Welcome and Come On In!

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Shalom Chaverim

There was considerable conversation and discussion that preceded the launching of this blog.  We are in an age that has radically altered what is and is no longer possible in terms of confidentiality and privacy.  That said, there are some ancient Judaic precepts that can be useful when contemplating how to behave in a digital forum.  The rabbis of the Talmudic period were profoundly concerned with how one conducted oneself in the public vs private domain, which is a lens that can help us focus on these issues today.

In my opinion the Internet is a completely public domain, even when it might appear that a site is “private.”  At the moment, the Internet and digital media allow people to cut and paste, screen capture and otherwise repeat information impunity regardless of where that information was originally encountered. This has even leaked out into the actual world with people capturing concerts, lectures, speeches, religious services etc. with their cell phones et al, often without the permission of the artist, lecturer, service leader or speaker.  These bootlegged documents/videos appear on YouTube, Facebook, etc. which may have never been the intent of the performer/presenter. Knowing that an event/conversation is going to be made public will usually cause the speaker to modify her/his choice of words, topics, tone, etc….   This modification is usually a shift to the more polite, which in rabbinic terms can be described by the term tz’ni’ut.

Often translated as modesty, tz’ni’ut is a value of consciousness that basically says “don’t go out in the public naked”, because doing so puts you in harm’s way and can be unsettling to others.   As HaRav Hagadol, the great Rabbi, Maurice Lamm teaches: ”

Tz’ni’ut means discreet habits, quiet speech, and affections privately expressed, and infers the avoidance of grossness, boisterous laughter, raucous behavior, even “loud” ornaments. This is not merely a series of behavioral niceties, a sort of Bible’s guide to etiquette, but a philosophy of life. …Tz’ni’ut was intended to preserve the sanctity of the inner human being from assault by the coarseness of daily life. …The antonym of tz’ni’ut is hefkerut, abandon, looseness, the absence of restraint and inhibition.”

In the case of Internet conversation, the concept of tz’ni’ut guides us to be conservative in what we share and to be clear about why we are sharing intimate details. Just as clothes are either revealing or concealing, so too can be our words.  Our hope is our readership will digitally “dress for the occasion.” May all who choose to post their thoughts and reactions do so with tz’ni’ut—modesty ; chesed—kindness and the avoidance of l’shon hara-gossip, slander or any kind of harsh or hateful speech.  Them’s my two bits.



From Wendie Bernstein Lash, your blog curator:

I invite you to respond for the next few weeks to Jhos’ blog post to help us think about and create a community space that is inviting to all of CJC. (See the reflection questions below). In future weeks I will post additional questions to help us look at the practice of tz’ni’ut in our broader CJC community and then on a more personal level.

After you post, check back to see how your fellow CJC’ers have responded and respond to their posts as well. And then check back later for the new reflection questions.


 1)   How should we as a community practice tz’ni’ut  here on this blog forum?  Do we need some rules of etiquette that we all agree on and what should those look like?

2)   What kind of responses should we have (either online or offline) if we think someone is not practicing tz’ni’ut here in this blog forum – i.e. they have revealed too much about themselves or someone else?

3)   How can we try to ensure that the responses posted here are from a place of chesed and not l’shon hara – i.e. how can we remain civil when we disagree about something or if we feel someone has not been kind in the way they have responded to our post?