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Monday, April 18, 2005

Article from Hamodia 4/12/05

The following article appeared in Hamodia (the kosher newspaper which is 'trayfe' on the net) on 4/12/05.

A Modest Proposal
By C. Aronowitz

I once, years ago, worked for a skilled nursing facility which ‘factored’ its receivables. The owner got three weeks of additional cash flow by selling his Medicaid receivables, in advance of payment, to a firm in the factoring, (money lending) business at a discount.

The factor was concerned that everyone involved in collecting these receivables be aware that the receivables were pre-sold in advance of collection and did not belong to the nursing facility. Since the receivables were billed and collected via computer, he insisted that the ‘splash’, or opening screen when the computer booted, state “All receivables at XYZ Care Center belong to ABC Financial”. This ‘splash’ screen could not be changed or bypassed.

* * *
Recently, as has been publicized in this newspaper and elsewhere, cellular telephones in Eretz Yisroel have been the recipients of the crudest forms of marketing and solicitation, both graphically and text based. (Let us hope that the American aversion to solicitation and the American fetish for privacy will prevent this plague from reaching our shores. The ring tones we unfortunately hear during mincha and maariv are bad enough.)
Gedolei Yisroel acted to stop access of this filth to our community by orchestrating a ‘kosher’ phone which is incapable of receiving these services, or where they are blocked by the telephone company.
The requirements the gedolim set down for the phones are:
> No SMS text messaging (mass broadcasts)
> No Internet access
> No Video
The approved phones have a prominent ‘hashgocho’ seal on their outside to indicate to all onlookers that the phone is ‘kosher’.
Since the above solution has already passed muster by the gedolim I am respectfully proposing the necessary next step needed by our community here and now.

* * *
All of us are aware that computer based communications and networking have reached a point where the fact is that almost everyone either uses computers to access the world, or employs the services of a shabbos goy (generally a chareideishe yid) to do it for him.

The chareidi newspapers, to use one example, could practically not exist without this access.
It is high time for us to take the bull by the horns and do what was done and what was endorsed by the gedolim for cell phones in Israel. Moreover, for a number of reasons, this is a job which can be better handled in America than in Israel.
Gedolim can set standards, and computers adhering to those standards will be clearly and indelibly labeled both externally and more importantly in the software or browser. Tampering will trigger alarms, and therefore be obvious. Software already exists to disable the computer or its communication capacity in the event of tampering. Reporting of tampering can also be built in.
Standards can vary if necessary, or a minimum standard can be set and options for additional monitoring provided.
You can imagine the positive possibilities.
And for those who oppose this because they claim that it can’t be done, or the familiar refrain that it can be gotten around, if properly designed this is simply not true. There are technical means to provide access, yet limit it, and do it right. For those who will say that there are already filtered ISP’s making a valiant effort to protect us, this is true, and those ISP’s should be supported. However, this will not solve the problem of an employee who cannot choose his employer’s ISP, or those needing a high speed connection at home at a reasonable price. Moreover, filtered providers do not have the critical mass of customers necessary to do all that can be done.
The facts are, right now we are not even trying. As long as we do not even try, our korbonos are not the fault of technical advances, they are our own fault for doing nothing.
And prohibiting devices and activities that many of us are using regardless leaves all of us open to the worst possible outcomes.

We can do better.


Anonymous kendall deerson said...

hate to burst your bubble but the axiom still holds true that you can't legislate morality "The Gedolim" will never officially sanction or set up a monitoring system for the internet. The approach has always been through individual psak. it is by nature a laissez faire system. unless of course someone sees an angle to make money through hasgacha. i'm not exact sure we need another organization of thought police. the more and more i think about it the sefer Chofetz Chaim and shmiras halashon must be our guide. it is sefer unique in that it makes the attempt to quantify a section of the "Fifth Chalek of Shulchan Aruch". it is in a sense the bridge between musar and halacha. the danger is in organized religion. Judaism has never been big on organizational skills. i refer you to Parashas Yisro.

12:04 AM  
Blogger Leapa said...

I agree emphatically 'you can't legislate morality'.
Are the issurim on the 'net not attempting to do legislate morality?
We are talking about loosening the chains here to make them compatible with reality and emunas chachamim, not legislating morality.
Why does this response always come up when the approach is liberal, not restrictive?
The need is to guard against inadvertent glitches which can then be eye openers and lead to worse. We're not addressing those who are fishing for trouble.
The attitude that 'I am already doing a prohibited act' can lead to confusion between what is a time waster and what is a nefesh destroyer.
Is that bad?

1:56 PM  
Anonymous kendall deerson said...

Halacha cannot be pigeoned holed into a liberal-conservative debate. The Halacha transcends all contemporary classification for in the final analysis the Halacha is a creative manifestation of the Mesorah Moshe Kibal Torah M'Har Sinai. Its totality cannot only be grasped through a historical perspective.

But this talk is only fodder for a public discourse. the buzz words will inevitalbly be distilled for each individual to his or her reality. one man's reality is another man's fantasy.

the chain's to be loosened may in fact need to be tightened on any given time place situation.

What is bad? Good and Evil are value judgements. Justifications for one's self expression is a very wearisome task. my personal advise is go learn Mishle and Koheles. On second thought perhaps a thourough study of the entire Kesuvim would be good for starters.

9:21 PM  

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orthodox jews and the internet.