Shevat 5763 – Q&As to Retaining “Kosher” Videos and Computer Games – by Rabbi Leib Kelemen

15 Shevat 5763

From the Desk of: Rabbi Leib Keleman

Questions and Responses to Retaining “KOSHER” Videos and Computer Games

Dear Rabbi Keleman,

If one has no games whatsoever on a computer, and Internet access is (voluntarily, not necessarily by rules) restricted to email and school/work/Torah related sites and articles, are computers still problematic? I would like to raise the question in regard to both children and adults separately. (I am particularly interested because my parnassa is in programming, and my place of work provides me with a computer and high-speed Internet access so that I can support from home… I spend hours every day on the computer, obviously, but I haven’t even played solitaire in at least 5 years. I would like to know what the Gedolim say.)

Thank you,
Name & Seminary Withheld

Dear Name Withheld,

In response to your question, in Israel the gedolim have come out strongly against any Internet access in the home, however I am not aware of any American gedolim who have reiterated this psak. It’s probably appropriate to ask your Rav what to do. Assuming that he permits Internet access at home, it would probably be prudent to get some sort of content blocker for your Internet browser and remove any resident game programs. Perhaps ask about these two moves as well.
Rabbi Leib Kelemen

Dear Rabbi Keleman,

Your piece on the negative influence of videos/computer games was very compelling.
I have three comments/questions:
1. I agree and see that videos/computer games can be destructive, although I must admit my own weakness towards them. Would the same problems apply to the web too?
2. How about the Das Torah of the Gedolei Hador that sit on the board of the Chafetz Chaim Heritage Foundation, and have appeared in the videos?
3. Do you know how I can get more info on Rabbi Applebaum’s work?
Thank you,
Roseanne Shoshana Greenberg

Dear Mrs. Greenberg,
Thank you for writing. To answer your questions:
1. Yes, although we have much less data on computer/web based applications (because the medium is much younger than TV), all the data we’ve seen matches the material on television. The medium is equivalent (CRT display, flashing images, quick cuts, etc.), and the content is often worse (both because there is no licensing procedure for websites parallel to broadcast and cable television, and because people tend to access the web more privately than they watch television).
2. I have also appeared on those videos. The halachic reasoning is that we don’t make gzaros that the community cannot abide by, and since American Jewry is not yet ready to accept a ban on these media, they remain technically permitted. As long as they are permitted, daas Torah recommends that we get into the “market” and compete for attention with Torah-based materials. However, daas Torah is simultaneously encouraging educators to create fertile ground for a ban on these media – hence my article. In Israel, the gedolim feel that the community is more prepared to accept a ban on these media, and consequently Rav Elyashiv banned the CC video in Israel.
3. I have on file this information for Rabbi Applebaum’s organization:

Parents Concerned with Media Influence
8950 Bathurst Street
Thornhill Ontario L4J 8A7
Phone 905-881-8438
Fax 905-886-6525

Kol Tuv,
Rabbi Leib Kelemen