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January 30, 2015 / 10 Shevat, 5775
 
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Kosher or Not, the Internet Cannot be Stopped

The internet is not only here to stay. Its ubiquity is increasing by leaps and bounds via the smart phone. No ban in the world has the power to stop it. It is like spitting in the wind.
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Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/FLASH90

So much for sacred ignorance. So what is the solution? I don’t know how many times I have said it – or in how many ways. But the answer is education! Now that we have the technology to find answers to difficult questions from sources that are not Torah based we need to learn how to better answer those questions in the home and in the schools.

We need to be able to answer these questions in ways that will satisfy the questioners. That means that the typical training teachers have gotten until now is not enough. Teachers need to be taught to anticipate hard questions and be trained how to answer them. Da Ma L’Heishiv, Chazal tell us. That means we must know what those questions are based on and how to answer them.

Questions of faith and belief are difficult to deal with. Answers are not always clear cut. But in my view they can be dealt with in ways that will prevent students from going OTD – even if they subsequently go on line to find other answers.

Of course this approach is not foolproof. But what choice do we have? The information highway is pervasive and people are going to use it.

I have faith in Judaism as the ultimate truth. I therefore believe the faith of our people in God and His Torah will be retained. I agree with one thing Mrs. Brown said. Judaism has endured two millennia of knowledge and change. It will survive this too. That said, ignorance will no longer be our saving grace. Knowledge will.

Saying the internet is Assur is more futile than saying college is Assur. All the haranguing in the world will not impact all but the few.

All the Bible thumping… all the scare tactics about saving the soul will just not work on vast numbers of Jews. That should be obvious by the fact that internet Asifa  scare tactics haven’t really changed things all that much.
Even if we accept the numbers quoted by Mrs. Brown one in four families in Boro Park – one of the largest enclaves of Charedi Jews in the world – has internet access. Even with filters, it’s virtually impossible to filter out all the information that would lead a child – or even an adult in many cases – into going OTD! Filtering out smut is one thing. Filtering out information that is not strictly Torah based is another. I don’t think it is even possible.
So much for sacred ignorance. So what is the solution? I don’t know how many times I have said it – or in how many ways. But the answer is education! Now that we have the technology to find answers to difficult questions from sources that are not Torah based we need to learn how to better answer those questions in the home and in the schools.
We need to be able to answer these questions in ways that will satisfy the questioners. That means that the typical training teachers have gotten until now is not enough. Teachers need to be taught to anticipate hard questions and be trained how to answer them. Da Ma L’Heishiv, Chazal tell us. That means we must know what those questions are based on and how to answer them.
Questions of faith and belief are difficult to deal with. Answers are not always clear cut. But in my view they can be dealt with in ways that will prevent students from going OTD – even if they subsequently go on line to find other answers.
Of course this approach is not foolproof. But what choice do we have? The information highway is pervasive and people are going to use it.
I have faith in Judaism as the ultimate truth. I therefore believe the faith of our people in God and His Torah will be retained. I agree with one thing Mrs. Brown said. Judaism has endured two millennia of knowledge and change. It will survive this too. That said, ignorance will no longer be our saving grace. Knowledge will.
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About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.


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One Response to “Kosher or Not, the Internet Cannot be Stopped”

  1. Rc Fowler says:

    There is nothing un-kosher with using the internet–when done appropriately; but there is a lot of un-kosher with the so called but not orthodox.

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