Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Once Again, Banning Is Not The Way To Go...

YWN is reporting that teachers/administrators in Israel are being called to meetings to learn how to deal with students who come from homes where the Internet is available. The report states:

According to the latest HaMevaser report on the Internet concerns among Gedolei Yisrael Shlita, the organization of the nation’s seminaries are planning a kinos this coming Sunday to address the pressing matter. Principals of Chinuch Atzmai affiliated mosdos are also expected to convene in the near future to address the Internet problem.

Rabbonim have indicated they will not permit talmidim in mosdos if they come from homes with Internet connectivity. The same holds true for children of people who own, operate, or maintain an affiliation with chareidi websites, which have already been ordered shut, resulting in partial compliance.

I think that there is a frighteningly large potential for this type of ban to backfire that I wonder if the gedolim are truly analyzing the potential risks/rewards of their ban.

For a community that is experiencing massive parnassah problems (more so than the world at large), the decision to order the closure of websites that employ chareidim only exacerbates the problem. Now, people who were previously employed must go out and find other jobs -- probably in environments that are not as understanding of their social and religious needs as the chareidi websites were.

A person who cannot access the Internet will probably find it harder to find a job. I don't know what the situation in Israel is like, but when I need to find a job, the Internet is the first place I go to. I would be highly surprised to find that there weren't Israeli equivilents (or branches of) Monster, Dice, CareerBuilder and the like. Again, in a community where there is a large degree of poverty, we should be making it *easier* for those who are looking for jobs to find them, not harder.

By closing chareidi websites, people who used to get their news from "clean" sources will now have to go sources that are more likely to present the news in ways that the gedolim wouldn't approve of. Just to give an example... imagine that the gedolim ordered (and had the power to enforce) the closure of YWN, VIN and Matzav. What would happen? People would turn to FailedMessiah and OUJ and other sources for their news. Regardless of whether what those sites publish is true or false, I'm sure the gedolim wouldn't want people to go there for their news. The same applies to the chareidi websites -- by closing the "good" ones, they're only pushing people to ones where more salacious news will be reported. I believe this is the exact opposite of what the gedolim intended.

I also find it hard to believe that the ban is going to change the behavior of very many people. Those who were already listening to the gedolim long ago abandoned their Internet connections. Those that were already disregarding the gedolim in this regard will continue to do so. All that's going to change is that those who were accessing the Internet openly will now do so clandestinely. I think the last thing we need to be doing is setting up a situation where parents will be showing their kids that dishonesty is acceptable.* The gedolim certainly don't want to set up situations where kids will learn that it's okay to pay lip service to the words of the gedolim while secretly disobeying them behind their backs.

Then there is the issue of what will happen when a parent is caught with an internet connection. I have long been a proponent of the idea that you don't punish kids for their parents' sins. I said it with regard to Neturei Karta and I am willing to repeat it here -- unless the sin of the parent causes the kid to become a threat to the school or other students, you deal solely with the parent and not the kid. Yes, some might make the argument that the kid might see something on the Internet and repeat it to his/her classmates, etc. Hogwash. Firstly, the school can easily make a rule that *students* are not allowed to access the Internet and punish them for breaking it. Secondly, if you're going to punish the kid because he might pick up something, you can say the same thing about relatives/friends of the kids. Will you ban a kid from school because he has friends in his neighborhood with an Internet connection? Perhaps he might see something at his friend's house. What if his cousin has a TV? Maybe we should kick him out because his cousin might tell him a joke he heard on a Dick Van Dyke rerun that might make it back to the school? In other words, if you're going to kick a kid out of school because he might have secondhand access to material that you consider objectionable, then you have to extend the ban (and penalty of expulsion) quite a bit further than a parent with Internet access.

The worst part of all this is that the gedolim don't seem to realize that the battle is already lost. I can only believe that there are a significant number of chareidim in 2010 that still have Internet connectivity in their homes -- if it were a small minority, then there wouldn't be a need for such a strong public measure. If there are still a significant number of chareidim who are not willing to abandon the Internet after several years of decrees by the gedolim, then I am forced to conclude that the Internet is here to stay -- even among the chareidim.

Imagine living in a society where some people keep fierce guard dogs. The dogs are there partly as pets, but also partly for the utilitarian purpose of protecting the home from theives and other dangers. Of course, not every family has, or needs a dog. Some families may not have anything worth stealing -- and so they don't need a guard dog. Sadly, every so often, a guard dog may attack and injure a family member -- but yet a significant number of the community decide that the rewards of having the dogs around outweigh the risks. The mayor of the town, who is usually well-respected, starts speaking to people about the dangers of having the dogs around. Surely, he tells the people, you can get by without the dogs. So, some people get rid of the dogs while a significant number of them retain the dogs. Some start looking for ways to hide the dogs. Meanwhile, the families that had dogs but got rid of them begin suffering as thieves begin targeting their houses.

As time goes on, the mayor's opposition to the dogs grows. Anytime a child is taken to the hospital because of a dog bite, he takes the opportunity to hold a press conference about how badly the dogs need to go and how big a menace they are to the community. And yet, while some people heed his advice, others find the dogs too valuable to the functioning of their households to give them up. Finally, the mayor issues a law banning the dogs outright. Yet, despite that, there are still dogs in the community. Those that were inclined to heed the mayor already got rid of their dogs. Those that didn't, didn't. And so, even though the dogs are hidden, some people still managed to get attacked by dogs. Usually, it's in the dog-owning families, but occasionally, someone from a non-dog family might be attacked as well. And, of course, the thieves continue to strike because there are fewer guard dogs.

What's the next course of action to take?

The ideal course of action would be to understand that the dogs are necessary to the functioning of the neighborhood. Some people need the dogs to fend off the burglars and will not give them up. But by allowing people to have the dogs, you then have the opporutnity to encourage (and perhaps even mandate) training in dog-handling. You can teach people in the community how to react when a dog comes running down the street barking fiercely. You can teach the members of the community when and how to avoid the dogs, how to properly treat the dogs and how to properly use them. IMHO, education about the proper usage of dogs or the internet or anything else that is going to be encountered in life is the safest way to go. Will someone in this community still suffer the occasional dog attack? Certainly - but that's a far cry better than the situation they're in now.

The Wolf

* Note that this does not excuse parents from their actions -- but we shouldn't be intentionally setting up situations where this will happen on a large scale.


frumskeptic said...

"Will you ban a kid from school because he has friends in his neighborhood with an Internet connection? "

I havent heard of a school banning kids because their friends have internet connection.. but I have heard of people rejecting shidduchim for their kids for those reasons. THat means the guy hung out with "the wrong group of friends"

Anonymous said...

The purpose of excluding kids who come from homes with internet access is not to punish the kids, but is to control the parents through threats to their children. It's just like excluding kids whose mother doesn't dress or cover her hair the way the school wants. It's a neat trick. You enroll one child and you get to control an entire family.

G*3 said...

There were studies done years ago that showed that kids from socies where it was common to drink alchohol (wine) with meals were far less likely to get drunk as adults because they saw alchohol as just another drink (instead of something "special" or "forbidden") and had been taught by their parents how to drink in moderation.

In general, it is better to teach people how to deal with something than keep them from it completely.

Of course, those who ban the internet wouldn't compare it to drinking alchohol, but to drinking arsenic.

But that only works as long as no one actaully drinks. Once people notice that it isn't immidiatly fatal, they're less liklely to listen to melodramatic pronouncements.

Pesky Settler said...

I'd like to see all these now internet-less Charedim try and get an appointment at the US Embassy here in Israel for a report a birth abroad or passport stuff...

Garnel Ironheart said...

> are planning a kinos this coming Sunday

Really? They're planning a lamentation? Or are they planning a kenes - conference?

You know the situation's bad when they can't even spell the yeshivish words right anymore.

Anyway, years ago many "chareidi" families dealt with the no TV issue by doing two things:
1) spending lots of money to buy a large fancy cupboard which they would put the TV inside. When the "right" guests came over, they would close the cupboard and no one would be the wiser
2) threatening the children that if they spoke they would never get a shidduch or into the "right" yeshivos.

This will probably happen once again with the internet. Denial and lying seem to be the only wayto deael with such a crazy decree.

Anonymous said...

If so many ignore, are those putting forth the ban really gedolim?

Larry Lennhoff said...

If so many ignore, are those putting forth the ban really gedolim?
If they then repeal the ban because it was not generally accepted, absolutely. This happened with the ban on gentile oil in Talmudic times - chazal published the gezairah of shemen akum along with those of bishul akum and pas akum, IIRC. Bishul akum was accepted, pas akum was modified so that some people accept pas palter, and pas shemen was rejected completely.

Yerachmiel Lopin said...

They already exclude kids who are baal tshuvah or geirim (of course against halachah). So why not ban kids who are perceived as bad influences? It makes for dullards but great social control. Of course it will create a situation where no one makes parnassah. But eventually the rabbonim will create something similar to union dues where the rabbonim get their cut straight off the welfare check

Yerachmiel Lopin said...

Larry Lenhoff, Back then the criterion was acceptance by the community as a whole. Chareidi rabbonim are only interested in their most devout (=brainwashed)adherents.

William Dwek said...

The Swine Flu is common in PIGS.

This is a clear indication that it is the Dayanim – ‘Judges’ - and ‘Rabbis’ of today who are the PIGS and swines.

They twist and use the Torah for their own power and commercial benefit.

They are corrupt. And they are interested in only one thing:


Not the Torah.

William Dwek said...

When ‘dayanim’ and ‘rabbis’ use the Torah for their own power and commercial profit, this is the behaviour of a swine i.e. a Pig.

No other ‘rabbi’ will ever act against another ‘rabbi’ - even when he knows his colleague is clearly desecrating the Torah. Each rabbi is only worried about losing his own position.

Therefore, the ‘rabbi’ and ‘dayan’ will never effect justice. And he will never truly stand for the Torah or the Honour of Hashem. His pocket will always prevail.

The Torah must never be used for commercial gain and profit. Am Yisrael can only be lead by those who have the necessary love and respect of Hashem and the Torah.

William Dwek said...

1. The ‘dayan’ and ‘rabbi’ may use lies. They turn the innocent into the guilty, and the guilty, become the innocent. They will not hesitate to tell lies in the Synagogue.

2. The ‘dayan’ and ‘rabbi’ may steal. They steal and siphon off money for themselves, from the community and individuals.

3. The ‘dayan’ and ‘rabbi’ may shame a Jew in public, even repeatedly. This is one of the most vile acts of murder in Jewish law – and they know this.

4. The ‘dayan’ and ‘rabbi’ will not hesitate to use Lashon Hara - the ‘Evil Tongue’ - to suit his own ends. Slander and gossip. This too, is one of the worst acts of murder in Jewish Law. Their slander is never challenged by the community, because they hold positions of power. And the slander may begin with the Rebbetzin herself.

5. The ‘dayanim’ and ‘rabbis’ worship idols and other gods. Their only god is Money. Especially the ‘Dayanim’ – the ‘Judges’ who sit on a Beit Din. They only care about their high incomes and retirement packages. They have little or no love for the Torah or Hashem.

In the case of Lubavitch/Chabad, all their rabbis are carrying out a form of Avodah Zarah – strange worship. They are using mediation and intercession. This is completely forbidden, and against the Torah. We are only allowed to pray to Hashem, directly ourselves.

6. When the NAME of Hashem has been taken in Vain – repeatedly - by reshaim, the ‘rabbi’ will turn a deaf ear and blind eye to the


This is the abhorrent behaviour of a Pig.

This is an extremely severe and dangerous situation.

There is NO forgiveness for this evil sin and aveirah.

7. The ‘dayan’ and ‘rabbi’ may also offer large bribes, tell lies and bring False Witnesses – when he in fact has committed the crime. These are heinous acts of the most despicable kind. This is especially vile when the ‘dayan’ is sitting on a ‘Bet Din.’

8. The ‘rabbi’ may commit adultery. And when he gets divorced, he may spread slander about his own ex-wife, blackening her name – when in fact he was at fault.

9. The ‘dayan’ and ‘rabbi’ may also desecrate Shabbat – if it suits him. He will use physical violence to assault another Jew or Jewess at any time. This evil and venomous behaviour is 100% against the Torah.

Eliyahoo William Dwek said...

A further word of advice regarding those who masquerade as a ‘dayan’ ‘rabbi’ or false ‘mekubal’:

1. These men may knowingly and willingly, deliberately deceive a Jew or Jewess. e.g. in the area of shidduchim, or offering to perform a ‘pidyon nefesh’.

This abhorrent and deceptive behaviour has caused tremendous harm to people who are innocent and trusting.

2. Do not ever ‘kiss the hands’ of these men (which they might offer to you in public).

3. And do not be duped into queuing and waiting, to see them for their ‘brachot’ (‘blessings’). They peddle ‘brachot’ purely for their own selfish gratification and ‘kavod’ (‘honour’).

Their duplicitous behaviour is nothing short of deception and cunning. In short they are abhorant and causing so much harm to amm israel. They prey on the vulnerable, and those who are naïve, unsuspecting and trusting of these pedlars.

Eliyahoo William Dwek said...

Any man who chooses to be a ‘rabbi’ (‘true teacher’ of Torah) or a ‘dayan’ (‘judge’), or a ‘mekubal’ (‘kabbalist’) should be doing so Voluntarily. Out of his pure love for Hashem and the Torah. And his Ahavat Yisrael.

If he refuses to do community work voluntarily, and wants and accepts payment for everything he does, such a man should not be heading a community. He should get a job and earn a living. He can collect milk bottles or clean the windows. That is what is called ‘earning a living’.

Torah is learned, studied and taught: out of Love. Voluntarily. But the ‘rabbis’ have turned the Torah into their ‘Profession’, from which they earn money.

We are commanded in the Shema to:
‘LOVE Hashem, your G-d, WITH ALL YOUR HEART, and with all your soul and with all your might.’

‘VE’AHAVTA et Hashem Elokecha BECHOL LEVAVECHA uvechol nafshecha uvechol meodecha.’ (Devarim, Vaethanan, 6:4-5)

Is the ordinary man or woman PAID to pray to Hashem, or to say some words of Torah? No. Has veshalom! But the rabbis are. These men can give ‘lovely’ shiurim that they have rehearsed. But they would not give a shiur without being paid for it.

The true hachamim and rabbis of old, all actually worked at proper jobs and professions.

Wake up! Even a little child could have worked this out. These salaried men can never truly stand for the Torah, because in a case of conflict between a correct course of action according to the Torah, and the rabbi or rav’s pocket – his pocket and position will always prevail.

Pirkei Avot: (2:2)
“Raban Gamliel beno shel Rabi Yehuda HaNassi omer: yafeh talmud Torah im derech eretz, sheyegiat shenaihem mashkachat avon. Vechol Torah she’ein imah melacha sofa betailah ve’goreret avon. Vechol haoskim im hatzibbur yiheyu imahem leShem Shamayim……”

“Rabban Gamliel, the son of Rabi Yehuda HaNassi, said: It is good to combine Torah study with a worldly occupation, for working at them both drives sin from the mind. All Torah without an occupation will in the end fail and lead to sin. And let all who work for the community do so for the sake of Heaven………”