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I was reading a My Encounter the other week (not available online) which had an interview with the editor of The Moshiach Times. In it he described how the practice of other religious magazines at the time (1980's) was to not include pictures of women (or girls) of any kind on the cover. The interview goes on to describe how the Lubavitcher Rebbe (who reviewed every issue before publication) insisted on including a picture of a girl on every cover, even if the theme of the cover (like a boy's room) didn't really fit.

I later found (with pictures of the relevant covers, including a before and after of the boy's room) a similar description of the story here of the covers here towards the end of the article, with a different (perhaps complimentary) description of the nature of the objection that had nothing to do with the content of other magazines.

I also notice that magazines like Mishpacha and Ami never include pictures of women, even in the section written by and targeted to women - never a picture of the author or any female subject of the story. In terms of illustrations, Mishpacha will only include an illustration of a girl in its kid's cartoon series, whereas Ami will include illustrations of adult women.

The Nshei Chabad Newsletter seems to have no issue, not only with illustrations, but also with pictures of girls and women, although I have no idea what drives that decision.

In a couple of related observations, I know of a camp in flatbush that would not show Young Avraham because it contained animations of women, and I saw a DVD which re-enacted "The cow that wouldn't work on Shabbos" where there was a scene of a Shabbos meal where the wife of the home was conspicuously absent.

What are the opinions of Poskim (contemporary or otherwise) regarding the propriety of publishing such pictures, and their reasons?

Note: As should hopefully be obvious, this question is only about modest pictures of women or girls. It is assuming that immodest pictures would be a problem.

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Your title limits the question to "religious [publications]". Is that intentional or would you like to include a Jew who works for a secular publication as well? –  Double AA Jun 23 at 18:51
@DoubleAA, I'm not asking if a religious Jew was participating in a secular publication what the issue would be, or about reading secular publications that contain such pictures. Rather about the halachic requirements of a religious publisher. Although answers could certainly find something from those contexts and apply it here. –  Yishai Jun 23 at 18:54
This is a good question. I noticed this trend happening in a number of weekly local Jewish newspapers. These papers have NO pictures of women anywhere. Seemingly strange is when you see an ad from a yeshiva dinner and it says "honoring Rav and Rebbetzin Ploni", but only Rav Ploni's picture appears. Likewise, when they show pictures from a simcha, they show only the men dancing. I've also seen a paper that won't publish women-oriented ads such as for sheitels or women's clothing or make-up, etc. Another won't mention any women's names. I think that's stretching the halacha, somewhat. –  DanF Jun 23 at 19:05
Just to clarify. I'm almost positive that the Moshiach Times never had photographs on the cover, just illustrations. (basing it on the memories of my youth). Just pointing this out because this distinction may be brought up in some of the answers. –  Menachem Jun 23 at 21:38
This is an ultra modern trend without precedent in the mainstream Orthodox community, Charedi or otherwise. There are extreme (and rather controversial) views regarding modesty amongst Ger chasidim, but current attitudes are simply foreign to anyone with half a memory. I went to Charedi schools, and indeed they did "censor" pictures of women by covering up short sleeves and the like with little pieces of construction paper. But wholesale cropping of women was unheard of and would have been the subject of side-splitting ridicule... –  Ephraim Jun 24 at 19:02

3 Answers 3

You asked:

What are the opinions of Poskim (contemporary or otherwise) regarding the propriety of publishing such pictures, and their reasons?

The newspapers you mention have a Rabbinic Counsel of sorts, but it seems that the "no female pictures" comes from a Marketing Perspective.

The average audience they target will not stop buying simply because there are no women - and some will not buy if there are women. So the conclusion of "no women" is easy to reach.

On the other hand (or: to prove the point) page through the Gedolim Biographies that are published.

Most of them include pictures of women (mothers and wives for example). Many of these biographies have approbations from recognised Rabbonim. (Not sure how to define Poskim in this case.) At the very least they have the approval of the Gadol's family.

Another example/proof: The Sefer Minhagei Lita (Customs of Lithuanian Jewry) by Rav Menachem Mendel Poliakoff זצ"ל includes a picture of himself and his wife.

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First come first serve. If you will differentiate between looking and staring, than it is muttar to look at women 'al hachvisa', hopefully you dont think thats true. See shulchan aruch even haezer siman 21 siff 1. And i wasnt commenting on danf's comment, but i liked the lashon he used so i decided ti use it too and build off it. I'm sorry if thats not accepted here. My comment/answer may be crude but its a bigger problem than just a magazine picture. Buying clothing is fine imagining your wife in them is fine, the problem is when you know the particular lady whose close you are looking at and start thinking about her, see the shulchan aruch mentioned before. The chassam sofer addresses the bride issue. Once again to point out colored vs uncolored clothing is missing the point. The point of that siman and siff as pertains to the question posed is to stay away from women that are not your wife and not to allow yourself to come to think of them. I don't know how anyone could think that clothes cause more hirhurim than pictures, but to each their own. I would've put this in the comments to my last answer but its not working.

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I encourage you to edit this into your original answer and delete this one, but while doing it, try to make it a coherent stand alone answer that addresses the comments without making it lose the flavor of an answer to the question. But in any event, what I am looking for is a posek who makes that inference, or another one who distinguishes. –  Yishai Jun 24 at 20:45
BTW, sorry for misunderstanding your use of the comment, I guess my point was that it just doesn't address the question, as it wasn't about awards or the wisdom of including men if women are being excluded. –  Yishai Jun 24 at 20:47

Its assur to even look at the clothes of a woman you know because of hirhurim. Now are we going to discuss looking and not getting hanaa? Lets be realistic. Unfortunately it is absolutely disturbing when honoring a female from a given community and putting her husband's picture in her place! Or how about 'We would like to award mother of the year to Mrs. Plony and heres her husband to accept the award'! Horrible. Maybe we should just back off of pictures of EVERYONE and stop these silly award ceremonies before people realise its not feminism to be offended by this but basic human rights and get led astray after fake-orthodox leaders who cater to the offended. Seems our religion got along just fine without all this shtick.

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-1: I have two problems with your answer: 1) It is ossur to stare at women's clothing, AFAIK. Just seeing is not an issur. You bring no source otherwise. 2) The question asked for opinions of poskim - you brought none. BTW, it seems you are commenting on DanF's comment. My question didn't mention awards ceremonies. –  Yishai Jun 24 at 15:37
I feel that the tone of your answer, which should actually be a comment, is (c)rude. Even if I agree with the context of your answer, I respect the newspaper editors' rights to eliminate all references to women as well as awardees to invite just men to a private affair if this is what they wish to do. I can always opt not to attend or support the org. or read the newspaper if I feel strongly against their policy. But, they are not "offending" anyone, as you imply. Considering how busy my wife is at home, anyway, if she were honored, she would ask me to go for her. –  DanF Jun 24 at 15:58
I often look at a woman's clothes for no reason other than if I like the style or color of the clothes, I may think that my own wife should get the same thing or something similar. Is there any problem with this? I have no "hirhurim" of the woman, whatsoever. I am admiring the style of the clothes, not her. Seriously, you never admired the style of a kallah's bridal outfit when you attended a wedding? –  DanF Jun 24 at 16:04
There is a difference between colored clothing and non-colored clothing. Furthermore, newspapers aren't clothing. –  Double AA Jun 24 at 16:30

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