Torah: G, PG or PG-13?

Question

Hey Rabbi, when I read in the Torah there seem to be sections that speak about violence and other topics I’m not sure are suitable for all ages. Is this perhaps a reason why children or youth below a certain age should not read the Torah? I’m pretty sure the Torah is for all ages, but I’d appreciate your helping me understand this issue better. Thanks!

, , 7 months

Answers

  1. Your feeling that Torah is for all ages is certainly correct. One reason is that it is educational.

    One might argue that there are other forms of educational material — such as certain media and games — that are disdained by many rabbis and educators because of violence. Unfortunately, these “other educational materials” are often teaching the wrong lesson.

    The average five-year old sees hundreds of acts of violence, murder and other acts of immorality each year on television, films, videos and video games. So do his parents. He and his parents do this for entertainment. Rarely is there an obvious moral or lesson conveyed.

    The Torah, on the other hand, educates us to be good. For example, the Torah says “Cain rose against his brother Able and killed him (Genesis 4:8).” Immediately Cain is punished by God with exile and the eventual dying out of his line after seven generations.

    The immoral advances of Potifar’s wife toward Joseph are related in the Torah (Ibid. 39). Joseph’s resistance eventually leads him to become Viceroy of Egypt and gains him the praise and blessing of his father (49:24, Rashi).

    Immoral acts are described by the Torah matter-of-factly and as briefly as possible; no gory details are offered for our “entertainment.”

    The word “Torah” means “instruction.” The Torah is our instruction manual for life. A manual shows what to do and what not to do; what works and what doesn’t work; what is good and what is evil. This instruction manual for life is certainly worth reading and understanding.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team