In the Torah portions during Chanukah, we always read about Yosef, or Joseph, as he is known on Broadway. Yosef is called “Yosef HaTzaddik,” meaning the Righteous One. The Holy Zohar teaches that Yosef earned the esteemed title of Tzaddik because he guarded the Covenant of sexual purity. This is what brought him to kingship over the world.
“Rabbi Shimon said, ‘It was only after Yosef withstood the test of temptation with Potifar’s wife that he was called Tzaddik. Since he guarded the holy Brit, he was called Tzaddik’” (Zohar,Bereshit 194b).
The Midrash says that Potifar’s wife wasEgypt’s most beautiful woman. Day after day, dressed in immodest outfits, she would approach the young Hebrew slave and beckon him to her quarters. She would whisper seductive things in his ear. Yosef’s test wasn’t just a one time thing. She kept after him for months on end, doing everything in her powers to cast her spell over him. On that fateful day when she threw herself at him with all of her charms, she made sure that no one else was in the house. The only thing standing between Yosef and the forbidden act was his fear of God. His father and family were hundreds of miles away, he was in the prime of his strength, she was the most beautiful and seductive woman inEgypt, and still he resisted.
In praising Yosef’s achievement, the Zohar emphasizes that guarding the Covenant of sexual holiness is like observing all of the Torah, “guarding the Brit is equal in weight with the whole Torah” (Zohar, Bereshit 197a).
In our time, each of us is tempted every day with the very same test when we sit down at the computer. Thousands of seductive women are just a quick click away. Today, the Internet is Potifar’s wife.
We who don’t have same exalted the 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-smut filter. Thank God, there are many on the market. Many can be downloaded for free. So grave is the danger of Internet watching that Torah authorities have ruled that Internet surfing without a safe 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, in fashion pages, or in adult sites, cause a person to violate a long list of Torah commandments, including:
* “You shall be holy, for I the L-rd your G-d am holy!”
* “Thou shall not turn astray after your hearts and after your eyes which lead you astray.”
* “Therefore shall your camp be holy, that He see no unclean thing in you and turn away from you.”
* “And you shall guard yourself from every evil thing.”
* “Do not turn astray after their gods!”
* “You shall not walk in the customs of the gentile.”
* “Thou shall not bring an abomination into your house.”
Recognizing the terrible danger of unsupervised Internet viewing has extra significance now, at the time of Chanukah. The article, “The Secrets of Chanukah,” posted on my www.jewishsexuality.com website, explains how it was precisely the Covenant of sexual holiness of the Jewish People that the Greeks sought to pollute. The Covenant between the Nation of Israel and God is sealed on our bodies, by the brit milah, emphasizing that God also has dominion over this part of our lives. The hedonist Hellenist culture sought to stamp out this holiness and give sensuality and bodily pleasure free reign. Instead of covering the modesty of the body, they celebrated its total exposure, in their promiscuous culture, their bathhouses, bawdy cabarets, their art, and their nude Olympics. Their goal was not to wipe out the Jewish People, but rather to wipe out our holy connection to God. And the method they chose to do this was to force us into adopting their immoral philosophies and ways. For, like the wicked Bilaam before them, they knew that the God of the Jewish People despises immorality. Their hedonist culture could not tolerate the existence of a competing Jewish culture that championed the holiness of life, so they set out to destroy our attachment to Torah. Therefore, they outlawed brit milah, and decreed that every Jewish virgin before her marriage be brought to the Greek ruler’s palace to be despoiled.