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    Television on Shabbat – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Is there an issue with watching television on Shabbat?

    tv televisionA. There is a deeper question – may one even watch television on weekdays?

    Looking at the screen is not in itself the problem. The Ten Commandments prohibit making the form of anything in heaven, earth or the sea, but so many of the strictly orthodox permit photography that the Ten Commandments cannot be used to prohibit looking at film images.

    But much TV material is questionable because of its content; it not only offends against the general Jewish sense of propriety but brings the three cardinal sins of idolatry, adultery and murder into one’s home.

    As many programs are unsuitable, and also because television watching takes time away from study and doing mitzvot, there are some who will not have a TV set in the house. Those who do not go so far should nonetheless exercise a sense of discrimination in deciding what to watch.

    On Shabbat, a TV set, like any electrical appliance, may not be switched on. But though there may be some people who switch the set on before Shabbat or link it to a time switch, TV on Shabbat disturbs the precious Sabbath spirit of personal and Jewish re-creation.

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