Fake News, Fake Tznius
The Midrash tells us in Parashas Vayetzei about the wedding of Yaakov Avinu in the town of Charan. Yaakov Avinu was to marry Rachel, the younger daughter of Lavan, after seven years of manual labor maintaining Lavan’s flocks in exchange for Rachel. Lavan the Aramean, a notorious swindler, arranged instead for Leah, the older sister, to be married to Yaakov despite his previous commitment to Yaakov.
Lavan had also involved the townsfolk of Charan in preparing for the wedding feast. He reminded them that since Yaakov’s arrival, the town had seen blessings in their handiwork over the past seven years and he would hate to see all of these blessings disappear after Yaakov’s marrying Rachel and leaving. He deviced a devious plan to exchange Rachel for Leah at the wedding and divulged his intention to the townspeople. He wanted them to agree to the plan so that Yaakov would delay his departure and have to work for Rachel again for another seven years, thus retaining another seven years of prosperity. The townsfolk agreed to the plan but they had to be sworn to secrecy not to leak this to Yaakov. Lavan made them each offer a security without any intention of returning it to them. He took the security, pawned them for money to pay for the entire wedding feast.
The wedding day arrived. As wedding guests, the townspeople nevertheless tried to hint to Yaakov Avinu that he would be marrying a different woman that night, namely Leah Imenu. So the guests sang songs with the refrain “Olay, Olay, Olay” all night. Unfortunately, Yaakov Avinu did not get the hint and the rest is history.
So, what’s the purpose of this midrash? Can we apply a lesson from this midrash to our modern day? Perhaps we should take a lesson from our surroundings, the non-Jewish world, and see how it applies to the Jewish world. What’s the biggest epidemic that is current at this time of writing, post 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections? In our humble opinion, we are surrounded by a lot of what we call “fake news.” Information that is totally made up to suit an agenda, to advance a particular cause, be it to sway an election vote, or to mislead a product. What Yaakov Avinu did not learn from the people of Charan on that fateful wedding night, should not have to repeat itself.
With a play on words of “Olay” hinting at Leah, what could the words “fake news” possibly hint at within the Jewish world? Without too much thought, here’s what we think fake news hints at. Fake Tznius! Yes, you got that right. So what do we mean by fake tznius? Here’s a picture to illustrate since a picture speaks a thousand words.
We should learn NOT to apply FAKE TZNIUS in our lives. We should not think that by dressing up in a long sheitel, tight clothing, high heeled shoes, and excess makeup, we are living according to the standards of true Tznius that will please Hashem. By dressing up this way, we are simply living a fake life of immodesty. We should learn from the lessons of fake news. Fake tznius is bad news, it’s fake news.