The American gedolim warned of its dangers some two
years ago. Now the rabbonim in Eretz Yisroel, a broad
spectrum including Roshei Yeshiva -- both Ashkenazic and
Sephardic -- Admorim and rabbonim, have warned that one
should not use the Internet privately, nor watch CD-Roms or
videos on the computer. They also write that computer games
should not be played, and in general the computer should not
be used for entertainment.
They also founded a special beis din to deal with the
issues of tsnius and chinuch that the computer
Surely many are asking: why the tremendous fuss? There are
many ways, unfortunately, that children -- and adults -- can
be and are corrupted by the ills of modern society. What is
it specifically about the Internet that makes it "a terrible
danger, chas vesholom, to kedushas Yisroel and
to generational continuity"?
After all, the Internet is modern technology and we are not
opposed to modern technology. We are quick to embrace any
innovation that can help us in our efforts to serve Hashem.
And the Internet is big and growing explosively. Can we
afford -- is it even possible -- to turn our backs to it?
The Internet is changing and developing. New uses and
applications are found and proposed all the time. Certainly
if our shul's refrigerator can eventually order the
drinks for seuda shelishis using the Internet, no one
But whatever happens in the future will be dealt with in the
The dangers are in the Internet here and now. They are very
serious and they are very real.
Many people mistakenly believe that the main danger is from
seeing prohibited sights or reading prohibited material. They
think that they can avoid the problems by turning off the
graphics and only visiting respectable sites such as those of
government agencies, news organizations or financial
companies. To be sure this must be done by anyone who must
use the Internet, however, although this minimizes the
problem, it does not completely shut out the worst threat.
Some technology is neutral; some of it has a built-in bias.
It makes little difference how you light your home: whether
with incandescent bulbs, with fluorescent lights or with
halogen lamps. A screwdriver is normally used to drive screws
in or out, but it can be used to stab someone. A gun may be
used to drive nails, but it is normally used to kill.
The Internet is not a neutral technology. It carries with it
a message and a temptation. According to the New York
Times (of January 9, 2000, which we downloaded from the
Internet under the guidelines of the beis din), "Like
much of America's influence on the world, the Internet lies
in the arena of what Joseph Nye, dean of Harvard University's
Kennedy School of Government terms `soft power.' It's like
rock 'n' roll or American movies, which earn lots of money,
to be sure, but mainly influence other nations by offering an
irresistible alternative culture."
The Internet today, with its glitz and frenetic change,
carries with it, promotes and insinuates values such as
unbridled consumption, quick gratification of every desire,
disrespect for authority, rootlessness, and probably many
more such destructive principles that are all the more
dangerous because most people are not aware of them and do
not set up defenses against them.
Even those who are aware of them, cannot completely avoid the
dangers. The continual pressure that the Internet exerts is
on the most sensitive and precious possession that we own:
the Jewish heart.
The purity of the Jewish heart -- our own, our children's and
our community's -- has an importance that cannot be
overstressed. Any assault on it is truly "a terrible danger,
chas vesholom, to kedushas Yisroel and to