Mixed Messages| September 11, 2019
Although it may not be intentional, it seems that our Jewish media are subliminally encouraging a lifestyle that many can’t afford
id you see the article a few weeks ago about takanah weddings? I’m sure you also sensed a great deal of irony in the discussion of the huge financial burden that most families experience when making weddings.
I’d guess the majority of those who read this piece did so with mixed feelings: On the one hand, agreement that our weddings and much of our lifestyles in general are beyond the pale, and on the other, healthy skepticism whether anything concrete will change anytime soon.
I think if we analyze why many of us might have responded to the article with that eye-rolling emoji if we could’ve, we might find that it’s because of the fact that in the very same publication that is attempting to be a springboard for a communal conversation about this very real issue, and that presented these really innovative and out-of-the-box ideas to bring down the cost of chasunahs, we can also find ample ways and ideas to spend tens of thousands of dollars on an upsheren, sheva brachos, or “tablescape.”
The irony is just too glaring.
I doubt I’m alone in finding great hypocrisy in the same publication advocating and presenting ideas on how to make our weddings more affordable, and also giving us step-by-step guides on all the tablescapes, themes, props, decor, photography that we should consider for our next upsheren. I mean, who wants to watch a sticky-faced, traumatized three-year-old get his first haircut with just plain old pizza and fries?
When our weekly magazine credits various vendors used for Chanukah parties and sheva brachos, or shows us that the Joneses will be making a seemingly innocuous upsheren with some over-the-top theme, it makes it challenging to take any talk about change seriously.
Although it may not be intentional, it seems that our Jewish media are subliminally encouraging a lifestyle that many can’t afford.
We’ve come to terms with the fact that many of the advertisements we see contain a level of gashmiyus that is extremely materialistic, and while it bothers many and has been complained about ad nauseam (pardon the pun) it’s understood that advertisements are a necessary part of the business model of a magazine and not every product advertised can speak to every person or financial bracket. We also fully understand that a great Jewish publication like Mishpacha, while trying its best to adhere to its underlying principles and values, has a goal to appeal to as wide an audience as possible.
But sometimes you’ve just got to choose.
From its humble place on our coffee tables and couches, each week we hear a voice telling us all sorts of great stories and messages. It would be worthwhile for a magazine like Mishpacha, which seems to understand its achrayus as a publication that has the potential to possibly affect the minds and decision-making of large portions of frum society, to understand that while hopefully no one is turning to a magazine for hashkafic guidance, these types of mixed messages are making an impact on the fabric of our culture.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 777)
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