Q: What is Ha-Rav's opinion on having a television in one's home?
A: There are three problems with television:
1. Television is a snake. It is true that there are good things on television but there are also bad things. The problem is that when people start to watch TV, they cannot stop. They begin watching good programs but then watch inappropriate things, such as violence, stupidity, etc. It is similar to cigarettes and alcohol: people cannot overcome bad behavior. A study was done and people were asked: do you watch stupid things on TV? This means that they themselves considered the programs to be stupid. 60% answered that they watch stupid programs. They were then asked: if you are watching an intelligent program and it is follow by a stupid program, do you have the strength to stop watching? 90% answered that they continue to watch. People are not strong by nature.
2. In many homes where there is a TV, there is no family life. People do not talk to one another. Parents do not talk to their children, and spouses do not talk.
3. One who watches TV is passive. You are not thinking or using your intellect. You are just watching, watching, watching and watching.
Therefore, TV does not contribute positively to humanity. It is not only a problem for Judaism, but for all humanity.
[note: In Shut Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot (1:368), Ha-Rav Moshe Sternbuch was asked by a Ba'al Teshuvah (newly-observant person) who was still living at his parents' home: it is permission to break my parents' television set? Ha-Rav Sternbuch begins by saying that watching TV is very destructive, leads to many transgressions and he should do everything in his power to stop his family from watching TV.
Regarding damaging the TV, he notes that there is a dispute between the Ketzot Ha-Choshen (known as the "Ketzos" in the Yeshiva world) and the Netivot Ha-Mishpat (known as "Nesivos) (Choshen Mishpat 3) if the halachah that one may stop someone from violating a prohibition by force applies to each individual or only to Beit Din (Jewish court). He rules that it applies to a Beit Din. And, even according to the opinion that it applies to an individual, one cannot take away someone else's money without a ruling from a Beit Din.
He also points to the Gemara in Berachot (20a) that one of the Rabbis ripped off a red garment from a woman in the street because it was immodest. Although the Gemara praises him, he himself seems to say at the end that he should not have been so hasty. Furthermore, Rachel stole Lavan's idols, but Yaakov Avinu apparently did not approve of such behavior and declared that whoever stole them will die, and this is indeed was happened to Rachel.
Ha-Rav Shternbuch concludes that no action should be taken without consulting a Rav since more damage than good may come out of it. It is best to explain to them the destructive effects of TV and try to persuade them with kind words.]