Posted on | February 6, 2007 | By Steve Brizel | 55 Comments
The Brisker Rav ZTL was once asked how and why his children developed into such exemplary Talmidie Chachamim. The Brisker Rav ZTL replied to the questionner by stating that Tefilah and Tehilim were two main bases as a starting point. I think that the issue of whether, if at all, a family should partake of popular culture and how to deal with the same within the four corners of their house is an issue that warrants discussion.
Obviously, if one has elected not to have a TV , that solves part of the problem. OTOH, that presents the issue of whether one should allow one’s children to visit friends from school who have a TV , etc. For many years, our kids had visitors from families who did not have a TV, despite the fact that we had a TV. However, the amount of time sent in front of the TV was minimal.
Gradually,as a family, we discovered that TV had deteriorated in terms of content, even during the so-called “family hour” and weaned oursleves away from the small amount of time in front of the TV. As R E Buchwald once pointed out, watching TV was the equivalent of bringing in the garbage that we had just taken out. Except for an occasional Yankee game or an old movie, there is really nothing really worth watching. As a child, we always watched the news. However, if one has a radio, the same can be obtained via any all news station at the beginning of the hour. As a NY Giant fan, I also discovered that the commercials were also objectionable as well.
We never darshaned in front of our kids that TV was evil, etc. We just realized that there were far better things to do with our time. FWIW, I think that if one does darshan on the evils of TV, your child will wonder what is so evil about it, especially if you or their friend has an internet connection.
I recently read a series of articles re parenting in a charedi magazine. Maybe I am wrong, but I think that communication with children, demonstrating by one’s own actions what is important and serving as a role model are ultimately far more productive means than insisting , for instance, that a child never watch TV or cannot be seen in shul without a white shirt, black hat , gartel or in tzniusdik attire that appears to be different than one’s neighbors.
We all have to realize that all teens in all cultures go thru experiementation, rebellion, etc that is healthy in some ways and problematic in others. It is important for parents ,especially for BTs to distinguish between these two very different trends and not to use Torah as a weapon in a way that will impact adversely on a child’s growth. I do believe that some Charedi parents who are worried that their child might become (Chas Ve Shalom-their language as documented in some Charedi media) a MO or Religious Zionist may in fact be losing sight of the forest in the trees..
I highly recommend R Wolbe ZTL’s Zeriah uBinyan Bchinuch , the Nesivos Shalom and R D A Twersky’s many works on these issues as well as a means of familiarizing oneself with these issues and for setting forth approaches to the issues.