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12 Av 5765 - August 17, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Psak Halochoh

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With Hashem's help, 1 Iyar, 5763

In response to the halachic query from the Modi'in Illit— Kiryat Sefer rabbonim about playing games and looking at all sorts of movies on computers, the following is our opinion:

1) Use of Computer for Playing Games

The gemora (Brochos 28b) teaches us: "Prevent your children from [engaging in] higoyon." Rashi explains this saying of Chazal to mean: "You should not accustom them to study Chumash too much since it appeals to them."

If Chazal instruct us to deter children from studying Hashem's Torah in an easy and appealing way since it prevents them from laboring over Torah study, surely they forbid children's playing various sorts of valueless games that cause them to detach their thoughts from Torah study. Playing such games cause a tremendous decline in the child's level of spirituality.

2) With Regard to Looking at Movies on Computers:

Even if the movies do not contain anything that is specifically forbidden to see, it is still forbidden to look at it based on what the Shulchan Oruch Orach Chaim (307:16) rules: "It is forbidden to read war stories on Shabbos, and even in the middle of the week it is forbidden since it is a moshav leitzim (occupation of frivolous people), and by reading them one transgresses, "Do not turn to the elilim" (Vayikra19:4) — "You should not remove Hashem from your mind" (Shabbos 149a).

The Mogen Avrohom (par. 22) writes: "This includes visiting theaters and circuses that are types of entertainment as we find in Avodoh Zorah 18b." The Meiri (Shabbos 149a) writes: "These things [pictures of people fighting wars and the like] appeal to his heart, cause him to waste time and make him despair of avodoh to his Creator."

The Chayei Odom (Hilchos Shabbos 61:1) writes: "These things appeal to a person's heart and annul his yiras Shomayim."

What difference is there if he goes to see a movie somewhere or instead he sits at home and looks at it, like those people who waste their time? See the gemora (Avodoh Zorah 18a) that teaches us that the punishment for this is tremendous, that Hashem torments him, and that his livelihood decreases, Rachmono litzlan.

3) Women and Girls:

Doing this harms even women and girls and distances them from yiras Shomayim. (See Tosafos, Avodoh Zorah 19a, that teaches us what is included as prohibited in the posuk, "How fortunate is the man who walked not in the counsel of the wicked . . . and sat not in the session of scorners" (Tehillim 1:1) does not exclude women from the prohibition.

4) The conclusion from all the above, is that halochoh forbids using a computer for playing games and looking at movies even if they do not contain anything that is intrinsically forbidden for us to look at.

5) Educators of boys and girls are well aware of the fact that computers distance the soul of the children from Torah and yiras Shomayim. We therefore warn parents and educators not to use the computer for entertainment purposes at all.

I join the above appeal,

HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv

We hereby sign on the above,

HaRav Nissim Karelitz,

HaRav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner

* * *

Menachem Av, 5765

And also I join,

HaRav A. Y. Shteinman

HaRav Shmuel Auerbach, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky


The Torah writes the obligation to study Torah in, "If you follow My decrees" (Vayikra 26:3), and Rashi cites the teaching of Chazal (Toras Cohanim 26:2), "You should toil over it." Besides this command itself that is the Creator's will that itself obligates us, without toil over one's studies and investing efforts one cannot attain depth and understanding of them, since this depth is attained only as a gift from HaKodosh Boruch Hu, as Chazal (Nedorim 55) expound on the posuk, "And from Midbar to Matonoh . . . " (Bamidbar 21:18).

It is therefore obvious that halochoh forbids using a computer for playing games and seeing movies even for those that are intrinsically permitted. Through being careful in this matter one will be zocheh to fulfill what Chazal (Avodoh Zorah 5b) write: "Tana Dvei Eliyahu teach: `For Torah learning a person should always put himself like an ox with a yoke [on its back] and a mule carrying a burden.'" And even with regard to women it is cited above what Tosafos in Avodoh Zorah write, that these things distance them from yiras Shomayim.

Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz


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