Blogging is not tznius

This was a status update by incredible blogger Aliza Hausman. Unfortunately this was not the first I had heard of this idea this week. I have had a couple of interactions recently with Jewish female bloggers on this subject. Some rabbanim have felt that it draws too much attention and is not to be encouraged. Especially in single female bloggers who are dating. Being a public figure is apparently against the tenets of Judaism and modesty unless you are a Rabbi.

How stupid of me to forget! Us women are supposed to be quiet and hide behind our men, and only speak when spoken to. And if we don’t have men to hide behind? Use a tree, something, so that women should never be seen, let alone be heard to have opinions.

Yes there are JBlogs out there that talk about taboo subjects and are sensationalist etc. But there are some awesome quality JBlogs writen by some phenomenal female members of the Tribe. The world is so much better for these blogs. I have learned a tremendous amount from these women, and come to a much deeper understanding of myself through the blogging medium. If I have learned from them, I am sure many others have too.

I am a Jewish female blogger and I stand tall and proud. Who is with me???!!!

Soon breathing won’t be tznius….what will they think of next??!!

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  1. Keith Brooks says:

    Perhaps the rabbi’s that don’t blog, have an issue with it? Many Rabbi’s blog and for that matter have for years especially on weekly parsha items.
    Is it wrong as well for women to comment on the Torah and publish books and present at seminars or conventions as well?
    Same argument probably.

  2. I do see their point. The internet removes a lot of inhibitions, and I blog about a lot of subjects I sure wouldn’t bring up on a first date. .

    Of course, that’s the whole fun of blogging!

  3. Comment says:

    There should not be any “edict” against blogging by anyone. I do however believe that the subject matter should be “modest” and should not include any subject that you would not discuss with teenagers. I can’t believe it was directly only at women, men should definitely be included as well. I certainly hope that the whole subject matter was not taken out of context.

  4. Susan says:

    You go, woman! (notice I did not say ‘girl”!)
    Draws too much attention to what? Are you supposed to cover your entire being?

  5. Vicki says:

    Rock on, lady. It’s bad enough that men already try to muzzle women in Orthodox power structures as it is. Women expressing their opinions is also apparently treif, even if they are just writing about their kids or their opinion of something going on in Israel (not posting pictures of themselves at strip clubs, etc.)

    I have the same issue with these kinds of arguments as I do with kol isha; that women are not allowed to sing because it will entice the men. Take some personal responsibility and let women take responsibility for moderating their own modesty.

  6. batya from NJ says:

    i’m not a blogger. i just like to comment on other ppls blogs (esp hadassah’s!) but i certainly disagree with the notion that women should not blog. it should be equal opportunity. if it’s wrong for women then let it be equally assur for men. i don’t believe that orthodox jewish women should be seen & not heard like children of yesteryear. i know, some might argue that they shouldn’t be seen either b/c “kol kvodah bas melech pnima” a woman should not be “out there” so to speak. i of course think that is wrong & that blogging should not be assur but then again, these same rabbis probably feel that the entire internet is assur in the first place!!

  7. Frume Sarah says:

    I think that both men and women should be modest in their speech and use discretion in all communication including the blogosphere. To suggest that blogging is assur for women is really twisting things.

    I am a Jewess who blogs. And I’m a rabbi who blogs. I am a mother, a sister, a tante, a friend. No matter which role, I choose my words carefully. With honety and integrity. Always l’Shem Shamayim.

  8. G6 says:

    Ooooh, this makes me so mad!!!
    It’s bad enough that men blame women for every ounce of self-control that they lack, but this is TOTALLY DIFFERENT.
    Let us assume for a minute that a man is so weak that he is easily led astray by temptation that is placed before his eyes that he can do nothing to avoid (i.e. on the street). Blogging is not the same scenario. He should stay (euphemistically) on the other side of the “internet mechitzah”.

  9. phyllis says:

    {{{sigh}}}

    I think tzniut is a state of mind and being, not an activity. Sharing your opinions and believing in yourself do not make you immodest.

    I’m not even sure we need to give comment to this chazerai but….you asked :-)

  10. Lady Lock and Load says:

    If the KoD does not mind you blogging then I think it’s fine.
    I am sure there are some people that have blogs that are not modest with inappropriate pictures. But why should it be ossur for all frum women just because of those few? Blogging is your way of expressing yourself and getting feed back from others, I think it’s very healthy. As long as it’s done in a modest way (which you do) and your KoD doesn’t mind.

    • hadassahsabo says:

      When the KoD met me he knew I was an independent thinker. He would not dream of censoring me or stopping me from blogging. Even if he minded, he is smart enough to know to keep quiet for Shalom Bayit!

  11. Meira_Davi says:

    Well I must jump in also. If people, including rabbis, would spend as much time moderating their own behavior and try to be a true mensch, instead of worrying so much about the choices everyone else is making and whether it meets some standard they’ve created in their own minds, wouldn’t the world be a kinder, more loving place?

    • Lady Lock and Load says:

      I think that many Rabbonim have no problem with a frum female blogger. Of course you will have some Rabbanim who will ossur it. There are many kinds of Jews and many kinds of Rabbanim, each having a different opinion, it can get you dizzy!
      A blog/internet, like anything else, can be used for good or for bad.

    • Chanief says:

      Great response. I could not agree more!

  12. Mrs. S. says:

    Soon breathing won’t be tznius….
    Wait! Do you mean to tell me that you, gasp!, breathe?! I’m shocked, shocked… :-)

  13. Meira_Davi says:

    I have a friend who is a Jewish (orthodox) therapist and she told me that one of the biggest problem areas she deals with is orthodox men who are addicted to internet porn. (I assume she works with the wives–she didn’t say actually.) She said that there is so much repression around what is “proper” and modest that seemingly religious men get hooked on cyberporn because they see it as a safer outlet than actual physical encounters.
    Think about that versus blogging. Women bloggers are saying things in the open. Discussions between commentors are out in the open. But the men who look at internet porn do so in secret. You can’t google their names and find out what sites they have looked at.
    I honestly think it is more destructive than most of the things women are chided about doing, like wearing women’s slacks or blogging about Jewish things.
    But you don’t really hear much about this problem from the rabbis who are so quick to wag their fingers at women expressing themselves openly on a blog. This isn’t an issue that is talked about much in orthodoxy, but I’d bet my therapist friend is telling the truth, that it is a very big, very hidden problem.
    Just sayin….

    • Mark says:

      This sort of makes sense, men generally keep their feeling inside, while women “talk theirs out”, or at least that’s how the stereotype goes.

  14. Rainy says:

    I don’t think there’s anything inherently immodest about blogging, per se. A person could blog immodestly, sure. But who determines what that line is and are their standards ones I choose to apply to myself? I have a pretty hard time being told to toe a particular line just because someone else said so.

    As with everything else, I try to take my understanding of what is the right thing to do, and apply it. Sometimes I think that “being visible” is considered untznius in some circles. Fortunately for me and women everywhere, no one has invented an invisibility pill. And fortunately for me, I can ignore those people. Or at least, consider the source carefully.

  15. Anon says:

    But Hadassah, being a Jewish Princess is SOOO important. To the rabbis. You know. Nevermind the GOOD that so many of these blogs do in debunking the myths about Orthodoxy being archaic and/or lame.

    Le sigh.

  16. Ari says:

    Come now, you don’t need anyone’s approval, do you?

    My guess is that the rabbonim who may have said this aren’t enamored of the Internet to begin with. These people may even believe that separate-gender buses should be mandatory. So, who cares what they say about women bloggers?

    Listen, if anythings, this medium preserves – not destroys – privacy. I would say that women bloggers have more privacy and “control” than, say, your average female newspaper editor or reporter.

    • hadassahsabo says:

      No, I don’t need anyone’s approval. I just don’t like people meddling in stuff that doesn’t concern them.

      • Mark says:

        I just don’t like people meddling in stuff that doesn’t concern them.

        You mean like how you prepare your food? Or when you may have sex with your husband? Or what you decide to do every seventh day of the week? Or how you dress? Or what you do with your hair? etc.

        • hadassahsabo says:

          i meant my blogging, Mark. there is nothing i can see that makes blogging a halachic violation. Yes, I follow a religion that proscribes all of those things, but this is taken it too far.

          • Mark says:

            Many people think telling women to cover their “nees” is going to far. And so on. In the end, we all pick and choose what we will observe among the myriad things the Rabbis tell us must be observed.

  17. I, for one, am so glad that you blog. Your posts help me think critically about the choices I’m making as I convert — and what could be better than that?

  18. batya from NJ says:

    i just received a report this morning from (YWN)yeshiva world news that the rabbis in modi’in illit, a chareidi community in israel have ordered that all residents get rid of the internet ASAP unless it is needed for parnassah in which case they can use “kosher” internet-i wonder if it needs a b’datz hechsher :)…anyhow hadassah, needless to say, you wouldn’t wanna be moving to that community anytime soon but i know it’s NOT exactly on your agenda anyhow!!

    • hadassahsabo says:

      and how is this edict enforced, Batya? its not something they can police, it really isn’t.

      • batya from NJ says:

        well, i don’t really know & also don’t really care to know how but i’ll email you the article…i guess if the “powers that be” find out about it, you can get in trouble. i dunno exactly but maybe there would be pressure to move out of the community since the offender is a treif influence on the kedusha/holiness of the place ;). not sure though of how it will be enforced…

      • Mark says:

        It’s enforced like everything else is enforced in Charedi communities. Mainly by the threat of ostracizing, especially when applied to ones children (“bad for shidduchim”, etc). But it’s only enforced according to your level in the hierarchy (i.e. more enforced for those lower on the totem pole, less enforced for those higher up).

        • hadassahsabo says:

          so the more senior you are, the more internet you get to surf??

          • Mark says:

            Not exactly. But the more “senior” (rich, yichus, wisdom, political, etc) in the hierarchy you are, the less the other members of the community can ostracize you with any real effect. And this applies to almost all communities, not only Charedi ones.

  19. Rebecca says:

    Hadassah: Do u think you could put into ( ) words non frum people might not understand. I looked up tznius and could ot find the meaning. I know it will certainly help me. The word for asking the rabbi for help appeared in your blog and I knew what it meant because you explained it. I am learning so much. and while I’m at it, what kind of face makeup do you use. Ur skin is perfect!

    • Mark says:

      Tznius = [roughly] modesty.
      Treif = non-kosher.
      Shidduchim = matchmaking.
      b’datz hechsher = a well-known Charedi kosher certification organization.
      Charedi = Ultra-Orthodox Jew
      Parnassah = making a living

    • hadassahsabo says:

      Rebecca – I will make a concerted effort to include translations where possible. Sometimes I am so focussed on my writing that I forget. Thanks for asking!!

      As for face make-up -no foundation at all, no powder. just me and my English rose complexion.

  20. Dov Kramer says:

    Reminds me of when they asked Rav Zelig Epstein z”l to sign on to a paper with other Rabbonim to assur (prohibit) going to movies. His response: Klal Yisroel’s pants are falling down and you’re worrying about straightening their tie? (Needless to say, he refused to sign it.)

    Putting aside the issue of internet use in general, if anyone has a problem with female bloggers, just don’t log on (or tell those who follow your psak not to). This is not something that should be addressed to the female bloggers, but to those that might be affected by reading them (I won’t mention any male bloggers by name). It’s not the same as walking down a public street dressed inappropriately.

    Like everything else, if someone finds doing anything affects them in a way that moves further away from G-d rather than closer to Him/Her it should be avoided. This is an issue of self-censorship, not censorship.

    (Just my 2 cents.)

  21. ilanadavita says:

    Lots of interesting comments follow your post. Of course a religious woman knows what to include and what to leave out of the blog. This is true of many topics. The hareidi are just trying to control every inch of Judaism; this is just one more step.

  22. EstherK says:

    Breathing: clearly not tznius, as it causes a certain region to rise and fall, calling attention to it.

    “What will they think of next?”
    You had to ask???? There will always be something new. I’ll make up some things right now, and we’ll see how many of them make their way into the “assur” category.

    Here’s one. Blogging is not tznius because typing calls attention to the fingers, which can be used for improper contact. Ditto for nail polish. And rings. And food consumption using spoons, knives or forks. Want me to keep going?

  23. amhausman says:

    No one told me that converting to Judaism meant that “us women are supposed to be quiet and hide behind our men, and only speak when spoken to” so I’m going to pretend I never heard anyone say “Blogging isn’t tznius” and I sure as hell ain’t gonna learn to keep my mouth shut! ;)

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