8 Sivan 5765
Movies, Baseball Games, Museums…Can We Go?
I have previously written to the Rav to ask him a question about movies or rather more specifically entertaining oneself with things that were originally done by gentiles (like batei tiatron as is stated in the gemorah) for entertainment. One of my previous questions is on the archive page about going to movies. I wanted to add another question to that topic:
If it is assur to go to movies or broadway shows or baseball games (besides for the pritzus…) because of involving ourselves in activities that were originated and still practiced by the goyim, as well as because they are activities that are “moshav leitzim” and possibly issues of “avodah zorah” (as i’ve been told by another Rav who quoted this from a gemorah in avodah zara, 18), then if this includes all theatres and modern day stadiums such as baseball and basketball ones, does it also include museums, zoos, classical concerts, educational and informational documentaries, holocaust movies or documentaries?
I had previously asked how far this halacha/definition of gemarah goes but im not sure the Rav’s broad answer included all this, as I’ve read in other answers from the Rav that this excludes some documentaries, “obviously”. Does this gemarah only pertain to entertainment activities or is this a message to us about our entire lives-of how we should live our lives not including ourselves in anything gentile-based. Because if that’s the case, then it seems as if we wouldn’t be able to include ourselves in anything!!!
Also, is this considered halacha? The reason I ask this, is not to validate this way of thinking or acting for myself but rather I have recently had friends asking me about this and because this is not the usual reason of not wanting to go to movies because of the content in them, this idea has ramifications on other parts of my/others life as well and they therefore wanted to know if this indeed is a halacha based on the gemarah. I know that Rav Moshe did paskin that all stadiums and theatres are assur. So does that mean it is based on halacha? I see I am making this question loaded & confusing, but I hope the Rav can answer at least some of this to clarify it for me. Thank you so much for your time.
Name and Seminary Withheld
Thanks for your question.
There are actually two separate issues that we need to be aware of. The first is that, as a Zecher L’Churban, Chaza”l forbade us from rejoicing with non-Jews in the manner is which they rejoice. This means that we may not attend circuses, ball games, bullfights, etc., where they get together to cheer one another on and are happy when one side wins or when they see someone doing amazing feats. If we hear them cheering, we are supposed to moan to ourselves about the Churban and Daven to Hashem that Moshiach should come already, as stated in the Kitzur Shulchan Oruch 126:4. The second issue is that we may not be party to a Moshaiv Laitzim, a group of people that gather for mindless and unconstructive entertainment. This precludes attending regular movies, and also ball games where the participants are Jewish and would not be forbidden as a Zecher L’Churban. Neither of these Halachos would prohibit visiting museums, zoos, watching documentaries and even attending classical concerts, as long as there are no Tzenius issues. I’m a bit confused as to what you mean when you ask if this is “based on Halacha”. This clearly is a Halachic issue.
Rabbi Aaron Tendler