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Topic: News Jews

From: A. in Chicago

Dear Rabbi,
I live in Chicago. May I listen to Israel news programs on the internet Friday afternoon in Chicago when it's already Shabbat in Israel (e.g., 4:00 PM in Chicago is midnight in Israel)? The programs are being broadcast live from Israel. Thanks.

Dear A.,
No, you shouldn't listen. Here's why:

Obviously, such broadcasts involve Jews who are violating Shabbat by driving around, using computers, talking on phones and microphones, etc.

Even though they may regard themselves as "non-observant," "secular," or "traditional," Jewish law nevertheless sees them as full Jews, obligated to observe Shabbat. (Some non-observant Jews are unaware of this; they are surprised to learn that religious Jews consider them just as Jewish as they themselves are.)

Therefore, listening may violate the rabbinic prohibition known as "m'sayeia," aiding someone in the act of transgressing.

How does listening aid them? They can tell how many people are logged on to their website; therefore, each listener encourages them. The more people who listen during a particular time-slot, the more that advertisers are willing to pay to advertise during that time-slot. Thus, each listener greases the wheels of their Shabbat desecration.

The fact that they will "do it anyway" is irrelevant in this regard. The point is not that you are causing them to break Shabbat; rather, you are encouraging them to do so.

Another reason not to listen is that such listening weakens your sensitivity to the importance and holiness of Shabbat. Just as watching violence desensitizes you to violence, witnessing Shabbat desecration desensitizes you to Shabbat desecration. Someone concerned that not only he keep the commandments but that his fellow Jews do so as well will not feel comfortable looking on while they break Shabbat.

You know, Jewish tradition teaches that "Torah scholars increase world peace." (Talmud Berachot 64a) Instead of listening to the news Friday afternoon, why not take out a Chumash and brush up on the weekly Torah portion; your Torah study will be a merit for Jews in Israel and world-over; you will be increasing peace in the world.

In other words: Instead of listening to the news, do something about it!

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