Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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21 Teves 5770 - January 7, 2010 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Gedolei Torah Publicize Internet Guidelines

by Yechiel Sever

Gedolei Yisroel clearly delineated the campaign for the sanctity of education and the purity of the Jewish home in Eretz Yisroel, by publicizing regulations they drafted to quash the dangers of Internet and "chareidi" websites and to protect unwary Jews from website operators who are considered machti'ei harabbim ("those who lead others astray") in grave matters that are liable to wreak havoc in the present and for generations to come. Principals have been instructed to take special measures at educational institutions, including a decision to have parents sign a statement that they agree to the guidelines set forth by gedolei Yisroel shlita.

At an emergency conference for educators held last week in Jerusalem a decision was reached that gedolei Yisroel would meet to draft the regulations. The published notice begins with the following preface: "We live in a generation in which spiritual perils lurk at our door, including the media and the Internet, which threaten to breach the walls of our homes. Gedolei Yisroel have warned that never has their been a more dangerous tool of destruction, and it has already claimed many victims, young and old alike.

"The computer, including Internet, videos, games, etc., threatens to bring down all of the sanctity of the Jewish home and threatens our future and our children's future. Gedolei Yisroel have already determined that watching videos and playing computer games are prohibited. Educators must stand guard to completely eradicate these spiritual stumbling-blocks, which pose the greatest danger since the period of the Enlightenment, which brought innumerable Jews to ruin, Rachmono litzlan."

Maranan verabonon decided unequivocally that no hechsher or oversight can be granted to "chareidi" websites, and that no one may collaborate with them in any way. "The above prohibition means under no circumstances can a hechsher or oversight be granted to `chareidi' Internet sites that publish general and community news or forums. They should not be provided with information or given interviews, since these places cause the public to sin in horrendous matters and induce web users to delve into the Internet and arrive at impure places. In addition, these sites are full of loshon hora, destruction of children's education, derision of talmidei chachomim, machlokes and abominations, and it is our duty to eradicate them."

The body of the notice lists four regulations:

1) "Gedolei Yisroel ruled and decided (in notices released in 5759, 5760, 5763 and 5770) that Internet use entails grave prohibitions and clearly it is forbidden to expose oneself and one's family to nisyonos of this sort. Therefore, every computer, whether desktop or portable, must be disconnected from any possibility to connect to the Internet (i.e. through cable networks, wireless networks or cellular devices) and one should not use any device that enables connecting to the Internet, such as handheld computers or cellular phones that are not approved.

2) "In the case of institutions and parnossoh exigencies where the use of Internet is required, it is strictly forbidden to use Internet that is not properly blocked — including wireless or cellular connections — through a filter approved by the rabbinical committee appointed by gedolei Yisroel. (Since there are filters that do not block in a desirable manner, it is mandatory to have a suitable filter as noted above). And still it is mandatory to prevent access to that computer to anyone who does not have a pressing need to use the Internet.

3) "Those who connect to the Internet due to parnossoh exigencies must do so based on permission granted by a beis din or an authorized rov.

4) "Educational institutions will send parents a written pledge to sign, stating that they follow all of the above directives, and if it comes to light that they do not, the administration will weigh whether to allow the girl or boy to remain enrolled at the educational institution. Certainly families that do not abide by these directives should not be admitted, in order to avoid negative influences on others."

The notice ends by urging all kehilloh and neighborhood rabbonim to hold gatherings to explain and warn against the destruction the Internet threatens to bring upon Yiddishkeit.


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