Television, Videos and Internet II

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OK, I’ve gone through the book quickly. I’m desparately trying to overcome my desire to mock the book because the author, who I was told this morning is a fine individual and not at all extreme, is essentially correct. In the introduction, the author points out that the internet is useful and can be filtered. He recommends carefully looking into filtering and discussing the matter with a rabbi. The book is generally arguing against television, albeit pointing out that much of the material applies equally to videos and the internet.

90% of the book is easily dismissable but the other 10% is absolutely unassailable. That the author prohibits reading newspapers (p. 84), all Hol Ha-Mo’ed trips (pp. 114-116), listening to sports on the radio (p. 6) and essentially all recreational activities does not change the simple fact that television is full of scantily clad women and not-subtle-at-all allusions to matters that should be kept private. So even if you don’t wait for a commercial to go to the bathroom, thereby possibly violating the prohibition of bal teshaktzu (i.e. “holding it in” that is potentially damaging to the body), and you don’t refuse a request for assistance from a parent while watching TV, thereby neglecting their biblically ordained respect, you still face the insurmountable barrier of choosing to look at immodestly dressed women. That’s just not allowed. (Please don’t argue that you see them anyway on the street or at work. You have to walk on the street and go to work. You don’t have to watch them on TV.)

My dilemma in writing this post was that some (most) readers will simply ignore this and continue watching TV. My hope, though, is that in the spirit of the upcoming Yom Kippur season readers will actively reduce their television watching. I don’t expect anyone to change years-old habits from one quick blog post. But try cutting down. Think about it. It’s easy, fairly painless, and can only yield positive results.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor of, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student currently is serving his third term on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and also serves as the Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He serves on the Editorial Board of Jewish Action magazineand the Board of OU Press. He has published four English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

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