "periodically"? ;) On a more serious note: how about "Frum man + gossip columnist"?

    I was worried you had turned into one of the "others" on me

    LOL... in most circles I travel (be they RZ or Chareidi), I tend to be one of the "others"...

    Al Gore... frum... criteria

    Ironically, the real Al Gore's ex-running mate, Joe Lieberman, dropped the title Orthodox and began using Observant to avoid certain technical questions [such as issues about his wife covering her hair etc] about his behaviour. Nevertheless, he was (and remains) a frum Jew in my book , as well as quite a nice guy (we used to live in the Greater Washington area; my mother taught his daughter.

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  21. is it possible for someone to be frum if they keep halakha even if not according to your posek or your chumras? definitions of tzinut and hair covering are social conventions, (e.g. Jewish in poland always wore head coverings, jews in france never did) whereas shabbat and kashrut are deoraita

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  22. Benjamin,

    Possibly. Hence my original summary said "However, she cannot be said to be practicing Yiaddishkeit as it's observed by the vast majority of its adherents."

    Can you name anyone considered frum (by anyone's standards) who would consider some of the garb described (or shown) to be acceptable l'chatchila?

    Furthermore, as you point out, certain aspects of tzenius are dependent on the prevailing social climate. The Halachos of erva, however, are not.

    Read R' Henkin's article for an excellent explanation of what and why. He has a very valid limud zechus for things like short sleeves, but I think you'll find that his conclusions would tend to agree with my characterization.

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  23. B"H How 'bout calling her "shomereth misswoth." Grammatically, that wouldn't have to mean all of them...

    My biggest thing is hypocrisy. I find it appalling some of these women who call themselves "frum," don't cover their hair just because "they don't want to," wear whatever they want because "they want to," AND tell men a thing or two about what the hallachah IS on various issues.

    Unbelievable!

    On the other, a woman who calls herself religious, and says, hey, I'm not following every misswah now, doing the best I can, and would like to take on more gradually, probably deserves my tolerance.

    Which woman is she?

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  24. shaya - when you say a generaic statement like passul l'eidus, what I say applies. Sure there are exceptions, like situations of gilui daas and eid echad, etc. but in general the generic statement excludes women.

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  25. Benjamin - that is generally the issue. We think that we act properly and others not following the same rulings are doign something wrong. It happens in many fields of halacha. eiruvin, kashrus, etc. If we can accept the fact that there are differences of opinion and others can follow opposing views, much strife would be muted.
    However, that is not the issue here. She is not following another opinion in her dress or choice of occupation. She is doing somethign that is wrong. However, my issue was nto with what she is doing, but how people are categorizing her, and ultimately anybody who does something wrong against the popular stream.
    In other words, she is being spoken against because she publicly deals in immodesty, both in her career choice and in how she dresses. But if somebody else chose a profession that included , say, writing lashon hara in a newspaper or money laundering or tax evasion or whatever, the discussion would not be there. The guy shows up in shul and gets his aliya and donates money and gets his name on [plaques and walls.

    So we are rating people with double-standards. We are calling her not frum because she is dressing immodestly. And that is my point of contention. It is not for us to title her "frum" or "not frum". There is no ramification to such a title other than self-gratification. By saying she is not frum I make myself feel better with myself. But her behavior is between her and God (this is not a bein adam l'chaveroh issue) and it is not for us to decide if she is frum or not. We do not know details of her life other than the few that were written in the article. Articles are almost always inaccurate on fine details. And even if the few details mentioned are accurate, we do not know where she is coming from and how her choices are made.
    So it is wrong for us to judge.

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  26. RAFI:

    on target as usual

    my response at http://agmk.blogspot.com/2007/04/religious-models.html


    BENJAMIN:

    "chumras"

    i'll be the first to admit that we are not necessarily talking here about chumras.

    "Jewish in poland always wore head coverings, jews in france never did"

    again, i'll be the first to admit this statement is incorrect. what makes you think rashi's wife did not cover her hair. the question is whether jews in french lands wore shaitlach, not if they covered their hair altogether. see gluckel of hamlein's memoirs, where she writes how rightious the jewesses she encountered in metz were. why? they did not use sheilach to cover their hair. but they certainly covered their hair.

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  27. But if somebody else chose a profession that included , say, writing lashon hara in a newspaper or money laundering or tax evasion or whatever, the discussion would not be there. The guy shows up in shul and gets his aliya and donates money and gets his name on [plaques and walls.
    Tell me who and where, and I'll complain just as much. I'm not selective when it comes to judgments :)

    We are calling her not frum because she is dressing immodestly.

    Or we're saying that some aspects of her practice are not frum. I judgment of her religious practices, not her personally.

    There is no ramification to such a title other than self-gratification.

    Certainly not. For a shaila of Chillul Shabbos, yes, there are halachic differences. In our case, however, Even were she to be posing nude for playboy (unless it was done l'hachis, and maybe not even then), she could still be considered halachically considered religious.

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  28. for those who say that she is commiting an avaira, I really am curious to hear just exactly what paragraph in the shulchan aruch she is violating, and exactly how any of this translates out in to her walking down the street like this (which i doubt)?

    Just what paragraph is she violating in the shulchan aruch? I really can't find it. in fact, other than the paragraphs regarding what one may recite the shema infront of, I have found NOTHING in the shulchan aruch other than a general adjuration to dress modestly.

    so please tell me, what exactly is she violating? (and it certainly aint in the kitzur. I know that volume cold and I can tell you it isn't there.)

    For all the obsession about there being "sources" and "halachot" for women covering themselves, I have yet to find any of them what so ever in any section of the shulchan aruch, and I've been looking pretty hard, so please enlighten me as to where exactly these halachot can be found, or shut up and stop spreading your gratuitious lashon harah about another frum jew. (which amounts to kasherus, shabbos and nidda, which it would seem that she keeps.) which it doesn't matter that she's frum, you still can't spread lashon hara about her.

    the volumes of the law that I've ever read have ONLY ever been able to cite uber modern sources for this obsession. Please, enlighten me, I'm curious.

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  29. I agree with Rafi that one should not judge another Jew.
    That being said, I vehemently oppose such behavior, and I don't want others to learn from such behvior.
    So, while I don't judge Hava Mond, such behavior is not to be immitated.
    For Halfnutcase, who's looking for a source for the prohibition in Shulhan Aruch, see Even Ha'ezer 115:4.

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  30. Thank you yaak, I just went and looked it up and I noticed something very, very interesting. Tznius is entirely da'as nashim, which means, unless you happen to be a woman, it isn't your right to complain about it because being that it is da'as nashim, it isn't a mans job to deliver this p'sak.

    Thank you, if any women would like to step forward and accuse her of being not-frum, your welcome, the rest of you offended men, please do what your supposed to and be quiet.

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