One thing I am sure that never occurred to these “zealots” is, what about the issue of Baal Tashchis? They could have sold the laptop for a few shekels and used it to buy (Kabbalah) seforim!
Why would anyone would do this? Furthermore, why they would put a video of it on the Internet, no less! I firmly believe that Judaism is centered around balance, and people of this nature certainly seem to lack balance.
The following is from the 5 Towns Jewish Times web site at http://bit.ly/bidLyz It’s a shame that the person who wrote it did not put his or her name on it.
Our Growing Insanity
on Tuesday, February 23, 2010
There is a growing tendency among the Torah world to reject technology and innovation. The rejection has reached an extremeness bordering on a Talibanesque fundamentalism, unseen throughout our history. A good case can be made that this rejection runs counter to true Torah Judaism, and should not be subsumed under the rubric of Ailu veAilu divrei Elokim Chaim.
Before we examine and analyze it, it may be instructive to examine a well known Gemorah in Meseches Avodah Zarah (2b). The Talmud tells us that in the future the western powers will stand before Hashem and declare that all their technological innovations were made by them for the sole purpose of enabling Klal Yisroel to learn Torah. Hashem responds, “You are the greatest fools in the world! You paved streets and created side streets for your own licentious purposes! You built bathhouses for your own pleasures!”
The greatest of our commentaries pose the question as to how could these western powers be so foolish? Did they not know they did it for their own purposes which had nothing to do with Torah?
Rav Tzaddok HaKohain (Pri Yitzchok Parshas VaYeirah) explains that Hashem’s purpose in all the technological innovation was, in fact, so that Klal Yisroel could better learn Torah. The mistake of the west will lie in self-deception as to their own motives and rationalizations – but the essence of the issue is true. All technological innovation is so that we can better learn Torah.
Which brings us all to a very significant question: Shouldn’t we recognize this point?
Should we not embrace the fact that there is such a thing as the Otsar HaTeshuvos with 25,000 seforim available to be searched and printed, with the Tzuras haDaf? Should we not marvel that Hashem gave us the Bar Illan Responsa project? Can’t we recognize that Microsoft Word has Hebrew and we can all learn and type and write our chiddushim on Chumash, Shas and beyond? Don’t we recognize that Hashem created all these technologies solely for our benefit?
The Smartboard, for example, is an amazing tool for Chinuch. That combined with the Bar Ilan is one of the greatest tools since the Guttenberg press. And speaking of the Guttenberg press – are we not proud of the fact that our ancestors a mere 500 years ago jumped on the technology and printed Rashi on Chumash, Shulchan Aruch, and so many other Seforim?
The technology of the printing press could have and has been used for so much evil. Yet our Rabbonim, Achronim and mechabrim were smart enough to realize that technology should be embraced for Torah – not rejected. Loudspeakers can be used for some real horrific music. Boruch Hashem we use them for Torah. Tape recorders are used to chazar shiurim.
These were why Hashem made them. Anyone that does not recognize this is in violation of numerous Gemorahs and Chazals.
That is why a Youtube video where a laptop is destroyed by a Rosh Yeshiva in a Yeshiva for Baalei Teshuva in Yerushalayim is particularly disturbing. The link can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7A6nKuvuk0&feature=player_embedded for those who wish to see it for themselves. The viewer is left in a state of utter shock. Is this what we have come to? Rachmana Litzlan! Where is the normalcy, the saichel? Boruch hashem such people did not exist in the time of the Guttenberg press.
The question is now, who is more foolish? The western powers who will recognize that technological innovation was in fact so that Klal Yisroel will learn Torah or those who reject the technology and that it is all from Hashem in the first place?
True, with all innovations comes risk, but our task is to learn how to train ourselves to reduce or eliminate that risk, rather than to destroy the technology itself. All our kochos should be directed toward this end. In doing so we should remember the phrase yagata velo matzasa al taamin. We should also remember the notion that ain davar haomed lifnei haratzon.
If we fail to learn this lesson, then we are ignoring the gifts that Hashem has bestowed upon us. That laptop in the Youtube video could have been used to write seforim, it could and should have been used to search Shas and poskim. What we saw was an example of Bal Tashchis that ekkles the sensitivities of Torah Jews everywhere.
The insanity must stop.