Thursday, December 14, 2006

Of Jewish Ethics and Ethical Jews

I'm going to post a conversation that I had with Benjamin J. Cooper, sparked by this piece of news. For those of you who don't know him personally, Ben wrote an article on the legality of Girls Gone Wild for a Law journal. As a result of this, he will forever and always be forwarded anything that remotely relates to young women removing their tops in public. This has already, as one might assume, lead to some hilarious situations.

Benjamin: Huh. I need to know more before I can have an opinion. Because, I'm still pretty sure, breast-baring itself is NOT a federal crime even if minors do it. I guess if they take off their top and squeeze their breasts, that changes things, but I don't know that's the case.
(The law is a little technical.)

Annie: I am not even sure how you would know that. Anyway, I just thought that you'd be interested.

Benjamin: Oh, always. I felt Joe Francis should have been jailed a while back. He exploits stupid people.

Annie: Yeah, but they are stupid, who would ever think that taking off your shirt in public would be a good idea? He CLEARLY has a camera.

Benjamin: Exploitation is wrong, no matter how stupid the victim.

Annie: Yeah, I guess. But I kind of feel like they allowed the exploitation; you know, it isn’t like they [the girls] needed to feed their family, and he took advantage by offering them more money than they’d make in a month.

Benjamin: It's just really not appropriate to take advantage of people. It may not be illegal, but it's not good etiquette. You can post on your blog whether Judaism allows it.

Annie: Taking advantage of people? It is pretty clearly assur*; especially taking advantage of Jews.

Benjamin: And getting chicas to strip - not tzneias*.

Annie: Not so much, but girls gone wild is clearly not a halahkic Jewish organization

Benjamin: Less so than El Al, even.

Annie: clearly: El Al temporarily suspended their shomer shabbat stance. I can’t blame them; I eat at [vegetarian or “kosher”] places that are open on shabbes.

Benjamin: Neither can I, really. It's a public accommodation.

Annie: I'd rather support non-halakhik/secular Jews than a secular airline if I’m flying to Israel.

Benjamin: Unless you assume that shabbos goyim run the entire world while it's Saturday, you have to get some things running yourself.

Annie: Right Rav Kook* made allowances for plowing and such during shmita years so that we could grow our own food in the land of Israel, otherwise we would have been dependant upon non-Jews for all of our food. It stands to reason that the same heter could be used for running an airline on shabbes. I was really uncomfortable that [my family] flew Air France when we traveled to Israel this summer. I mean, El Al doesn’t fly from so many places in Europe, but still…

Benjamin: Yeah, going to Israel through the French is kind of ironic. And sad.

Annie: I do hate the French, but it was also that I feel like I should be supporting Israel’s economy. At least that is what I told myself when I spent so much money there this summer.

Benjamin: Next paycheck, I'm renewing my Israel bonds. I cashed in about $1400 worth because they were mature, but I don't want to get 14 $100 "mazel tov" bonds (I swear that's what they call them), so I need to have at least $2500.

Annie: Ah. I have a $500 bond that matured, I should do something with that, I guess re-invest it?

Benjamin: Yeah, you should roll it over; it doesn't continue to earn interest. You'll need to get 5 "mazel tovs." At least, that's the sort of thing they told me last summer.

Annie: I have one $500 one. I guess that I should call them

Related links:
Nunbet on investing in Israel.
The latest on the El Al strike and boycott.

*Assur is Hebrew for forbidden, often used in the context of those acts considered permissible or forbidden by rabbinic literature.

*Tzneias, or tznius is a yiddishized version of the Hebrew word tzniut, or modesty.

*Rav Kook was one of the great rabbis of the late 19th, early 20th century. He was chief rabbi of Palestine under the British Mandate, and made a lot of the halakhic (Jewish law) decisions on which the state of Israel is based.


Anonymous said...

You lure us in with all this discussion of young women baring their breasts, and we end up with an advertisement for Israeli "Mazel Tov" bonds.

I am in awe.

AnnieGetYour said...

LT- thanks. I am pretty terrific.

Sherbs said...

This Ben must be a catch. Learning all about those GGW videos must have taken hard, hard work. But he seems fairly smart in knowing the law and about Israel bonds. Maybe his girlfriend should get him a falafel?

Smeliana said...

I have met Mr. Cooper and I must say that he is quite a catch. I'm not sure if he has a girlfriend right now but if he does she is one lucky bitch. If I could ever track him down again *sigh* I would buy him a falafel myself just to get to spend more time in his presence. The man is quite a hunk.

Benjamin J. Cooper said...

Well, I'm sure Mr. Cooper will mention the falafel issue the next time anyone who might be his girlfriend is in the neighborhood.

john said...

I am happy to be the Shabbat goy - but it costs twice as much as being the Yom Rishon goy. Need lights?! - I'll turn them on! Forgot to turn on AC in middle of Israeli summer - no sweat! Out of toilet paper you carefully tore before the Queen came in - call me - or don't, cause it's Shabbat. Just come over - oh, wait you'll have to buss me to get in the building. Goodness, this is hard... ;)