By S. Friedman, Matzav.com
It’s interesting how sometimes reading along the margins can be more informative than the actual content of a publication. The advertisements that run in the frum weeklies and monthlies seem to provide commentary as much as they do solicit business. Here are some ads that are both obvious and some that are more subtle in the messages they convey.
Instead of just the once a year Pesach hotel blitz, now it seems that every other shabbos is some excuse for a weekend getaway at some resort featuring world renown speaker, chef, shadchan and babysitter. I can’t imagine that these conventions would become so much more prevalent if they did not result in a nice turnout. It would seem vacation ideas are at an all time low, or that people just like to spend an inspiring shabbos once in a while.
Featured prominently in one ad was a close up image of a mouth-watering steak. There was a narrative written about reminiscing to that last time you had a succulent steak that made you feel good all over etc… I thought it was going to be a clever ad for Tomchei Shabbos or some other zany idea that Oorah conjured up, but it was just an ad for steaks. I’m all for high quality meat products, but have we sunk so low that stores have to resort to appeal to our most blatant animalistic desires? I would think we would be embarrassed to have advertisements for gluttons.
Camp season is in full swing, and Boruch Hash-m, one can judge by the amount of unfamiliar camps that Klal Yisroel has grown exponentially over the years. When I was younger, one could have counted the frum boys camps with his hands, and had some fingers leftover. It seems that competition is a good thing in this business, as each camp seems to want to outdo their competitors in both exciting escapades and early bird savings. Hatzlocha to them all.
Speaking of the mountains, isn’t it amazing how many summer related services there are? From furniture moving to satellites of everyone’s favorite Brooklyn stores, it would seem that bungalows have morphed from a simple summer retreat to a full fledged second (perhaps first?) home for many people. I think it’s interesting how people cannot be without their regular sheitel macher or preferred brand of herring for even a few weeks when they are supposedly seeking a measure of solitude. What happened to getting away from it all?
Then I saw a sadly comical ad. It headlined, “Struggling with Tuition?” A new gemach offering reprieve? A notice from the Agudah about some government financial aid program? Nope, it’s an ad for jewelry. Of course! It should be obvious that if one can’t afford tuition that they should buy jewelry! The ad states that if you’re struggling with tuition, then you can buy jewelry at 40% off. The ad also states that the 40% will be contributed to the charities of your choice, which include your child’s school, etc… v’hamayvin yovin on many levels.
In regards to people’s financial struggles, there’s the plethora of ads for credit card settlement (see article titled “Delightful Debt and Fun Foreclosures” (LINK) for a lengthier opine on this). Conversely, alongside you see advertisements for the latest luxurious condos in Eretz Yisroel, or a sea cruise on an all kosher ocean liner. There most certainly are “haves” and “have nots.” (Or perhaps people go into debt in order to afford luxurious condos or cruises? Hmm… maybe I’m onto something)
Creativity in our community is certainly not lacking, judging by the interesting niches that some people have carved out for themselves. Diet plans, Sephardic shabbos food, solar power, tzniusdike uniforms for maids, natural cures for virtually everything, and latest gadget from Kosher Innovations (where’s the Shabbos Car already!) it seems someone is always bringing a new product to the frum consumer that we haven’t had before, and can’t possibly live without.
Lastly, on a positive note, we see all of the advertisements for chessed organizations, Yeshivas, kiruv etc… Putting all the other baloney aside, these advertisements are really what Klal Yisroel is all about. Every frum publication is inundated with Yeshiva Dinners, parlor meetings, an ad beseeching help for an almonah, a Tomchei Shabbos Tea, a Bonei Olom Auction, etc… Our capacity for compassion and generosity is astounding. You don’t even have to read the articles to see that; it’s right there on the margins of the pages.