This is already an old issue. Certain Rabbis, without fully knowing the technology, have whitewashed the Internet as a dangerous tool that Jews shouldn’t be a part of. There are many reasons to this, namely that anybody can post whatever they want (like what I’m doing right here), and the population would be better off not using it for fear of visiting not only pornographic sites, but also sites that might have information that goes contrary to what the Rabbis say.
Personally, I’ve never seen anything wrong with using it. True, there was an initial fear a number of years ago when Google picked up and showed every website under the sun, including pornographic sites, as well as offensive material. The past few years, I think, have shown that things are different.
A while back I wrote an article for my Alma Mater, Touro College’s Lander College for Men. In that article I quoted three distinct Rabbis that vehemently oppose the internet, with their underlying reasons. My main message is that in order for the internet, the fine tool that it is, to be utilized properly one needs to be educated in using it properly the same way a car, once one is educated in using it, can be used in a proper manner. Just like in a car, an uneducated fellow can crash into something, thereby hurting oneself and others, with the internet, an uneducated fellow can hurt oneself and others. One can easily believe everything one reads and hurt oneself in the process of processing the wrong information.
That said, by the Rabbis “Assuring” it without knowing its full power, they’re doing a huge disservice to themselves and to Klal Yisrael. I personally see a lot of good coming from it, namely the power for Jewish websites to be “Marbitz Torah” (spreading Torah) to the population in a way where no alternative means of accessing such information is possible.
Take myself, for example. Growing up in Brooklyn, NY, I had the luxury of hearing Gedolim like Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, Rabbi Bentzion Shafier, and Rabbi Moshe Bamberger in person “being MeHaneh” (providing enjoyment) to those present with their Torah discourses. Now, living in Toronto I can’t attend their Shiurim from so many miles away. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, sites like TorahAnytime, LearnTorah.com, The Shmuz, Simple to Remember, Shofar.net (Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak’s website), and DivineInformation.com, I can download their Shiurim free of charge, watching them at my leisure. Other great sites are aish.com, etc. provide great reading resources for the taking. Imagine the amount of Kiruv power this has on those that don’t have ANY Torah available to them!
It therefore saddens me that our Gedolim in Eretz Yisrael have now gone to a new low. In order to make the internet completely “treif” (non-Kosher), rather than being “borer ochel mi-toch psoles” (choosing the food from the trash – a Talmudic term meaning choosing the good from the bad), they’re doing the exact opposite – being “borer psoles mitoch ochel.”
Reading articles in the Yeshiva World News, I’ve seen articles such as a “Kol Korei” against it, Teachers receiving instruction on how to deal with the internet, the internet being worse than television, not being allowed to purchase Mezuzos or Tfillin from internet users, and that Chareidi sites are now banned in such a manner that either non-religious Jews or Goyim need to purchase the sites off frum people that are trying to eke a parnassa through those means, or that the sites must be taken off in such a manner. Case in point, Kol Haloshon has now announced that while their telephone shiur service, which is long and cumbersome, is available, their internet site is now down until they can finally get permission from the Gedolim that took the site down in the first place to put it back up. To quote:
“Please note: The Kol Haloshon website, based in Eretz Yisroel, has ceased operation in compliance with the ban by Gedolei Eretz Yisroel against chareidi websites. Kol Haloshon is seeking permission from these Gedolim to reopen its website.”
It is for this reason that I see this is nothing more than petty Terrorism. Personally I think it’s bad enough that in Israel there’s a common enemy, the Palestinian Arabs, that are invoking terror on a daily basis. These Rabbis need to do the same? What’s going on here?
I would like to believe that these Gedolim, who are dealing with hundreds of issues on a daily basis, don’t like to be bothered by things that they’re unfamiliar with. In some cases it may even scare them.
As Guy Cohen, the secular Israeli now in charge of the “Chadrei Chadarim” Chareidi website, said quite pointedly, “Undoubtedly, the rabbonim who signed are indeed respected individuals but it is hard for me to believe that Rabbi Elyashiv, who is 96, actually entered the Chadrei Chareidim site. I have my doubts if a 96-year-old person ever entered the internet at all, or worked with a computer. He accepts what is told to him. If an askan who is in his court says “Rav, the internet is bad” then he accepts it and signs [the kol korei].”
Rabbi Elyashiv, for the record, can’t be such as bad person in my opinion, as he was very much instrumental into getting my Aishes Chayil of a wife into a certain Bais Yaakov High School when she was applying ten, eleven years ago. Therefore I feel that Guy Cohen’s remark that others are misrepresenting these Gedolim might actually have some weight.
This is terrorism. I have a personal theory that these advisors are really Al-Aqsa and Hamas terrorists in disguise, dressed in Chareidi garb, and their sole mission is to make everyone else miserable. Gedolim, fire your advisors. Or rather, don’t, lest they resort back to blowing up buses and throwing rocks again.
Any thoughts on the matter?