Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Esther Petrack

By now almost everyone has heard the story of Esther Petrack, the contestant on the tv show America's Next Top Model who stated that she was an Orthodox Jew who observed the Sabbath yet when asked, for the purposes of this contest if she would work on Shabbat said she would. It seems that the clip that went around the Internet was doctored and she didn't really say this. In fact, she has made a subsequent statement that it was actually very easy for her to keep Shabbat while on the show and that the show was actually very helpful in arranging for her to keep kosher.
For more on this, see http://www.jpost.com/ArtsAndCulture/Entertainment/Article.aspx?id=193915.

From what I have heard about Esther, this all seems to be plausible. It seems that she is really a committed person. This, though, may actually raise what may be a greater problem. Esther did appear in a two-piece swim suit on the show which would raise questions regarding tzniut. Even though she did not do any melachot on Shabbat, was participating in this tv show a true way to spend Shabbat? I am not trying to critique Esther and, in regard to this last question, I am not even trying to say this behaviour, while not a violation of melachot, was definitely assur. My point, though, is that these latter issues seemed not even to be seen as issues. How are we defining Orthodoxy? How is the community itself defining Orthodoxy? It is the very fact that, while arguing vociferously that Esther was committed and did not violate the melachot of Shabbat, these very same people did not perceive the wearing of this bathing suit to be an issue may be the greater issue.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

1 comment:

SC said...

Is it fair to say that this would all be much easier to put into a specific context if the questions were being addressed to Esther's Rabbi rather than to Esther herself? (We almost become victims of the modern conception of religion as medicinal rather than as True by targeting Esther, it seems.)