In our media-saturated culture, living up to the concept of holiness is a constant challenge. Defining holiness and how we apply it to our 21st century lives needs clear thought, direction and planning. It requires us to continually evaluate the media we consume. It forces us to confront our yetzer haras (evil inclinations) – from materialism to voyeurism, to rationalizing and excuse-making. And our struggle with kedushah (holiness) will inevitably manifest itself in mistakes we’ve made, things we shouldn’t have seen, decisions we shouldn’t have made, and impulses we shouldn’t have followed.
It’s already hard, and we shouldn’t make it any harder for ourselves. That is why I am disappointed that an opinion piece on the hook-up culture from the New York Times has made its rounds among a number of mainstream Orthodox outlets, specifically blogs and their social media posts. Of course, if I link it here I will be doing the same disservice as the other sites did. Same if I go into detail about the article. I am aware that I run the risk of piquing your curiosity. However, I feel strongly the point must be made that Orthodox sites have a responsibility to readers. We’re all trying to maintain our values in this crazy world and linking an article the contents of which a non-Jew might not wince at but a frum Jew would find completely inappropriate is a problem.
The specific issue I have with Orthodox sites discussing this op-ed – while providing the link – is that the piece is filled not only with graphic examples but also additional links – that, as long as you have a curious mind, will take you to find out more.
Why would an Orthodox site bring this article about the downsides of drunken hook-ups and more to our attention? To show, of course, that we were right all along. That the Torah has the keys to understanding the connection between intimacy and emotions and the world is just catching on. As one article concluded, “Who would have thought?”
We enjoy finding these types of examples in the mainstream culture, whether it be in media or psychology. It is gratifying and solidifying to be reminded that the things we do, no matter how puritan they may seem to outsiders, really contains truth, really is beneficial, really is the best way to go. I get it.
However, I don’t get it when it disturbs our own quest for kedushah, when by clicking on a link to read the original article (it’s almost impossible not to), personal, gritty accounts of depravity are thrown in your face. If the goal is to enable us to realize that dating and shomer negiah (refraining from physical touch) is a marvelously wonderful thing from the One Above, I don’t need exposure to how disgusting the “real world” can be to truly appreciate my lifestyle. I just got slung with mud, thank you very much.
Granted, we were warned. The Orthodox article I refer to stated immediately “[for mature audiences. Really.]” Yet the implication is that if you are of age and experience, you can handle this. (Of course, you don’t have to click on the original article. And only one quote – the PG one – was provided.)
One final heads-up was provided for readers:
Warning: They will only want to read it if their taharah has already regrettably been sullied by overexposure. It is not exactly written in what we would call lashon nekiah. For this reason, I am not going to belabor the point and quote from it extensively. Bottom lines: Women do crave intimacy. Hookups don’t provide it. Lots of women have to ply themselves with alcohol to get them to do what is supposed to be fun but isn’t. Women (gasp!) do act differently than men, and try taking into account the disappointment of another.
“They” refers to kiruv (outreach) workers, as explained in the article, who might benefit from reading the article which proves that “good ideas outlast cultural changes.” And no doubt, these are good ideas! Women crave intimacy and hookups don’t provide it! It may be a revelation to the rest of the world, but it’s no chiddush (novelty) to us!
Unfortunately, it’s so easy these days to be regrettably sullied by overexposure. The last place I would expect to fall into that trap is via some of my favorite Orthodox websites. Having a link available to all readers, which contains links to further decadence (as I have been told by readers in the know), is a problem for mature audiences, too. No matter what the moral benefit.
Until next time,