HEATING UP! Hamodia Attacks Mishpacha Decision To Publish Photo Of Hillary – Contributing Editor Of Mishpacha Sruli Besser Fires Back


mishpIt was predictable. We all knew this would happen – it was just a matter of time.

As YWN has reported, the front cover of this week’s Mishpacha Magazine had a picture of Hillary Clinton. YWN has confirmed that this decision was made after consultation with the greatest Poskim and Gedolim in the United States.

Nonetheless, the decision was denounced by the editorship of Hamodia in Israel. Yet Hamodia was well aware that Mishpacha’s decision was checked and double-checked with the Gedolei HaPoskim. In fact, Hamodia has behind the scenes, been avidly trying to get all Charedi media publication to agree to their Chassidish opinion (the Admorim of Gur and Novaminsk — which we FULLY respect) not to publish a Hillary photo.

Apparently they are oblivious to the fact that not everyone is required to follow those Chassidim opinions. It is shocking that the Hamodia in Israel chose to attack the opinion of major Poskim – and label them as not “true Chareidim.”

Here are excerpts from their editorial that slammed Mishpacha: “True Charedi newspapers never have and never will publish pictures of women, even if they are in leadership positions. Jews have their own view of everything that happens, especially when the subject is as important as elections. In the eyes of Jews, the US is definitely a ‘kingdom of kindness’ in our days, and deserves recognition and appreciation for that. They understand that the fact that we won’t publish a picture of the Democratic candidate on the front page of haredi newspapers does not mean that we don’t support her, but rather stems from the fact we keep Jewish law,” said Hamodia.

There is a story told that when Artscroll’s biography on Rebbitzen Kanievsky a”h was about to go to print, a copy was shown to Hagaon HaRav Chaim Shlita. After browsing through the book, he turned to those around him and asked, “Why are there so many photos of me and not many of the Rebbitzen? This book is about her!”

Is Moreinu HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita not a “true Chareidi?”

The policy of not publishing photos of women has morphed into a policy of dangerous intolerance to those who do not adopt this Chumrah.

The weekly Flatbush Jewish Journal published a photo of Rebbitzen Pam A”H on her Yartzheit. Their decision was made following the Psak of their Rabbonim – who are among the biggest Rabbonim and Poskim in Flatbush. Sure enough, the paper was viciously attacked by some of the local Chassidish Rabbonim. The Rabbonim who have paskened for the paper have been living in Flatbush for 70 years or more. These Chassidish Rabbonim have only opened their shuls recently.

Recently, the same newspaper was attacked after publishing photos of Rebbitzen Feldman A”H of the Mirrer Yeshiva.

The intolerance has simply gone too far.

Whatever happened to respecting the opinions of others? Why must every Charedi publication follow the opinion of the Hamodia?

Additionally, one must take into consideration the ramifications of ignoring the President of the United States.

Let’s take, for example, when the iconic photo taken inside the Situation Room during the operation to capture or kill Bin Laden. That photo was airbrushed to remove then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and published in the Satmar newspaper Di Tzeitung.

The doctored photo and story went viral. Later, WikiLeaks exposed emails that showed just how furious Hillary was at the time. Imagine her reaction as president. Not to mention the fact that altering the photograph was illegal and the cause for a serious Chillul Hashem.

Today, Sruli Besser – a contributing editor of Mishpacha responded to the HaModiah attack on Facebook. He wrote:

Dear Hamodia,

I’m so sorry that you don’t find us to be true chareidim. I thought hours of conversation and deliberation with real rabbanim would give us some credibility, but I guess not. I’m sorry that when we asked genuine gedolim and poskim how to proceed and followed their advice, we didn’t think to ask you what true charedi papers have always done.

I’m much sorrier that you thought it wise to make this a public issue, because the charedim (true, not true, whatever) don’t need this story in the secular media. We were barraged by requests for comment last week from major media outlets, and we respectfully fended them off because we’re not here to be spokesmen and saviors, just to do keep doing our jobs with ehrlichkeit, professionalism and dedication. It’s not about us.

I respect your right not to publish a picture of Hillary, in line with your mesorah. (I imagine that this comment appeared in Hebrew Hamodia, not English, I haven’t yet seen it. I hope it’s not in English!) It’s a holy mesorah. I enjoy Hamodia and will continue to enjoy it.

Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld was asked by a British census taker what language he spoke at home and he said Ivrit, rather than Yiddish- which of course didn’t reflect his true ideology. Talmidim asked him why he chose to answer that way and he said, ‘Voss iz tzuvishen mir uhn mein breeder, things that come between me and my brother, iz nisht di gesheft fuhn der…isn’t the concern of this Englishman.’

I’m sure you mean this l’shem shamayim and I wish you hatzlacha in your great work.”

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(Dov Gefen – YWN)


  1. Let’s not divide ourselves over things that are totally מותר ע”פ הלכה. To each his own. Each side can honestly find חסרונות that erupt from their הנהגה, and also מעלות. Just think about it.

  2. I’m chasidish and I think the Mishpacha did a great job in portraying her likeness without really showing her full face. I think Hamodia is upset they didn’t think of this first

  3. It’s almost laughable. Here the Chassidishe chevra are all worked up about showing a picture of Hillary but yet these same people are endorsing her. YWN has just published photos of the Sqvereh Rebbe Shlita with his gabbaim meeting Bill and Hillary Clinton in the White House. You clearly see Hillary’s feesalach as she is sitting on the couch. Aha. So to meet personally with a shtick nivaila is beseder but to G-d forbid show a tzniusdika picture in a paper is treiff??? And then they wonder why their young chevra are becoming tuna bagels more and more. If Trump gets in and they have to show a picture of Melania, OMG, they may have a heart attack! The Hamodia & the Yated are worthless rags that don’t even deserve to be used as a liner in a bird cage! Pheh.

  4. The doctored situation room photo is not relevant to the broader issue. They should not have doctored that photo. Period. What use that photo then has for them, if any, is the follow-up concern for them.

    As well, a Rebbetzin’s bibliography is arguably different than a daily newspaper. For example, while Rav Chaim might have wanted more pictures of her in a bibliography of her, he likely might not have said the same about a picture about a medical incident or the like which involved her.

    While this seems to be an “eilu viEilu”-type dispute between the respective Rabbanim and Admorim, it also seems that Mishpacha has opened a can of worms here if their goal is still to generally not publish pictures of women. One wonders where their Rabbanim will draw the line. What about German Chancellor Merkel? First lady Trump, if her husband wins?

    Interesting, but it is sad that it became a public dispute.

  5. Sad that we need to fight about everything and everything!
    Sruly is a top rate writer, author and interviewer! HAmodia is a top paper as is Mishpacha!
    Why can’t there be differing opinions? Why must we be fighting about this? Why can’t Ger be Ger and others be others? I also don’t wish to see the rashanta’s photo! But hey, I don’t dominate the opinions of others!

  6. is this really her ? She looks arabic. I was just at a reception of a wedding. The women section was full with Chassidim wearing streimlechs. So please, let’s not be two-faced. Was this for the coming issue or last week’s ? We don’t know who the winner is yet.

  7. just checked my beloved Mishpacha. The picture YW is showing with the scarve is not the picture on the cover of the Mishpacha. The picture on the cover is more like a silhouette. It is not a real picture. Same with the Donald. Voila.

  8. On the one hand, Mishpacha should have evolved slowly ..
    e.g. first do a sketch,etc.

    On the other, Hamodia promotes whatever suits them [throw disguise on it somewhat] and demand klal yisroel embrace whatever it is they wish
    (e.g. Barkat,etc.,etc.)

    They now wish to pretend piousness..

  9. Maybe I am a bonafide ignoramus. But can someone please tell me why chareidi newspapers do not publish the first names of women, unless they are already dead ? Why must every kallah be called”Sheh-tichyeh” ?? PC gone mad apparently is not an illness effecting only liberals.

    Meyer M Lieber

  10. As an aside, while I agree that women’s photo’s shouldn’t appear in chareidi publications as it can be nichshal men, I have to say that in regard to the biography on Rebbetzin Kanievsky, it was actually a breathe of fresh air that pictures of her were included. Now, this doesn’t apply in Hillary’s case obviously, but my daughters learned so much from seeing how tznius the Rebbetzin dressed. Unfortunately we don’t see that level of tznius here in America on a daily basis. I wish there was a way that girls could see more pictures of tznius women in our publications as an ideal to strive for. That’s one huge downside of chareidi papers not printing pictures of women.

  11. I find it ironic or more like hypocritical, that Mrs Lichtenstein of Hamodia publishes books with women pixtures inside. But takes a holier art thou attitude regarding the newspaper calling themselves “true charedim” and forbidding the inclusion of women . More then that, the indication is that we are dealing with a issue to which is very vague to say the least.

  12. Unbelievable. One of the comments are spot on. If the chasidim wouldn’t endorse her maybe she wouldn’t win. And let’s not forget she only became senator because the chasidim endorsed her then too. If she would’ve lost then we wouldn’t be dealing with her now

  13. To No. 4

    Your comments clearly demonstrate the hypocrisy of Hamodia and its rather illogical practices regarding photos of female public figures. Having acknowledged that could you explain the following portion of your comments:

    “[and] then they wonder why their young chevra are becoming tuna bagels more and more…”

    Vos iz der taytsh of a “tuna bagel”???

  14. To the person who called them “rags”:
    Is this the proper way to talk to another Yid?
    When the בית המקדש was destroyed, hundreds of thousands of Yidden were murdered. History repeats itself. We are back at square one. Imagine you were alive at the 2nd חורבן
    do you think that you would have survived ?????????
    Do you think that amongst 1,000,000 Yidden, that Hashem would personally save you?????? By the way, what would you do if חס וחלילה you ended up in a hospital and the Chasidishe Bikur Cholim came in to bring you a delicious hot meal.

  15. First of all the Hamoidia did not attack anyone.
    They didn’t mention the name of the Mishpacha, all they did was to reiterate the rule that all Chareidi papers were following (INCLUDING MISHPACHA).

    The Mishhpacha was the one that chose to exclude themselves now the first time from the mainstream Chareidi newspapers.

    At least they owe to their readers an apology or a letter from their rabbinical leadership about this change of their standard.
    How would you feel if your food companies would change to not Glatt or Kitniyos without mentioning a change of policy? Is it not at least what you expect from your providers of Kosher food or news to let us now when they lower the standard?
    The Hamodia has the full right to keep the respect that we all had to our editors and to state that all TRUE torah papers do not put pictures of women whatsoever.

  16. Oh. And 2 technical points. It is easy to get the impression that the picture at the top of the article is the one that was used on the cover of Mishpacha which it isn’t. Similarly,in the interest of honesty, it should have been noted in the article that the picture that Mishpacha did use was altered with graphics so that her actual face wasn’t shown.

    Moderators Note: Click on the hyperlink in the second paraagraph.

  17. I’m a chossid and I side with Reb Sruly Besser on this issue. And I know many chassidim who support Mishpacha’s view. Mishpacha, keep up your great work!

  18. I have to admit this article is very very well written….its so sad that lots of jews especially israeli think that if you dont agree with my gadol then you are a nothing because your gadol doesnt qualify as a gadol in my eyes. SAD

  19. Rabbi Besser shows real class in his response. Hamodia sounds like the Taliban.

    For the record – I don’t buy either publication; I buy AMI. And it wouldn’t kill them to show the faces of their respected columnists like Rebbetzin Twersky & Rabbanit Mizrachi.

    Have we not got better things to fight about? Isn’t it time we live & let live? Regardless of one’s opinion, it is not for Hamodia to dictate to another publication what to do.

  20. the most disturbing part of this article is YWN’s headline: “HEATING UP!…” The sensationalism over a growing machlokes and your (YWN) contribution to it disgusts me! Not only did you cover the story about this unfortunate rift, which could have just quickly blown over, but look how excited: “HEATING UP!”

    Anyone who has even an iota of yiras shomayim and ahavas yisroel would be cause genuine pain by reading about this. So disturbing!

  21. When I have been in hospital and the Chassidishe Bikur Cholim have brought me a delicious hot meal, I have said “Shekoiach, tizku l’mitzvas”. However what on earth does this have to do with printing pictures of women in Jewish newspapers? I don’t believe any of the Chassidishe Bikur Cholim volunteers check first which newspaper the patient reads and then if they don’t get the right answer, just walk away. Anyway the Mishpacha “picture” is hardly that. It is more like a computer impression. The best response here is #13 “PC gone mad apparently is not an illness effecting only liberals”. And in the case of Mishpacha, it is not even “PC”. The magazine asked Daas Torah. Isn’t that what every Yid is supposed to do? Or is the correct thing to do ask Daas Rebbeleach?

  22. Oh, boy.

    Can everyone PLEASE take a deep breath and chill out here?

    According to the article, it was Hamodia ISRAEL that protested, i.e. the ISRAELI Hamodia. If that is correct, then let it be known that the Israeli and American Hamodia are under completely different auspices. There used to be a connection but while the English Hamodia does have an office in Yerushalayim, they and the Israeli Hamodia are no longer under the same ownership and/or editorial staff. This is good for everyone to know but especially #19.

    While I might disagree with the wording of the letter or kol korei or mecha’ah or whatever you want to call it, it is true that here in EY it is totally unheard of for chareidi papers (however defined) to show pictures of women, regardless of affiliation (i.e. Litvish or Chassidish). It therefore makes sense that they would be shocked that the English Mishpacha did so.

    Not saying they did the right thing, but let’s not turn them into monsters, either…

  23. As an aside, #8 makes an excellent point. Regardless of anyone’s opinion on pics of women in frum magazines, they are starting down what could turn out to be a very slippery slope. How do you show only pics of Hillary but not of any other female world leaders?

  24. Its a matter of sensitivity. I subscribe to Mishpacha and recently have noticed more and more “lowering of standards”, not halachically speaking but perhaps in sensitivity. The ads portray super-long sheitels, there were some pics of women speakers a while back in an ad (must have been a mistake!), there were some not very tzniusdik “drawings” of women working out (part of an ad). More than that, though, is the infiltration of material obviously coming from the Internet, such as phrases, recipes, even a mention of a secular music video which went around the net a while ago. The serial stories all seem to have characters on smartphones and are purposely gossipy, extremely materialistic, “juicy” even. The recipes are out of control. Perhaps I notice these things because I am raising my children in an Israeli-chareidi community and we are more sensitive to these things. Coming from an MO background, yes I do recognize when you take things straight out of secular culture. The phrase “AHA MOMENT” which they use constantly was coined by none other than Oprah. I am reconsidering my subscription, but the Hillary pic wasn’t the most bothersome thing to me, compared to the issues I mentioned. If they purport themselves to be a purely Chareidi magazine, they will have to rethink their standards.

  25. The irony in all this is that the “pictures” of Clinton and Trump are so deformed (they look like the old negatives of film camera)that I don’t know what all the hullabaloo is all about. It’s NOT a picture. I know Mishpacha would prefer that the candidates be more transparent, but that’s no reason to show their X-rays! What horrid “pictures!” Chazal said it best: “Shev v’al ta’aseh adif! Hamayvin yavin.

  26. B H Artscroll do not follow the Shita of Hamodia. Now I know what the mother of Rabbi Moishe Feinstein ztl looked like and from where he received his Gadlus.

  27. I am very disappointed in Yeshiva World News. I have always found that I can depend on ywn to keep away from any Orthodox bashing or conflict, and that has been the reason that this is the only frum world news source that I have kept on my phones after filtering. I would suggest you take this item off and return to your high standards.

  28. We need achdus and not foolish bickering to bring mashiach ENOUGH! Whats done is done why does YWN have to make this hock , obviously it went public but only to a certain extent!

  29. What is up with adding “Heating Up!”?? It’s one thing if you want to share the news of what’s happening, but to add the total unnecessary words of “heating up” with an exclamation point?? Just adding to the feud and seemingly only wanting more Machlokes to come…

  30. Nothing wrong to publish in America a picture of Hillary.

    However, in Israel it is wrong, because there, the Yetzer Hora is bigger than in Chutz LoAratz – so they shouldn’t.

    Simple as that.

  31. Anyway, the woman is so ugly inside and out, I don’t think it matters if they show her picture – she looks like a man & certainly dresses like and has the predilections of a man. Nasty creature.

  32. Wow! has there ever been such a long article published in YWN – with as many comments?

    That in itself a sign that it probably shouldn’t have been published. of course we can’t appreciate/ accept certain decisions that don’t fit well with our moderate frum world view. but is it not far more dangerous to get involved with all this blaming and shaming that involves countless issurim rachmana latzlan?

    I think everyopne (including the press) should be focussed on their own aveiras and keep quiet about others.

    It will serve them well in the olam ha’emes.

  33. This dispute reminds me of the time about a year ago, when a Jewish lady in a nursing home had her birthday celebrated at age about 104. It was covered all over. HaModia following its policy, did its job and featured at the top of the page THE CHAIR THAT SHE SAT IN AT THE PARTY.
    i LOOKED AT THE CHAIR AND STARTED TO WONDER what this lady looked like. I figured she must have been very attractive for the paper to be afraid to show her face. Beautiful faces appeared in my mind so I had HIRHURIM HIRHURIM.
    I blame the paper for that!!! I think the only solution is that HaModia should never mention women at all.

  34. Let them fight it out.
    It is far more an issue of “I am so much frummer than you”, that an actual halachic one.
    Otherwise it would have been the rabbanim discussing it, not the purveyors of fish wrap.

  35. You know, it’s pretty ironic that the crux of the point being made in this article is that “Apparently they are oblivious to the fact that not everyone is required to follow those Chassidim opinions. It is shocking that the Hamodia in Israel chose to attack the opinion of major Poskim”. This is exactly the same argument made by Shomrei Torah u’Mitzvos who are not Chareidi as to why they follow their own Poskim and not those in the Chareidi community, but they are regularly bashed by the Chareidi community for having the gall to not follow the chosen Chareidi leadership.

    What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, no? Perhaps a little introspection and acceptance that there can be more than one view of a Halachic issue is in order in the Chareidi community.

    an Israeli Yid

  36. Good for Mishpacha for leading the way. Hillary may be elected to become the next president of the US tomorrow. That makes her unique. Rules must sometimes be suspended, with the haskamah of gedolei Torah; especially when it comes to chumros. Mishpacha is noted throughout the world for its professionalism; it’s taken seriously. Its credibility would have been greatly undermined if, for the next four years, no photo of the President of the US would have appeared in its pages. Each magazine must make its own cheshbon hanefesh as to what to do. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if others didn’t follow suit.

  37. If Mishpacha magazine neglected this widely accepted chumra it means that they believe that they will sell more papers that way. Chareidi papers, schools, hechsherim etc. always used to compete for the image of the most machmir- because that was the most profitable approach. People associated the “frumest” with the best.
    Mishpocho’s decision is good news. it reflects an increased sophistication among our oilam. It shows that more and more people are emphasizing rational real Torah values as opposed to chumros.