Rav Moshe Shternbuch: Can You Smash Your Parents’ Television Set?

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reb_moshe_shternbuch1Rav Moshe Shternbuch was asked (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:368) if it is permitted for someone to break his parents’ television set. He begins by saying that watching TV is a terrible thing and is “avizreihu d’arayos.” One is certainly required to do everything in their power to stop people from watching TV. With regard to actually damaging it, he says there is a machlokes between the Ketzos Hachoshen and Nesivos Hamishpat (CM 3) whether the halacha that you may stop someone from doing an issur by force applies to each individual or only to bais din. He

paskens that this only applies to bais din. Furthermore, even if individuals have this power, they cannot take away someone else’s money without a p’sak from bais din. Additionally, behavior like this may cause his parents to distance themselves from Torah.

We do find that Rochel Imeinu took action by stealing Lavan’s terafim. However, points out Rav Shternbuch, Yaakov Avinu apparently did not approve of such behavior and therefore was bold enough to declare that whoever stole it will die, which indeed happened to Rochel in the end.

We also find in Maseches Brachos (20a) that an Amora ripped off a red garment from a person in the street because it was not tzniusdik. Although the Gemara praises him, he himself seems to say at the end that he should not have been so hasty.

Rav Shternbuch concludes that no action should be taken without consulting a rov, since more damage than good may come out of it. It is best to explain to them the destructive effect of a TV and try to persuade them with kind words.

{Revach.net/Elisha Ferber-Matzav.com Newscenter}

10 COMMENTS

  1. why not go around smashing tvs in every Jewish home, why only the parents – KOL yisrael areivim zeh lazeh, the question is really ridiculous…We are not G-D’s policemen.
    Additionally, go ahead & smash their set and they’ll make sure to hide the new one from “that crazy fanatic”

  2. All good comments above. The question is so typical of this lost generation.

    Re: the Midrash, what indeed shall we make of it? Avraham destroys idols, but his chashuva einikle, the bchir shebiAvos, Yaakov Avinu blindly curses anyone who wants to prevent idolatry? It boggles the mind! Any Brisker lomdus on this? It’s perfect for a “Tzvei dinim” teretz.

  3. I think that if a gadol like rav sternbuch took the time and effort to answer this quesion it must have some validity. If your way of dealing with the question is by ridiculing the shoel then better you keep your comments to yourself.

  4. Avraham Avinu was only a child during that incident. Not really a sheilah there i think. True he was a tzaddik but come on, i think you can let him slide on that one. Also, that was Avodah Zara mamash, TV is “avizreihu d’arayos” as mentioned in the above article. No need for “Tzvei Dinim” teretz here Shmuel.

  5. “Re: the Midrash, what indeed shall we make of it? Avraham destroys idols, but his chashuva einikle, the bchir shebiAvos, Yaakov Avinu blindly curses anyone who wants to prevent idolatry? It boggles the mind! Any Brisker lomdus on this? It’s perfect for a “Tzvei dinim” teretz.”

    Simple answer: Yaakov avinu knew Lavan would never give up his idolatrous practice,
    Avraham Avinu knew his father Terach would eventually do Teshuva and understand his actions. In addition, he was successful in proving his point, as the Medrash relates further.

  6. Ok. Some good answers above. Thanks.
    While we’re discussing destroying TV’s, why not go all the way? Take it to the limit:

    1. Phones foster potential profanity, lashon hara, richilus, etc. Let’s destroy them! Answer: phones also have the capacity to do much good. It depends what you use it for, I guess.

    2. Electricity and fire are very dangerous: homes, offices, summer camps and lives have been lost due to fires, including, sadly, many which were a result of Shabbos, Yom Tov and Chanukah lights. Thus we should forbid the use of fire and electricity. Answer: we can’t. It’s here to stay. We have to light candles. We use electricity and fire to cook our food and keep us warm. We need it. So it all depends what you use it for, I guess.

    3. Cars, trucks, buses, trains, planes, ships: they’re all potentially dangerous, whether because they facilitate the ability to sin (by using them as vehicles) or due to accidents happening all the time due to their use. Let’s forbid them. Answer: Let’s not. We need them. They’re here to stay. Let’s just be careful, belt up, stay within speed limits, etc. and use them properly. It all depends on how they’re used.

    4. Do you see where I’m going? The internet is next, but no need. It all depends what you use it for.
    Agreed?

  7. Shmuel, Moish, dealing with “terafim” Yakov Avinu wasn’t into “preventing” idolatry.
    Nothing as simple as anything Brisker here: Terach was interested in gelt, while Lavan, rosho merusho, was into something else, discussion of which is impossible on informational site like matzav.com

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