Tuesday, April 08, 2008

"Such A Haphazard Manner"

(Picture courtesy of phys.org)

Yirmeyahu commenting on Television & Orthodoxy:

I understand your intent on posting your Q&A with “Reb TiVo” but I cannot help but feel that it was inappropriate to do so. He opens by stating that he has no expertise in halachah but then immediately proceeds to opine that it is permitted when, as I understand, leading authorities have ruled that television is prohibited. We are left with an opinion piece without any supporting sources, halachic or hashkafic. If you can support your position fine, but in my opinion pseudo-utilitarian arguments against the halachic or hashkafic statements of Gedolei HaTorah fall into the category, “There is neither wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against Hashem” (Prov. 21:30). Even if this matter is in the realm of geddarim, geddarim are within the purview of Gedolei HaTorah.

Reb TiVo notes how with regard to other issurim there are permissible outlets. His conclusion that it is somehow unreasonable to have an all-inclusive prohibition in such matters is faulty for multiple reasons. First of all, as already noted by commenters, there is a huge dis-analogy between those examples which he cited and the topic under discussion. Each example he gave reflected a fundamental need of humanity without which we would not survive while “normal” people survived for millennia without television. Furthermore, insofar as he extended the discussion to other forms of recreation, there are other forms of relaxation which are far less problematic or permitted.

It is an out and out non-sequitur to argue that insofar as one can incidentally encounter certain prohibited sights when going out in public one can therefore willfully introduce such sights into their homes. For one thing one cannot control what other people do in public while one can, to a great extent, control what goes on at home. Furthermore when one confronts such sights in public one is obligated to not look while at home “not looking” defeats the purpose of watching something and minimizes it’s effectiveness as a mean of relaxation. There is a well known Gemara in Bava Basra (57b) where we learn that one who passes by women doing their wash is called a rasha even if he averted his eyes if he had the option to go another route. This is the source for a halachah found in E.H. 21:1 and is brought more fully in Aruch HaShulchan E.H. 21:1. The Igros Moshe E.H. 1 56 explains that when necessary for one’s parnassa our other needs one may rely on himself to divert his attention from such distractions. But when going on an outing there is no need and it is prohibited even when no other route is available.

Each of the various forms of entertainment mentioned are different but each have very real halachic issues. Some issues are more clear-cut than others. Nevertheless the halachic aspect must be evaluated before any ideological factors are considered. So far I do not see those who do not view television as an all out prohibition speak of the potential halachic pitfalls in anything other than the most generic terms. Meanwhile many specific programs and films that are questionable at best are being viewed by our community. People will watch something simply for fun without knowing (or knowing full well r'l) what prtizus, leitzanus, nivul peh, or apikorsus they will encounter. We would never approach kashrus in such a haphazard manner.


At April 8, 2008 at 7:38:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen said...

Yasher Koach to Yirmeyahu for his excellent response on kedusha - holiness - in the home. And Yasher Koach to "A Simple Jew" for posting this.


Post a Comment

<< Home