Are movies ok?

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    > doesn’t apply to individuals who think that they’re strong enough

    To clarify, the psak was not about watching mindless movies, but about taking a college class in comparative religions. If someone is planning to be in academia or politics, he should. If someone simply wants to satisfy his wild imagination, should not.

    It came up in Sanhedrin, where R Eleizer teaches different types of Avoda Zara to R Akiva by showing different types of magical cucumbers and explaining which ones are really hayav misa and which ones are fake. He also laments that others did not ask questions.

    The Rav said that he gets this question every year.
    Students- nu, what’s the answer?
    Rav – depends on who is asking.
    Students <shocked>.

    Reb Eliezer

    Avira, see the gemora Kesuvas (17,1) where Rav Ache carried the Kallah on his shoulders and danced with her saying, that she is like a beam to him because he was desensitized.

    Reb Eliezer

    Avira, I don’t think you expressed yourself well. If someone is really desensitized would be OK like the gemora but the problem is if one thinks he is desensitized but he is not.


    The only heter to learn about other religions is if you’re a talmid chochom and it’s being done bederech “da ma shetashuv’, can you bring a source aside from a verbal declaration from an unnamed rabbi that for parnosa it’s allowed or that it depends on the person in such a case?

    I think the crowd was shocked because it’s not what the gemara and rishonim say.

    That issue is not so related to movies and other unnecessary influences; i will agree that there is a vast difference between someone who is forced to learn treif in order to finish school vs someone who carelessly entrusts his neshoma to goyishe directors for the sake of enjoyment


    RebE > the problem is if one thinks he is desensitized but he is not.

    Agree. But also, there should be a tangible goal why you need it. Otherwise, even a small risk is not justified.


    Reb E, the term desensitization is most commonly used to describe a numbing to something which normally stimulates.

    I’m using it to describe someone who’s numb to how far he is from kedushah after years of sewage being dumped into his eyes and brain. Be thinks movies don’t affect him.

    You’re talking about someone who doesn’t feel gashmius; I suppose the word desensitize is technically fitting, since he has no sense of the stimulus, but it’s for a completely opposite reason.


    I don’t have direct references other than the above mentioned Rav, who had a senior public position in the overall observant community at the time. I don’t think I need to ask further, as this is pure Daas Torah here – first person from a teacher linking to the Gemorah we were learning.

    I didn’t understand that the reason was “parnosa”, that is one would lose a job without learning hilchos nochrim. It is because one will be exposed to those people and (a) need to know enough to protect himself, (b) needs to know what to answer to both non-Jews and Jews he will encounter.
    So, it is not “forced”, it is just something one needs to know n certain circumstances. You are gonna to be a shochet, you learn cow biology. Gonna to be a professor, learn how to deal with those problems.

    In related news, R Steinsaltz was not shy to (occasionally) demonstrate his knowledge of secular history and literature for no other reason than simply increase rapport with students with a good joke. Although, he also signed when mentioning his meetings with senior non-Jewish clergy, saying that he had too much of that.

    As to the shock, these were undergrads from MO NYC schools. They were stunned that halakha is not a look-up thing but requires analyzing personality. In general, the Rav told me (when I asked) that his main effort with these kids is to show them that Yiddishkeit deals with difficult issues sometimes and requires thinking. He did not need this effort with non-O kids who would be excited to ponder issues to begin with.

    Reb Eliezer

    I can’t say what the MO scene was like when you were in school or how modern the students were, but nowadays the president of YU said openly that no knowledge is forbidden, contrary to halacha. Ask any MO kid if it’s ok to learn X, and they’ll be shocked at the thought of saying that something is forbidden to learn…puk chazi. That’s how i would have reacted at 14, as would any of my peers

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