The psak of the rabbonim about the Internet generated
an unusual amount of inquiries. I will try to clear up some
misunderstandings and add whatever general information has so
far come to light.
The warning and the psak does not apply to email.
Though email and the Internet are closely associated and are
often thought of together, however they are vastly different
in this context.
Email is simply a means of communication, and the content of
what is communicated depends on who is doing the
communicating. Parents should be advised that there are
dangers through email as well, since it is possible to talk
to all sorts of undesirable people through it. However, no
general limitation was placed on email, and that would
certainly apply as well to any "email appliances" made
especially to be able to access email, as asked by Bob
As part of their efforts, the secretary of the Beis Din
offers to guide users to be able to access email from their
computers without Internet.
Several readers wrote in about their personal situation and
the benefits they receive from Internet, both professionally
and in Torah study.
I discussed these inquiries with the secretary. He said that
each person should apply for a personal ruling in his
particular situation. None of the inquiries was sufficiently
detailed to allow a psak. In general the secretary
said that it is necessary to be thoroughly familiar with the
personal details of the situation. He suggested that the
she'ela be forwarded to their regular rav for his
Contrary to the impression that some seem to have received,
the Beis Din did not issue a blanket ruling. The public
warning does allow for legitimate uses of the Internet.
However, at this time, and perhaps in general, the Beis Din
has refrained from issuing any public guidelines for general
use, other than to say that one should seek to minimize
Internet use as much as possible. One should not use the
Internet when email is sufficient, and one should seek to
even limit what at first may appear to be essential needs.
Another common question was about the Dei'ah Vedibur website.
We have sought and continue to seek guidance about our
activities. So far we have nothing in this matter that we can
One important point that should be made in this context can
be more easily seen in reference to a television. Though all
rabbonim prohibit watching television, no one has ever
objected to owning a television transmitter. Whoever wants
to, can transmit all the television that he can. The only
problem is owning a television receiver.
By the same reasoning, there is a big difference between
maintaining a website that is broadcast to the whole world,
and viewing the Internet, and there is no contradiction
between warning against the latter while continuing to do the
Finally, this may seem obvious to many but it must be said.
The entire context of the writing of the rabbonim is to those
people who are not exposed to certain cultural content
through the general media. These are people who live their
lives without going to movies, without watching television,
without reading general newspapers or novels and so on. They
spend their time and raise their families sheltered from the
cultural imperialism of the West, but became unwittingly
exposed to it through the computers that they brought in for
various reasons. This warning and ruling is intended
primarily for those people, to help them to plug any leaks in
their defenses. Everyone else should seek individual
guidance, either from the Beis Din or their personal rav.
I can forward she'eilos to the Beis Din that are
directed through email.
We are continuing to seek further guidance and clarification
from the Beis Din, and will make available whatever we can,
when it becomes available.