Is Seeing Titanic Worse Than Eating Pork?

From Tzvi Fishman

Several years ago, I was asked to lecture to a group of yeshiva students from South Africa. When they showed up late, I asked what happened. They explained that they had a few free hours, so they went to see a movie, Titanic.

“The Titanic!” I exclaimed. “Seeing a movie like that is worse than eating pork!”

“Since when does great cinematography override the Torah prohibitions of, ‘You shall not turn after your hearts and after your eyes to lead you astray,’ and ‘You shall guard yourself from every evil thing,’ meaning you should not look at prohibited matters by day and come to impure emissions at night?” (Avodah Zara 20B; Niddah 13A)

“Look, guys,” I told them. “I haven’t seen the movie, but you don’t have to have ruach hakodesh (Divine inspiration) to know that there is bound to be a pretty girl and a good-looking guy on board. Once the ship hits the iceberg, they have to find some way to consummate their passion before the ship sinks into the cold, unloving ocean. Am I right?”

Now there is a very specific Issur against eating Pork. There is no actual specific Issur DeOraisa against watching a pretty girl. It may be better not to do it, but claiming that it’s better to eat pork than to see pritzus is simply wrong. I realize that Tzvi Fishman is on the Kabbalistic side of things, which means in his world everything revolves around the genitals and controlling seminal emissions. But that’s not what the Torah is concerned with, that’s what some parts of Kabbalah are concerned with.

It’s perfectly possible to warn against pritzus without having to minimize actual Issurim de’oraita. Eating pork is an actual violation. Even if we are to claim that Zera Levatala is an Issur De’Oraita, a movie is not the same thing as an actual violation of the Issur.

How does the great award-winner start? We are back once again underwater. This time, we are following the point of view of the camera as it is moves toward the sunken ship and enters into a porthole. After a few mysterious turns down empty corridors, we enter an eerily undisturbed cabin. We pass by a large canopy bed and move toward a dresser, zooming in to a screen-filling close-up of a framed photograph of – you guessed it – a beautiful naked girl. And this is the movie that almost every Jewish boy in the world, from the age of eight to eighty, has seen who knows how many times.

Picture, it’s a picture. A loose sketch, for goodness sake. And I seriously doubt your average Jewish boy has watched Titanic. I watched it because there was nothing else on and I was bored out of my mind. Yes the actress does briefly pose naked later, but that’s overwhelmed by the fact that she looks like the male lead’s mother and the fact that you’ve been bored senseless by that point by a three hour movie.

That said frum people shouldn’t see it. Is it worse than an Issur De’Oraisa, no it is not. Fishman is clearly trying to repudiate his former life but he’s going to extremes to do it.