web analytics
March 6, 2015 / 15 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Journalism’s World of Extremes: Celebrity Pictures and Killings

Steven Joel Sotloff as a hostage of ISIS, before his beheading.

Steven Joel Sotloff as a hostage of ISIS, before his beheading.
Photo Credit: YouTube

Life is full of extremes and while many of us tread this balance privately, such luxuries rarely exist for those in the public arena. But whereas politicians find ways to respond without really responding, or publically act and then secretly rescind, the life of a journalist is typically much more transparent. Their life work is as you as see before you. And their bias from or dedication to the truth is often visible at the click of a tweet.

It is then clear that the most transparent stories are not of politicians or celebrities, but of the journalists that cover these political or entertainment related stories. It is the journalist’s difficult decisions made while reporting that can serve as long-lasting lessons that remain long after the headline has passed.

With this in mind we can begin to speak about two extremes from this week. The first is an extreme from western culture—the story of the hacking and release of hundreds of immodest pictures of celebrities—and the second is the tragic killing of journalist Steve Sotloff. As mentioned, in both cases I would like to focus on the decisions made by journalists—not the celebrities or politicians surrounding these stories—and attempt to learn some lessons from them both.

Rectifying Skin

First it should be clarified what two extremes I am speaking of. The celebrity story—a story from western culture—corresponds to the chaotic extreme of the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother. The second extreme—from the arab world—is from the chaotic extreme of the descendants of Ishmael, Isaac’s half-brother (or death worship as will be explained).

Now when we speak of secular or western culture, the first task is to isolate the concept behind the “secular” story and source it within the Torah. The motivation for doing so is to combat the tide of secularism. In Hebrew, the word “secular” means to profane or make hollow. For our purposes it is an attempt to promote a holy concept without its context within the landscape of Torah. As the sages say, the pig sticks out its cloven foot and says “look… I’m kosher!” yet inside it does not chew its cud. Likewise, while top PR agencies are very good at promoting the “foot”—some attractive concept that approximates a Torah concept—what they and western culture lack is the “kashrut certification” that presents this attractive concept within the landscape of Torah.

So to abstract this story of hundreds of immodest celebrity pictures reaching the public, we can call this a story about “revealing skin.” While revealing skin is unfortunately nothing new to Hollywood—and western culture—the difference here is that journalists began regretting taking part in the story. Ostensibly this is because these celebrities didn’t willingly publicize these images. But the deeper lesson is that these western journalists—even journalists who have spent their careers “revealing” what should remain concealed while covering the celebrity beat—realized that it was wrong to reveal. And as a result, some started regretting their part in promoting the story.

While it first started to become known several weeks ago, the headlines began to surge forth during this past week; since the start of the Hebrew month of Elul, the month of teshuvah (repentance). This then is our first lesson. That from this story which represents an extreme example of western culture, we can learn the importance of teshuvah— regret over past misdeeds and the desire to henceforth adopt a better path. This lesson applies equally to journalists, celebrities, and to us all.

The second lesson from this story is that skin—the desires of the flesh—can be redeemed and rectified through the “strong river” of charity. As explained in this article from Rabbi Ginsburgh, in the month of Elul, we need to be willing to give “skin” (its numerical value in Hebrew, 276) in order to save our skin from the clutches of Satan’s advocacy.

About the Author: Yonatan Gordon is a student of Harav Yitzchak Ginsburgh, and publishes his writings on InwardNews.com, a new site he co-founded.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Journalism’s World of Extremes: Celebrity Pictures and Killings”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
A snow storm with freezing rain struck the New York area, turning the roads and runways into skating rinks.
Delta Plane Crash, Snowstorm Paralyze LaGuardia Airport in NYC
Latest Indepth Stories
Ron Prosor

Values at the very heart of the UN are threatened by extremist ideologies targeting our way of life

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Anti-Semitism today focuses on Israel and the quest to delegitimize it.

Ballots for elections "made in Samaria."

Any Jew who ties his fate to Israel should be able to vote in Israel’s elections-even before aliyah

A young Moshe Meir Weiss introduces his mother, Mrs. Agnes Weiss Goldman, to Rav Moshe in 1979.

There were no airs about him. Rav Moshe was affectionately known as the Gaon of Normalcy.

Israel’s full sovereignty over a united Jerusalem is the only path for true peace in the region.

Just like Moses and Aaron, Mordechai decides to ruin the party…

The president has made clear – I can’t state this more firmly – the policy is Iran will not get a nuclear weapon.

Obama has an apparent inability to understand Islam in particular and Mid-East culture in general

Pesach is a Torah-based holiday whose fundamental observances are rooted in Torah law; Purim is a rabbinic holiday whose laws and customs are grounded in the rabbinic tradition.

In honor of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s successful speech before Congress.

Mr. Spock conveys a message with painfully stark relevance to our world today, especially in the context of PM Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.

Obama created the “partisan politics” by asking Dem. party members to avoid Bibi and his address

Enough is enough. The Jewish community has a big tent, but the NIF should have no place in it.

I vote for the right and get left-wing policy. Every. Frigging. Time.

More Articles from Yonatan Gordon
game-figure-598036_1280-810x540

Combating Amalek doesn’t mean all who disagree with you is evil-rather whom to follow and to oppose

Skateboard king at Chabad-Lubavitch Yeshiva in Jerusalem

I envision a Kiruv approach perceiving a world filled with Godliness instead of issues to be avoided

Whereas we didn’t expect much from HarperCollins, we need to expect more from ourselves.

What does it mean “to fight as a Jew”? Fighting with the power of voice, the “voice of Jacob.”

San Francisco schools transformed by power of daily meditation,successfully reducing school violence

Pop culture teaches “thought creates reality;” Chassidut: “Divinity’s a given,reality’s a novelty”

“Deliberance” means to be inspired by “hearing the great shofar blast” ushering the Redemption

There is no difficulty today recognizing the “doubled and redoubled” darkness of the world.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/journalisms-world-of-extremes-celebrity-pictures-and-killings/2014/09/05/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: