By HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh
According to Sefer Hamakabim, the main reason for the wars of the Maccabees was to fight for freedom of their own culture. "In those days, evil people came out from Yisrael... And they went to the King, who sent them to act according to the laws of the other nations... And they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, and they abandoned the holy covenant..." Sports and nude plays were symbolic at the time of the outside world. Yosefus Flavius writes that there were Kohanim, holy priests, who left their shifts in the Temple in order to watch Greek games.
In view of this, just think how ludicrous it is that a custom sprung up in the days of the First Aliya to schedule the sports events of the "Maccabee Games" during Chanukah, in memory of the Maccabees, who went out to fight against the games!
In the year 5716 (1956), the author Avraham Kariv wrote an article about the evil culture that has spread through our lives. Here is some of what he said about movies:
"They have become an all-powerful agent of all the evil and coarse urges within man... This is normally an unseen world which hides itself from the sun and from other people, and then rises up in front of the viewer in all its guile: 'Here I am! Here I am!'... The voice of the evil inclination is its most powerful in the world of the movies, almost as if it could be compared to the tunes of a chazzan, heaven forbid, representing the whole community of creative artists. Whatever society rejects, whatever education wants to uproot, is brought into movies and shown on the big screen with powerful emphasis... In a single week a person can pass through all seven sections of hell.
"Promiscuity and corruption were present throughout history, but they were never presented to an audience in such a show of shamelessness... Seafarers are created on the island of the movies, both boys and girls, and they all gaze at the actions taking place on the screen, which are directly opposite to all the limits put in place by parents and educational institutions alike. What is considered as a serious breach of acceptable limits within the confines of the home and educational institutions is the accepted norm here, in the movies...
"The venom of the movies lies in wait for our children from their earliest days. How and from what source will the soul of the next generation maintain a bit of purity and innocence? The movies are the evil angel which calls out to the young of our generation, saying: 'Descend to the lowest point!' These forces have the power to reshape the face of a nation. Our sages have taught us the following about Yisrael: 'This nation can be recognized by three characteristics: They show mercy, they have shame, and they perform kind acts.' After a quarter of a century of intensively watching movies, our nation is very different than it used to be, in all its traits.
"During the day, we are involved in laying the foundations for a proper life, and then at night the soul is abandoned to an approach that tears apart the very foundation of these efforts. If the night doesn't follow the day as it should, the day follows the night."
Similar things can be said about sports: "There is no greater sign of spiritual deprivation than the great increase in the interest in sports in our time. We must remember that winning a sports competition does not make the winner into a better person but only into a happier creature." (Dr. Kampell, Maariv).
We finish with a statement by Chaim Nachman Bialik about movies: "The intent is to cause impurity and to confuse all five senses at once, so that anybody who goes there one time will be transformed into an animal for life."