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
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.