Torah For Today: Tell-all interviews
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Torah For Today: Tell-all interviews

Rabbi Alex Chapper takes a topical issue and looks at an Orthodox response

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will give a tell-all interview to Oprah Winfrey
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will give a tell-all interview to Oprah Winfrey

This week, Buckingham Palace confirmed Harry and Meghan will not return as working members of the Royal Family – just days after it was revealed they will give a tell-all television interview to Oprah Winfrey.

What does the Torah say about revealing too much information, or potentially causing embarrassment to others by doing so? 

Perhaps the most powerful proof text is the verse in Micha in which the prophet says: “It has been told you, man, what is good, and what God requires of you; only to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” 

The Hebrew word tzniut, translated here as ‘humbly’, is better understood as ‘modesty’. 

This is an important principle in Judaism and is not limited to laws governing our mode of dress, but is rather an overarching guide to how we should conduct ourselves in all aspects of life. 

The Gemara teaches us that if we are required to conduct public activities, such as weddings or funerals with modesty and discretion, then in matters that tend to be conducted in private, such as giving charity or personal relationships, all the more should they be conducted discreetly. 

This week, we celebrate Purim, with Esther the heroine of the story. Her name means “hidden” – not only did she keep her identity a secret while in the Palace, but she also conducted herself with the modesty appropriate for a queen.

This idea is understood from a verse in Psalms: “All the honour awaits the king’s daughter who is within.”   

Royalty is defined by a comportment that is conservative at all times, circumspect when necessary and demure in both public and private.

As it says in Proverbs: “When arrogance appears, disgrace follows, but wisdom is with those who are unassuming.” 

There is little value in no holds barred interviews. Revealing information that would be more prudent to remain undisclosed possesses the inherent danger of embarrassing everyone who is involved. 

Rabbi Chapper serves Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue

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