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Monday, February 27, 2006

Rav M. Solomon

Rav Mattisyahu Solomon, shlita, the respected Mashgiach of Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, has an article in the current Jewish Observer (JO has no website - probably so as not to endanger the internet. Some old JO issues are on this link on Shma Yisroel). The JO article is an adaptation of a speech Rav Solomon made at at what (apparently) was an assembly about the Lakewood Internet Edict (ban).

I grant that Rav Solomon made some knowedgeable, legitimate, and common sense points in his speech, and pleasantly surprised me with the extent of his knowledge about net use. Most notable in my mind is "I would suggest that a husband and wife should make an agreement never to clear the History (sic) on their Internet browser, and to make random checks of each other's History . . . " (p 28).
Now there's a fine suggestion!

But the technophobe aspect of the speech still disturbs me. In my opinion, it is counter to the broad sweep of Jewish history and
hashkafa. (Yes, I recognize R' Solomon is far my superior in Torah knowledge.*) One major point of the speech was dedicated to a 'straw man' argument comparing opposition to the internet to opposition to automobiles, and then saying just as a car can be lethally misused, so can the internet.

In my humble, a more apt comparison of dangers and advantages of technology would be to printing, photography, telephony - communication advances extending the opportunity for both willful and inadvertent transgression.

But to adopt R' Solomon's analogy: Unsafe driving has been (by and large) successfully addressed by a 'drivers ed' course - not by a ban on driving.

Which has the potential to save more lives long term ? 'Drivers ed' for computer users, or a ban?
R' Solomon himself states: "For most of us, there are times when we have to step into the outside world,whether to earn a livelihood, or for some other purpose". If that is the case, and the dangers are present, protect us and teach us how to protect ourselves - don't ban what we all recognize as a necessity.

And Rav Solomon - please, please don't say "education for the outside world is not our job".

If you are indeed concerned about the very real threat and our and our children's future, that answer's a cop out.

Postscript: For the past 60 years, chareidi Judaism has been occupied with walling itself off from the outside world, and with success. There were, perhaps, excellent reasons why a post Churban Europa Orthodox community needed to incubate in this way to preserve Torah and yiddishkeit. But now, when magazine after magazine, newspaper article after article, and book after book are dedicated to 'kids @ risk', 'adults @ risk' etc, perhaps a slight expansion of educational scope is warranted . . . ?

* And if you feel I therefore should not speak out, tell me.

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11 Comments:

Anonymous deerson said...

how many parables are we going to disect about the internet. why don't we just make a purim shpiel and be done with it already.

11:08 PM  
Blogger pro ban said...

I'm not sure if you fully comprehended R' solomon's point, which was that being that a car can be a danger, there are rules.

Speeding limits, no drunk driving, cars have to be registered, insured, inspected... Failure to comply can result in fines, licence suspension and even jail time. Accordingly, where are the rules and regulations for the internet if indeed it also can cause danger?

So until there are federal regulations etc.. we ban it.

Think - if there was no speed limits and drunk driving was permitted, would you feel safe driving?

10:42 PM  
Anonymous deerson said...

pro ban

what are you doing on this site if it is in your opinion keneged Daas Torah?

12:28 AM  
Blogger pro ban said...

Someone has to speak up on behalf the "banners".

5:19 PM  
Blogger Leapa said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:34 PM  
Blogger Leapa said...

Pro:
You are making precisely my point . In the same, or not much more, time as implementing and enforcing a ban we could do something constructive.

You state 'Accordingly, where are the rules and regulations . . .'

Indeed.

And now that there is a ban, we feel we no longer need to make regulations about oso dovor.

Of course, it will continue to spread underground uncontrolled regardless, due to increasing need for the net, right?

And our kids will be victims of the ignorance we have imposed upon them by neither controlling 'oso dovor' nor teaching them how to do so.

11:59 AM  
Anonymous deerson said...

pro ban

the flag waving banner line is a litte weak. the mekosaish is not one to emulate but rather learn what not to do.

10:15 PM  
Blogger pro ban said...

And now that there is a ban, we feel we no longer need to make regulations about oso dovor.

Surely you didn't mean to say that because their is a rabbinic ban, Federal agencies no longer need to make regulations about oso dovor.

The Rabbi's have no power to enforce "world wide" regulations. They see a danger within their midst. What else should they do.

So when you say "we feel we no longer need to make regulations" are you refering to yourself in your home etc..?

Then you as a parent, you have to decide the ultimate decision for the future of your home.

Of course, it will continue to spread underground uncontrolled regardless, due to increasing need for the net, right?

Wrong. For those who need it, an Ishur can be obtained. And for those who will disregard the Ban,

1) Every school requires you to sign that you don't have internet at home. (Will they lie?)
2) The choice of chinuch for children, is the Parent's decision. If the parent is willing to risk his child viewing something inappropiate, the parent will have to carry that responsibility. And don't kid yourself. Kids are a lot more clever and cunning than we think they are.

And our kids will be victims of the ignorance we have imposed upon them by neither controlling 'oso dovor' nor teaching them how to do so.

Do we provide sex education to our kids? No we don't. And yet, in the GENERAL, we are still OK.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Leapa said...

Pro:
Surely you didn't mean to say that because their is a rabbinic ban, Federal agencies no longer need to make regulations about oso dovor.
1. Surely you don't mean we should lower our standards when the Feds set theirs? You'll roll back the ban then?
The Rabbi's have no power to enforce "world wide" regulations. They see a danger within their midst. What else should they do.
2. I have proposed what else they should do in the above post, and elsewhere.
3. Of course, it will continue to spread underground uncontrolled regardless, due to increasing need for the net, right?

Wrong. For those who need it, an Ishur can be obtained.

You feel it will not spread? You should try to get Lakewood's broad band subscription totals to residents in Jewish blocks for 1 year ago, now and then check back one year from now. I'll bet it can be done. And the Rabbonim should see those numbers, too. They may find they are encouraging dissembling.
4. Do we provide sex education to our kids? No we don't. And yet, in the GENERAL, we are still OK.

Hey, we're a PG site here! ;)

Seriously,yes we do. That's what mashgichim do for a living. We just don't call it that. In my commmunity, it starts at about 6th grade and continues until several years after marriage.
And in places that are weak on it, chiuv kores is more common.

7:19 PM  
Anonymous deerson said...

will some clue me in about the "oso hadavar". sounds like a starting point of some very fundemental part of Judaism that i have missed all these years.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Circle in Square said...

Toraso magin
Just be happy you missed it.

11:14 AM  

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orthodox jews and the internet.