Reader: We have been getting e-mails from Mesora
for some time now, but I had not taken the opportunity to explore the inside of
Jewish Times until Dec. 17. This first glimpse made me seriously question the
value of continuing as a subscriber. As an illustration for the article on
blessings, in which you discuss the need to bless when perceiving beauty, you
appropriately included a lovely nature scene. I cannot understand, however,
your need to include a picture of a beautiful woman as well, a most
inappropriate choice, inconsistent with the principles of “tzniut” (modesty).
Please explain this apparently poor editorial decision.
Mesora: Kindly explain what halachic violation of Tzniut you refer to by our placing this photo. We see no violation of any halacha or philosophy of Tzniut. Thank you.
Reader: Causing men to gaze upon a woman for
the purpose of appreciating her beauty is a breach of tzniut. Mesora:
If you might cite the halachik source, we would appreciate it, and will post
Reader: The prohibition against gazing for the purpose of enjoyment at even parts of a woman’s body that are typically exposed is discussed in Brachot 24a, Shabbat 64b, Rambam Issurei Biah 21:2, Shulchan Aruch Even Haezer 21:1, and Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim 40, among other sources.
Mesora: Thank you for providing your sources. However, in all the sources you quoted, it is not stated that viewing a ‘photo’ violates this halacha (law). This institution addresses the need to “distance” one’s self from prohibited sexual intercourse. As such, a live, potential partner - not a photo - is that from which what one must distance himself. I do not claim to know all halachos. But based on what I have read on this area, it appears that looking at a photo is not in violation.