Airbrushing Hillary? It’s a Sin

May 9th, 2011 at 7:12 pm | 20 Comments |

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The story has now gone around the world.  The Orthodox, Hassidic, Jewish newspaper, Di Tzeitung, republished the famous photo of President Obama and his advisors watching the raid on Bin Laden’s compound while they were sitting in the situation room.  The only thing is that this publication cut out Hillary Clinton and Audrey Tomason, director of counterterrorism, from this photograph.


Let it be stated for the record that this Orthodox Hassidic newspaper through this action was itself in violation of many severe sins.

First, they have violated the sin of “baal tosif”, there is a prohibition in Torah against adding more prohibitions.  This is based upon Deuteronomy 4:2, which states, “Do not add what I have commanded to you.”  Nowhere in the Torah does it state that it is prohibited to look at a picture of a woman who is modestly dressed.  In cutting out Hillary Clinton and Audrey Tomason, they are thus guilty of this sin.

They have also violated the sins of “midvar sheker tirchak”, not distancing themselves from falsehoods (Exodus 23:7).  One is guilty for this sin by presenting a story that is inaccurate. Similarly they have violated the Talmudic sin (Babylonian Talmud, Hullin 94a)of “geneivat data” (stealing the mind), tricking someone into believing an inaccurate idea.

By tampering with this photo in violation of White House guidelines, they have violated the Talmudic sin that one must obey the laws of the land, (“dina demalchuta dina”, the law of the land is the law).

They have also violated the positive commandment of “hakarat hatov”, showing gratitude.  This commandment is described in the classic and great medieval work, Sefer HaChinuch as follows:  ”recognize and bestow kindness upon one who has done him good and that he not be base, a dissimulator, and one who denies the good done him by another.”  Since Ms. Clinton and Ms. Tomason worked on this effort for many years, it is disgraceful that they were cut out of this photo.

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20 Comments so far ↓

  • jerseychix

    Thanks for that explanation.

    What sort of market penetration does this newspaper have? Is this the equivalent of the Denver Post (does that even still exist?) or the Athens Banner Herald? Is this newspaper aimed at a really small neighborhood audience or do they read it in Brooklyn, Monsey, Lakewood and Israel?

    • Smargalicious

      Whither Hillary??

      A cuckolded former FLOTUS carpetbags to New York where the liberal White loons elect her for God knows whatever reasons, then BHO gives her some political scraps after his election.

      Isn’t her 15 minutes over yet??

  • MSheridan

    Not an expert, but wouldn’t Exodus 23:1 (Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness) cover it as well if not better than Exodus 23:7? Or is this one of those places the English translations are not completely satisfactory?

  • Watusie

    Iron Age rules for the proper use of Photoshop. I love it!

    I, too, would very much like to know the answers to all of jerseychix’s questions. If it is a fringe publication, well, then, funny but NBD. However we are often told that we have to back Israel to the hilt because as the only democracy in the Middle East they are our greatest ally. However, this little incident does not demonstrate much of a democratic mindset.

    The more I read about Israel, the more I think – wow, what a foreign country. You’ve got this….and in the 70′s, Golda Meir.

    And I’m sorry to introduce her into the conversation, but: what would Israel-worshipping Sarah Palin say if she was airbrushed out of a photo in this publication, given the OTT response from her and her fan base whenever something even vaguely colorable as sexist touches her personally?

    • KBKY

      “However we are often told that we have to back Israel to the hilt because as the only democracy in the Middle East they are our greatest ally. However, this little incident does not demonstrate much of a democratic mindset.”

      Di Tzeitung is an American, not Israeli, newspaper.

      In response to your argument that whatever country allowed this paper to be published is demonstating an undemocratic mindset, I have to strongly disagree. A fringe newspaper published something inappropriate, people complained, the paper apologized (insufficiently in my view), and are still being criticized. If anything, I think that this incident exemplifies the democratic mindset where the media, like the government, is answerable to the populace.

  • SqueekyFromm

    I think they also violated “Pissin Ov Galz” which is roughly translated as “Irritating the Female Gender.” The little CHAUVINISTS!!!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  • Rabiner

    Just shows you that fundamentalists of any religion are stupid.

  • arvan

    Di Tzeitung is akin to the Westboro Baptist Church in that they are a tiny organization that gets huge spikes of news coverage whenever they do something people don’t like, but unlike the WBC they’re not going out of their way to offend people. They cater to a tiny religious sect who have, I admit, weird views. But I don’t see the particular harm in this. It’s not as widespread, nor as misleading, nor as malicious as what passes for news on Fox.

    And to Watusie, if you didn’t notice, this paper is published in Brooklyn, not Israel. Just as not all Jews support Israel’s actions, Israel does not support the actions of every Jew.

    • lyhunt56

      I understand your point that this is not a mainstream media outlet (or religious perspective) but, I’m not seeing where the size of their distribution really matters in dismissing how they doctored the photo — the presentation of the photo is not something up to an editorial board to make a decision about. It is what it is.

      It is a kind of fascinating demonstration of denial in action.

  • lyhunt56

    Why did they even want to run the picture if it offended their sensibilities so much?

    • nwahs


      The picture isn’t necessary. You wonder about the intelligence level of the editorial board that is using Photoshop techniques instead of just leaving the picture out. I don’t know if they’re sinful, but they are without question, stupid.

  • arvan

    Lyhunt – the size of their distribution matters because this is just some tiny little group following their own customs, not bothering anyone. If the New York Times adopted a policy of never showing a picture of a woman, that would be significant. But these guys? They’ve been photoshopping women out of pictures for a long time now, and it doesn’t really hurt anyone. Live and let live, that’s what I say.

  • ggore

    These rules are no different than the Amish and Mennonite requiring their women to wear plain print dresses and skullcaps on their hair; the Hasidics requiring their women to wear wigs and cover most of themselves when out in public; the conservative Mormons who require their women to wear only colored dresses and fix their hair alike; or the Moslems that require their women to wear hijabs.

    Note that these “rules” only apply to women, men have absolutely NO rules of dress or appearance in any of these religions, apart from the Mennonite and Amish men having to wear a beard after marriage. I don’t include the little hats Jewish and Moslem men wear since they don’t have to wear them all the time or if they wear another form of hat. This is all just a part of female subjugation from back in tribal days 40,000 years ago that just won’t go away.

    • MSheridan


      40,000 years ago? Are you sure you didn’t add a zero to that number? We do have a pretty good idea what Bronze Age peoples were doing 4,000 years ago. However, we know quite a bit less about the social structures of people during the Palaeolithic era. Some people propose, from relatively scant but consistent evidence, that women had a considerably greater role during that time. I have seen nothing in the literature that would indicate the reverse.

  • ggore

    Tribal societies require all sorts of things be done to females in order to show ownership of their males: piercings, tattoos, clothing, whatever. This still happens in this day and age, and I’m sure it happened 4o,000 years ago. I picked the number out of the air in an effort to show how silly these rules and regulations of the various communities and religions are, since they ONLY apply to females and not to males in these groups.

  • ignatz

    What the newspaper did may have been foolish, but it was no “sin.” We risk cheapening the language of halacha if we apply it this way to individual journalistic acts and omissions.

    There was no issue of falsehood here. They didn’t write: “Secretary Clinton had no role in the operation.” They didn’t run a picture captioned: “Photo of all those who were involved in the operation.” It’s well understood that that dozens, if not hundreds, of government employees played a part in making this happen.

    Nor is there any issue of ingratitude. We know relatively little today about what role Secretary Clinton actually played, or how grateful we ought to be. But the newspaper didn’t write: “Secretary Clinton had no role in the operation.” Nor did they imply any such thing.

    Finally, even if the newspaper did commit a sin here, publicly shaming them for it — via posting on a blog such as this — would seem to be lashon hara mamash, which is forbidden by the Torah.

  • Primrose


    As much as I am with you on the women’s oppression bit, you are factually wrong. In Islam loose fitting garb is required on men just as much as women. Orthodox Jewish must wear several different garments that women aren’t (I’m feeling one my spelling aphasia’s coming on so I won’t try to spell it).

    One could choose to interpret both religions as significantly more pro-female than they are in practice because in these communities tradition often trumps religion. The wig thing is a tradition that dates back to cossack riddled Europe and there is no specific mention of any number of common practices in the Islamic world because they date back too long.

    All that being said, the reason they took out the women has nothing to do with modesty but is intended to keep the women in line. If women see other women in power, they might ask to be treated better. That would really ruin a good thing for Hasidic men who not only get all the benefits the wife role but also can send their women to work to support the family while they study Torah.

    There are also plenty reasons to believe that Patriarchy is not the only answer mankind ever had. What we know is that contact with Patriarchal societies is infectious, and societies become more oppressive as more patriarchal societies move in.

    I see absolutely no reason why we have to prove that each past society was more egalitarian (or a matriarchy) to accept that it might have been, but we don’t have to prove patriarchy. that societies in the past may have been either. There are traces of different standards of power in the powers of the goddesses, in the inheritance of kingship (in Egypt through whoever married Queen), in the structure of market women in Africa and family among the Iroquois. To suggest that patriarchal structures are all we ever had, that they are the default, is to suggest that they are somehow either the most natural or the most efficient—which no matter how much certain men would like to think it, just isn’t so.

  • forkboy1965

    It’s hardly a “newspaper” if it cannot/will not print an unedited picture. Wouldn’t it be simpler to not publish pictures of any sort then? Couldn’t they find some religious law that claims pictures steal souls or something equally ridiculous?