Question:

It has happened many times that I’ll read a fantastic book, only to discover later on that the author led a life of to’eiva. Case in point: the late Oliver Sacks.

What is the Torah hashkofa regarding books that have been written by these individuals? The books themselves contain no reference whatsoever to this kind of lifestyle.
I can see the argument go either way. If the author’s personal orientation is indeed a cause a reason to reject his works, then why would an author who strays out of his marriage be any different? Or one that eats live worms, or any other abomination?

Answer:

When a person writes a book, it is practically inevitable that the person’s life view will be mixed into what he writes. When the author will describe things, there will always be an imprint of his values in what he writes. Just as an example, when you read the news, you can always tell the person’s worldview by the way they slant something as “factual” as reporting the news. When a person writes a book he is writing it from his mind, and his ideas will always find its way into what he is writing. It is for this reason that the torah discourages us from reading books that are written by people that have a different perspective on life than the torah’s perspective, because the book will be full of ideas and subtleties that the book will contain are not in line with the torah. Therefore you are very correct, reading books written by people who eat worms, or do other abominations or otherwise have a worldview that differs from the torah should be discouraged.

 

Tags: books

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