Oct 23, 2011

Interesting Psak: Don't Watch Srugim

I have heard rabbis say that one cannot, or should not, watch television, for a variety of reasons. I have heard rabbis say television is ok as long as the shows watched are educational, sports, news, modest, etc. I don't remember ever hearing a rabbi discuss one specific show and issue a ruling regarding that one show.

Srugim is a well-acclaimed Israeli television show depicting the singles scene in the Dati Leumi community of Jerusalem, centered in what is known as the beetzah, or the swamp, in the Katamonim neighborhood. The show focuses on a group of friends and follow them through their dating, marriage and social interactions.

Srugim just entered its third season airing on television, and has been a very popular show.

Someone asked Rav Baruch Efrati whether it is ok to watch or not. The questioner says that she and her friends were all addicted to Srugim, and have watched the entire series in its previous seasons. She writes that they connect to the personalities portrayed by the show. However, not being secular, they want to know if it is allowed to watch the show or not. She says they are in 10th grade, and some of their teachers also watch the show, while others do not, so they do not know if it is really ok or not.

Definitely an interesting question. Though, she does not write what she bases her question on - she does not say it is immodest, or inappropriate or whatever else she might suspect is a problem. If it is ok to watch television, which I presume she believes it is allowed, then I don't see why she is asking about this specific television show. Unless, that is, she asks about every show she watches.

Rav Baruch Efrati responded with a very long letter about the show. I'll be brief, though you can see the entire response on Moreshet. He says that he opposes the show from both a halachic perspective and from a cultural perspective.

Rav Efrati says he watched a number of episodes and was impressed with how likeable and facinating the show was, along with professional from a theatrical perspective. He also liked the way the shows portrays the community as normal people, and considers that important for the general public to see.

From a halachic perspective, one cannot watch a guy and a girl touching in a prohibited atmosphere, as it causes erotic thoughts. More so, there is a problem with giving the appearance that these are the norms in the Religious Zionist community. Unfortunately, it happens, but to make it into the norm, where people who are tempted will now say it is ok as I saw it happen on Srugim - that is no good.

He writes that we know the temptations, and those who succumb to them, exist, but we do not need to turn it into a television drama where we see details of touching nida and homosexuality There is a great temptation and attraction to watch the show... but one must be strong and not watch it, as most likely in the new season there will also be images that are not allowed halachically to be watched. Only if in this season the halacha will be kept and will not cause a decrease in yirat shamayim both on a personal and communal level will there be no problem watching it.

The show causes encouragement of a culture of treating tzniyut and building a normal and healthy family unit with little importance. It causes an atmosphere that is forbidden - one of confusion and allowance, that even if it happens sometimes, it need not be encouraged.... The creators of the show, some of whom are religious, tried to stay within Torani standards, and to refrain from creating problematic scenes, but they chose not to. We too should choose to not watch it.

So, be strong and do not watch the show. Even if it is difficult.

A very interesting halachic analysis of a show about religious people.


  1. I didn't read the whole reasoning (my Hebrew reading isn't good enough), but I would assume that Rav Efrati's answer has something to do with the fact that they girls asking the shailah are in the 10th grade and not married adults. It is true that the show doesn't always model perfect frum behaviour and impressionable teens may believe that everything on the show is appropriate behaviour for a frum single teen to behave.

  2. he does not make that differentiation, but it could be that the logic he uses applies more to impressionable teens than to responsible adults. It's possible, though he didnt differentiate between singles, teens and married people.

  3. I am guilty of watching episodes of Srugim in the past (even though Rav Shlomo Aviner also came out against the series), but there is a difference between Srugim and other TV shows.

    When religious Jews watch shows that include inappropriate behaviour or attitudes, it is easy to minimize the impact it has by rationalizing (rightly) that the people in the TV show, live in a different reality from us, with different values and morals (they may as well be in a galexy far far away).

    However Srugim cuts very close to home. It is easy to identify personally with the characters, and if they act inappropriately it is almost seems like a heter for those of us with similar values to act in the same way.

  4. What trash. Ofc it should be avoided!

    1. I recommend to all adults. It is excellent.

  5. I can't watch it due to the boring plot and incredibly unattractive actors and actresses that portray the nebbie, whiny, pathetic characters.

    So sad that there are no good looking people in Israel.


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