Imagine the scenario - you are walking down the street and you see a sign. One of those advertising signs strategically placed in the middle of the sidewalk. The sign is advertising a lingerie shop with a scantily clad supermodel adorning it. Yet the sign is defaced, hiding her airbrushed beauty from you, as someone has spray painted black paint all over the sign.
What goes through your mind at that moment? "Those crazy religious fanatics! Always defacing other peoples property!" or maybe "we need to get rid of those haredim" or maybe "those advertisers have really gone overboard with the smut they put all over the city. at least someone won't put up with it!" or maybe "they give the rest of us religious people a bad name" or maybe something else.
This happened in the city, mostly mixed Modern Orthodox, National Religious and secular, of Ranana.
Yet after some name-calling, throwing blame around in various directions and debate, some investigating turned up the news that the ads were initially created like that. They came pre-defaced. Yes, the advertisers made ads of scantily clad women with black spray paint graffitied over them.
So you have to wonder what they were trying to accomplish by this. Were they just playing on peoples imagery to increase their bang for their buck? Meaning, they knew their posters, or at least some of them, would eventually be defaced, so they did it themselves to get people talking about their ads? Maybe they did it to malign the haredim who would be blamed for it, again drawing support for themselves on the backs of the haredim? Was the objective more benign and simply meant to be an eye-catcher and pique curiosity?
Rabbi Stewart Weiss addresses the Ranana situation and says this:
YES, FOLKS, we do have our problems, and we should not take them lightly. There is a legitimate debate over Jewish values, land for peace, pluralism and army service versus yeshiva study. And our situation isn't made any easier by kippa-clad demonstrators - in an obvious effort to bring honor to God and Torah - launching loaded diapers at police protecting a parking lot on Shabbat. Or by mustachioed men in bikinis riding on floats through the streets of Jerusalem in an effort to show off the joy of being a gender-bender.
But the fact is, we have more in common with each other than we realize. The vast majority of our country has a genuine respect for Judaism, though we may express it in different ways. We abhor corruption, whether by a secular Avraham Hirchson or an observant Shlomo Benizri, and we cheer when we see justice done. We want our children to be safe on the streets, well-educated and able to live securely, now and in future generations. We love Israel, we are in awe of its beauty, we are dedicated to its survival and we are willing to place our lives on the line - just by living here! - to demonstrate our loyalty to this country.
All this may sound overly optimistic, even naive. But I believe it, because Hope springs eternal. At least in life, if not in lingerie.
Search for more information about [defaced lingerie advertisements] at 4torah.com.