web analytics
April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: Make Men More Mature Rather than Send Girls Under the Knife


Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Photo Credit: Screen shot

Share Button

Few columns I have read from the orthodox community have disturbed me as much as Yitta Halberstam’s recent piece in the Jewish Press advocating that young women engage in plastic surgery in order to be more in demand for a shidduch (Jewish marital match). Worse, Yitta encourages us parents to be the ones to send our daughters under the knife. I was so floored by what I read that I decided to take time from my all-consuming Congressional campaign to respond.

I have met Yitta. She’s a fine woman with a luminous soul. So Yitta, please don’t take this personally. I mean no disrespect. But you can’t be serious.

Here is Yitta begging orthodox Jewish parents to heed her call: “Mothers this is my plea to you: There is no reason in today’s day and age with the panoply of cosmetic and surgical procedures available, why any girl can’t be transformed into a swan. Borrow the money if you have to; it’s an investment in your daughter’s future, her life.”

Witness the modern Jewish tragedy writ large. Had this piece been published even in a secular magazine it would have come in for the sharpest criticism and condemnation. Yitta, are you not aware that we face an epidemic of young American women dying of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia because of the kind of misogyny you advocate above? About eight million American women have an eating disorder and the numbers are increasing greatly in the orthodox community. I published a column a few years back about a seventeen-year-old girl in a seminary in Jerusalem, known to my family, that died of anorexia. The root cause of eating disorders is this dangerous belief that a young woman is not born a princess but an ugly duckling in need of some radical personal makeover in order to appeal physically to a man.

How dangerous is the kind of drivel about young girls undergoing surgical procedures as advocated in Yitta’s column? Well, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Ten percent of anorexics die within 10 years of contracting the disease, twenty percent will be dead after 20 years, and only about thirty-five percent ever fully recover. And the mortality rate associated with anorexia is twelve times higher than the death rate of all causes of death for females aged fifteen to twenty-four years old. (Source: South Carolina Department of Mental Health)

The assault on women in our time is serious, concentrated, and deadly. It’s remedy is a more wholesome, more spiritual culture that looks at a women in her totality: mind, body, heart, and spirit. This is the kind of world that Judaism, with its unique emphasis on a woman’s spiritual gifts, has always sought to create.

How tragic, therefore, that columns of this ilk are appearing more frequently in orthodox Jewish publications, as if the words of King Solomon “that beauty is negligible but a woman who fears G-d is to be praised” is something of a bygone era, replaced even in the religious Jewish community by the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.

Is the author really suggesting that we take our young daughters – and I, thank God, am blessed with six – and put them under the knife, bankrupting our families in the process, so that they can better appeal to shallow religious charlatans who would prefer a woman who is all form and little substance? Is this what three thousand and three hundred years of Jewish tradition has come to, that a nation that has always dared to walk alone, with different ideals and values from the wider culture, should so fully capitulate to the most corrupt, misogynistic values, that we would advocate that our young women have plastic surgery in order to get married?

Earth to Yitta: It’s not women who have to have breast enlargements, collagen injections in their lips, and Botox needles shoved in their foreheads in order to marry. Rather, it’s men who need a deeper, spiritual inoculation. Tell the Yeshiva students that the Torah they are learning is supposed to actually change their hearts. They’re supposed to be influenced by its values and judge a woman’s beauty not just by her hourglass shape but by her incisive opinions, graciousness of character, and spiritual glow. It’s the feminine which draws the masculine, and the feminine is something subtle, noble and refined. It is vulgarized when it becomes entirely about the physical form and rapidly loses its appeal.

And by the way, Yitta, I assume, in the interests of egalitarianism and fairness, that you’re also advocating that the young guys who indulged a bit too much in the cholent  get their stomachs stapled and liposuction to make them more appealing to the girls?

I have worked in the field of human relationships in the secular world for most of my professional life and I have never even heard it suggested by the most superficial relationship expert that we should take young women for plastic surgery in order to attract a husband. Because most of those experts would rightly say that any man that expected extensive surgical procedures prior to marriage is a shallow jerk, and any parent who would inflict that on their daughter might just be guilty of abuse.

Share Button

About the Author: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 29 books, including The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


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.

Leave a comment (Select your commenting platform)

212 Responses to “Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: Make Men More Mature Rather than Send Girls Under the Knife”

  1. dmmd says:

    Rabbi Boteach criticizes the author for advocating plastic surgery to improve a woman’s appearance. He then talks about anorexia. Rabbi Boteach mixes apples and oranges. One is a mental issue the other is physical. Removing blemishes, straightening a nose, fixing a chin to make a girl or boy look more attractive in order to get a Shidduch is no sin.

  2. Shira says:

    Ok, I promised I wouldn’t do this, but are you truly, sincerely saying that Shmuel Boteach is off base with this article? He never says that girls shouldn’t do what they want to do surgically. He is saying it should not be forced upon them; it should not be a prerequisite to marriage. If a women wants to go in to debt to chase beauty and a man wants to marry his job to make millions that is thier choice. No one male or female should have to kill themselves to get married. In less extreme terms, if minor modifications make you feel better about yourself or if having a successful career is important to you, go for it! Good news, they don’t have to bec. all of these generalizations are untrue in real life. I know tons of people are happily married who are neither perfect barbies or Donald Trump. However, blaming the shidduch crisis on a lack of female beauty in the frum community is INSANE, DANGEROUS and simply NOT FRUM!

  3. Lynn says:

    I keep saying that Yitta was taken out of context. She is not advocating a check-list of surgical procedures that “need” to be done on every frum high school graduate. She is talking about more serious appearance situations. Such a disclaimer would have been helpful. It would be great if boys could be educated to reject the notion that women had to be perfect beauties. Possibly Yitta did us all a favor because she alerted us that something needs to change. Those who are getting angry could at least give her the credit for bringing the subject to everyone’s attention, even if her suggestions are not the solution to the problem.

  4. Gil Gilman says:

    Wow! It's about time someone said this, and eloquently as well…only to his two item list of Barbara and Meryl, I would have to add Golda Meir, Chana Szenes, Henrietta Sald, and by no means least Sarah Schenirer, none of who relied on plastic surgery. To all you men out there, all I have to say is "Man up…" if you know what I mean, which you probably don't.

  5. Gil Gilman says:

    Wow! It's about time someone said this, and eloquently as well…only to his two item list of Barbara and Meryl, I would have to add Golda Meir, Chana Szenes, Henrietta Sald, and by no means least Sarah Schenirer, none of whom relied on plastic surgery. To all you men out there, all I have to say is "Man up…" if you know what I mean, which you probably don't! It is all about standards. Are you looking at Hefner Standards, or Torah Standard? A Woman of Valor looks well to the ways of her household, and her husband praises and values her for these things. And by the way…you're not so great to look at yourself ;-).

  6. Shmuel Boteach has ideas that are way off base. He has outlandish generalities about marriage and sex. He called the Pope"Your Holiness". If a girl doesn't feel good about herself and wants to have some surgery done and the parents can afford it, why not? I had a friend who had a big nose and was self-conscious. When she was 16, she had a nose job and was VERY happy!

  7. batya novogroder says:

    Lynn, PLEASE quit defending Yitta for writing the harmful article that she wrote. As I recall from your comments last week you seem to enjoy your ‘job’ as a mother of sons who gets to choose her future daughters-in-law (since you explained that it is your right to do so) & you get to decide what type of girls your son should get to go out with based on various qualities with looks being among the top priorities. And YES you are right that something NEEDS to change & that is the attitudes of mothers who believe that they have the right to determine who their sons get to date primarily based on their looks.

  8. Yoni Glatt says:

    I constantly wonder if my morals are completely in sync with Rabbi Boteach's or if he's such a powerful writer/speaker that I can't help but agree with him? (This time I'm quite confident it's the former.)

  9. Funny he should have told his buddy Michael Jackson the same thing!

  10. Alan Feigen says:

    Shmuley, You hit it right on the head! I thought the article yesterday was outrageous & glad you concur. Kol hakovod to you! Have a great Pesach!

  11. An additional point to add would be the Halachic aspect of cosmetic surgery, being as the article did appear in an Orthodox newspaper.
    When a patient is under general anesthesia, they are in an inherently dangerous position. One is considered a "Choleh Sh'Yesh Lo Sakana" – we would be able to violate Shabbos for a person in that state.
    It is prohibited for a person to create an instance where they are in the state of danger. In fact, the only "Heter' that we have to drive a car on the highway – an act fraught with danger – is called "Orcha D'Arra" – "The way of the land" – In other words, the norm.
    In fact, Chazal discuss the fact that without this Heter, it would technically be forbidden for women to become pregnant, since there is a danger to that! However, since the world can't continue without procreation, and it is "the way of the land" it is allowed. However, once an action is removed from the norm, it becomes a complicated issue.
    Normal people get surgery for health reasons. Normal people do get surgery to fix major blemishes, for example a breast cancer survivor after a mastectomy, or a woman whose nose is completely twisted. Normal people don't get nose jobs if their noses are less than perfect.
    Rabbi Rudinsky, a well know Posek in Monsey has mentioned numerous times that each and every case of cosmetic surgery needs to be carefully discussed with your Halachic authority. If you won't violate Shabbos, if you keep Kosher, this is just as important.
    He did say that to correct a blemish, it is easier for a woman to get a Heter to have the corrective surgery than a man. That is because the norms in our society dictate it. So, if one has an issue with their appearances, go to a Rabbi for a ruling, not Ms. Halberstam.
    You might just get that Halachic dispensation you would need to be allowed to fix a crooked nose.
    However, the wholesale endorsement of the surgeries, as well as the attitude behind them – is completely unorthodox, and antithetical to both Halacha and to what our values should be.

  12. Lynn says:

    I never said that I enjoyed my role of choosing girls based on looks. I did say that my children shidduch date which means that I am involved in the process. I did say that physical appearance isn’t something that my sons can totally ignore. I did say that it is normal for men to be attracted to attractive women and that I see nothing wrong with using make-up to become attractive. Truth be told, most mothers get exasperated when their sons are too picky in the looks department and that is the way that I feel as well. I think that many mothers are afraid that girls who don’t care about how they look in the shidduch parsha will let themselves go after marriage. Men have to be supportive of their wives no matter what but I think it is hard for a man to be married to a woman who just does not try at all.
    Basically the whole shidduch system would have to go if mothers are the problem and I don’t see it disappearing any time soon.

  13. Lynn says:

    she had been briefly married

  14. Lynn says:

    They are all competing for the top boys so it doesn’t matter how many other boys exist that are frum and marriageable.

  15. Woe to us. My heart is broken. Thank you Rabbi for taking a strong stand.

  16. Lynn says:

    The question that I have regarding surgery is that rabbonim now allow people to donate kidneys and the donor gets no physical benefit whatsoever. The donor undergoes surgical risk as well as the fact that he slightly reduce his kidney output, which probably won’t affect his health. There are also women who can only give birth if they undergo c-sections, yet many women in the frum community give birth to large families via c-section. Birth by c-section has become somewhat of a norm.
    If all of this is allowed by halacha, then why would a woman who feels psychological stress about her appearance not be allowed to undergo surgery, if she had a heter from a competent rav? Breast reconstruction in cancer survivors, which you mentioned, also has risks and some types of reconstruction have numerous risks and may require numerous surgical procedures, yet rabbonim allow it for obvious reasons.

  17. S Sima Horowitz says:

    FANTASTIC response.

  18. יְדֵי, נָשִׁים רַחֲמָנִיּוֹת–בִּשְּׁלוּ, יַלְדֵיהֶן; הָיוּ לְבָרוֹת לָמוֹ, בְּשֶׁבֶר בַּת-עַמִּי.

  19. Morris Didia says:

    i read this article and the original..there is definitely a happy medium between the two..no one is so spiritual as to overlook beauty, however "she had a nose job….gastric bypass …botox injections….her teeth were capped…..and she wears violet-blue contact lenses" is a bit too far. poor guy who married her…

  20. B Gold says:

    Boteach such an art of misdirections, and such PC narishkeit from most of commenters.
    1. our davenning is terrible, our derech eretz worse, and our smug halacha is that each generation is less than the previous. so what hypocrisy to expect better from the ‘boys’
    2. not every girl should need plastic surgery, but it should be a last resort. 3. despite boteach’s deliberate misdirection, TOA doesnt suggest surgery without the girl’s consent – and desire. Of course he doesn’t see that he is debilitating the ‘rights’ and ‘honor’ of these girls in depriving them of the free will our Creator gave them – with the consent of their parents.
    Some otherwise quality young men may not be able to get past a severe or significant unusualness. Is this some kind of G-dly “test’ the girl must endure? Says who??
    There was a recent article about the longest facial plastic surgery ever (36 hours?) The man had his face shot off some 15 years ago. B”H the ability to help him is here.
    Good shabbos and Chag Kasher V’Sameach, Dear Readers

  21. יְדֵי, נָשִׁים רַחֲמָנִיּוֹת–בִּשְּׁלוּ, יַלְדֵיהֶן; הָיוּ לְבָרוֹת לָמוֹ, בְּשֶׁבֶר בַּת-עַמִּי.

  22. batya novogroder says:

    Lynn, if I had the time now, I would look for your comments defending Yitta from last week & cut & paste here to remind you of what you said about the boys’ mother’s role in choosing her “successor” etc, etc, but quite frankly I don’t feel the need to do that b/c it would be too time consuming to do right now with Pesach around the corner.

  23. Shayna Lifshultz says:

    Those freaky color contacts are not attractive. Nobody naturally has neon eyes.

  24. Elana Joffe says:

    Thank you for a good and strong response to Yitta Halberstam's shallow and irresponsible article. Rabbi Boteach's article is in line with Jewish values, as opposed to Halberstam's misguided attempts to reference Esther and the Purim story to "prove" her thesis. Halberstam should issue a retraction of her dangerous suggestions (surgery, botox, etc.) before anyone is harmed by them.

  25. Lynn says:

    I was talking about the mother-in-law, daughter-in-law relationship which develops regarding our current shidduch system. The mother is in the driver’s seat, like it or not and whether she should be or shouldn’t be there. I also said that if people were free to meet at Shabbos tables, it would level the playing field. I also said that if my son met someone without my help, I would fully welcome her so please don’t take my comments out of context.

  26. Malka Hizkiya says:

    At least someone has some sense

  27. Lynn says:

    also, I am defending Yitta. I believe that people skipped over the parts of her article where she decries that tyranny of beauty and they are focusing on her endorsement of plastic surgery which she herself had. She had used some examples of how beauty is regarded in Judaism and some of the sources were not as accurate as some could have been but the gist of it was that it is not a sin to improve one’s looks in regard to finding a shidduch (or keeping a spouse’s attraction). But yes, I am defending her because she did not intend for her statements to be misconstrued this way.

  28. Ally Levy says:

    excellent

  29. Batya White-Novogroder says:

    Although Sara Schneirer never married…

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
FBI Wanted poster for Osama bin Laden
Pakistan Library Renamed to Honor bin Laden
Latest Indepth Stories
matza

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

Masked Palestinian Authority Arabs hurl blocks at Israel Police during and after "worship" at Temple Mount mosque. (archive photo)

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

More Articles from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meet in the Kremlin, Nov. 20, 2013.

On the one hand, Putin has been a friend to Chabad and to Israel. On the other hand, Putin is a brutal dictator.

The gradual trickle of self-hatred into the Jewish soul is evidencing itself in the American Jewish public.

Rabbi Schochet wrote the Johannesburg Beis Din: It is totally prohibited and unacceptable to hear someone like Boteach.

If you’re feeling down, stop reading right now. You’re only going to be more depressed.

The world and the United State continue to give Rouhani a pass.

American Jews – especially those working on campus – don’t accept that we have a battle on our hands.

But the most painful part of an otherwise illuminating and extraordinary Forum was Iranian President Rouhani’s speech.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/rabbi-shmuley-boteach-make-men-more-mature-rather-than-send-girls-under-the-knife/2012/03/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: