Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Question & Answer With Rabbi Lazer Brody - Video Games & DVDs

A Simple Jew asks:

Does Halacha forbid a child from playing computer games and watching DVDs?

Rabbi Lazer Brody answers:

Your question is timely and super-important, SJ. I'd like to split my answer into 2 parts: First the Halacha, and then the Hashkafa, Jewish outlook from an Israeli-Chassidic viewpoint.

1. Halacha:

In a decision from Adar, 5763 (March, 2003), Israel's leading poskim shlit'a – Rav Elyashiv, Rav Vosner, and Rav Nissim Karelitz – signed a joint psak (religious law decision) expressly forbidding the use of a computer for anything other than commerce or word processing, and specifically prohibiting the use of a computer for games and movies by adults and children alike. In addition to their sources in the Gemorra and Rishonim, they write: "Allowing a child to absorb himself in computer games turns his mind from Torah and his heart to idleness… this creates a drastic setback in a child's spirituality." As far as movies go, the Rabbeim cite Shulchan Oruch O.H. 307:15 that prohibits "war books" (adventure stories) because of tomfoolery, and the Magen Avraham (ibid, clause 22) that compares stadiums and circuses to those things that make a person's heart stray from Torah and mitzvoth. Citing an additional long list of poskim, they conclude that computer games and movies destroy Yiras Shamayim and the desire to lead Torah lives both in boys and in girls.

2. Hashkafa:

In every single case I ever handled of a boy or a girl that went off track, the parents were viewers of DVDs and/or the kids owned computer-game or watched DVDs themselves. Computer games and DVDs kill time and murder brain development. A passive brain – like a passive body – becomes flabby and lazy. You can't learn Gemorra with a flabby and lazy mind, so if your child is a computer game or DVD freak, forget about sending him to a Yeshiva; it's a miracle if he or she will remain Shomer Shabbos. Computer games/DVDs and Torah simply don't mix.

With blessings for a ksiva ve'chasima tova and a happy New Year 5757, Lazer Brody


At September 5, 2006 at 6:07:00 AM EDT, Blogger breslever said...

Can you imagine a kid putting down his computer game to learn a shtickle Tosephos or to go for an hour's hisbodedus? Many parents are guilty for giving their kids cheap pastimes; that way the computer is the babysitter and the parents don't have to be parents. We'd all be better off with less computer and more Torah. SJ, thanks for your question and for Rav Lazer's answer. BTW, a little bird says you'll be in Uman this year - is that true? Ksiva vachasima tova, B

At September 5, 2006 at 10:02:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all due respect to the Fatwah er I mean psak forbidding anything other than commerce and word processing, there are web sites that I would not be without that have to do with neither word processing or commerce. Just a few of them are
As far as DVD's go it depends on the content. There are some great DVD's on Jewish history, the holocaust, the history of Israel and what about all the DVD's of the Rebbe??
It's not the technology that's your enemy it's what you use it for

At September 5, 2006 at 11:22:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Chaim said...

"In every single case I ever handled of a boy or a girl that went off track, the parents were viewers of DVDs and/or the kids owned computer-game or watched DVDs themselves."

That's absurd, there were children of gedolim who went off the derech long before DVD's were invented.

At September 5, 2006 at 11:37:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we can't use a computer for other than commerce or word processing, how could we access this site or Lazer Beams? Is it forbidden to watch ushpizin, interviews with HaRav Brody and other uplifting and inspiring pieces? Isn't this psak too broad?

At September 5, 2006 at 12:13:00 PM EDT, Blogger MC Aryeh said...

A bit of a narrow view here. I've known a number of kids who played video games and watched movies and grew up to be b'nei Torah...personally, however, I would restrict the use of computer games and be very selective about movies for my own kids, just out of concern for the images seen and the wasted time.

At September 5, 2006 at 12:49:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's very easy to filter out the schtuss and get the internet into a Takana proof state. So many frum Jews would rather put the computer and TV in a schrank than sign up for such a service. In fear of it becoming known that they have Internet access? It can easily be cleaned up and cleaned out, I do it for my family - I control what my kids can get to.

I use one of your blogger's

Kasher The Web

It's cheap and it works.

At September 5, 2006 at 1:07:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you will loose time in the inet, its obviusly that is totally forbiden, we don't need a psak for this. The inian is other, if you will use the internet to do kiruv, put dibre torah, chidushim, etc etc, and a bit of time i think that in this case is okey...

Ki ish haisraeli tzarich tamid leistakel el hasechel she iesh vechol davar...Dibre Rabenu zal Tora Alef.

At September 5, 2006 at 2:58:00 PM EDT, Anonymous HomeShul said...

I love listening to HaRav Brody and HaRav Yitzchak, but without these mediums of tv,dvds and computer I would not be able to enjoy the teachings I have received. Its a matter of discipline, of what you allow into your home. Most people like myself don't have access to a rabbi in our town so the internet is where our answers to questions and our learning comes from.

At September 5, 2006 at 6:50:00 PM EDT, Anonymous josh said...

So I played lots of video games, read lots of fiction, and plenty of DVDs too - then I did tshuva and now use the internet to grow. I work all day and can't find any rav that will meet me for chavruta at 11pm. I've also been able to break some bad middos with aid from the net. Baruch hashem for the internet.

At September 5, 2006 at 8:30:00 PM EDT, Blogger ilan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At September 5, 2006 at 8:33:00 PM EDT, Blogger ilan said...

i think that a lot of ppl who comment here don't underestand the inian good. Reb Brody Shlita is refering to don't use well the computer, such playng pc games or loosing time. In fact, Reb Lazer beatzmo have a blog of Torah!
(SJ, on the verification (rare letters) down here in the msg the last 3 letters are DVD...a cleary reaia to me that you can use dvd or inet to do good, like Reb Shalom Arush or Reb Lazer =P !)

At September 6, 2006 at 5:45:00 AM EDT, Blogger Bagel Blogger said...

mmm Where would my family be with out 'computer games'?
Does Halacha forbid a child from playing computer games and watching DVDs?


At September 6, 2006 at 7:43:00 AM EDT, Blogger yitz said...

The dangers of Internet use are well known, both to ourselves & our children. Nevertheless, a good reminder is sometimes in order and can be found here.
Anon 12:49PM's suggestion of using a filter is a good one, I would recommend we all do this. In the comments to the above linked article, they also mention this, with at least one recommendation, Blue Coat, which is worth installing and it's free!
To several of the anon posters, please remember that many of the readers here, AND ASJ himself, are not Lubavitch or Breslov Chassidim, so please refer to your Rebbe by more than just "the Rebbe" or "Rabbeinu", thanks!
I've known a number of kids who played video games and watched movies and grew up to be b'nei Torah. And I know many who were addicted to sex and drugs who became Bnei Torah. I don't understand the point. Did their prior behavior contribute to their becoming Bnei Torah, or not?
Finally, the points brought up by Bagel Blogger & others, that for some people, the Internet & computers give them a connection to Judaism that they otherwise might not have, needs to be addressed by the Gedolim. I think Lazer would probably agree with them that their case is different. Perhaps the psak that Lazer referred to applies more in Eretz Yisrael, where access to Torah-learning is more readily available that some of the outer reaches of Australia.
Please also note that the original question ASJ posed was specifically about Video Games & DVDs for children. And the main point should be is this the best use to make of our/their time?

At September 6, 2006 at 9:22:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So nobody went off the derech before 1998, when DVD's were invented. Or maybe it was 1983, when computer games first came out. Oh wait, there were comic books back then.

At September 7, 2006 at 10:09:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Rabbi Brody writes more on this subject HERE

At July 5, 2007 at 2:26:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too much of anything (even study) can numb the brain.

At July 18, 2007 at 11:37:00 AM EDT, Blogger Matthew said...

Is this website commerce, or is it spirituality? Is it word processing? If I read words on the screen while playing a game am I processing the words?

Also, what kind of Rabbi are you if you say "Every time I see X, I see Y, therefore Y causes X"?

That's not logic, it's madness.

At January 11, 2011 at 3:27:00 AM EST, Blogger Alexander Joseph S. Babao said...

My take on this subject is this: drop your office work as you enter your house.spend time with your children hands on. Video games from ps3,xbox,psp,gameboy take a toll on childrens eyes and dvds as well. Converse with them, go to a park or mall even playing with them does wonderful things. Talk about torah not as an obligation but love for intruction

At January 5, 2012 at 2:00:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who played literally 17+ hours of computer games a day for over 5 years, I think I'm fairly qualified to voice a gamer's opinion. I'm sorry, but statements like "DVDs and games rot the mind" are very narrow minded themselves. There are all sorts of games, and they have all different effects on the mind. My playing helped me to develop my concentration, teamwork, strategy, coordination, communication, anger management, and many more valuable traits.

People should be more open minded and understand how extremely complex the world truly is.


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