I am writing in response to your “Editorial Policy on Pictures” (May 23, 2019). After detailing your own policy of printing pictures of men, women and children that reflect our community as it is, you address the situation of advertisers who send images with women purposely left out despite your request that they resend the images with women’s pictures included, or alternatively, to remove all images.
You conclude with an explanation that you will accept these ads with the women’s pictures left out and accommodate their request in order to show respect for other hashkafot.
It is indeed laudable to be open to and respect other hashkafot. However, I feel that you have not fully taken into consideration that such a policy may not always be correct. If we take into account the negative impact on, and conflict with, your readership’s hashkafa, which is based on the direction of the wider community’s poskim (e.g. Rav Herschel Schachter shlita) and your own guidelines of printing appropriate women’s pictures, the correct action would be to insist on maintaining your policy or not accepting the ad. Furthermore, a more simple solution exists within your own stated policy – have the advertiser remove all pictures from the ad.
Allow me to share two stories that appear in Rav Nathan Kaminetsky’s book, Making of a Gadol, which I feel will clarify and support the approach that I am suggesting.
The book reports that when preparing to host a Shabbos seudah the Chofetz Chaim would send a messenger to the invited guests to ascertain if he could accommodate any of their chumrahs (stringencies) relating to the seudah.
A second story takes place in the 1930’s when the “Rav of Elizabeth” is preparing to host Rav Ruderman, the Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisrael, for Shabbos. He informs the Rosh Yeshiva that his daughters customarily sing zemiros at the Shabbos table (based on Poskim that Kol Isha does not apply to Zemiros and Tefillah) which greatly enhances their Oneg Shabbos and he is concerned that Rav Ruderman not be offended. Rav Ruderman responds “My frumkeit (stringencies) does not have to hurt others.”
It is noteworthy that the Rav of Elizabeth does not offer to accommodate the stringency of Rav Ruderman as the Chofetz Chaim had done for his invited guests. The difference, it seems clear, is that Rav Ruderman’s stringency, as he himself stated, negatively impacted on another’s hashkafa while this was not the case with the example of the Chofetz Chaim, where no one was negatively impacted as a result of stringencies.
The Jewish Link has an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of respecting other hashkafot while not diluting our own community’s legitimate positions.Tuly Polak