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26 Kislev 5775 - December 18, 2014 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Breaking the Walls of Our Towers

by HaRav Boruch Shapira, Ram in the Kol Torah High School

Among other things, we accuse the Greeks of trying to make our forefathers "forget Your Torah." An outside power may try to stop people from learning Torah, but how can it hope to cause them to forget what they have already learned?

The yetzer hora has found a way, through various modern media, of entering the beis medrash itself. One way is the telephone news lines that at best bring batoloh, and at worse lies and loshon hora. Another is the MP3 device that is supposed to be used to listen to Torah lectures, but can also become contaminated with foreign insertions. These media have truly "broken into the walls of our towers."

These and other media inject empty but interesting concerns into people's consciousness that may seize so one's attention and mental resources that there is not enough remaining for divrei Torah. This is truly forgetting Torah.

Torah leaders have already come out against the severe manifestation of those devilish channels which devour the hearts and souls of their audiences. HaRav Eliashiv also expressed himself so outspokenly against the pitfalls they place before their listeners, saying that those who listen to them are not properly called "Bnei Torah" in their essence. HaRav Shteinman also warned against them publicly in acerbic terms at a gathering of roshei yeshivos ketanos, stating, "This destroys every person to the point that not only can one not be a ben Torah but he cannot even be called a ben Adam, a person, at all. Therefore it is very necessary to seek counsel as to how to keep vigil over the youth so that they do not succumb to these pitfalls." The roshei yeshiva and foremost Admorim also substantiated this vital message regarding the threat of this rapidly spreading phenomenon.

There is an undoubted strong connection between the phenomenon of the secular media wreaking havoc of late and of the manifestation of these recent breaches. Even though on the surface they seem harmless and devoid of repulsiveness and ugliness that characterize the secular media, but nonetheless their power to destroy is similar and similarly based.

The secular media derives its power from pandering to man's weaknesses and using them as a grinding ax to quarry huge amounts of money, power and influence. There is an unwritten collusion between the purveyors of secular media and its target public in the knowledge that the media recognize its natural weakness and are willing to cater to the demands of the lower desires of people, in return for the public providing the upkeep of those media through advertisements and purchases. The secular media, by its very existence, declares that man's desire to see the ills and misfortunes of his neighbor is an undeniable and legitimate form of raking in money, just like any other source of revenue on the market.

Under the slogan of "the public's right to know," many ethical values have been smothered, even those embraced by the nations of the world, to say nothing of Torah values. All the violations of speech which are based on "the public's right not to know" as grounded in the fundamental commandment of, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor" and, "Do not do unto others what you would not have them do to you," — have been overturned to become values which purposely pander to man's negative inclination and desires.

We are on the mark if we say that the secular media is somewhat embarrassed to define itself as it really is: "a forum for spreading smear and slander and emptiness," and tries to wrap itself in the cloak of `presenting the news.' Instead of pursuing the presentation of only legitimate political changes, it barrages its public daily and hourly with sharpened arrows against private people who were discrepant here or there, purveying reports of whatever exists in the deficiency of mouth and ear.

How frightening it is to believe that in our very circles of yirei Hashem, this dastardly trend is rearing itself manifoldly without any guise or rationalization. It isn't even `news'; just stupid babbling, slander, loshon hora, defamation, quarrel mongering, incitement of man against his neighbor, in effect taking the entire bookshelf of the works of the Chofetz Chaim and burning its contents in the city square.

New Threats

Since a person's evil inclination renews and reinforces itself daily, we have not come here to repeat a well known message of the violation of so many severe transgressions, but to arouse the awareness of parents to the threats of updated technology in its form of so-called social media, which even in the kosher cellphones have found a way to enable one to connect to networks which supply information to groups signed up with them, such as Watchphone, to which groups of bochurim and seminary students are connected. We are not referring to the issur of loshon hora and lies which surely find their way to this network and can bode no good in its proliferation of words, but to warn of the terrible damage wreaked upon the elite of our ranks who succumb to "just an innocent bit of news" and self-destroy their exalted stature and accomplishments with the results.

If we judge by the quantity of cases piled up on the tables of Torah educators everywhere in these recent times, the victims of this latest war against groups which waste their time and reduce the purity of thought of so many precious youths, is becoming increasingly serious, and we are not talking about leaving to other cultures, choliloh. These `news stations' destroy every form of spiritual ascent of our bnei Torah from within. If Chazal taught that "before a person prays that Torah is internalized by him, let him first pray that forbidden food and partying not find access to his body," and this is all the more true that his head not be stuffed with hearing ongoing [dis]information. Experience proves that this brings about a severance to application in learning, distortion and perversion of thought, character demoralization and ethical shallowness of our precious sons and daughters.

We must make an individual cheshbon haneffesh if it is worthwhile putting one's spiritual future in a state of accumulative deficit of millions of serious Torah violations, of wasted time and transgressions of speech and falsehood, which will not only be taken into account when one must make a future reckoning, but will sully his spirit in this world when he could acquire eternal wealth presented to him and not be sidetracked in his spiritual growth.

May we seen the victory of "lomdei Torasecha" to illuminate against those who darken and seek to extinguish our light. May Hashem, Who guards a holy nation, guard the remnant of a holy People.


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