Tonight I installed an Internet filter. I have always disliked filters as they slow down my computer and have been an annoyance. But the asifa at Citi Field focused my attention and an extra safeguard is worth infinitely more than the discomfort it engenders.
I live on the Internet and crave a fast connection to it. Every second I wait for a click-through slows my thought process and reaction time, and puts me at a disadvantage in a business climate where quick responses and rapid absorption of information are points of entry.
I’m in the meat business. I begin my workday on the Internet, scanning the latest news. Going around the world in ten minutes leaves me feeling refreshed, energized and ready to take on another day.
Then I check cattle prices and news related to the meat packing industry. It takes about another ten minutes to know all I need to know from news reports that relate to our industry.
It is amazing how quickly times have changed. Had I ordered a dozen newspapers delivered to my door, I couldn’t have read one newspaper in the same amount of time.
I work with a basic product, meat. The animal hasn’t changed since Hashem created it. But even our commodity business is changing at a rapid pace. There are new packaging options, changing consumer trends, new USDA regulations, and improved and creative marketing techniques. Like many small businesses, we are a company of three people doing the work of six. And like most small businesses, we consider ourselves fortunate to be remaining afloat in today’s difficult business climate.
Having cut my teeth in the non-profit world and now spending much of my time in the for-profit arena, one of the greatest distinctions I find is that the for-profit world is the world of utter reality. There are no platitudes or committees and you don’t lead by consensus. If you have a good product at a good price delivered in a timely fashion you have the business. It is about reality and performance, not intention. And you are judged daily by your clients.
The spiritual challenges of the Internet are immense. I spend much of my day in conversation with Midwest truck drivers and New York butchers, who are not prone to talk around an issue. Let’s talk reality: There is a base desire among males which is akin to a recovered alcoholic’s hankering for cheap, sweet wine. With the Internet unchecked, the tap is a click away. The potential for addiction and relapse is great.
Yet while I appreciate the severity of the problem, I am concerned about the way our community is responding to it. The longer I live the more convinced I am that the solution to moral weakness lies within self, not in external regulation. The solution to male weakness is to keep man fulfilled; and a good place to start is his primal desire to protect and provide for his wife and children.
When a man purchases a home with a yard and a tall fence, with money he earned by providing a unique skill to others in return for fair payment for his expertise, he is fortified as a man. When that same man is inspired with a mission of Kiddush Shem Shamayim, to be an ambassador of decency and Godliness to the world, he is fortified as a Jew.
Manly duty on the outside and religious fervor on the inside – yegi’as shneihem meshkachas avon.
When the goal is Kiddush Hashem and the mission is to change the world, the allure of Internet smut is weak. It is no more attractive than a shady business deal to a seasoned and respected businessman. He wouldn’t do it under any circumstances, even if the potential profit were dangled before him.
The self-control comes from manliness, pride and dignity.
Secular society weakens the male. A man’s natural leadership ability is a threat to the politically correct insistence on the sameness of the sexes. Our frum community may, inadvertently, be weakening the male as well. I remember writing an article for a yeshiva newsletter about a Halacha Chabura. Just before publication I was told by the editor to add a line that said, “Of course, no decisions can be made without consultation with a Rav.” The rosh chabura commented to me: “If someone spends months studying a subject l’halacha, should he not be able to live as he learns?” Why the weakness?
The weak male cannot be an ambassador of dignity to the world since he begins with a deficiency the outside world doesn’t share.
I truly fear the Internet’s pitfalls. I believe, wholeheartedly, that every self-respecting adult should install an Internet filter. How can we not, when it is so readily available? But I also believe that every self-respecting man should know the password to his Internet filter. The filter stops the impulse. But it is the man within who makes the right decision.
The biggest strength I have is my manliness. It is the values I maintain and the mission I engage. It is the trust I have been granted. That is what keeps me working to provide for my family and trying to be a Kiddush Hashem in the business world. It is my sense of duty, commitment, honor, and self respect. It is the confidence I have in my abilities and in my decision-making process.
We are justifiably concerned about the family. But if you take away my manliness you will have destroyed me – and my family – just the same.
The author of two books, Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt tends the flock literally and figuratively as CEO of AD Rosenblatt Kosher Meats and a rabbi at NCSY Dallas.Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt
About the Author: Yaakov Rosenblatt, the author of two books, is a rabbi and businessman in Dallas.
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