Advertised Altruism


chareidi-boys-bochurimBy S. Friedman,

It’s interesting how sometimes reading along the margins can be more informative than the actual content of a publication.  The advertisements that run in the frum weeklies and monthlies seem to provide commentary as much as they do solicit business.  Here are some ads that are both obvious and some that are more subtle in the messages they convey.

Instead of just the once a year Pesach hotel blitz, now it seems that every other shabbos is some excuse for a weekend getaway at some resort featuring world renown speaker, chef, shadchan and babysitter.  I can’t imagine that these conventions would become so much more prevalent if they did not result in a nice turnout.  It would seem vacation ideas are at an all time low, or that people just like to spend an inspiring shabbos once in a while.

Featured prominently in one ad was a close up image of a mouth-watering steak.  There was a narrative written about reminiscing to that last time you had a succulent steak that made you feel good all over etc…  I thought it was going to be a clever ad for Tomchei Shabbos or some other zany idea that Oorah conjured up, but it was just an ad for steaks.  I’m all for high quality meat products, but have we sunk so low that stores have to resort to appeal to our most blatant animalistic desires?  I would think we would be embarrassed to have advertisements for gluttons.

Camp season is in full swing, and Boruch Hash-m, one can judge by the amount of unfamiliar camps that Klal Yisroel has grown exponentially over the years.  When I was younger, one could have counted the frum boys camps with his hands, and had some fingers leftover.  It seems that competition is a good thing in this business, as each camp seems to want to outdo their competitors in both exciting escapades and early bird savings.  Hatzlocha to them all.

Speaking of the mountains, isn’t it amazing how many summer related services there are?  From furniture moving to satellites of everyone’s favorite Brooklyn stores, it would seem that bungalows have morphed from a simple summer retreat to a full fledged second (perhaps first?) home for many people.  I think it’s interesting how people cannot be without their regular sheitel macher or preferred brand of herring for even a few weeks when they are supposedly seeking a measure of solitude.  What happened to getting away from it all?

Then I saw a sadly comical ad.  It headlined, “Struggling with Tuition?”  A new gemach offering reprieve?  A notice from the Agudah about some government financial aid program?  Nope, it’s an ad for jewelry.  Of course!  It should be obvious that if one can’t afford tuition that they should buy jewelry!  The ad states that if you’re struggling with tuition, then you can buy jewelry at 40% off.  The ad also states that the 40% will be contributed to the charities of your choice, which include your child’s school, etc… v’hamayvin yovin on many levels.

In regards to people’s financial struggles, there’s the plethora of ads for credit card settlement (see article titled “Delightful Debt and Fun Foreclosures” (LINK) for a lengthier opine on this).  Conversely, alongside you see advertisements for the latest luxurious condos in Eretz Yisroel, or a sea cruise on an all kosher ocean liner.  There most certainly are “haves” and “have nots.”  (Or perhaps people go into debt in order to afford luxurious condos or cruises?  Hmm… maybe I’m onto something)

Creativity in our community is certainly not lacking, judging by the interesting niches that some people have carved out for themselves.  Diet plans, Sephardic shabbos food, solar power, tzniusdike uniforms for maids, natural cures for virtually everything, and latest gadget from Kosher Innovations (where’s the Shabbos Car already!) it seems someone is always bringing a new product to the frum consumer that we haven’t had before, and can’t possibly live without.

Lastly, on a positive note, we see all of the advertisements for chessed organizations, Yeshivas, kiruv etc…  Putting all the other baloney aside, these advertisements are really what Klal Yisroel is all about.  Every frum publication is inundated with Yeshiva Dinners, parlor meetings, an ad beseeching help for an almonah, a Tomchei Shabbos Tea, a Bonei Olom Auction, etc…  Our capacity for compassion and generosity is astounding.  You don’t even have to read the articles to see that; it’s right there on the margins of the pages.



  1. All this is nothing new (I just read the first three paragraphs..)

    Nebach… Some Yidden think that if some yid is making a Parnasa and another yid is being ‘mesameyach’ then it’s all okay to talk, think and be entertained as a goy… in some respects.

    They don’t realize, that THIS is the test of this Golus. The test of the Galus of old was to serve Hashem while being oppressed and abused – which yidden did very well. However, the test of this Galus is to to stay away from all materialistic aspects of goyishe culture, and it’s not simply done by wearing a black hat or a shtreimel…

  2. I have no idea what the writer is pointing out in this article. Is he a vegetarian who does not like steak? Does he own a camp that has been around a long time and does not like the new camps that are pushing him out of business? Or perhaps his wife wants some new jewlery? If he is trying to knock materialism then he totally left out all the amazing prizes the tzedakah organaizations make us gamble for at chineese auctions.

  3. “but it was just an ad for steaks. I’m all for high quality meat products, but have we sunk so low that stores have to resort to appeal to our most blatant animalistic desires?”

    So, is it your position that food manufacturers should not be allowed to advertise and promote their products based on their taste? If not, how would *you* suggest they promote their products and differentiate themselves from other steak manufacturers in the market?

    The Wolf

  4. to wolfish musings:
    I think I know the ad the writer is talking about. There’s nothing wrong with saying your meat tastes great and is fresh, it’s when you talk about food like it’s going to make your life better (without tongue in cheek), then yes, it’s too goyish/tayvah etc…
    Promote your food products all day, but let’s not talk about mouth watering food and the aroma of barbeques like it’s something you worship.

  5. #1 two words for you mehechei tesi?
    how do you know what the “test of this golus is”?
    Maybe it is to try to have a mutar form of everything imaginable. wmaybe not, who knows? Certainly not you. (dont forget the gemara chulin which says for every issur Hashem created a mutar counterpoint, and a nozir brings a chatos for depriving himself of olam hazeh)
    Maybe the test of golus is to focus on ourselves and not worry so much whats going on by yenem. Nobody is forcing you to partake in “materialistic aspects of goyishe culture” (If they are they should stop, thats not nice)again, maybe not who knows. So how about lets all practice torahsenu hakdosha to the best of our ability and not demand others add on issurim on their observance. That seems straight forward

  6. “Obviously you haven’t seen the ad.”

    You’re correct. I have not seen the ad.

    Obviously the writer failed to describe what is truly objectionable about it to someone who has not seen the ad.

    “but let’s not talk about mouth watering food and the aroma of barbeques like it’s something you worship.”

    Did the ad copy use words such as “worship” or something similar?

    The Wolf

  7. To WolfishMusings:
    You seem to be struggling to accept the messege of an article because YOU don’t “understand” (seems more like refuses to understand) it. Instead of asking snide questions (Did the ad copy use words such as “worship” or something similar?) that just are hung up on details that for some reason you have a problem with, just take a deep breath and listen.
    People don’t always have secret agendas; don’t be so paranoid and overportective. You can disagree, but stop being an “uberchochom” with phraseology and other details.

  8. #1 happens to be right. You should be aware that a “novol b’rshus ha’Torah” is not a proper way of life.

    As for your “proofs”. According to the shitah that a nozir brings a korbon since he deprived himself of wine, is only because he went too far in his deprivation. The gemorah tells certain people to become a nozir, yet they also bring a chattos. Answer the meforshim give is that they should refrain from old or good wine, not every type around. He brings a korban for depriving himself of everything.

    Same can be said of steak. Eat it and enjoy it, but refrain from living it!

    As for your proof from chulin: Should everybody go and marry a divorced woman, since it is the muter counterpoint of znus? Of course not. (Raabi Akiva told Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai five things. One was, “don’t cook in the pot that your friend cooked in”. Psachim 112)

  9. everybody seems to be talking about the ad for the steaks
    yet no one sees anything about the ads to reduce debt which in the first pklace was high due to the extravang lifestyle that we have all created and by bringing up a young generation that have no tools with which to support themselves
    instead the motis operandi is rack up huge credit card bills and huge mortgages then do short sales modifications etc
    to the point where if you tell someone that you are paying your mortgage you are looked at with alook as if you were just oiver on a yehareg vall yavoir
    this is worse than the steak that makes you cry

  10. #12 you are very very confused.
    you say “Should everybody go and marry a divorced woman, since it is the muter counterpoint of znus? Of course not. ” Exactly my point! Of course not! People shouldnt be told what to do based on you and your “opinions”
    we have a torah, we have chazal we have our gedolim to show us the way.
    If your avodas Hashem is improved by refraining from steak by all means do so ! (nowhere did i say otherwise, what i mean tby nazir is that there is more than one way to avodas hashem you dont need to bring your pshetlcah to respond to it, nazir itslef is a response! what better proof is there, that abstaining from that which is mutar is allowed! Although their is a yerushalmi which says a person will have to give a din vecheshbon on every mutar thing he didnt partake from.) Nowhere have I said or implied that becasue it is muttar everybody should partake.
    To take this further if a person has taiva for eishis ish and it will be satisfied by a gerusha is he allowed to marry one? Absolutly!! thats what the gemara says. Should he work on overcoming his yetzer harar? Perhaps but that isnt for you to be concerned about that is between him and the ribonon shel olam (and perhps his marei diasra).
    That is my point! Enjoying steak isnt being novel birshus hatorah (im not sure what “living it” means. If you want to abstain from steak by all means do so!! that doesnt mean i have to, and more to the point, if i choose not to, it isnt your buisness.
    Besides, my avodas hshem is enhanced by steak

  11. The problem is the infiltration of Madison Avenue into the frum world. Do I need a full page ad of a new chocolate bar to try it? If I’m into chocolate, I’ll notice a 1/4 page ad.

    But, Yidden have to make parnossa, publishers, graphic artists, etc….

    I just wish everyone, everywhere, didn’t feel the need to do MORE and MORE and MORE (it’s like that with absolutely everything…

  12. everybody is harping about the steak. Look at the boys summer camps, b”H, and I think the weekend retreats ARE because people want to spend a shabbos with inspirational speakers.
    And as the writer said at the end, most important of all is all of the chessed advertised in our papers- it’s a wonderful thing!

  13. The ad waxing emotional and notolgic about steak that was so buttery and delicious that upon remembering it you almost (or felt) like crying. Should make everyone cry that someone could actually write, with all the Klal Yisroel is siffering in the hester Panim of this golus is a steak. We are being numbed on all sides by numerous weekly magaiznes and other periodicals with ads that become ever more sensuous, animalistic and base. No one should laugh this away — it eats away at the neshama until the chasing after pleasures destroys the soul, and if it is not destroyed completely, it becomes dull and one’s life goes by wasted. We need to say enough to this fall into the mundane, material world of physical please and ease. Avodas Hashem demands toil and consistency and when one attains that he/she feels, sees and tastes how sweet it is. The magazines that allow these ads should not be purchased until they formulate guidelines and enforce them. Do not present yourself as a Torah magazine and then serve ham under the table.

  14. what about all the ads for the plethora of wines that are now available – alcholholism is a huge problem in our community – no need to make it seem as if wine is an “essential” to get through our shabbos, yom tov, or just to enjoy and relax!! There has to be some responsibility taken by the various publications to make sure what they advertise is not going to chas va’shalom lure a person who has a problem into thinking that it is ok to drink – its all advertised in such and such a publication!! Not everything can just be the al-mighty dollar – if we get revenues for advertising the product, we can turn a blind eye to the problems in our community. Please – let us be responsible for one another – that is what Am Yisrael is all about.

  15. #17- u hit the nail on the head. That’s ecatly what the writer was pointing out (and the other ads bring up other good points). Too bad that so many people have their heads stuffed with shtus that they can’t see what’s wrong with it.

  16. Aderaba #17 if during this long and bitter galus the biggest problem in some people’s minds is that “other people are enjoying steak too much” (or some variation thereof). THAT is cry-worthy, THAT is called being numb to actual tzoras and challenges that face klal yisroel.

  17. They’ve been advertizing like that (steaks, dips,fish, etc…)for a while. The store caters to the rich & famous.

  18. The ad about steaks also caught my attention. It disturbed me very much that there should be such an ad from a frum supermarket in frum publications. No Jew should be crying over how good a steak tasted. It was the epitome of gashmiyus.

  19. Yeah. We’re missing the point. I remember hearing about an ad for a milchig restaurant -I think- that said “don’t let the nine days get you down” !!!