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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Another Week, Another Asifa, More Feel-Good While Rome Burns . . .

Front Page News!

Hamodia (1/31/05 pgs 1 and 7) reports a meeting was held on January 29 to address the 'growing problem of internet usage' (not abuse).

The meeting was chaired by a philanthropist whose fortune derives from computer related business. (Attention: Sanctimony Alert!)

The 'Seeking Solutions' column by Rabbi Dr. Twerski referred to in our posting of January 20 was distributed at the meeting as an example of internet usage (?).

Since Hamodia is not on the internet, I quote verbatim from the conclusion of the article about the gathering:

"The askanim resolved the issue would be addressed on three fronts:
(1)when internet use is unavoidable it is crucial to make its usage as safe as possible through utilization of filter systems.
(2) to create greater community awareness through a large-scale public relations program, which will require extensive fund raising
(3) to obtain guidance and participation from mechanchim, rabbonim and professionals on how to extricate those already ensnared in its net

The evening concluded on a note of urgency."

1. Should we not be using 'extensive' funds raised to subsidize and improve filtering, and prepare for new developments such as neighborhood wireless connections rather than for PR? Further,is advancing and subsidizing filtering not an investment which will last longer than advertising?
2. Does blanket condemnation not in reality undermine those dedicated and idealistic individuals trying to keep us safe by developing filters, and losing money doing it? Their ISP's need a critical mass of customers to succeed and keep up with technological advances - a critical masss they do not yet have . (Historical Note: In pre-war Europe individuals were encouraged to subscribe to Orthodox newspapers even if they did not read them regularly in order to supply minimum circulation.)

3. Are we dealing with reality by banning when even students today find it necessary to use the internet, and are we merely attempting to create the appearance of not using it?

We must indeed help those needing it most, and those who may need it in the future. How will advertising do that?

This writer has observed gedolim who have dealt with the basest instincts of man successfully. They did not do it through PR, or Kol Korahs. They did it by getting down into the mud and trenches and lifting people out of the quagmire, one by one. Let's follow their example.

(To be continued)


Blogger misnaged said...

great post.my teenage children are being educated in moisdes which the gedolim approve of but they insist that they need access to internet on occasions.

on a different note isn't it sad that your blog seems to attract so little attention.it seems to be in inverse proportion to the amount of sense that you write.

keep up the good work

12:25 PM  
Blogger Leapa said...

In terms of attention, did you mean readership or comments?

1:39 PM  
Blogger misnaged said...

reb leapa,could be either ,certainly comments but also readers.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Avi said...


I just found your blog today, and am grateful that someone is asking the same questions that I have been asking for the past few months. I live in Monsey, and work as a networking consultant.

There was a similar meeting in Monsey on Sunday, at which I was the "expert testimony witness". I spoke in front of approx. 30 of the most influential chassidishe rabbonim in town. These included dayonim, roshei yeshiva, rabbonim, and menahelim of various yeshivos and schools. Being a litvak, and a baal teshuva, my yiddish is almost non-existant, so I'm sure I missed a great deal of what transpired, but I'll try to put down my experience and thoughts.

I tried to get across the point that it's very difficult to simply say that the Internet is ossur across the board. First, even if we assur it in homes, there are still thousands that have web access at work. Second, in my opinion, we will soon see a time when every house is Internet-enabled, and there won't be an option to shut it off. I gave as evidence the fact that Verizon is now beginning to install fiber optic lines in order to compete with the cable company. With the faster lines to every house, and the eventual move to IPv6 (thus giving enough "live" addresses for every device), not only will phones by IP based, but so will microwaves, washer/dryers, and refrigerators. I passed around a picture of a Cisco IP phone with a large video screen as evidence.

My impressions of this gathering are varied. On one hand, I am glad that the rabbonim are taking time out of their schedules to discuss the issue, and to hear from technicians. It would have been very easy for them to simply issue proclamations about the dangers without hearing anything from someone who actually deals with the Internet. On the other hand, I felt that they didn't really "get it". At the first such meeting, one of the rabbonim quoted a posuk from tehillim 119, which says "Karvu rodfei zimah, u'mitorasecha rochoku". He explained (from the Skulener, if I recall correctly) that the rodfei zima attack us whether we defend ourselves or not. They're coming, one way or another. If so, why are some affected and others not? The answer is "mitorasecha rochoku". The closer a person is to Torah, the harder it is for him to be damaged. At this meeting, however, the talk was primarily about how we can me merachaik the rodfei zimah. Filtering, and the difference between ISP-based vs. PC based, was the main topic discussed. There was almost no talk (at least, none that I recognized) about helping the people involved. To use a bad mashal, it felt almost as if the entire thrust of the meeting was to protect yidden from the Internet, since "it might lead to dancing" (v'hamayvin yavin... or use google :). There was no talk of strengthening those of us who use the Internet so that we don't stumble. Frankly, knowing that the rabbonim know nothing about computers, I'm not really interested in whether they favor Jnet over Watch Your Eyes. Tell me that I need filtering, and I'll find filtering that works for me. I want them to deal with the human element, and it felt to me that that was missing from the meeting.

In the end, the organizers looked to put together a statement that would have the support of all the rabbonim, but it didn't happen. Everyone agreed that it's impossible to assur the Internet for businesses, and that it's better to have filtering than not to have. They could not agree on whether or not to assur Internet in the house, primarily due to the issue of those who work from home.

I can give more info about the meeting, and my thoughts about the frum-Internet issue, but let me leave this comment here. It's long enough. Let me just finish by saying that your steady readership just increased by one, and that I am hopeful that together, we can create a solution that will help the Internet futher ahavas Hashem and yiras shamayim.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Frummer????? said...


I would consider myself to be more on the “other side” so to speak, but I agree with many of the things you say.

I have you on my links. Ok you’re not the first, but you are not hidden in the middle either.

You have your own special place, where you can be noticed, at the bottom.

I hope you get some links from my site.

Unfortunately, our Rabbonim don’t read our blogs, so they will never know what we are saying.

Perhaps someone wants to volunteer to show them some of our writings?!


We want to hear more.

11:33 AM  

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orthodox jews and the internet.