Over seventy thousand participants from the ranks of Torah-True Jewry in the U.S., headed by Gedolei Torah and Chassidus, gathered en masse to declare their stand against the ills of modern technology and the threat of the Internet, in a huge rally held in Citi Field, Queens, and which was broadcast live to dozens of additional centers throughout the world. More than forty thousand were present at Citi Field itself, and the rest were in various locations elsewhere.
The rally began at 18:30 U.S. time (1:30 Israeli time) with Tehillim and tefillas mincha, which was led by R' M. Green, Rosh Yeshivas Monsey, N.Y.
R' Menasheh Frankel, one of the distinguished members of the Lakewood community, called upon HaRav Efraim Wacksman, Rosh Yeshivas Meor Yitzchok in Monsey, to open the main part with a message in English. He spoke for a long time, clarifying the battle, for whose sake so many gedolim, roshei yeshiva, Admorim and other noted figures, together with the tens of thousands from all over the U.S., had come to `stand up and be counted.' He movingly described the hazards of those seemingly `innocent' and harmless devices, when hundreds of testimonies have accumulated about the terrible havoc they wreak, as declared by those who are determined to eliminate this scourge. Indeed, they warn, those devices, and especially so the Internet, pose a terrible threat of the existence of our Torah-true homes.
HaRav Yechiel Meir Katz, Rav in Montreal, focused on the severe dangers to the future generations from as little as an incidental use of those forbidden devices which incite a person to sin, step by step, to the point where he has succumbed to its terrible influence.
At 8:30 p.m. the entire stadium rose to its feet to greet the leadership, gedolei Torah and Chassidus, who entered together. This elite group included rabbonim, dayanim, community leaders, elders and the distinguished spokesmen of Torah Jewry from all over the continent who had gathered here to rouse the public for the urgent need to wage a battle against the terrible plague which is wreaking havoc in the vineyard of Jewry.
The audience listened avidly to the poignant words of HaRav Shmuel Halevi Wosner, transmitted live from Bnei Brak. He stated that there was no halachic permission to use the decadent and dangerous Internet, and to imagine that one could be immune to its impact on one's soul. It wasn't a question of stringency or extra caution but a clear-cut halachic ruling applying to every single Jew.
The Admor of Pshversk, who came from Antwerp, offered his blessings and words of chizuk, which, he noted, was already apparent by the very size of the event, a demonstration of support and a show of force by the tens of thousands who had come to proclaim the dangers of modern media technology.
The Admor of Skulen, one of the initiators of this stupendous rally, dwelled upon the horrendous hazard of this plague, which has felled so many innocent victims; he declared that whoever makes use of the Internet without proper screening is acting like an animal, since the source is animalistic and beastly. He even suggested that all the terrible illnesses and deaths which visit our people are a result of the spreading use of Internet in Jewish homes. In a tear-choked voice, he called upon all the myriads of people assembled upon this exalted occasion "to make every effort to uproot these devices in the same way that one obliterates anything abominable. Let there be no Jew who has anything to do with that contaminating thing which seeks to destroy the divine image in mankind." He added that any family embarking upon shidduchim should first and foremost investigate this crucial fact regarding the suggested family, for if they are connected to the Internet, it indicates a serious blemish there.
The Mashgiach, HaRav Don Segal, was the next speaker, having come all the way from Eretz Yisroel to participate in this historic event. He very emotionally aroused the audience to teshuva. "The holy Torah teaches us about the terrible danger inherent in every single [undesirable/forbidden] glimpse, which leaves an indelible impression, penetrating the very marrow of a person's bones. One who views something forbidden becomes incorporated into it and endangers his soul and body with all kinds of indescribable and incredible ills." HaRav Segal told of a Jew from Bnei Brak who, as a result of exposure to the Internet, abandoned his family and fled the country, leaving them without any means of support. "This is only one example, but it is enough to sow panic in every heart!"
The Mashgiach of Beis Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, R' Matisyahu Salomon, further fortified the many thousands with his moving words, noting that the very attendance of such huge numbers was, in itself, capable of mitigating the heavenly indictment hovering over Klal Yisroel due to this plague. "When some seventy thousand people gather and declare that `we have no part and parcel with that yetzer hora,' it is in itself a tremendous Kiddush Hashem, the likes of which have not been witnessed since the Churban Habayis."
The historic event culminated with everyone rising to their feet to declare their acceptance of the Kingdom of Heaven, ol Malchus Shomayim, led by the loud reading of R' Matisyahu Salomon of "Shema Yisroel... Echad." This was followed by R' Don Segal taking his place before the amud to loudly declare, "Hashem Hu HaElokim!" joined by the thousands of emotion laden voices. The rally was concluded with R' Don Segal bursting into song: "Vetaher libeinu le'ovdecha!" and immediately joined by everyone rising to their feet and fervently singing the words which emanated from their hearts, praying that Hashem truly purify us in the face of the difficult trials of these times.