Dec 10, 2013

What We Read

In an article I read, a mechanech from upstate New York, not referred to by name, says he makes the effort to travel and speak and makes a point of denouncing certain frum publications by name.  Why? He said one of them had an article about the life of a billionaire and this is antithetical to the desire we should have for a simple life.

I don't know who the man is and I don't know which publication he is referring to.  I don't know why this information was not shared when the man thinks it's his mission to go public with his opinion.

It is possible that the magazine he castigates made a poor choice of a topic.  Let's say they did.  If we followed his recommendation, we would eliminate a magazine or magazines geared to the frum reader.  I'm not convinced this is a good idea when reading material for the frum reader is limited.  Would he prefer that we read secular reading material instead?

Perhaps.  Maybe he thinks that if it comes under the auspices of a frum imprimatur, we are not on guard.  When we read something from a secular source we might be more alert to contradictions to our values.

On a related topic, there are reading lists one can get for children, of books that are not of Jewish content but have been vetted for appropriateness.  Artscroll has published textbooks with classic English literature that they selected for appropriateness.  I've been thinking about this.  I've also been thinking about someone reading "All for the Boss" for her English class.  It's a terrific book which I've read four times, but for an English literature class?

To read or not to read, that is the question.
Or, to read and what to read, those are the questions.


  1. It was probably the recent Mishpacha article about Moshe Reichman. I don't think that there is anything wrong with reading about Moshe Reichman. I gain a lot from reading those magazines but there is lots of emphasis on gashmius in the ads. Every person has to decide on how much gashmius is right for them.

  2. Hard to believe it's the Reichman article when Mishpacha itself writes, "his children knew that Reb Moishe Reichmann never saw his fortune as his essence. His priorities were much more elevated, more eternal, than any skyscraper could be."

    And yes, quite a few of the ads are disturbing. Long ago, there was discussion about this in the magazine itself.

  3. All literature communicates the author's values and belief system in one way or another. Any literature that lacks Hashem, Torah, and faith, communicates implicitly that these foundations are not necessary for proper values. Although it's not explicit, nothing could be more contrary to Torah. The kids notice that suddenly Hashem is absent and treated as unnecessary, and G-dless values are touted instead, and they learn the lesson that faith in Hashem is not vital (ch"v). Call it "soft heresy".

    If the billionaire gave lots of tzedakah, I would say that it's positive to show examples of rich people who use their money as Torah tells us to.