Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

13 Elul 5759 - August 25, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Promoting Purity On Land, Sea and Air

by Mordechai Gerlitz

It is incumbent upon us to express our heartfelt gratitude to the askonim who, having undertaken to bear the burden of the Torah-observant public upon their own shoulders, have paved obstacle-free paths for us on public buses, at the beaches, and in the air. Hashem has crowned their efforts with success, and they have accomplished great things for us all.

Were it not for these dedicated men, we and our children would be forced, G-d forbid, to resign ourselves to the appalling situation prevalent in all these areas. We would consider ourselves anusim, proclaiming we had no choice, and justify ourselves with a sigh of resignation.

"What else can we do?" we'd shrug helplessly.

But Hashem has not abandoned those who fear Him. Heaven has aroused the hearts of righteous men, so that they might, with G-d's help, save the situation before it got too late.

We have merited the fulfillment of a "daydream" which nobody believed could ever come to fruition. Airlines now vie for the privilege of serving the Torah-observant community by providing special movie-free departments.

We have merited, with G-d's help, to overcome the various "objective" obstacles which invariably loom before us each year just prior to the "swimming season."

We have also merited, with G-d's help, to instill an awareness of the "mehadrin" concept into public transportation.

The National Committee for the Prevention of Indecent Advertising in the Holy Land has in the past scored other key victories for tznius in Eretz Yisroel. Although their main interest is in the Orthodox community, there is no doubt that the entire population benefits from a higher level of public decency. In the summer of 5754 (1994), when a plague of pritzus advertisements spread out over the country, the Committee organized frum consumer power then conducted lengthy negotiations, in the end convincing advertising companies to stop running the indecent ads. In addition, they persuaded Egged to forgo their plan of installing video movie screens in inter-city buses and at major central bus stations.

It is important to remember the debt of gratitude we owe these dear Jews, and it is incumbent upon us to demonstrate our support by becoming partners in their work. The most important form of help we can offer is cooperation. If the Torah-observant public withdraws their business from any company which does not heed the askonim's requests; if airlines unequivocally know that no Orthodox Jew would be seen on an airline which does not comply -- the askonim's work would be easier and even more successful.

The Kotsker Rebbe, zt"l, interpreted the posuk "Hashomayim -- shomayim laHashem veho'oretz nosan livnei odom" (Tehillim 115) as follows: HaKadosh Boruch Hu created the heavens to be "heavenly;" that is, holy, spiritual, and pure. The earth, on the other hand, was given to man, for it is his job to convert this symbol of gashmiyusto the realm of "heavenly," exalted, and pure.

In every generation, a handful of holy Jews, in whose merit the world maintains its existence, fulfill this posuk, and every Torah-observant Jew perceives this madreigo to be an ideal towards which we must all strive.

Sadly, airlines often do the dirty work. Immoral movies, broadcast by force to the frum traveler's eyes -- and from there to his mind and soul -- leave behind them a man different from the one that first sat down.

A youth grows up in a fine home somewhere across the ocean. The lad is aflame with enthusiasm as he hopes and dreams of the long-awaited moment when he will finally set out on his journey to immerse himself in the world of Torah. His family, too, is awash with excitement -- their son/brother is going to study Torah!

Despite all their fears and concerns, they are sending him to the holy yeshiva!

This precious son must make his way by plane. There's no alternative.

During the flight, an immoral, indecent film is screened directly in front of his unwilling eyes, rendering this holy korbon unfit for its purpose, Rachmono litzlan. Gevalt! Mah ya'aseh haben velo yecheto? What can the youth do in order to avoid sin?

Such spiritual tragedies, unfortunately, lie in wait at every step in today's depraved world. A transatlantic flight, an innocent trip to the beach, or even a short, daily ride on public transportation -- all these present the frum traveler with serious nisyonos.

A handful of askonim from the Torah-observant world act as the sole defenders of the G-dly image, morality, and the decency of the streets and thoroughfares of Eretz Yisroel.

This battle is a milchemes mitzvah, a rescue mission. It's the war for our souls -- ours and those of our sons and daughters in this generation and those to come after us.

In the non-religious, materialistic world, everything is evaluated in terms of money. When the airlines, local authorities running the beaches, bus companies, and other companies advertising their wares on billboards and buses reach the conclusion that refusal to accommodate the moral demands of Orthodox Jewry quite literally "does not pay," then and only then, will all gates be thrown open wide as if touched by a magic wand.

This is our strategy! These are the rules of the game in today's materialistic, non-religious world.

Let the reader be aware that the Committee for Spiritual Purity in the Holy Land has publicized a brief to all frum travel agents and to the Orthodox community at large in the name of the rabbonim and gedolei poskei hador. The notice urges travel agents to book frum passengers only on airlines providing mehadrin service. The rabbonim and gedolei hador forbid travel on airlines such as TWA (to America) and Sabena, airlines that have refused to accommodate the rabbonim's requests for movie- free departments. In this way, reads the brief, Torah- Jewry can prevent a chillul Hashem and avoid transgressing the commandment of "velo sosuru acharei eineichem."

This is part of our battle for survival as a Jewish nation. It is a part of the continuity of Klal Yisroel. It is a position based upon one of the main principles of the essence of the Jewish nation: "kedoshim tihiyu ki kodosh Ani Hashem Elokeichem!"

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