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Is it generally allowed to watch TV at my home (I am male and living alone)? I wrote "generally," meaning watching on a regular weekday (i.e. not Shabbat or Holiday) and just watching normal programs, like the news or a documentary.

If this is not allowed, why not?

Are there specific precautions to take, if this is allowed?

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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya! – user613 Sep 6 '14 at 14:04
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    Hello Peter, and welcome to Mi Yodeya! Please keep in mind that Mi Yodeya is not really a place for practical halachic advice -- any information you get here should be treated as if it came from a crowd of your friends ....it's really exciting that you're studying for giur, but questions like these that have practical ramifications should really be asked to your rabbinic advisor....in any event, I hope you stick around and enjoy the site! – Shokhet Sep 7 '14 at 4:46
  • Answers to this question may be helpful: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/711/205 – jutky Oct 19 '14 at 6:58
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It depends on the community and people's Rabbis. While of course there is no actual biblical or ancient rabbinic decree about TV, Rabbis do have the authority to make decrees that their followers will follow. The problem with TV is that many Rabbis were worried that it will bring outside influences into the house, for example, things that are inappropriate, violence, in addition to it being considered a waste of time. Also, some communities are "secluded" (not in a bad way, but you preserve the Jewish spirit), and avoid any influence from the secular world. In chareidi (ultra-orthodox) and chassidic (which is probably included in chareidi) communities, it's very rare to find a TV, being that many Rabbis, and also those societies, either ban TV or hold strongly against it. In modern-Orthodox, mizrachi, or dati leumi communities, you'd find TVs in many homes. It's a good idea to find out what the community you want to join does, although if you want my personal opinion, stay away from it.

  • Did those more modern Rabbis allow the people to own TVs or did the people decide to get one themselves? – Emet v'Shalom Oct 20 '14 at 2:18
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You may want to review the laws of Talmud Torah in Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah, סימן רמו - שחיב כל אדם בתלמוד תורה.

If you feel that watching TV is in line with these Halachot, then (after consulting with your LOR) you probably can do so.

Amongst other things we learn there:

א כָּל אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל חַיָּב בְּתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה, בֵּין עָנִי בֵּין עָשִׁיר, בֵּין שָׁלֵם בְּגוּפוֹ בֵּין בַּעַל יִסוּרִים, בֵּין בָּחוּר בֵּין זָקֵן גָּדוֹל. אֲפִלּוּ עָנִי הַמְחַזֵּר עַל הַפְּתָחִים, אֲפִלּוּ בַּעַל אִשָּׁה וּבָנִים, חַיָּב לִקְבֹּעַ לוֹ זְמַן לְתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה בַּיּוֹם וּבַלַּיְלָה‏

That everybody needs to learn Torah every day.

יח תַּלְמוּד תּוֹרָה שָׁקוּל כְּנֶגֶד כָּל הַמִּצְוֹת. הָיָה לְפָנָיו עֲשִׂיַּת מִצְוָה וְתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה, אִם אֶפְשָׁר לַמִּצְוָה לְהֵעָשׂוֹת עַל יְדֵי אֲחֵרִים לֹא יַפְסִיק תַּלְמוּדוֹ, וְאִם לָאו יַעֲשֶׂה הַמִּצְוָה וְיַחֲזֹר לְתוֹרָתוֹ. ‏

Torah learning is more important than some Mitzvot. One is better off learning more rather than doing Mitzvoth that can be done by others. Surely Torah learning trumps watching TV for leisure, if it trumps doing Mitzvot.

כה כָּל שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לַעֲסֹק בַּתּוֹרָה וְאֵינוֹ עוֹסֵק, אוֹ שֶׁקָּרָא וְשָׁנָה וּפֵרֵשׁ לְהַבְלֵי הָעוֹלָם וְהִנִּיחַ תַּלְמוּדוֹ וּזְנָחוֹ, הֲרֵי זֶה בִּכְלַל כִּי דְּבַר ה' בָּזָה (בַּמִּדְבָּר טו, לא) ‏

Whoever has the opportunity to sit & learn, and instead does something else - or one who abandons his learning in order to waste time - is considered to have disgraced the Torah.

  • BTW: based on your comment that you only watch "news or a documentary" I didn't mention Halachot about seeing "inappropriate material". – Danny Schoemann Sep 30 '14 at 8:16
  • This leads to another question about whether sitting in front of a gemara and thinking about how vertical the walls are is any less bittul torah than watching a documentary – Yitzchak Oct 1 '14 at 17:07
  • Just wondering why 2 downvotes? Guity conscience? Better answer? – Danny Schoemann Oct 6 '14 at 11:23
  • You did not answer the question insofar as you have provided no reason why television is prohibited in circumstances when we are otherwise forgiving of people who not actively engaged in learning instead of other leisure activities. – Yirmeyahu Oct 19 '14 at 3:02
  • @Yirmeyahu - where do you see such a "request" in the OP? (I could go so far as to say the OP used TV as an example of "people who not actively engaged in learning instead using their time for leisure activities" - and my answer would be the same.) – Danny Schoemann Oct 21 '14 at 8:10

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