Please explain how newspapers are harmful in a frum home.
I must tell you that although there might be a difference between the newspapers, in general, הַצַּד הַשָּׁוֶה שֶׁבָּהֶן שֶׁדַּרְכָּן לְהַזִּיק וּשְׁמִירָתָן עָלֶיךָ – the common denominator between them is that they cause damage and it’s your responsibility to guard yourself from them. None of them have a beneficial influence. Even the best ones are full of wrong ideas and they speak of ideals and pursuits that if even if they’re not harmful, they’re entirely unnecessary and they give people thoughts of pleasures or of pastimes that are nothing but a waste of one’s life.
For instance; travel is always advertised and played up in the papers. Now, it’s not considered an immoral form of journalism to describe traveling in a foreign country, but actually it’s a 100% waste of life to travel. There’s absolutely nothing to be gained by going to Florida! And I’m talking about the minimum in travel! I’m not talking about Hawaii. Hawaii?! When they show pictures of Hawaii, it falls flat on a sensible man’s mind! It’s meaningless. What’s out there? It’s only because it’s being offered for sale, so some people have a reaction that they should buy what’s offered for sale. They’ll buy anything. They’re attracted just because it’s offered for sale. Going to Hawaii is a waste!
But even going to Florida is almost 100% – I won’t say entirely because maybe there are some people who must have a mild climate – but it’s almost 100% a waste. Not only is it a waste but the bother of going to Florida is exacting and many people get heart attacks just from packing and from traveling back and forth. Over here you live in a comfortable apartment; you won’t get the same apartment there. You’re cramped and it’s inconvenient and many times you’ll go to a hotel and you want to get your money’s worth, so you eat much more than you should eat. They sit down at the hotel table and they gobble up everything that’s available. And so, at home where you have all the requirements for a normal kind of life you are much better off, without any question.
Now, the newspapers however feed the people ideals of doing things. For instance, many people who would never have thought of going skiing are impelled to do so because of what they read in the papers. Now skiing, you have to know, is an excellent opportunity to get broken bones.
Many people are invited by the newspapers to travel on roads going to places. But traveling on these big highways is precarious. Very many persons have lost their lives on the highways. It may sound old fashioned, but it’s sensible. As much as possible to keep off the big highways.
Of course, you have to watch your step in the city too, but travel is costly. It’s costly in the terms of health. If you want to travel, travel on shoe leather. Walk in the streets – not in the nighttime though – and get fresh air and good exercise. It doesn’t cost anything except the changing of your heels once in a while. But the ideal of travel for the sake of broadening the mind and flattening your pocketbook is absolutely a false ideal.
Now, we come to music. I’m talking about the ‘better’ newspapers that play up the ideal of music. The ideal of music is empty as could be. There’s nothing to music. If someone finds consolation in a record or a tape, why not? But that it should be considered an ideal to which to aspire and people clasp their hands and say, “Ooh” and “ah”?! Like a certain writer, a scientific writer. I saw that he’s meshugeh right away. He said, “The world is full of wonders,” he said. “Mankind has greatness in them,” he said. “Especially Beethoven,” he said. What’s in Beethoven?!
If you have music that you enjoy, why not? But to consider it an ideal and that’s the greatness and the aspiration of mankind, it stamps the scientists as people who are mindless. They’re fools and they’re the same level as the black man I saw standing in front of a music store and he’s giving a jig to show how he loves music. There’s nothing to these things.
Now, I’m talking about the innocent side of the newspapers, but today some newspapers play up wicked things. Today it’s much worse!
Now, if you must, read the headlines as you pass by the candy store. Keep your money in your pocket and you know what’s doing. Don’t go through the bother of taking the garbage into your house.
Here I saw an old modern rabbi – he passed away already – he was already limping he was so old. He was walking home Sunday morning with a big newspaper; a Sunday newspaper. It means he was going to waste his life that day reading a newspaper. A meshugener! An old rabbi; an American rabbi. He was limping. He didn’t live long after that. He took it along with him in the next world; אשרי מי שבא לכאן ותלמודו בידו. That’s a pity! A tragedy! A big newspaper like that means a whole day of reading on Sunday. Sunday! You can sit and learn that day! At least you can take a walk and get some fresh air and look at the niflaos haborei in nature! But to waste your time on that garbage! There’s a mountain of tzoah in the newspaper!
And so, it certainly is an ideal if you can keep papers out of your house. Of course, if it means a battle with your wife, so you have to use your judgment and buy those newspapers that are least harmful; but if possible don’t waste your life on newspapers.
If you get into the habit of reading at your meals, there are plenty of nice Torah English books to read. Today you have a choice. You can read English seforim if you wish, during a meal or other times.
TAPE # 584 (January 1986)