Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Ignorance is Bliss...

...called "blissful ignorance". Unfortunately, it accomplishes nothing. A number of people have already discussed the Monsey internet "Asifa" that occured last night, which essentially told people why not to have the internet in their homes. I think this is a huge mistake, for a variety of reasons, but I'm not going to list those here.

On the Main Line has a post that covers what happened at the meeting, and DovBear and others have posted about it as well, but JewishPros gives a very good example worth noting: [edited]
If our Jewish "leadership" honestly thinks that banning things like the internet is good for chinuch, they are sadly mistaken. My sister in law goes to a girls school in monsey where there is no official uniform. Why? Because the principal said he wants the girls to learn how to dress properly in high school, so when they no longer are restricted they will make mature decisions. This school is actually educating children how to be responsible adults.
That's how education should be. As he finishes:
Banning internet does not educate our creates weak-willed adults who end up getting lured into the same pitfalls that they were guarded against in their yeshiva or bais yaakov. Why can't our Rabbis see this?
A very good question.


  1. Definitely something I would completely agree with, and not just because I'm an internet addict with ulterior motives! ; ) I think, that as long as people learn how to control and moderate their desire and channel them into appropriate and productive activities, not even the greatest of temptations can really bring them down.

  2. It's a fascinating all or nothing mentality. Children should absolutely be monitored in internet use... but to ban it altogether? Silly.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I need to find a computer desk that I can put a lock on.

  3. You hit the nail on the head. Orthodoxy is just as vulnerable to fundamentalism like any other religion. Logic is thrown out for extremes of black and white (figuritively and literally ;-)

  4. Thanks for the kudos Ezzie. I am back...had a tough month :)

  5. Irina - well said!

    TL - Heh. But that's exactly the point. DovBear put that well in a different way.

    JH - You're welcome. What happened? (unless it's NOMB)

  6. Lets see...wife, kid, dog, work, masters degree courses...and a new entrepreneural venture...

    Nothing terrible thank God! ;-)

  7. Ez - Wait, I had a point? I thought I was just being a Letz.

    The thing I don't get is where people get the idea this is a ban. Nobody's going to egg you if you have a net connection... yet. It's just one of the requirements for Yeshiva X or Y. Don't like it? Don't send your kinderlach there.

    I, myself, would not. Nor would I send to a school that made me sign an affidavit that we did not own a TV. We've talked about getting rid of it, but if we do it will be because we want to, not to fit in.

  8. I very carefully did not write that it was a ban, because it's not. And I would never put my kids in such a school either. But for some people, this puts them in a tough situation: They may have been living in Monsey for a while, and this might become a requirement for their children's schools. They don't necessarily have the option to move away or send the kids elsewhere without paying much higher tuition. It's simply not right.

    JH - Good!

  9. Well, I assume any Monsey implementation will be much like how they did it in Lakewood, where those who had it could just get a locked desk.

    Seriously. I gather lots of families did it.

  10. I don't completely agree with the example because enforcing a uniform causes no loss while allowing girls to dress as they will carries a risk. Internet on the other hand carries a huge risk but banning it would create an even bigger loss. But the lesson is well said- let people judge for themselves what is appropriate for their religious level (not children, though).

  11. You are totally right. Internet is a tool that can be used for a purpose that is up to the user. To an extent, TV is as well. I think that education about these tools, exposure in a proper fashion would prevent "weak-willed adults". Self control can be learnt and taught. These blog discussions are a perfect example of what Irina calls "appropriate and productive activities". It is a forum that is educational and interesting, a use of the internet for good (rather than evil). I have learnt so much.

    I am just wondering about the people in authority making these 'rules' and whether or not they really know much about such entertainment/educational tools/devices (like the internet) other than stories they hear or the advertising they see around the place. I say this mainly because I know that even here, the ultra-orthodox school has a ban on TV (when some of these people happen to see a switched on tv, they are transfixed like there is nothing else in the room) and I have no doubt the restrictions on internet would be far behind. I know of people who use the internet simply for email to keep up with their families but they do not want the public to know that they even have that connection.

    The question of why the Rabbi's don't see the problems... baffles me too.

    And Ezzie, I don't know what you'd do without internet! You'd be lost!

  12. "I don't completely agree with the example because enforcing a uniform causes no loss while allowing girls to dress as they will carries a risk."

    I'm Haaretz, the example is not the similarity between uniforms and internet but the common theme of "avoidance". Avoiding matters of tznius for uniforms or pritzus on the internet is a common theme and needs to be addressed but not through a ban.

  13. and to talk to what Ezzie said, many families like ourselves live in a small community. We enjoy being in a yeshiva environment where Torah is paramount, but the ONE school here has adopted some of the naarishkeit from Lakewood etc. There is no such thing as a perfect school, so you deal with what you have and pick your fights...

    As for the form to sign for no TV in the house, I will write "Mickey Mouse" or something ;-)

  14. Based on the accounts I've read from Monsey last night, it seems that many Rabbonim object to the term "ban" when referring to their internet ban. They claim that if this were a true ban, the internet would be prohibited at work as well as well as at home.

    My question is, if the net is so evil, why allow it at work? The same porn and blogs can be accessed at work as at home. A frum man can still run off with a Non -Jew he met on the net at work.

    I will admit that the following is pure speculation, but I believe this rule is based on the presumption that people are in public at work due to the presence of their coworkers and traceable network histories. The idea is that people are less likely to view the darker side of the net while in the public eye than they are in the privacy of their bedroom And that may well be the case.

    But what does that fact say about their communities? I was often reminded in Yeshiva that a person who is willing to do an averah in private that he would not do in public is illustrating his rejection of G-d. Such a person obviously either believes that G-d can not see him in a closed room OR that he is more afraid of what people think than what G-d wants! Either option represents a true rejection of belief in the power and majesty of G-d.

    If the public use of the net is permitted because people will be embarrassed to access inappropriate things in front of others, shouldn't the Rabbonim be much more concerned about what that fact means than attacking the medium used to access the material? Address the disease not the symptoms. Acknowledging that the net poses a much greater danger in private than public IS acknowledging a FUNDAMENTAL lack of bitachon and Yiras Shamayim. If people would abuse the net at home and not at work, they, by definition, do NOT believe in G-d. If this is the case, why are we wasting our time attacking the net? We have a much more basic problem to deal with; an apparent widespread rejection in Orthodox circles of the belief in G-d!

    This is the equivalent of attacking the concept of glasses because without them, shortsighted men couldn't see inappropriate material. The solution to such a problem is NOT to outlaw glasses.

    I guess its easier to attack a faceless entity than the shortcomings of one's community. I'll collect and burn everyone's glasses on Lag Boemer while some people with hashkafic questions find them answered on Frumteens.


  15. " seems that many Rabbonim object to the term "ban" when referring to their internet ban. They claim that if this were a true ban, the internet would be prohibited at work as well as well as at home."

    Them not calling it a ban is a loosley failed cover way to sugar-coat this ban. Enforcing a no internet policy is a ban by any definition. Changing the lingo to lessen the blow is a cheap tactic to make things seem softer.

    So DAG, you don't have to go deciphering the difference between public and private reactions. Their ban is a ban and there is no rationalizing it.

  16. I think a lot of "banning" that goes on in schools and yeshivas is from the leaders' lack of knowledge. They think that the Internet is all bad so they prohibit it. If they would be educated, maybe they wouldn't be so quick to ban. Frummies are notorious for being far behind, technologically.

  17. "loosley failed cover"

    I meant loosely veiled cover

  18. "I think a lot of "banning" that goes on in schools and yeshivas is from the leaders' lack of knowledge."

    Sarah, I agree with you again. As Master Jedi Yoda once said "fear leads to anger and anger leads to the dark side (or at least black and white)."

  19. I think you misunderstand, JH....My point was that the focus on being a ban or not being a ban....or the attack against the net itself misses the point entirely.

  20. Oh ok, my bad. :)

  21. Right, the internet doesn't watch porn, people watch porn. You can just as easily use the internet to watch the inspiring little movies that AISH puts out as a porn clip- Personally I think that the internet is a great tool to help unite all of us throughout the diaspora and Israel. And it helps me keep track of the Omer count better than I ever have before.

  22. I'm Ha'aretz - Just as you noted, I too was focusing more on the points made than the example.

    Sarah - It would be very interesting to see how much they do know about it. Have they used it? My charedi cousin is a Rosh Yeshiva in E'Y - and has a great DSL connection in his apartment. He *knows* what he's doing, and utilizes it properly. (Plus, he has the Indians website as his homepage!)

    And I'd be incredibly lost. :)

    JH - I'm not sure they'd know who Mickey is. :)

    DAG - Fascinating comment. I might just post that.

    Sara - Do all Sara's think alike? I think you're right.

    Amishav - Another issue whitewashed in this debate. What about all the good it accomplishes? What about all the Jewish organizations for whom the Internet is a vital tool and for the Jewish individuals whom it helps so much?

  23. I think us Sara/h's seem to be on the same wavelength!

    The reason I wonder about how much some Rebbeim and people in authority in the ultra-orthodox community know about internet is because if they had an understanding they would not be making blanket statements that 'ban' something that has become such an important part of how western society lives today. Also because of things here that I have noticed in the actions of people here. I can't give examples but there have been situations where conclusions were made without proper knowledge.

    Twenty years ago this wasn't an issue as much because the internet wasn't around but as times change society and technology changes and it seems to be getting more and more difficult for charedi/ultra-orthodox to reconcile these things within their framework.

    And Amishav is right - there are amazing resources out there and it does help unite people from around the world! Unfortunately the horror stories are the ones that get publicised, just like in the media.

  24. Twenty years ago this wasn't an issue as much because the internet wasn't around but as times change society and technology changes and it seems to be getting more and more difficult for charedi/ultra-orthodox to reconcile these things within their framework.

    Very well put. I wonder if TV caused this: The overreaction to TV at least had the argument, "What good does it have?" There was far less "good" that TV could accomplish. With the Internet, the ability to access negative things became far greater than TV. If TV was wrong, then kal v'chomer (certainly) Internet access was. This completely ignored exactly what Amishav was pointing out, the positives the Internet has for Judaism, but their lack of understanding of what the Internet can do doesn't allow them to understand this.

  25. ...instead, they simply close it off from the community, thereby setting Orthodox Judaism well behind the rest of the world. This will seriously haunt the UO Judaism over the next few decades.

  26. Yep.
    TV is a bit different, you can't control what image you see next so it's more understandable that it is not wanted. (A side point is that I think the effects of 'banning' tv and people chucking them out is causing issues, a split between those who do watch and those who don't. This is particularly obvious as the "does he/she have/watch tv?" question about potential shidduchim can often be the decider. I don't think it should be such a 'marker' in decisions like that. Clearly this whole thing brings rise to other issues!!)

    I was talking to my dad today about this and he compared the internet to a supermarket or a department store. You can go in and get what you need but if you keep kosher you would not even think about purchasing or looking at something that was not kosher. There is stuff that's inappropriate in these stores (magazines) but if it is not appropriate you can easily avoid it!!

    I think i've said my piece on this for now!!

  27. Sarah, glad to be on the same wavelength as you! Loved what your Dad said as well. So true.

  28. I do like and agree with what your Dad said as well, Sarah. One slight opposing note: It is possible to accidently stumble on inappropriate material. Then again, that's true outside or inthe supermarket as well. People should be trusted to make proper decisions for themselves.

  29. Ok now a lot of people put up very good points, however you have to be able to see the Rabbi's position. True there is a lot of good that can come from the internet, Aish Hatorah, Daf Yomi, even secular knowledge. However the internet can also be the worst thing for a child or even adult. The Rabbanim's theory is that true a good can come of it, but the harm that it could cause the jewish community as a whole far out ways the good. With one click of a mouse any child, teenager or adult can be in websites than can distroy his judiasm, his upbringing and even his marriage. Internet is also much worse than TV. With TV usually the worst harm that could come is the occasional dubed rated R movie and still the rabbanim asured that. Even if you have every cable channel usually the only real bad stuff is shown late at night. With the Internet, any person at any time with out even meaning it at times can acesses the worst sites. Yes good could come from it, but is it worth the risk? This is why the Rabbanim strongly advise against having the internet. Now the issue that if we were G-d fearing we would not watch porn in private or public, the rabbanim realizes we are not supermen. They put up "gates" on certain things so we would not fall into the traps of the yetser hara. One example is riding a horse on shabbos. Do you know you are not allowed to ride a horse on shabbos because you might come to break off a branch on a tree to hit the horse (to move the horse)? One might argue, hey riding a horse is a good thing! You could go to shul with it, maybe someone who lives far away could visit his or her parents, but the rabbanim said no. Its not worth riding a horse even though there could be good because it might come to desecrating the shabbos even though its a small chance that it might come to that. The Rabbanim realize that we have to put gates upon ourselfs to stop ourselfs from doing harm. No matter how big of a tzaddik we are if we leave the temptations right in front of us it is almost impossible not to fall. Its like eating a ice cream cone in front of a diabetic child. Any adult will tell you to stop, you are hurting the child, because even though child knows he is not allowed to eat the ice cream cone if he sees everyone doing it and he is able to get the ice cream he eventually will. Even the most holy people of older and wiser generations fell into traps when the opprtunity was in front of them. So can we say we are any better? True we have to work on our fear of G-d but to put the very thing that moght destroy us in arm's reach is too much. The Rabbanim are trying to help us not fall into these traps. For the people who truly need it for work or school, they understand that in todays world internet is practically a neccesity. That is why they do not ban it and implore everyone to literally lock it up. That does not mean that you or your children should go on the internet in your spare time. There are people who are addicted to the internet and dont even do anything bad on it. They are just on the intenet 24/7. It has become an addiction just like any other addiction. Do we want our children to be tempted with this addiction? True, I myself use the internet for school and free time and would go crazy if someone took it away. However, this doesnt mean Im right. You have to be able to understand where the rabbi's are coming from.

  30. Shua - we do. Nevertheless, I think they are mishandling the situation and their advice to not have it at all is wrong - particularly as this will mean that those who choose to keep it will suffer in other ways (schools, community, possibly shidduchim at some point - read Sarah's comment above).

    Warn about the evils, then educate people how to utilize the tools properly.