I need to take a short break from fighting Amalek and the Erev Rav to share an Ohr HaChaim on this week's parsha. Kedoshim 19:29 commands us as follows:
אל תחלל את בתך להזנותה ולא תזנה הארץ ומלאה הארץ זמה
Do not profane your daughter to lead her astray, so that the land should not be led astray and filled with sexual immorality
The Ohr HaChaim comments as follows:
אל תחלל את בתך וגו'. פירוש יצו האל למי שיש לו בת שלא ינהג בה מנהג חולין להראותה לפני כל ולהתנאות לפניהם אלא כבודה בת מלך פנימה. והגם שיתכוין בה להנאת זיווגה כדי שיודע כי בת יפה ונעימה היא ותנשא להראוי לה, על כל זה יצו האל כי חילול הוא לה והיוצא מזה הוא להזנותה לא להשיאה כי יבער בה אש הטבעי ותחלל כבודה, ולא זו בלבד אלא שתהיה סיבה להבעיר אש בלב רואה וחומד ותזנה הארץ ולבסוף ומלאה הארץ זימה, ונמצא עון כל הרשע תלוי בצוארו, וצא ולמד מה שפירשתי בפרשת אחרי מות בפסוק (יח ב) כמעשה ארץ מצרים שחוש הראות יגדיל החפץ בדבר ויבטל כח הרצון במניעה ויטהו אל חפץ המעשה רחמנא ליצלן
God commands us that one who has a daughter should not conduct her in a profane manner to display her before everyone and to beautify her before them, but "the glory of a princess is inward". Even if he intends this for the sake of marrying her off, in order that it should be known that she is a beautiful girl and pleasant, so that she should be married to one who is worthy of her, despite this God commands us that this is a profanation of her, and what will come of this is to lead her astray, not to marry her off, for the natural fire will burn inside her and her honor will be profaned. Not only this, but this will cause the fire to burn inside the heart of those who see and desire her, and the land will be led astray, and in the end the land will be full of immorality. It will turn out that the sin of all the evil will hang from his neck...
I have been railing against "shidduch résumés" since they became a thing, which seems to be only since 2004. Before then the idea of singles' pictures and personal information being peddled around like baseball cards would have been considered outrageous. But then some people started to do it, ostensibly because it was convenient and “saved time”, then more people started to do it, then it became a phenomenon, and now if someone doesn't play along he's the crazy one.
A girl (or her parents) is expected to share a picture to be forwarded around and ogled by strangers. A girl who doesn't allow her picture to be ogled by strangers is told she will not get married. Not only must she share a picture, she must take a glamour shot, otherwise she will pale before those who do. (Increasingly the same is true for men, as two can play that game.)
It doesn't matter that from the earliest age she was impressed with the supreme importance of tznius [modesty]. When social pressure enters the picture, tznius goes out the window, and she must be profaned for her own good, otherwise she will not have a chance to marry a “catch”. So the real lesson is not the importance of tznius, truly believing in God, or living according to principles even when faced with resistance, but that fitting in socially is what matters most.
The Ohr HaChaim explains that showcasing a girl's beauty – even with the best of intentions, even for the sake of marrying her to someone suitable – profanes her, leads others astray, and leads to widespread immorality. This is a biblical prohibition. In light of this, the degrading practice of coercing singles to share pictures must be immediately ceased. It should go without saying that the common practice of both men and women displaying pictures of themselves on social media, to be ogled and admired for no greater purpose, certainly does not befit anyone who follows the Torah.
We are once again seeing the great evil of blindly following the social tide, even when we can rationalize that it is “for the greater good”. For the last two decades I have been urging the Jewish world to bring sanity and true Torah values back to shidduchim. Hopefully those who have ignored me will finally see that their mindset is the same mindset that leads people to inject themselves with poison and engage in other senseless acts of self-harm.
If you are single or the parent of a single, stop playing the game, even if people call you the usual names. If you really believe in God and the Torah, you need to prove it by doing the right thing even when it's inconvenient and people disrespect you for it.
Stop asking for pictures. Stop sharing them. Break out of the madness, and help others do the same.