The Internet Problem

To: rabbonim

Re: The Internet Problem

Much has been written about the terrible plague of the Internet and there is no need to repeat the problems. Most feel that it’s by far one of the greatest dangers that Klall Yisroel has ever faced. In ancient times when people sacrificed animals on a bomo – a privately made Mizbeach on which they sacrificed animals to Hashem, they found it nearly impossible to get people to stop this practice. We also find that in ancient times the desire to serve avoda zarah was so enticing that people found it nearly impossible to resist the temptation. One of today’s greatest problems is the Internet. It’s an Etz Hadas containing both tov vro – a mixture of two extremes; good and bad. Both the Mishpacha, the Jewish Observer, and others have had excellent articles on the subject and there have been many meeting and assemblies warning of its great dangers. However, the question remains what can be done about it. This is a very big problem that rabbonim have been agonizing over and certainly has no simple solution. Yet, if we don’t make a move quickly, it will lead to checkmate.

Some communities such as Lakewood have succeeded in at least partially banning it. Others have called for certain restrictions such as filters and constant parental supervision and other guidelines. Still others have placed a total ban on it with no ifs, or buts – may they be blessed if it works.

However, time has shown that a total ban will usually not work and we may just be deceiving ourselves. It’s like in the times of the American prohibition against alcoholic beverages. This was when the United States Constitution (1920-1933) outlawed the manufacture, transport, and sale of alcohol. The government tried their very best to ban it, yet, all it did was cause people to go underground. Eventually, it turned out to be a miserable failure. The Internet has become such an important tool in business that it is nearly impossible to be without it. To forbid people to use it on the job is not being realistic. Others work at home and must have it in the house. Yet, we know that once the yetzer horah enters the home he can easily wreck havoc despite all our restrictions.

One possible suggestion is for kids who may need it for their schoolwork, E-mail, or other research, or for adults who may just need it for occasional use, is to have computer centers in each neighborhood. These places should have computers which are protected by a firewall that only allows the user to go to filtered sites. They also must be loaded with a program that keeps track of which sites they go to. In addition, it should be supervised by adults or rebbayim who are computer literate who walk around constantly to check what is going on. Or they can be monitored even from a distant site that can see what each computer is doing.

Computers are very cheap nowadays and this idea can easily be implemented. Of course, the solution first needs the endorsement and approval of our rabbonim. While this will not solve all our problems, it’s at least a step in the right direction and will save many of those who would otherwise have it in their home and use it without the proper supervision, filters, or restrictions. Better a partial solution than no solution at all!

Submitted by Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum