September 15, 2009 7:25 pm at 7:25 pm #590418
Hi everyone. I’ve been hanging around on the sidelines here for a while, getting acquainted with names, personalities, enjoying inspiration and mussar…fun stuff.
Now I’ve got a question:
I grew up on the Hardy boys, Nancy Drew, Chicken Soup, Harry Potter and classics like Pride and Prejudice, A Tale of Two Cities… I love reading these books, and enjoy them much more than many other Jewish novels. Recently I’ve been feeling like all that is letting foreign ideas and thoughts seep into my (and my families) life.
…but it’s a real hard thing for me to stop. What do you guys think? how important/unimportant is this issue – is it really so bad?September 15, 2009 7:40 pm at 7:40 pm #658697
Rabbi Avigdor Miller, tzl
Rabbi Shimshon Pinchus, tzl
Rabbi Ezriel Tauber
as well as MANY others of course
were constantly speaking out very strongly against “harmless” secular books.
the more of the goyish world and mentality you fill your head with, the less room there is for HaKodeshBorchu.September 15, 2009 7:45 pm at 7:45 pm #658698mazcaMember
well goyim books are not the best, but l feel a little confuse myself because reading is so important, that when my children were little i bought them harry potter, because they hated to read after that, it was magic, they started reading and reading, and now they read jewish books only….September 15, 2009 7:46 pm at 7:46 pm #658699mepalMember
I think you answered for yourself. You said Recently I’ve been feeling like all that is letting foreign ideas and thoughts seep into my (and my families) life. If something is telling you its wrong, than maybe it is.September 15, 2009 7:50 pm at 7:50 pm #658700
I think it depends on the book, (the author) and the age of the kid and the type of kid it is. Similarly, I think the internet is ok for some kids, and for others its the worst thing in the world.September 15, 2009 8:03 pm at 8:03 pm #658701
I know, it’s true, but there are a few things that keep getting me confused again – most of my friends and even role models are reading these books, love to analyze them together… A respected mentor of mine teaches Literature in a frum high school, is obssessed with great classics and it gets me thinking… if these bais yakov schools are teaching these stories, then…???September 15, 2009 8:23 pm at 8:23 pm #658702
What about really little kids books like Dr Suess… I had a teacher in sem who said that any mom that still reads those books to her kids has a lot of answering to do, now that there is such a wide plethora of Jewish children books…
But i LOVE Dr. Suess books!!
Is it treif? :/September 15, 2009 8:39 pm at 8:39 pm #658703Be HappyParticipant
Do you not have a Jewish Library near you?
I think PollyAnna is one of the greates English books written and from which we can all learn a lesson!September 15, 2009 8:45 pm at 8:45 pm #658704
I do, finished the entire selection! hungry for more…
and I love pollyanna! 🙂September 15, 2009 8:50 pm at 8:50 pm #658705Be HappyParticipant
Create a library with your friends using maser money! Vet the books you buy.September 15, 2009 8:52 pm at 8:52 pm #658706SJSinNYCMember
Ames, they are more expensive because they circulate through a smaller market so they have to make enough profit from a smaller audience.
Its important to remember that no person (fictional or real) is perfect. If you look at tanach, each person had some big character flaw (some more than others). You can look at the good and bad of the literature you are reading and try to learn from them. At least, that’s the way I look at it.
If you think the books are polluting you, they probably are.
(I don’t think Dr Seuss is treif – its barely real english)September 15, 2009 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm #658707mybatMember
I think for little kids there are cute Jewish childrens books but I don’t think there is anything wrong with Dr suess either. Balance it! But I understand what you say about the religious novels they’re just so….. Blah!September 15, 2009 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm #658708modifedMember
Non-jewish books are really scary for a jewish person either young or old! just be really careful…..i know a relative of mine that has all these adult non jewish books and she doesnt let her kids read them obviously because she knows they are not tznious but kids are kids and of course her kids read them and now they are hooked and exposed…there is probably an in between but if ur going to go with that you must be very smart and think before u bring something into ur jewish homeSeptember 15, 2009 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm #658709A600KiloBearParticipant
Keep the secular books in the one room of the house where they belong, and you have the best of both worlds. Your children will indeed improve their vocabularies but they will also understand where these books and the values they teach belong. Ditto for news magazines. I am multilingual and until the Internet came along and I stopped buying international periodicals I had a whole European newsstand in that porcelainated chamber.September 16, 2009 12:20 am at 12:20 am #658710SJSinNYCMember
I think its important to remember that just because something is called a Jewish book, doesn’t make it kosher.September 16, 2009 1:20 am at 1:20 am #658711snapplegrlMember
dr. suess is treif- green eggs and ham???? lolSeptember 16, 2009 3:16 am at 3:16 am #658712sunflowerMember
mominisrael, i agree with mepal that if you realize its affecting your life then you should stop. but i think that you really need to understand why its wrong to read nonjewish books. the thing that starts to go wrong is when the behavior or way of thinking of the book starts becoming like a regular to you. by jewish books, almost all the time there is a lesson to learn. but the nonjewish books are just for “fun”.
btw, are you really mominisrael? or are you just sketching to paint a picture and then tell us your dilema? if its true then please dont hold a grudge against me, if its not true then please explain because this sounds a little sneaky. i hope that hashem will help you realize what is good to read or not. btw, for example when you go to shoprite and such, do you have an urge to go look at magazines? its the same type of thing. if you realize that its a wrong thing to do which will affect you negatively then please dont do it. have a ksiva vchasima tovah a gut gebenched yar. please respond to explain to me.September 16, 2009 5:34 am at 5:34 am #658713
sunflower, what are you asking? I really am a mom in israel if that’s what you mean. b”h I love living here and the tayvos are that much easier to avoid, but the issue is still around when I return to my parent’s house to visit.
a gut yahr!September 16, 2009 2:47 pm at 2:47 pm #658714onlyemesMember
It is very beneficial to read good literature. It sharpens the mind, expands horizons, and gives one a broader appreciation for the world and the human experience. All of these benefits are good for a Jew. It certainly is more valuable than reading shallow magazines or other mindless material.
In recent times, great rabbanim were well versed in classical literature, especially Russian literature. One godol reprimanded his students who had never read or even heard of Anna Karenina (Tolstoy). In addition, many extraodinarily eloquent rabbanim owe their erudition to a good education that they received in their youth. Without names, the best spokesmen and commentators for the chareidi community are those who are well read, with one having an impressive Ivy League degree under his belt.
So called Jewish novels for the frum are almost all poorly written and do not provide any intellectual stimulation or insight. Do not be afraid to read high quality books, including history , science, classics and the like. There is of course an endless treasure of quality literature on Jewish topics, be it history, sociology and other disciplines. They will continue to enrich your life forever. Enjoy.September 16, 2009 3:14 pm at 3:14 pm #658715
snapplegirl – my mother read it to us as “green eggs and yam” and for YEARS (until he was like 10 years old or something) my brother though it was yam and not ham.September 16, 2009 3:21 pm at 3:21 pm #658716
or lambSeptember 16, 2009 3:26 pm at 3:26 pm #658717
I’ve heard jam also, but it doesn’t look like jam. I think yam works the best, and we’re still reading it like that. I call the book that too and get some funny looks from people who didn’t “kasher” the book before reading it.September 16, 2009 3:32 pm at 3:32 pm #658718
My family’s take on “goyish books” as we call them – anything we have at home (besides for Hardy Boys, etc. – which now I wouldn’t read, but they’re a lot more kosher than some other stuff out there) is all old stuff that there’s kimat nothing wrong with. It’s been a really long time since we bought any new secular books. And any time my siblings go to the library and take out a book that my mother hasn’t heard of, or doesn’t know the series or author, she’ll usually read it before my sisters do.
And Harry Potter – today (post-seminary) I regret having read it. But my mother allowed it when I was little, and that’s where it started. But I think we did end up better off than a lot of my friends who read the whole series because my mother proofread all the books starting from Book 5. When I say proofread I mean cutting out sections that she didn’t deem appropriate for us to read.
I agree that the Jewish books out there aren’t the best, but unless you’ reading the classics, the secular books out there aren’t written too well either.September 16, 2009 3:35 pm at 3:35 pm #658720
On the other side of Feivel (not detracting from his point), Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky has a (not so?) well known quote “and what is so bad about Agatha Christie?
OnlyEmes: we can both quote “banned” books 🙂
The purpose of Jewish books is only for the “lesson”, not for the reading itself. If you believe the sole purpose of reading is to have you or your child “learn a lesson”, buy all means only read Jewish Novels. In fact, why not only read Tanach? Jewish books are a waste of time as compared to Tanach, which you could be reading instead and learning a “lesson” from Hashem himself!September 16, 2009 4:24 pm at 4:24 pm #658721
gavra – good point
ATTN whichever MOD approved my posts – you are now a certified seamstress/tailor. you’re welcomeSeptember 16, 2009 4:28 pm at 4:28 pm #658722mepalMember
lol plonis. We all get the treatment 😉September 16, 2009 4:37 pm at 4:37 pm #658723
“And any time my siblings go to the library and take out a book that my mother hasn’t heard of, or doesn’t know the series or author, she’ll usually read it before my sisters do.”
And mothers are not affected by the tumah?! Even adults are gravely affected by reading this shmutz.September 16, 2009 6:35 pm at 6:35 pm #658724jewishsoulMember
Wow! Did I just get a heter to read Agatha Christie?September 16, 2009 7:38 pm at 7:38 pm #658725
jewishsoul: My usual :-p
and ask your rav if you have a shaila 🙂September 16, 2009 7:41 pm at 7:41 pm #658726
gavra: Can you vouch for the accuracy of that quote?September 16, 2009 7:45 pm at 7:45 pm #658727
Joseph, if someone has to read it, its better for somone older to than a younger person.September 16, 2009 7:47 pm at 7:47 pm #658728
kapusta – no one has to read it.September 16, 2009 7:50 pm at 7:50 pm #658729
Agreed that a person needs to be careful what he/she reads – but there are many, many, many good “non-jewish” books out there that contain nothing abhorrent. There are millions of books out there! I think what some people don’t realize is that the world of books extend FAR beyond the political/espionage thrillers and trashy romance/mystery novels that they think constitute “goyish books”. What about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? Nothin wrong with Sherlock Holmes. Lord of the Rings?? The Hobbit?? Nothin in there. Marshall McLuhan’s groundbreaking Understanding Media? Nothin in there (nonfic). Agatha Christie was mentioned before – nothin in any of her books. There’s a world of both fiction and nonfiction books out there that are very innocuous. I’d say the overarching issue, need there be one, with book-reading would be bitul z’man.
Plus, many of what we’re terming here “Jewish books” are really not very good reads or written well. Many of these books are poorly written; they simply tell a story but with canned, wooden dialogue and almost no character or background depth whatsoever.September 16, 2009 7:54 pm at 7:54 pm #658730
…many good “non-jewish” books out there that contain nothing abhorrent…
its not a matter of being abhorrent or immoral or anything else.
its a matter of whether or not you want to permanently fill your head with the ideals and values of the nations of the world.
or whether you want to fill your mind with Jewish concepts and the Love of HaKodesh Borchu.
Whatever you fill your mind and psyche with, youre going to take it with you to Olom Ha Boh….FOREVERSeptember 16, 2009 7:56 pm at 7:56 pm #658731September 16, 2009 7:58 pm at 7:58 pm #658732
Joseph, you follow the script very well! 🙂
As an avid reader, I can tell you there are not enough Jewish books out there, and from the ones that are available not all of them are worth reading. Not all of them are worth writing. I think that one must find an author thats kosher and stick to that.
You said no one has to read it, and thats true. But most children/teens dont do chessed 24/7. There are not enough activities out there. So many things are being banned. Its not right to take something away and not provide a replacement. The best (practical) argument that can be said for a kosher book is bittul zman.September 16, 2009 8:00 pm at 8:00 pm #658733areivimzehlazehParticipant
feivel- aymen! right onSeptember 16, 2009 8:00 pm at 8:00 pm #658734
FOREVERSeptember 16, 2009 8:01 pm at 8:01 pm #658735
Joseph: Same book as onlyEmes’s quote (if I remember correctly), but you can’t read it, so I won’t tell you, as for you, it is Assur!
EDITEDSeptember 16, 2009 8:09 pm at 8:09 pm #658738
OK. Let’s say you have a Jewish book about someone solving a mystery. There’s nothing inherently “jewish” about it, maybe the protagonist will scream “oy vey!” instead of “oh no!”, perhaps, but that’s the extent of it. I’m sure these books abound. Except for the names, it’s a standard, plain vanilla ol’ mystery read. It conveys no real values of any kind – the author just wanted to tell a story and make a few $$$.
Then you have, say, a Sherlock mystery. Say, “The Speckled Band” (ok, that may be a little scary for kids) – a story that contains no objectionable material, and conveys no real values at all.
Real difference?September 16, 2009 8:09 pm at 8:09 pm #658739
gavra: I assume then you got it from the book officially and specifically assured by the Gedolim shlita.September 16, 2009 8:16 pm at 8:16 pm #658740
“Joseph: Same book as onlyEmes’s quote (if I remember correctly), but you can’t read it, so I won’t tell you, as for you, it is Assur!
gavra: I assume then you got it from the book officially and specifically assured by the Gedolim shlita. “
What, exactly, are we talking about here??September 16, 2009 8:17 pm at 8:17 pm #658741
there is a real difference
1.written by a goy vs written by a Jew
2.implied immorality. even in S Holmes there is often intrigue, murder, because of a woman, because of lust etc.
the Jewish novels are not so healthy either.
its a matter of bdieved, the lesser of two evilsSeptember 16, 2009 8:19 pm at 8:19 pm #658742
Like Rav Moishe Shternbach? Rav Zelik Epstien?
If you want to go this road, start a new thread.
I still don’t understand. Either way there is no reason to read jewish novels, either read Tanach & seforim if you need the “spiritual aspect”, or Pushkin if you don’t.
Of course, there are some real (actually happened) stories (such as “Nine Out of Ten”, (plug) that give chizuk & show hashgacha protis) then Jewish books that make sense to read. But the “fiction” Novels I just don’t get.September 16, 2009 8:22 pm at 8:22 pm #658743
feivel, the difference may be that at the end of the non jewish novel the hero is praised as a gentleman, while the hero of the jewish books ends up engaged to her. Is there a lesser in terms of these two evils?September 16, 2009 8:29 pm at 8:29 pm #658744
“1.written by a goy vs written by a Jew” So?
“2.implied immorality. even in S Holmes there is often intrigue, murder, because of a woman, because of lust etc.” See below, Speckled Band plot summary, from Wikipedia. Yes, it involves attempted murder and can be scary for kids, but that’s not any different from many Jewish books. Anything problematic here? Oh, the name “Stoner”. Yeah, that’d be a problem, maybe 😉 I’d say there’s a great mussar that can be learned from the story…
“A young woman named Helen Stoner consults the detective Sherlock Holmes about the suspicious death of her sister, Julia. One night, after conversing with her twin sister about her big day, Julia suddenly reappeared in Helen’s room, struggling to breathe, and died soon afterwards. Julia had been engaged to be married and, had she lived, would have received an annual 250 GBP annuity from her late mother’s income. Now Helen is engaged to be married. Holmes’ investigation of the mother’s estate reveals that its value has decreased significantly, and if both daughters had married, Dr. Roylott, Helen’s ill-tempered and violent stepfather, would be left with very little, while the marriage of even one would be crippling. Therefore, the main suspicion falls on him.
After Helen leaves, Dr. Roylott comes to visit Holmes, having traced his stepdaughter. He demands to know what Helen has said to Holmes, but Holmes refuses to say. Dr. Roylott bends an iron poker into a curve in an attempt to intimidate Holmes, but Holmes is unaffected as he maintains a rather jovial demeanor during the encounter. After Roylott leaves, Holmes straightens the poker out again, thus showing that he is just as strong as the doctor.
Having arranged for Helen to spend the night somewhere else, Holmes and Watson sneak into her bedroom without Dr. Roylott’s knowledge. Holmes says that he has already deduced the solution to the mystery, and this test of his theory turns out to be successful. They hear the whistle, and Holmes also sees what the bell cord is really for, although Watson does not. Julia’s last words about a “speckled band” were in fact describing “a swamp adder, the deadliest snake in India”. The venomous snake had been sent to Julia’s room by Dr. Roylott to murder her. After the swamp adder bit Julia he called off the snake with the whistling, which made the snake climb up through the bell cord, disappearing from the scene.
Now the swamp adder is sent again to kill Julia’s sister Helen. Holmes attacks the snake, sending it back through an air ventilator connected to the next room. The angry snake bites Dr. Roylott instead, and, within seconds, he is dead. Grimly noting that he is indirectly responsible for Dr. Roylott’s death, Holmes remarks that he is unlikely to feel much remorse because of it.”September 16, 2009 8:32 pm at 8:32 pm #658745
“1.written by a goy vs written by a Jew” So?
im sorry, i cant explain it to youSeptember 16, 2009 8:34 pm at 8:34 pm #658746
Ok, there may be this:
“Grimly noting that he is indirectly responsible for Dr. Roylott’s death, Holmes remarks that he is unlikely to feel much remorse because of it.”
If this is objectionable, then great segway into teaching a lesson on while bad people do bad things, we shouldn’t rejoice at their downfall (or demise, in this case).September 16, 2009 8:38 pm at 8:38 pm #658747
“1.written by a goy vs written by a Jew” So?”
My point was that a book really can’t be “kosher” or “non-kosher” just because it’s written by a Jew. There are a number of books I know of written by Jews that have LOTS of objectionable material and themes.September 16, 2009 8:39 pm at 8:39 pm #658748
You forgot spoiler tags!
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