My question is two-fold.
I sort of stumbled upon a blog, where a "high-class escort", is describing her life. In the comments, a religious Moslem guy is chastising her to give up this 'career path' and do tshuva. I wanted to say something from a Torah stand point.
I know what the pertinent halacha/hashkafa (law) is for a Jewish lady. But I'm not sure about a Bas Noach (a female human being, non-Jewish, according to the Noahide laws).
Also, is it a Chilul Hashem (an affront for G-d) for me to even be commenting on such a blog?
Let me first answer the specific questions you are asking and then make a broader comment.
1) If you want to know whether prostitution is forbidden according to Noachide Law, the answer is that it is not. There is a Noahide law that requires society to make rules, so one could argue that if prostitution is illegal in a given country, a prostitute and her/his client would be violating that law, but this is a tangential point.
(BTW, if you want to read up on Noahide laws, there are a number of good books, such as Aaron Lichtenstein’s Seven Laws of Noah and David Novack’s The Image of the Non-Jew in Judaism: The Idea of Noahide Law. There is also a growing community called the Oklahoma B’nai Noah Society, who recently published a ritual guide for prayer and life-cycle events, called Service from the Heart.)
2) If you are worried that it is a Chilul Hashem – no I don’t think that it is. Now, I don’t know what site you are talking about, and you do seem a little sheepish about it (“sort-of stumbled” “such a blog”) so if you mean that it is an “adult website” of sorts, then it might be best not to comment as an Orthodox Jew. Nevertheless, I am not sure even then that it reaches the level of Chilul Hashem if you would comment. A Chilul Hashem generally refers to a Jew behaving in such a way that outsiders will look down on Jews and Judaism. I don’t think trying to articulate your objections to the lifestyle of an escort can be construed as an embarrassment to Judaism, even if it does “give away” that you were surfing on “questionable” sites. There is nothing illegal or immoral per se about reading the “confessions of a escort” even if this might not be the optimal use of your energies from a Torah perspective.
Now I want to take a step back and reflect on what is underlying your question. Why do you want to write this comment? I do not know what brought this woman to her career as a “high class escort” but what is it you want to tell her that she doesn’t already know? Are you going to tell her that the Bible frowns on prostitution? I assume she knows that and has heard it before. Also, it is generally difficult, not to mention somewhat presumptuous, to use your own religious commitments to critique someone who doesn’t share them. Additionally, are you writing because you want to have an effect on her? If so, you should try and think about what would have an effect. Is it because you feel it would be cathartic to speak Torah to her? If that is the reason, she could reasonably counter that you came to her website to satisfy your prurient curiosity and now you feel guilty and are taking it out on her. Is it to counteract the Muslim commenter and offer a different religious response? Not sure if this is valuable, she and other readers may just see the two of you as “the religious fanatics” and miss any nuance.
That said, if you are going to write something, I would suggest hitting on points that most people, irrespective of their religious background, could identify with. (Even if you don’t respond, and I suggest you do not, but it's your call, this may help you think through your message.) Escorts often (though not exclusively) service married men. What are the moral consequences of assisting a man in cheating on his wife? Also, has this behavior contributed to marital friction or divorce? What if he has kids? Now, she can fairly claim that this is his fault and his problem, and I agree, but does she want to be part of that?
Additionally, has she thought about the consequences of this profession on her future? If she wishes to get married and have a family of her own (I have no idea if she does or not) will this hurt her prospects? Will she feel ashamed in front of a future husband/partner or her children? Is she losing precious years of possible companionship in exchange for money and this thrilling but very material lifestyle? Are there dangers involved in this kind of work? (Again, I have no idea, but I can imagine that there could be.) Will this hurt her self-esteem in the long run? Will this hurt her ability to have a fulfilling monogamous sexual relationship in the future? I don’t know the answers to these question but they might be worth pondering.
You could remind her, kindly (and this would distinguish you from the other commenter who chastises her) that she is someone whom people can and do love and who can love others in return. Perhaps this lifestyle, which is very much about her showmanship as an entertainer of sorts, could damage her emotionally or spiritually in a way that will only become apparent later on in life when it cannot be undone.
I am not saying that you should respond or that these thoughts will have an effect or that they are even relevant to her life, but if I were in your situation and felt the need to respond, this would be how I would attempt to offer her another way of thinking about her life and her options without judging her or acting superior.
Your question is intriguing on a number of levels. Let me start by reviewing a few thoughts on Jewish modesty. Jewish modesty, as Rabbi Yehuda Henkin identifies in his book Understanding Tzniut, demonstrates that modesty is much more about the behavior of the observant person rather than the compelled behavior of others. For example, the Talmud in several places warns people about where to look, but says very little about what anyone should wear. Further, the only Biblical prohibitions on modest speech and dress are to cover gentilia (makom erva). Rabbinic extensions of this rule however invite a much more robust contextual behavor of modesty. The Talmud for example says that someone who makes sexual jokes at a huppah reverses years of good fortune to bad fortune. This warning suggests that what we read and how we speak are of great significance. Taken together, these sources all suggest each person ought to engage in what is essentially a mussar practice of acquiring our own capacity of modesty.
Second, sexual immorality is an issue for a bat Noach. Adultery in particular is forbidden to all humans. Rabbinic tradition in general is very concerned about znut, about generally promiscious behavior. This is meant as a human concern. I feel it is an area where Jewish wisdom has a great deal to offer the world. Jewish tradition values sexuality as holy and encourages us to view that holiness as being found in marriage and in private settings.
Again, though, the focus in Jewish teaching is our own inner morality and behavior. I'm concerned about a few things. You say "sort of stumbled upon." That suggests you have some work to do on your own areas of modesty. Then, having "sort of stumbled upon" this blog, you read it and are now tempted by engaging this woman in conversation. I feel it suggests you might want to view this as a chance to think about where your eyes are drawn and to work hard on fulfilling the commandment to not be tempted after your eyes.
The other area of Jewish law raised by your question is tochechah or castigation. It is a commandment to call people's attention to bad or forbidden behavior. However, we do this only when there is a chance we can have an impact on the person. So castigation must be done with extreme care. The closer the relationship, the easier to understand a way of delivering a helpful message. I worry that blog posts don't invite the kind of relationship where true tochechah is possible.
I would conclude by quoting the Baal Shem Tov. In Sefer Baal Shem Tov in pararshat Noach there is long digression about prayer that includes a comment about moments of tochechah. He says the highest form of castigation is to lead a life of such joy and integrity that others are drawn to the example without ever saying a word of castigation. That is, their example is so compelling that others are drawn towards it and this is the truest tochechah.
Q: My question is two-fold. I sort of stumbled upon a blog, where a "high-class escort", is describing her life. In the comments, a religious Moslem guy is chastising her to give up this 'career path' and do tshuva. I wanted to say something from a Torah stand point. I know what the pertinent halacha/hashkafa (law) is for a Jewish lady. But I'm not sure about a Bas Noach (a female human being, non-Jewish, according to the Noahide laws). Also, is it a Chilul Hashem (an affront for G-d) for me to even be commenting on such a blog?
According to Webster’s Dictionary, a blog is defined as “a Web site that contains online personal reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.” In the question, someone has come upon a blog site dedicated to the reflections of a “high-class escort.” The question is asked how to rebuke someone who is not Jewish and is it even appropriate to do so on a blog that appears non-reflective of Jewish values.
Parashat K'doshim (Leviticus 19:1-20:27) presents us with a Holiness Code of conduct. We learn: "You shall not hate your kinsfolk in your heart. Reprove your kin but incur no guilt on their account" (Leviticus 19:17). What does this mean? Does the Torah intend to legislate against a feeling, "hate"? How does "Reprove your kin" connect with the next clause, "but incur no guilt on their account," and what does it mean to "incur guilt" in this case?
With respect to the translation our Chumash provides, I would like to offer a different, idiomatic translation: "You must not keep a feeling of revulsion at your fellow to yourself. Instead, you should rebuke your fellow so that you not become guilty by association with him." The verse assumes a few conditions:
Someone close to you-a friend, a relative, a member of your community or your people, or simply another person-has committed a sin. The text uses the word achicha, which literally means "your brother." But this term extends beyond your immediate family to designate any member of your "people," which can be defined as narrowly as "a fellow Jew" or as broadly encompassing as "a fellow human being"!
You have witnessed or learned about your fellow's transgression, and it troubles you. The verb tisna, "hate," can describe action based on a feeling of aversion or revulsion toward another.
You might be inclined to hold your tongue and not confront your fellow about your discomfort with his or her wrongdoing, letting your hostility stew inside of you. The text says that "you should not hate . . . in your heart " (emphasis added). Sefer HaChinuch , an anonymously penned, thirteenth-century Spanish work of ethical literature, teaches that "secret hate is more pernicious than open hatred. . . . The reason for the prohibition is obvious. Secret hatred causes strife, enmity, and informing ['tattling'], that most odious of traits" (Sefer HaChinuch 238). This explains why the text commands, "Instead, you should rebuke. . . ." Don't keep your feelings secret, the text says. Have out with them! Nachmanides, also writing in thirteenth-century Spain, further observes, "People generally conceal their hatred." To refrain from a confrontation with a known sinner certainly fits human nature.
If you fail to call your fellow to account for his or her sin, you will become guilty by association. The grammar of the verse makes it clear that to fail to rebuke makes you accountable for the sin together with the one who transgressed in the first place. Judaism does not speak of "innocent bystanders" to sin.
We are left with an instruction that challenges us to do something that often makes us feel anxious, vulnerable, and uneasy: we are told to rebuke someone who has done wrong rather than hold our tongues and think, "I better not get involved." Rebuking a fellow may be a Jewish value, but it flies in the face of an American maxim that everyone knows: "Mind your own business." The Torah would have us call our fellows to task when they transgress rather than mind our own business. Is that nosy? Perhaps. Is it necessary? Absolutely.
Why must we sometimes rebuke even when it makes us uncomfortable? Because Judaism demands that each of us act responsibly toward every other. This necessitates not only that we encourage good behavior in others, but also that we censure others when they stray. Judaism frowns on complacency with evil. Judaism sees effective rebuke as a measure of our sincere desire to multiply goodness in the world. The Talmud says, "Whoever can stop the members of his household from committing a sin, but does not, is held responsible for the sins of his household. If he can stop the people of his city from sinning, but does not, he is held responsible for the sins of the people of his city. If he can stop the whole world from sinning, but does not, he is held responsible for the sins of the whole world" (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 54b). Midrash sums it up most eloquently: "Love unaccompanied by criticism is not love. . . . Peace unaccompanied by reproof is not peace" ( B'reishit Rabbah 54:3).
Mastering the art of rebuke requires great sensitivity, great strength of character, and great love. In this case, it is appropriate to share Jewish values and encourage a path towards teshuvah, but done with a sense of dignity and respect.
Rabbi Laurence P Malinger (Reform) (With gratitude to Rabbi Jonathan E Blake for textual resources)
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