web analytics
September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

A Biblical Guide To Internet Behavior

Student-072712

The Internet is a medium that has made its way in its short existence all the way to the center of contemporary life. Many of our daily tasks are now tied to it, and will be more so in the future.

Like all tools, particularly the most powerful, the Internet can be used for tremendous good – as well as the opposite. Torah wisdom can provide guidance on proper usage of this new technology. When explained homiletically, Tehillim 34 offers profound insight into some of the key attitudes necessary to responsibly use the Internet. Recited every Shabbos morning, this chapter consists of meditations on attaining the truly good life.

Avoid Bad and Do Good

A key principle of achieving a good life is avoiding bad, sur me’ra (v. 15). Regarding the Internet, this means utilizing strategies to avoid improper websites. It requires using filters and image- and ad-blockers as necessary. It also means making responsible choices about which types of websites to visit.

After avoiding bad, King David tells us to do good (aseh tov). First you must install your filter and other similar tools. Only after that are you ready to use the Internet for positive purposes. And that is what you must do. Make the Internet a tool for your personal growth. Choose a Torah website as your home page; assign a religiously themed picture as your background. The more you use your Internet devices for holy purposes, the harder it will be for you to misuse them.

No Gossip and Judge Favorably

Perhaps the most famous verse in this psalm is King David’s admonition to avoid defamatory speech (netzor leshoncha me’ra, v. 14). On the Internet you must studiously avoid spreading or consuming lashon hara. This is no easy task, just as it is difficult in conversation with friends. But the laws of lashon hara apply to all media, particularly in the public arena of the Internet. Think before you post. Any form of transmitting damaging information falls under this rule.

We know but often neglect the obligation to judge others favorably. When interacting with other people, whether online or off, always strive to see the positive (bakesh shalom, v. 15). Read news stories and other reports critically, trying to justify the subject’s actions. Fight against the cynicism that tries to dominate our community, particularly online. Remember that you rarely get the full story, even years after the fact.

Be Yourself and Live Life

King David calls out: Mi ha’ish, who is the person? (v. 13) Don’t let people online ask that about you. Anonymity is a key behavior that reduces inhibitions online, allowing for multiple types of unruly activity. Many wrongly think that they do not have to answer for their behavior if they can hide their identity. Avoid this temptation by using your real name or at least maintaining a consistent pseudonym. Commit to behaving online solely in ways that do not embarrass you.

The Internet is a wonderful tool for life but it is a pale substitute. You have to want real life (he’chafetz chaim), thriving relationships with friends, family and your spouse (v. 13). You have to love the good in life (ohev yamim liros tov). If you disappear all day and night into your screen, you will neglect your loved ones who will in turn abandon you. As with other good things in life, you must use the Internet in moderation. If you have trouble cutting back on your screen time, you must speak with a therapist about how to reduce your dependency on technology.

Don’t Give Up

The psalm compares God’s treatment of the righteous and those who sin. “They cried and the Lord heard…” (v. 18). Unlike Rashi, Ibn Ezra and R. Donash ben Livrat explain that the sinners of the prior verse (those who do bad – “oseh ra”) are the ones who call out to God. The psalm earlier taught that God answers the prayers of the righteous. Our verse tells us something more radical: God cares deeply about those who do wrong. When they call out to Him, when they are ready to change their ways, God is waiting to help them return. He will save them.

If you have stumbled in your Internet use and have visited improper sites, all is not lost. God will answer your call. You must stop, install a strong filter and commit to not bypassing it. Adopt other precautions as well, strategies that will help keep you on the right path. Talk to a therapist if you cannot cut back. You must stop because the potential addiction can destroy your life.

Seven Biblical Principles

We’ve discussed seven principles: 1) utilize strategies – filters and more – to avoid improper websites (sur me’ra), 2) turn the Internet into a religious tool (aseh tov), 3) refrain from posting or reading defamation (netzor leshoncha me’ra), 4) judge charitably (bakesh shalom), 5) avoid total anonymity (mi ha’ish), 6) experience life offline (he’chafetz chaim), 7) change your ways (tza’aku v’Hashem shameia). While more principles can be added, these serve as a base for responsible Internet usage.

Rabbi Gil Student blogs at TorahMusings.com and maintains a website dedicated to responsible frum Internet usage, InternetInJewishHome.com.

About the Author: Rabbi Gil Student writes frequently on Jewish issues and serves as editor-in-chief of TorahMusings.com. Rabbi Student previously served as managing editor of OU Press and still maintains a connection to the publisher but did not work on this book in any way.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A Biblical Guide To Internet Behavior”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Drone Intercept Along Syrian Border 1
Israel Shoots Down Syrian Sukhoi-24 Fighter Plane Infiltrating Israeli Airspace
Latest Indepth Stories
jerusalem_flag

“I pray that fellow Jews open their eyes & connect themselves to the national side of being a Jew”

George Bush and Barack Obama

The big service ISIS is doing the West right now is checking Iranian power, just as the Sunni rebels inside Syria are keeping the Iranian agent Hezbollah in check, and just as the PLO is keeping Hamas in check, at least to some degree.

Cannabis Greenhouse

Research shows that high doses of marijuana can produce acute psychotic reactions, lower IQ in teens

donny pic

The current missionary problem in Samaria is still relatively unknown throughout Israel&to most Jews

Rosh Hashanah is a universal, stock-taking, renewal and hopeful holiday,

No mutual clash between parties, it was Jews repeatedly attacked by Arabs, not the other way around.

Israel would love to be in the coalition,but it’s never going to happen, because, in the end, most of America’s allies would walk away if Israel were on board officially.

Why has his death been treated by some as an invitation for an emotional “autopsy”?

SWOT analysis: Assessing resources, internal Strengths&Weaknesses; external Opportunities&Threats.

Strategy? For the longest time Obama couldn’t be bothered to have one against a sworn enemy.

Seventeen visual skills are needed for success in school, sports, and everyday life.

We started The Jewish Press. Arnie was an integral part of the paper.

Fear alone is substantial; without fusing it to beauty, fear doesn’t reach its highest potential.

Fortunate are we to have Rosh Hashanah for repentance, a shofar to awaken heavenly mercy.

Arab leaders who want the US to stop Islamic State are afraid of being dubbed traitors and US agents

National Lawyers Guild:Sworn enemy of Israel & the legal arm of Palestinian terrorism since the ’70s

More Articles from Rabbi Gil Student
We are always in His presence

If we can learn to fear the surveillance of the Internet, we can learn to fear God’s constant watching.

Rabbi Gil Student

Traditional Jewish texts clearly discuss men and women as categories – as distinct groups – even though individual men and women vary.

There must be an Orthodox presence and an Orthodox refusal to attend Limmud NY.

I am from the generation that never saw or heard the Rav but lived in his shadow, feeling his recently departed presence in his students’ lectures. My poverty in this sense pales in comparison to that of the next generation, who have only a distant notion of who this great man was and his sprawling impact.

The Internet is a medium that has made its way in its short existence all the way to the center of contemporary life. Many of our daily tasks are now tied to it, and will be more so in the future.

In light of all the attention that the recent Internet Asifa garnered, we thought it wise to offer this analysis on the subject by Rabbi Gil Student, founder of TorahMusings.com and former managing editor of OU Publications.

Israel is a Jewish country – but can it continue to be so when Judaism threatens to destroy the state?

The unfair longstanding attacks on Israel’s legitimacy are a permanent stain on the international community. For over 60 years, Israel has valiantly grown under hostile conditions while fighting lies and half-truths in the international arena. Israel suffers doubly, however, when its very essence, its Jewish character, supports its opponents’ narrative.

There are two types of people in the world – those who are inspired by Mussar and those who are turned off by it.

Mussar is a school of study that teaches religious self-improvement. Traditional Mussar, as practiced in many yeshivas to this day, has a rabbi exhorting his listeners, often yelling at them, to be more careful in their actions and attitudes. This is frequently accompanied with a Torah insight and maybe even a good parable. But it can be scary: fire, brimstone, judgment day – all the horrible implications of religious failure, in graphic detail.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-biblical-guide-to-internet-behavior/2012/07/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: