Maran Rosh HaYeshiva HaRav Shteinman shlita said at an Internet rally, "The yetzer hora tries to get just one foot into the door of the home. He thus opens s small crack in the fortress wall and from that he gets both feet into the interior. And even if one does not fall to the nethermost world, every spiritual decline is serious. The yetzer hora is smarter than we are, and he is around six thousand years older than we are. So what can we do? We must make barriers to barriers and fences to fences."
We work and invest so much to make our family's environment of high quality and to promote our values, it is worth it to put in a little more to get the best results.
Everyone knows the great dangers and the serious damage that has been done to numerous individuals and even families by the Internet. They understand the risks of an unfiltered Internet, not to mention the unequivocal statement of the gedolei hador: "The unfiltered Internet is forbidden completely, even if it is necessary for parnossoh."
The questions start with the filtered Internet. On the one hand many workers are allowed to use it at their workplaces. What is less clear and the subject of a lot of questions, is the use of filtered Internet at home. In this area there is a lot of misunderstanding and lack of clarity.
The following is intended to inform readers about the dangers and issues that attach to using even a properly filtered Internet.
The Way the Wind Blows
How would you react if your neighbor were to suggest that you subscribe to a secular newspaper in exchange for his guarantee to read and cut out all forbidden pictures and problematic words? You would surely recoil from such an idea, not only for fear that his censorship would not be perfect and not only because you wouldn't rely on him, but because of the very foul spirit of the newspaper itself which exudes from every corner and from its very style, in short, from the whole thing! Even from what is left after the explicitly forbidden is removed, it worms its secular atmosphere into every home to which it is exposed.
Even if we are to suggest a robotic censorship, we surely admit that a robot is not sensitive to the spirit and nuances of secularism, besides which, even where it does detect problems, who says that it is capable of screening those sufficiently? Even regarding human filtering, there are websites which people need for their work which causes screening companies to leave them accessible, leaving them, indeed, intact with their secularism. When talking about Internet, this includes the prime minds designing every visual design so as to make it as attractive as possible. That secular spirit penetrates itself deeply and can actually influence one's personality and the very character of the home.
The Dangers of Open Heresy
It is impossible to fully filter apikorsus. One can merely bar certain words and phrases which are used by heretics while the content outside of those words remains unfiltered. Sometimes it may be detected and erased by human inspection but it is often intertwined in the general text and undetected, to remain open and available.
We will not discuss bringing in external literature into the home for we are not discussing the halachic aspect of this but merely aim to reflect the state of reality. However if we do not bring into the home books which include apostasy, there is still a vast difference between kfira in the computer and that in books.
We have all heard about the addictive drug hidden in the Internet and the damage it causes to one's personality and its effect on the home. One who is physically present in the home but whose mind and soul are involved in virtual vistas causes the home atmosphere to totter and his relationship towards his children to waver. This painful reality does not exclude the filtered Internet, either, as experts testify. For even after filtering, the addictive drug still remains, with the accompanying detrimental results.
One commonly hears such sentences from users like, "I wanted to save time but it turns out that I am wasting it." To our regret, we are all guilty of wasted time. But there is a huge difference between time that runs through our fingers, and setting ourselves up on a steady basis of wasting chunks of substantial time and committing `time suicide'.
The only thing which can never ever be retrieved is lost time. Time is life, and whoever wants life must first distance himself from whatever can shorten or kill life. All the more so when that time is squandered on foolishness and emptiness, since it harms his level of spirituality. Therefore, with regard to bnei Torah, it is all the more severe, for every investment in spiritual ascent is exchanged for a deterioration in one's spiritual level. The danger is not only apparent in quantity of life but surely in its spiritual quality.
Who is a Wise Man...
Even if some of the points enumerated here do not apply to you, suffice it for one point to apprise you that all of the so called benefit and convenience one can get from the Internet is cancelled out a thousand times on balance with the great damage it causes to the structure of the home and its spiritual character.
True, it may make things convenient, save you money or effort here and there, but every step and every shekel are worth it if they create and preserve a quality home and family.
We pay so much for providing the right atmosphere and society. Isn't it worthwhile to make that extra step and effort to obtain a home of superior quality?
It is not for naught that many who were already sucked into Internet to pick themselves up one fine day and toss it out the door. They felt the spiritual damage in the flesh and in the pocket as well, but they had the courage and strength to stop while they could.
What is the home of a wise man? One which learns from the experience of others.