Friday, May 19, 2006

Heads Up, Everyone

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I received a very interesting email today from my friend A Simple Jew. He wanted to inform me of something he'd learned this morning:

Love stories are forbidden to be read on Shabbos. Even to look at them without uttering words is forbidden....Love stores have an additional prohibition because they entice the yetzer hara.

(Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 90:13)


For those who aren't familiar with "yetzer hara"...that's your evil side, the evil inclinations you might display. We are each bestowed with a yetzer tov and a yetzer hara. May the better yetzer reign!

Wow, to think that I spent years in the romance arena and never knew this. Okay, I didn't work on Shabbos, nor did I have the inclination to spend my precious weekends reading these books that I worked on five days a week,. But just think of those Jewish working girls or housewives who want some escapist literature on the weekends. They reach onto their night tables or shelves for some Nora Roberts, some Jennifer Weiner, or any other top-selling romance fiction or chick-lit author.

Nuh-uh-uh...not so fast....!

Put that book down, lady! Slowly back away from that torrid romance, that dog-eared covered paperback you've been "enjoying" so much in your evenings. Today is Shabbos. You may not touch that book. Don't look at it, don't talk about it, don't even think about it. A pure no-no.

I'm the thought police. And you just never know where your thoughts could lead...

So I entice you to pick up the Jewish Week, pick up Jewish Action, pick up the Jewish Press, pick up the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, pick up Moment magazine. But whatever you do, DON'T pick up that romance novel.

Understood?

Good.

Now go and have yourself a good Shabbos, ya hear?


12 comments:

~ Sarah ~ said...

hrm. now i guess i'll have to find another genre for my shabbos reading!

shavua tov :)

Elie said...

I's hard to tell if you're being serious or tongue in cheek. If the former, you should be aware that the kitzur is often on the very machmir (stringent) side of issues, and is far from the sole viewpoint on many.

It seems sad to deprive people of a relaxing, benign activity on Shabbos that violates no Sabbath-work issue. Shabbos is about the only time I have to read for fun (though it's generally the sci-fi/fantasy genre, not romance, for this guy!)

cruisin-mom said...

YIKES!

torontopearl said...

Elie, my latter part is certainly tongue in cheek, based on this halacha. But you're probably right re. stringency; I'm certainly not machmir, and it almost "scared" me to learn of this halacha.

And just to add to my cheekiness, if reading romances could lead to "other things" on Shabbos, c'mon, what happens to the "mitzvah tantz"? :)

A Simple Jew said...

Pearl: I know you didn't think so, but I just wanted to let others know that my intention of sending this e-mail was not to act as the "thought police", rather it was just to bring something to Pearl's attention that I thought she would find interesting given her background working in this field.

I am the last person to give mussar to someone else. I need plenty of it myself...

torontopearl said...

ASJ: And I DID appreciate the halacha you pointed out. I'd not heard it before, and found it ironic just because of my work background.
I truly don't think you even had to clear the air for anyone else; nobody would deem you the thought police...they know you are a fine thinking man!
I just stretched the concept a bit and took the liberty of having some fun with the post.

Mirty said...

Thank goodness my parents didn't hold by that one! Among the romances I read on Shabbos in my frum days were "Pride and Prejudice" and "Jane Eyre". I guess in an ideal world we would only read Torah. But would we have to skip over Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs)? And I guess that "boy-meets-girl, boy-works-for-seven-years, boy-marries-girl's-sister" story back in Breshit would also be suspect.

Elie said...

Pearl: Actually given that romance novels are your work, you are probably the only one who really shouldn't read them on Shabbos! Pick up a nice, relaxing computer manual instead, as a change of pace from the vochadik! :-)

In all seriousness, I am by no means trying to give mussar (or anti-mussar!) either, just expressing my personal view. There is certainly a category of objectively forbidden activities on Shabbos - i.e., the 39 melachos. But there is another category which can be thought of "non-Shabbosdik" activities, which might include things like secular books (of any genre), board games, sports (within an eruv), etc. The latter category, I feel, is very subjective and differs by family and even by individual within a family. So if reading romamce novels feels non-Shabbosdik to you, by all means don't do it!

Mia said...

Oy vey! But I always had the impressions orthodox girls are not allowed to read any non-Jewish books anyhow...
What would a Shabbes reading without romance be?

Neil said...

What about reading "Song of Songs" over and over again?

Rebecca said...

ugh! But I want to read it!
hey- are my mysteries that have a little love story entwined into it okay or is that off limits too?

PsychoToddler said...

One reason I sent Fudge off to NY was that her classmates gave her a lot of tzoris over reading secular books AT ALL, regardless of content.

I needed to get her away from that sort of thinking that was making her feel like some kind of rebel for reading on shabbos.