Is a Television Court Show the Place for a Frum Yid?

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shaitelBy Rabbi Shmuli Rosenberg

Sefer Shemos begins with the commencement of golus Mitzrayim. Mitzrayim was to be the first exile of many that the Jewish people would endure. As the adage goes, history repeats itself. The trials, tribulations and lessons of the first golus remain as relevant as ever.

The first mitzvah given to us in Egypt was Rosh Chodesh: “Hachodesh hazeh lochem rosh chodoshim.” What is so significant about Rosh Chodesh that it was given as a prelude to the exodus?

Chazal teach us that the Jews are compared to the moon and the nations of the world are compared to the sun. The Nachlas Dovid explains that in the moon’s monthly cycle, it appears larger as it moves away from the sun. The closer the moon gets to the sun, the smaller it appears to us. The same applies to the Jewish people. The further we are from the nations of the world, the brighter we shine. The closer we are to the nations of the world, the smaller we become. This is the key to our survival in golus and this is the lesson of the mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh. It is no wonder that this lesson is taught leading up to the redemption.

The posuk in Parshas Shemos states, “Uvenei Yisroel paru vayishretzu vayirbu vaya’atzmu bime’od me’od vatimolei ha’aretz osam – The Bnei Yisroel were fruitful, teemed, increased, and became strong – very, very much so; and the land became filled with them” (Shemos 1:7)

The Medrash (Yalkut Shemos 1) explains that “the land became filled with them” means that the Jews began patronizing the local cultural events. “The theaters and circuses were full of them,” states the Medrash.

Several years ago, Rav Matisyahu Salomon, mashgiach of Bais Medrash Govoah in Lakewood, quoted this Medrash during a shmuess in the yeshiva. We are told, “Chayov adam liros es atzmo ke’ilu hu yotzah miMitzrayim – One is required to view himself as if he had left Egypt.” When, asked Rav Salomon, did it become the minhag to act “ke’ilu hu yorad leMitzrayim,” as if one went down to Egypt? We need to make sure that we don’t assimilate, he said. The Medrash goes on to state that when the Egyptians saw this, they immediately imposed their decrees on the Jews in order to ensure that the proper distance was maintained.

Is a television court show the place for a frum Yid? In the past few weeks, there have been several instances of frum Jews being showcased in the secular media in unprecedented ways. Have we completely forgotten our place in the world? Has our value system become so infiltrated by the world around us? I understand that there may be personal reasons for what people do, as well as financial considerations. I am also unaware of whether or not any of the parties consulted with their rabbonim. I am therefore not judging them at all. Rather, my words should be taken as food for thought for the tzibbur.

A Jew should not feel proud of being in the secular media, especially while involved in litigation. It doesn’t matter if one is right or wrong. Wouldn’t forgoing financial benefits in order to maintain the essence of our value system be justified?

There most definitely is a time and place for Jews to be in the public eye. There are times when shatdlanus is needed for the klal and there are times when certain goals may justify it. In all these scenarios, the guidance of our gedolim is what determines what is acceptable and what is not. By no means, however, should there be any sense of pride in the fact that we can be like the nations. Going out into the world may, in some cases, be a necessary evil, but not something to be proud of.

There is a story related about the Alter of Slabodka. A talmid in the Slabodka Yeshiva went for an exam to determine whether or not he was fit to serve in the army. In order to be released, the talmid acted deranged. Upon his return to yeshiva, his friends were elated at his successful ploy. The Alter remarked, “Why are you so happy that he had to use sheker?” The joy should be only that he was released, said the Alter. Unfortunately, he had to use sheker, but it is not something to be proud of.

The same is true here. Sometimes we have to go out into the world, but it is not something to be proud of.

The Medrash tells us that Klal Yisroel was redeemed from Egypt in the merit of not changing their names, altering their dress, or adapting a foreign language. These three primary cultural differences maintained the Jews’ identity. It was only because they kept this distance that they merited being freed.

We must hold on tight to the values of our Yiddishkeit. We must cling to our Torah lifestyles and not become obsessed with acceptance in secular society. By staying separate, like the moon, we will only shine brighter. In the merit of doing so, may Hashem fulfill that which the novi says, “Ani Hashem kerosicha betzedek ve’achzeik beyodecha ve’etzorcha ve’etencha levris am le’or goyim – I am Hashem; I have called you with righteousness; I will strengthen your hand; I will protect you; I will set for a covenant to the people to be a light unto the nations” (Yeshaya 42:6).

Rabbi Rosenberg can be reached at

{Reprinted with permission from the Yated Ne’eman}


  1. Whether they are innocent or not. You do not go on TV and run the risk of being found guilty and thus creating a chilul hashem.

    anyone goes on a tv court runs the risk of being turned into a fool, which is exactly what happened here. the show is all about entertainment and ridiculing the litigants. therefore, foresight is needed and one cannot take the risk which will result in a public chilul hashem if found guilty. again, this is even if one may truly be innocent nonetheless, the world only sees the verdict and thats what causes the chilul hashem.

  2. So true! Everyone is talking about whether they lied, were they innocent, guilty, was it really the right sheital etc… But that is not really what matters. Either way, they should not have appeared on that show.

  3. To #1 Having been found gulity or liable in a civil suit is hardly a Chilul Hashem, if the litigants went into trial in good faith…Lehavdil in a Din Torah the one who is Chayav is not called a Rasha..

  4. …the issue with the aforementioned litigants which made their case suspect from the beginning, was their request that their names be hidden. Had they gone into the trial in good faith, even if there was insufficient evidence to find in their favor, they would not have incurred the Judge’s wrath the case would have simply been dismissed.

    The other, more troubling issue is the fact that had this Yid brought the case to a Din Torah he also would have lost. He had no evidence, and no estimate or testimony as to the damaged wig’s value. Every Bar bei-Rav knows in Nezikin you are not awarded the value of the cost of the object damaged rather the decrement in value incurred by the Mazik (damager).

  5. The bottom line is not whether or not they were guilty or innocent! The bottom line is that the decision of going on TV was wrong and that they should have known that it would cause a major Chillul Hashem!

  6. Enough already. Why do yidden talk about others and chew everyones business over and over. Peoples court has interesting cases every day of the year and its never on the New York Post.

  7. lets rehash for those not smart enough to understand, it is not a place for frum yidden period stop getting distracted with trivialities

  8. Response to comment 9: dosnt matter!

    once you choose to go on any TV show including court tv, you have chosen for forfeit any right to privacy regarding your case.

    And if it turns out that you lied and made misrepresnetations, then your culpabale!

    We still dint know if that was the shaitel they paid 3,000 for and if that reciept was the one for that wig.

    Im sorry!

  9. #6 This was not a Din Torah, in a Jewish court in private between 2 Jews. This was a public non-Jewish court on TV, in which Frum Jews were portrayed as liars in front of the entire viewing audience. That’s a Chillul Hashem. (Besides which they should never gone on public TV in the first place, instead taking their claim to a regular Small Claims Court.)

    What don’t you understand?

  10. I think the reactions are the responsibility of each person. If you look favorably or unfavorably upon them, that is up to you; not what they did to you.

    I say, while what they did is not common, leave them alone. They did what they did and the outcome was what it was.

    When a Jew does something that gives him fame and prestige, we all come across a boast, “Oh, the head of this company and that company and this person, is Jewish. Did you know that?” And we beam with pride.

    We should not be so worried about what the goyim think. In many cases we are not. We DO care when we look smarter, wealthier, and more successful. We DO care what they think in those cases and put the info out there with pride.

    Leave these people alone and love them like your brothers and sisters and do not use them to prop ourselves up on how much more “holier” we are.


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