My Three Sons Meet the Haggadah’s Four

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10 Responses

  1. Godol Hador says:

    You are probably correct that man is no more moral today than in the past. You are also correct that there is a lot of harmful stuff on TV. However sheltering ourselves and our kids entirely from the outside world doesn’t work either. They end up rebelling far worse at the slightest taste of the forbidden fruit. Allowing your children to watch some part of the Pope’s funeral, but then educating them on the meaning of Catholic rites and beliefs and why we don’t do that would be more valuable than simply forbidding them to watch at all. What is needed is a balanced approach. I didn’t get that sense from your article.

  2. Sholom Simon says:

    I like to think I take a balanced approach. My kids (oldest is 12) watch some TV with parental supervision, and my son’s biggest thrill (as self-reported) will be the May 19th opening of Star Wars III.

    But I have never, ever, yet let them watch the news on TV — what’re’ya kidding me? It’s full of trash.

    One obvious current example: you’d think the most important thing in the world that’s happened over the last week is a runaway bride.

    OK, so perhaps when they are older, the Lehrer report — but no way would I let them watch network news (national or local), or FoxNews or CNN or etc.), and as everyone knows, local news is even worse.

    They get their news from other sources.

  3. Edvallace says:

    Godol Hador,

    “However sheltering ourselves and our kids entirely from the outside world doesn’t work either. They end up rebelling far worse at the slightest taste of the forbidden fruit.”

    I don’t believe it is possible to “shelter” our children nearly as much as you suggest. I’ve never had a TV in my life and I believe that I, and my children, can figure out that we don’t agree with Christianity etc. There are so many opportunties to confront the world out there that we certainly need not invite more of them into our homes.

  4. Gil Student says:

    I am not disagreeing about the destructive nature of televisions, but I would like to point out that just about every news magazine had pictures of the popes etc. on their covers for 2+ weeks. I found that particularly disappointing. I simply wanted to have no exposure to that and ended up having to avoid news magazines and newspapers as well for that period.

  5. Hanan says:


    You’re right its impossible to shelter our children too much. But the problem is that most (charidi) parents go to the ends of the earth to shelter (“protect”) their children from anything. It doesent end with TV, its anything that doesen’t have a stamp of approval from the rabbanut. At the end, its like what Gadol Hador says, they just end up rebelling. That has far worse repercussions for them than any Terri Schiavo or pope story that is on TV.

  6. Toby Katz says:

    I don’t see that children who grow up without TV are more likely to rebel than children who grow up with TV. That’s ridiculous. (Yes, I do have a TV, long story…)

  7. Hanan says:

    We dident mean TV specifically, but, the attempt of shielded them to an excessive amount from the outside world. TV is just an example of the many thing that parents shield their children from.

  8. Rebbe says:

    Wow! So much highbrow rhetoric (what exactly is an “agoranik”?) just to make the point that TV is bad. I don’t think you’ll find many self-respecting parents who will argue with that proposition. (Though TV might very well be welcomed by aborigines as a way of bringing their children into the 21st century. To the extent you consider that to be regressive, what do you have against aborigines in the first place?) However, I do believe the specific examples you adduce as being even more “insidious” than the standard “gratuitous violence and lasciviousness that fills the TV schedule” are in fact far less so and may well be representative of TV’s redeeming fare.

    The issues presented were serious, real life issues confronting the world at large. These are precisely the issues that our kids should be exposed to so that we might educate them as to the proper Jewish, Torah based response. We cannot possibly hide our children from these issues as they are very much part of the real world and may very well impact them in the course of their lives. Certainly, with advances in medical technologies, critical, morally ambivalent end of life issues will become increasingly common and we will all have to deal with them. Why not use the Schiavo case as a springboard for that discussion.

    Obviously, I’m not talking about having your three-year-old watch imagery that is beyond his/her grasp, but for a mature teenager some very intelligent discussion can and should ensue.

    The images of John Paul’s funeral and Benedict’s investiture pervaded every form of media, not just television. We cannot possibly hide them from our children, nor should we. Our children will, no doubt, encounter peoples of other religions in the course of their daily affairs. Certainly, when they go out into the business world they will interact with Catholics, Muslims and yes the occasional aboriginal agoranik. (I see them all the time, they’re everywhere, they just don’t know they’re aboriginal agoraniks!) If you chuckled at the preceding, it’s because you’re culturally aware, either that or you simply have a sixth sense about these things. Of course, the very title of your piece is a giveaway to your own time spent in front of the boob tube. And lest you plead ignorant whence I speak, asserting that in fact you really do have three sons (as I know you do), then am I to assume that the website moderator is responsible for the telltale italics.

    The point is that when asked by our gentile colleagues, “Hey, what did you think of that funeral?” I don’t think “Huh, what funeral?’ is not going to be the appropriate response.

    Besides which, the Torah itself is chock full of graphic depictions describing all manner of idolatrous decadent service, sexual deviance, murderous intentions and vindictive behavior – both on the part of its heroes and villains. This is because they too emoted and lusted along with the rest of humanity. And yet through these struggles, we are taught right from wrong. Should we censor the salacious parts of the bible as well as being “bad for the soul?”

    The Torah is about living in this world, confronting it with all its myriad problems and showing how to rise above and live a better way.

    But, I too am getting far afield and could go for one of those macaroons right about now…

  9. Bob Miller says:

    Avoiding (nearly all) American news magazines and newspapers is just as good a thing in general as avoiding TV.

  10. Gil Student says:

    “Avoiding (nearly all) American news magazines and newspapers is just as good a thing in general as avoiding TV.”

    My brother-in-law set up an eruv in his neighborhood and had R. Nota Greenblatt, the Gadol Ba-Torah of the South, come to check and validate the eruv. When R. Nota arrived, he mentioned that he had read the sports pages on the train. “What is someone like you doing reading the sports pages?” He answered that he frequently arranges Gittin for non-observant Jews. He follows sports (and said that every rabbi in the South should) so that he can have something about which to speak with these people so that they are comfortable with the rabbi.

    Presumably, in other areas or for different people it would be politics or the stock market.

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