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MUSIC MOVIES and TV-----movies circuses etc


Punims Posted - 03 August 2000 13:00

my parents don’t let me go to movie theaters. I’m allowed to watch movies, just not go to a theater. in the school I went to, all my friends were allowed to go to one, so I started going. have you ever heard of ppl not allowed to go? and then my parents said that no "frum" families go. I see a lot of really religious families that are allowed to go, I don’t understand.

MODERATOR Posted - 03 August 2000 16:40

"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".

Punims Posted - 04 August 2000 12:56

If it is prohibited, how come so many really frum ppl don’t know that? I’m so confused, practically everyone I know go theaters. and they're all from mega frum families.

MODERATOR Posted - 04 August 2000 15:09

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 (cap. 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. Sometimes, 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 (Incidentally, Chanukah “gelt” – cash, not presents – is a 1005 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).

akiv44 Posted - 07 August 2000 0:49

I'm into biblical archaeology and stuff like that. I know for a fact the mishnaic city of tzipori had an amphitheatre in it. And this is where rebbe composed the mishna. Obviously Jews back then went to the theatre

MODERATOR Posted - 07 August 2000 1:05

Some Jews, yes, and nobody said they were right.

shannny Posted - 23 April 2001 22:16

Ok so its wrong to go to theaters, but is it wrong to watch movies at home? if so, can you please explain why?

MODERATOR Posted - 23 April 2001 22:18

That would depend on the type of movie you’re watching. It's the same as television, which poses tons of dangers for the Jewish home, but if you stick to things like the Lion King and such, and you don’t use it to waste time, it would not be prohibited.

ptgard2281 Posted - 24 April 2001 17:26

I was reading your post above, mod. I don't get how a halacha could have been made prohibiting going to the movies when the movies weren't even invented at the time the supposed halacha was made. Can you explain that?

Also, what's wrong with going to see a Jewish movie, a documentary, a kid’s movie or something else that would not be considered inappropriate? And why would it be okay to view these things at home and not in a theater -- what's the difference?

MODERATOR Posted - 24 April 2001 17:31

Because "shows" or "theaters" were prohibited then, and a movie is merely a sub classification of that.

The issue is not that its "inappropriate", which implies being below moral standards. That’s not the issue here, but rather Moshav Letzim, which is organized Bitul Torah. This was discussed elsewhere. Please see the Halachah / Other / Movies forum.

jj Posted - 24 April 2001 20:16

sorry, I don't c"v mean to be chutzpadig, but are you serious?? how could you say that movies are ok and give a heter for it? I mean even a video that’s rated g, your still bringing the Goyish velt into your life which you didn’t have before, and it def does shter learning and give people a dif outlook on things.

By the even hapina for the new building in lakewood a few yrs ago, they wanted to tape it and the skulener rebbe said that he would leave unless they shut it off, I mean, over there it could be a little different but you still see the choymer hadovor of the kayli

MODERATOR Posted - 24 April 2001 20:29

The Skulener Rebbe was one of many Chassidishe Rebbeim who signed a ban on all VCR's, including for wedding movies. If a wedding is being videoed, those Rebbeim will not be Mesader Kiddushin. That ban was self-imposed, and not Halachicly binding on those communities whose leaders did not sign, including the Roshei Yeshiva of Lakewood, where the Even Hapinah took place.

Of course a VCR is not a good thing to have in your home - and the Internet is even worse, mind you - but the people that are asking questions on this site are asking about the bare-bones Halachah, not individual community Siyagim. I am answering for the public here, not for any individual communities.

But the question was not "is having a VCR in your home wise?" but rather is it Assur. It isn’t. Moshav Letzim includes only collective Bitul Torah. A VCR is dangerous in a home, and therefore perhaps unwise to possess, but for the public, it is Halachicly no more prohibited than a book.

yehuda Posted - 21 May 2001 9:00

Perhaps the "theatres" in the gemarah referred to the ancient theatres where there were no movies playing, but rather gross immoral things which we must avoid. Therefore, might movie theatres be halachically acceptable?

MODERATOR Posted - 21 May 2001 10:16

Can't be. The "theaters" that the Gemora prohibits are Aussur only because they are collective Bitul Torah - Moshav Letzim - not because of any intrinsic immoral things happening there. Collective Bitul Torah applies equally to even "g" rated stuff.

belle613 Posted - 22 May 2001 21:54

what about families that have videos like the uncle moishy tapes, etc, that teach good middos and basic things about yiddishkeit in a kid-friendly format? I think vcr's are sort of like a telephone-- you can use it to spread lashon hara, or you can use it to call a sick friend and cheer her up-- but its all in how you use it.

MODERATOR Posted - 22 May 2001 23:33

True, but it's not smart to have a loaded gun in the house if you can protect yourself through other means, since accidents do happen r"l.

So too, it's not that we need VCR's to teach kids Middos - we have been doing it for thousands of years without them - yet the damage they can do can be permanent and serious. It's true that it depends how you use it, but like all dangerous tools, if you can live without them in your house, it's wise to do so.

yehuda Posted - 24 May 2001 19:52

Does the gemarah there say specifically that the reason theatres are prohibited is because of collective bitul torah? Otherwise, how can you be 100% sure that that is the reason?

MODERATOR Posted - 24 May 2001 19:53

Yes, it does.

belle613 Posted - 07 June 2001 16:57

This situation just came up today-- I have to watch a video adaptation of a book we read in my literature class for essay assignment on film adaptation; and its a relatively tame movie in terms of tumaah, its just that its a war movie, so its a little violent. am I allowed to watch it?

alex123 Posted - 07 June 2001 17:00

"Of course a VCR is not a good thing to have in your home - and the Internet is even worse, mind you"

Do you have a heter for having the Internet to be able to be the Moderator for this forum?

Meahachuz Posted - 07 June 2001 17:09

How do I know what’s bitul torah and what’s not?

MODERATOR Posted - 11 June 2001 19:43


A video is not different than a science book. if you need it for school and there is no prohibited content, its OK.


See Shulchan Aruch OH 307, the last Halachah, and Shulchan Aruch YD Hilchos Talmud Torah.


Yes. There is no other way I could do this work without it. And no way these kids could get help. The danger is certainly still there, and if I find myself getting sucked into the trap (it can happen to anyone) I would be obligated to quit immediately.

tess Posted - 18 June 2001 18:38

What if any are the prohibitions against bital torah or bital zman pertaining to women?

kk Posted - 18 June 2001 21:38

What about theater? The real theater? With real actors! Like in New York, going to see catz or something like that? Is that assur?

MODERATOR Posted - 28 June 2001 19:33


no, but moshav letzim applies to women because even though women need not learn, they should not waste their life either, and that’s what moshav letzim is.


it's asur.

yideleh Posted - 24 August 2001 15:10

When it says in Rashi about the issur of not going to theaters, it also mentions circuses. Does that mean that Yiden shouldn't go to circuses nowadays???

MODERATOR Posted - 24 August 2001 18:56

Yes. It does mean Yiddin shouldn't go to circuses. It's the same as a (clean) movie, but a live show.

smile2u Posted - 18 October 2001 14:51

I don’t understand this...all my life me watching t.v,movies and so on ,I have been going against the how do I stop

MODERATOR Posted - 18 October 2001 19:51

Slowly. Limit your viewing to one or 2 shows a week and only watch them. Slowly wean yourself off.

Yasher Koach on your effort. Hashem helps those who put in the effort.

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