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MUSIC, MOVIES & TV-----asur

Theaters" are prohibited in the Gemora Avodah Zorah 18b (give or take a page or 2), and quoted l'halachah in the Shulchan Aruch. It is a violation of "moshav letzim".

Q: If it is prohibited, how come so many really frum ppl dont know that? I'm so confused, practically everyone I know go theaters. and they're all from mega frum families.

A: You're right, it's a good question. I once asked it to Rav Schwab ZT"L. I was giving a shiur on Mishna Brurah, Laws of Shabbos, and after dealing with the chapter on permitted forms of entertainment (chap. 307), we concluded, based on what we read, that it would be prohibited to go to all kinds of movies, theaters, etc. I had almost the same reaction that you have here. I called Rav Schwab ZT”L (we didn’t have the Internet in those days) and asked him what’s going on.

He said that there is no question that theaters, movies, are 100% prohibited. The problem is that today’s youth, often are not prepared to accept that, especially since other “Orthodox” groups permit it freely. Sometmes, he said, you have to choose your battles. So if we are able to convince our children of the prohibition, we should. If we feel we cannot, then we should turn the other cheek, allow them the indiscretion (not that there’s a choice), and pray that through their learning Torah they will eventually understand it on their own.

I have heard the same sentiment from him at a different time regarding Chanukah presents. I was there when a certain Rav asked him why we allow Chanukah presents if it’s really not a Jewish custom, but rather a copy of the gentile custom of giving presents on Xmas. He said basically the same thing, that Chanukah presents are treif (Incidently, Chanukah “gelt” – cash, not presents – is a 100% Kosher minhag), but since the custom is so prevalent, if you as a parent will be the only one not to give your child a present on Chanukah, he will feel deprived and it can cause more trouble than it is worth. Therefore, since it is not Halachicly prohibited, but merely “not Jewish”, don’t fight it.

(It should be noted that in the case of the theaters, which is halachicly prohibited, we are not actually committing the sin; we are merely not objecting to it. In the case of the Chanukah presents, we would be committing the sin if it were prohibited. Therefore, to allow Chanukah presents, it is necessary to be Halachicly permitted).

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