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August 5, 2015 / 20 Av, 5775
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Facebook! Gevalt!


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I was very pleased to read in The Jewish Press about the 50,000 packed Asifa gathering held yesterday in Citi Field in New York against the dangers of the Internet. Boker tov, brothers! I say this because some 7 years ago, we started the first website www.jewishsexuality.com which dealt with this terrible plague in a direct and open manner, in order to warn Jewish surfers and educate them how to escape – adults, children, and teachers alike – from the nefarious clutches and seductions of the net.

Years ago, before coming to Israel, I ghostwrote a book on gambling addiction for a major U.S. publisher. Using this knowledge, I applied it to the growing addiction to Internet pornography, and opened a “Pornoholics Anonymous” section on our website which has received thousands and thousands of hits. A booklet, “Shmirat HaBrit”, which can be downloaded free, discusses the issues straightforwardly, explaining why looking at immodest images is so detrimental to the Jewish soul, and presents concrete advice how a victim can escape from the sexual transgressions that evolve from it. The Questions and Answers which are posted cover just about every topic on the issue of Jewish Sexuality, and I translated dozens of important Torah articles, including the Laws of Marital Relations by Israel’s former Chief Rabbi Modechai Eliahu, of blessed memory; many selections from writings of Rabbi Kook; and the long and important confession which follows the “Tikun HaKlali.”

Every time a person sits down at his computer, he is tempted with the very same test that Yosef faced in Egypt. Thousands of seductive women are just a finger click away. That’s why, today, the Internet is Potiphar’s wife.

We who don’t have the same exalted fear of God that Yosef had, where will we summon the strength to overcome the temptation? For us, Divine assistance comes in the form of an anti-pornography filter. Thank God, there are many on the market. Many can be downloaded for free. They afford vital (if only partial) protection from the overpowering temptations of Internet surfing. I say partial because most teenagers today know ways of circumventing filters, such as USB Wireless attachments, 3rd generation cell phones, iPhones, MP4 players, and the Bluetooth copy program.

So grave is the danger of Internet-watching that Torah authorities have ruled that Internet surfing without an anti-porn filter is a violation of the Torah commandment, “Thou shall not put a stumbling block in front of a blind man.” Erotic pictures on the Internet, whether they be in ads, on the Yahoo home page, or in adult sites, cause a person to violate a long list of Torah commandments, including:

You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy!” (Vayikra 19:2)

Thou shall not turn astray after your hearts and after your eyes which lead you astray.” (Bamidbar 15:39)

Therefore shall your camp be holy, that He see no unclean thing in you and turn away from you.” (Devarim 23:15)

And you shall guard yourself from every evil thing.” (Devarim 23:10)

Do not turn astray after their gods!” (Vayikra 19:4)

You shall not walk in the customs of the gentile.” (Vayikra 20:23)

Thou shall not bring an abomination into your house.” (Devarim 7:26)

Our Sages have long told us that sexual transgression causes a terrible rift between the Jewish Nation and God, causing exile and national destruction. Our enemies know this and therefore muster all of their cunning, material resources, and technology to bring us to sin. This has been the strategy from the time of Amalek, Midian, Greece, throughout history down to the zillion dollar industry of Internet pornography today. Today, this terrible enemy has, like the Trojan Horse, entered our innermost sanctums and been afforded an honored place in our homes. So if you want to join in the fight and help win the battle, save yourselves, your children and the entire Jewish Nation – and expel this cruel and crafty enemy from your homes, if not by throwing away the computer, then at least by installing a reliable filter.

And while we’re on the subject, another thing is worth mentioning. Until recently, I didn’t bother with Facebook, thinking, why waste my time with the superficialities of social networking when I could write much deeper articles and books? Then, after all the publicity which Facebook received over its role in international demonstrations and revolutions movements, I figured, why not give it a try? I thought that maybe Facebook could help spread the message of aliyah to Jews around the world. So I started making friends….

It seems to me that some of the dangers of Facebook are already known, especially concerning our children. First, the world of Facebook is a very egotistical place, with everything centered about ME – how I look, what I like, what I do, and what I think – ME, ME, ME, ME. Facebook gives everyone a chance to stand out and be “famous,” which is not necessarily an admirable Jewish trait. Furthermore, on Facebook, you can be friends with anyone, religious and non religious, Jewish and gentile, Jews for Israel and Jews for Jezeus. After all, the founder of Facebook – Mark Zuckerberg – just married a shiksa, why shouldn’t your kid? Plus, these new “friends” can send you anything they want, like dirty jokes, trashy songs, indecent photos, and links to all kinds of “cultural” garbage that many parents wouldn’t want their children to encounter. Additionally, your list of new Facebook “friends” can include perverts of all persuasions, child molesters, porn peddlers, and even murderers, may God have mercy. We’ve all heard horror stories of how a young and innocent Facebook enthusiast arranged to meet one of his, or her, new friends, and ended up being molested, raped, and even killed.

Most parents are aware of these dangers. “It won’t happen to our kids,” they say. But I am writing this warning to alert people of yet another very real danger – Facebook pornography. In my Facebook ignorance during my first week of networking, I didn’t discover anything overly worrisome. It seemed that whoever was running things at the other end of the computer, wherever that may be, simply didn’t allow pornography onto the network. But then I noticed that there was an option to “search,” like with Google and Yahoo, and I curiously typed in a key word or two. BONKERS! Was I ever shocked! Pornography at its worst, just a click of the mouse away – the most pornographically graphic and explicit photos and videos, the very glimpse of which still has me shaking.

Don’t believe me? Never seen it on Facebook yourself? Well, for Heaven’s Sake, don’t make a search. Take my word for it.

Do you have a teenager who is doing badly in school? Do you have a kid who hates to pray? Does the tiny kippah he wears come off his head the moment he’s down the block? This may be the reason. Nothing desensitizes a person from Torah more than an exposure to porn. Don’t delude yourselves – when it comes to computers, children are geniuses. They know how to navigate through the intricacies of the web like private eyes.

So parents, beware! Either ban you kids from using Facebook, or be sure you have a foolproof filter that doesn’t allow them to see all of the junk that’s out there. They may yell and scream and threaten to boycott the house, but their fury will pass.

One final word. Reading the article in The Jewish Press about the giant Asifa turnout, I was happy to learn that the frum community was taking measures to deal with the problem, but the photo of the jammed-packed stadium broke my heart. What are so many devout Haredi Jews doing in New York when they could all be living in the Holy Land? Can somebody answer me that?

About the Author: Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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2 Responses to “Facebook! Gevalt!”

  1. they're waiting for the next eagle to come along! Silly. El Al has done a pretty good job while "waiting". The real reason is that 64 years after Israel's establishment, they cannot accept Medinat Yisrael as the "means" to the end. How sad!

  2. For consideration:
    Yea, though we walk through the valley of the shadow… With what you say, I agree with most, but please remember, if Potiphar's wife had not pursued Yosef, he may not have been in the right place, at the right time, to do God's bidding, of saving Israel, and his nation, of seventy people. We cannot hide beneath a rock, hoarding what we have been given, as we are ordained to share Salvation of the Soul, with all, while keeping His Law and Ordinances intact.
    To share, or reach-out, one must be in near proximity to those in need. Tools, like Facebook, provide that opportunity, but we must Share, with Care, while There (in the 'Valley').

Comments are closed.

Tzvi Fishman, author of the Jewish Press blog Felafel on Rye and author of more than a dozen books.
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