Q. Why do many Orthodox families not allow television in the house?
A. Apart from the danger that television watching will become addictive and occupy time that should be used for better things, TV can blunt human conscience.
Erich Fromm said, "A man sits in front of a bad television program and does not know he is bored; he reads of casualties in the newspapers and does not recall the teachings of religion; he learns of the dangers of nuclear holocaust and does not feel fear; he joins the rat race of commerce, where personal wealth is measured in terms of market values, and is not aware of his anxiety…".
TV can also create idolatry. The Hallel says (Psalm 115:5-8), "They that make them (idols) become like them". TV constantly presents the three cardinal sins of murder, idolatry and immorality and these become people’s values.
Those who have no objection to television have to train themselves and their children to be selective in what they watch and not to say, "I saw it on TV. It has to be all right!" (People also have to learn not to say, "I saw it in the papers. It must be true!")
IS GAMBLING A SIN?
Q. Is it really such a sin to be a gambler?
A. At the age of 13, Leo de Modena (1571-1648) wrote a dialogue on gambling between Eldad who said it was a sin and Medad who said it was a sport.
Unfortunately de Modena himself later became a noted gambler, though he did try to give it up.
In his dialogue, Eldad argued that gamblers break all the Ten Commandments.
They break the first three commandments by turning their addiction into a form of idolatry.
They break the fourth commandment by not noticing the passing of time and are even unaware that Shabbat has begun.
Despite the fifth commandment, they put the welfare of their parents and family at risk.
Gambling takes such hold of them that they do extreme things like robbery and even murder and adultery.
They break the ninth commandment by using words loosely and, despite the tenth commandment, they covet other people’s prosperity and success.
As against Eldad, Medad argues that gambling is usually a harmless diversion and asks why, if it is really so bad, the rabbinic sages did not totally ban it.
Eldad retorts that there is ample evidence of rabbinic opposition.
Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple AO RFD is Emeritus Rabbi of the Great Synagogue, Sydney