Nov 21, 2011

Interesting Psak: Laughing At The Benetton Ads Of The Pope Kissing The Imam

Benetton has been running an ad campaign around the world called "Unhate" in which they depict world leaders kissing. Not just the formal cheek to cheek air kiss, but mouth to mouth kisses. One of the images displayed is that of the Pope kissing an Imam of Cairo.

And Rome is upset. They consider it demeaning and disrespectful. They demanded that Benetton pull the advertisements. The Vatican says they are going to sue Benetton for the damage caused to the believers by this photo.

Here are a few of the images, for you to get an idea:

Another one of the images that went up was of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu smooching with PA president Mahmoud Abbas:

This led to an interesting question. Someone sent a question to Rav Baruch Efrati on Moreshet asking what he thinks about the campaign and specifically if it is allowed to look at the pictures and laugh at "Anshe Dat" - clergy.

Rav Efrati answered that it is not the way of the Torah to look at men kissing each other on the lips. As well, one should protest the demeaning depiction of the prime minister, which is also deprecation of the nation and of malchut yisrael.

Regarding laughing at clergy, it is not appropriate to laugh at the Muslim cleric, and one must honor him as a public leader. Even though the Rambam called Mohammed a crazy person, meshugga, it was not as a joke being humorous, rather it was meant seriously. Those were the desert cave hallucinations prophesied to say the angel Gabriel had showed him prophecy.

However, at the Pope there is no problem to laugh or to make jokes and scoff about. The gemara says leitzanus is prohibited, except for leitzanus of avoda zara. The gemara brings a passuk to support this position, suggesting that not only is it allowed to scoff at avoda zara, but it is even encouraged and is a value. Nowadays, where we must be concerned about arousing anger against the Jews, one should not do this publicly, but to laugh when one of their people put up demeaning pictures of the avoda zara, that is definitely allowed.

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