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Reading books like harry potter and the chronicles of narnia

Various RabbisAdar I 5, 5771
974
Question
Dear Rabbi, I like to read books of magic and stuff like that, like Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia and others, and not for even one second do i think it is real. I read that it is not good to read books like that because it teaches sorcery, but if I do not believe in the sorcery and I don’t think it is real, can i read books like that or even write a book with magic in it? And one last thing, me and my friend like to play a Harry Potter like game on shabbos, with sticks as wands predesignated before shabbat but we know it is only a game and it is fake and not real, so is it okay? Thank-you very much and yom tov,
Answer
Shalom to you, There are lots of opinions in the Torah world regarding reading books of the fictional and non-fictional kind. Some would say that any book which is not Torah or Torah related is forbidden to read. Whilst others would say that any book which follows the boundaries of modesty and lashon HaRa is permitted. Personally I believe it is an individual question. If reading books like Harry Potter expands your mind and curiosity of the world then great. If reading it helps you relax and calms you down - great. If reading biographies and non-fiction books inspire you to become the best person you can be and to give your maximum to the world - again it is great. If however, reading these books become an obsession, such that all of your time is dedicated to reading them, or that it causes you to look to religions or practices outside of Judaism - it would not be so great. Specifically to your question, I am not of the opinion that reading fiction books which contain sorcery is negative; as long as it is read with one of the good intentions mentioned above. Each person needs to be honest with themselves. Obviously, If a person reads because he or she is bored and the reading does nothing else but pass time this would be negative. There is so much that needs doing in the world, so many people who need to talk to someone, so many people who need a hug and a cheer up etc. that wasting time is a crime. Regarding the Harry Potter like game you mentioned, I am not sure exactly what type of game you mean. Games which usually require keeping a score and writing it down are forbidden to play on Shabbat, even without writing down the score. In addition, games which cutting, pasting etc. are also forbidden. Though others of the 'snakes and ladders' sort where it only involves dices and pieces are permitted. From what I understand, your game involves only pieces are hence would be permitted. Enjoy! Rabbi Baruch Kitay
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