Chillul Tefila Bifarhesia, as well as halachicly challenged verbiage and dress, are external manifestations of a critical lack of personal yiras shomayim which has lethal consequences.
Digital images of the profoundly disturbing computer-smashing ceremony conducted by Rabbi Aaron Feinhandler have been viewed by countless thousands of Jews worldwide over the past few weeks.
Rabbi Feinhandler, who serves as the head of Yeshiva Machne Yisrael in Jerusalem, gathered a group of his students and delivered a short lecture about the evils of the Internet. He then proceeded to raise a laptop computer above his head, dash it to the ground, and he and his students took turns stomping on the laptop until it was totally destroyed.
The following day, Ezra Reichmann, a correspondent for the popular blog Vos Iz Neias, interviewed Rabbi Feinhandler to hear why he decided to publicize the computer-pulverizing event.
Rabbi Feinhandler said he views the Internet as an existential threat to frum life and that “70 percent of all youths who leave Yiddishkeit is because of the Internet or cell phones,” a figure he attributed to people who work with the at-risk youth population in Eretz Yisrael.
When asked if he has a computer in his yeshiva’s office, he responded, “We have no computer in our yeshiva’s office. How do we print letters? We send a handwritten letter to an office service by fax, and they return it printed instead of by e-mail. We pay them for the service. And we have plenty of office work; we have 75 bochurim in our yeshiva and 40 girls in our girls’ division.”
He also suggested that people reject jobs that require Internet use: “They need to work on the Internet for their parnossa? It’s better to clean streets and dirty your body than to work on the Internet and dirty your soul.”
I see no need to comment on the ceremony itself other than to condemn it – and the extremist and violent message it sends impressionable young people – in the strongest of terms. We are not well served conducting ceremonies – especially in venues that will be spread worldwide in a matter of moments – that invoke images of book burnings and the like.
I would, however, like to address two core components of Rabbi Feinhandler’s message – that the Internet is the primary cause of our young people leaving Yiddishkeit and its corollary, that sheltered folks unprepared for the overwhelming majority of decent jobs are more likely to remain frum.
Allow me to state the obvious: the Internet poses an enormous challenge for frum families looking to raise our sons and daughters in a Torah lifestyle. As such, parents have a sacred obligation to shield their children from the horribly destructive components of the Internet and postpone to the greatest extent possible their children’s exposure to the Internet’s negative content.
Having said that, over the past fifteen years I have dealt with thousands of at-risk teens (and adults) and I do not consider the very real dangers of the Internet to be one of the leading reasons people abandon Yiddishkeit.
Suggesting the Internet is the overriding cause of kids going off the derech is simplistic at best. It ignores the fact that a far greater percentage of frum people abandoned Yiddishkeit in the Lower East Side in the first part of the 20th century and generations earlier in post-Haskala Europe – long before the Internet was ever imagined.
Moreover, it gives parents a false sense of security to think their children are shielded by the ever-growing insularity many members of our community are embarking on while ignoring the real dangers to the Yiddishkeit of their children.
This single essay is not the forum for a sorely needed, broad-based and rational discussion of the real causes of kids leaving Yiddishkeit and what practical steps parents of young children ought to take to keep them on track.
Nonetheless, if I were asked al regel achas (“on one foot”) to list the Top Five causes of kids going off the derech, they would be, in order:
1) Child abuse/molestation/neglect.
2) Lack of simchas chayim/shalom bayis at home.
3) Poor parenting or overbearing parents.
4) Undiagnosed or unaddressed learning disabilities.
5) Extremism (lack of flexibility in raising children and forcing them into the same mold).
With that in mind, I suggest that following Rabbi Feinhandler’s dangerous advice of rejecting jobs for adults that require Internet use (read: almost any job that earns north of $30,000 annually) and allowing one’s children to be raised uneducated to the extent that they become “street cleaners” will directly trigger at least 4 out of the 5 risk factors.
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The importance of the caucus on organ harvesting in China, sponsored recently by the Liberal Lobby in the Knesset, cannot be exaggerated. On the surface, the caucus’s topic seems odd. Knesset members and other VIPs were called together to discuss horrors being perpetrated by the Communist regime in China against what the government there calls “regime opponents.”
My mother, the eldest daughter of Reb Yaakov Kamenetsky, zt”l, was niftar last month at the age of 92. She took her last breath in her home in Efrat, Israel, next door to the shul that was my father’s for 24 years before his passing in 2007.
It comes down to his being famous.
Following the Boston Marathon bombing, one crucial point will likely remain overlooked. The most loathsome aspect of this or any other terror bombing attack on civilians will always lie in the inexpressibility of physical pain. While all decent people will abhor the idea of bombs expressly directed at the innocent, whether here or in other countries, none will ever be able to process the very deepest horrors of what has been inflicted.
It’s only natural to see increasing evidence of Jerusalem’s glorious Jewish past being unearthed, quite literally, under modern Israeli sovereignty. The new archaeological finds are also very timely – as the Arab onslaught attempting to detach Jerusalem from its Jewish roots gains steam, the facts on the ground, or “under” the ground, show quite otherwise.
The Talmud (Berachot 26b) says, “tefillot avot tiknum” – “prayer was established by the avot.” The Talmud then uses the following verse (Bereshit 19:27) to prove how Avraham established prayer: “Vayaskem Avraham baboker el hamakom asher amad sham et pnei Hashem” – “And Avraham got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood before God.”
Nearly 13 years ago, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak journeyed to Camp David to end the conflict with the Palestinians. With the approval of President Clinton, he offered Yasir Arafat an independent Palestinian state in almost all of the West Bank, Gaza and in part of Jerusalem. Arafat said no.
The news that the Internal Revenue Service unfairly targeted conservative groups has brought renewed spotlight on a 2010 lawsuit filed by the pro-Israel group Z Street, which alleges it was also singled out by the IRS when applying for tax-exempt status.
In an editorial last week (“Circling the Wagons”) we noted the efforts by the administration and its supporters to dismiss allegations that the government’s spin on the Benghazi attack was designed to shield the president and that the IRS was improperly used to stifle opposition to Mr. Obama’s reelection.
As the controversies besetting the Obama administration continue to grow in number and intensity, the prospect that President Obama would seriously consider military action against Iran, should that country continue its drive to become a nuclear power, becomes more and more remote. So we welcome the current enhancement of sanctions against Iran on the federal and New York State levels.
To his parents’ friends, he was “Mrs. Greenberg’s disgrace,” but to sports fans he is one of the greatest – if not the greatest – Jewish baseball players of all time. Long before Sandy Koufax, Hank Greenberg excited Jewish sports fans with his prowess on the baseball diamond.
To eat is to live – to keep our physical bodies alive. For without the body, there is nothing. No experience. No memory. No joy and no hardship. But man, unlike animals, eats to live and to enjoy. So how should a Jew respond when he is challenged as to why he imposes upon himself not just ceremonies dedicated to the enjoyment of eating but even more to the limiting of what he can eat?
Neither Secretary of State Kerry nor the president he serves seem to understand Russia’s goals in the Middle East.
You might think that six Khamenei followers might split the hardline vote but don’t worry as that will be taken care of in the ballot-counting if necessary.
Those of us familiar with the do’s and don’ts of accepted practice in the mental health profession saw similar blaring warning lights in our minds, as should have occurred when the facts were made public regarding the accusations against Nehemia Weberman. This case may very well be our community’s most important abuse trial during our lifetimes. It is imperative that we have a huge turnout in support of the victim, a courageous young lady who, may she be gezunt andge’bentched, is determined to see this through to the end so others won’t suffer like she did.
These lines are written in loving memory of our dear father, Reb Shlomo Zev ben Reb Baruch Yehudah Nutovic, a”h, whose first yahrzeit is 7 Menachem Av. May the positive lessons learned from this essay be a zechus for his neshamah.
All responsible leaders in our community have roundly condemned the recent violence in Beit Shemesh and Meah Shearim.
A surefire way to gauge the generation in which a person was raised is to have him or her fill in the following sentence: Where were you when ?”
Baby Boomers would ask, “When President Kennedy was shot?” Thirtysomethings would respond, “When the space shuttle exploded?” Today’s teenagers would reply, “On 9/11?”
One week ago on my website I announced my intention to attend the next court appearance of a man who was arrested last year and is now standing trial on 10 felony charges of child abuse.
Dear Rabbi Horowitz:
We were taken aback when our 18-year-old son just called us from Eretz Yisrael (we live in Europe) and told us that he was coming home and wants to immediately go to work. He said that he is wasting his time in yeshiva, and just can’t take it anymore. He said that he will “run away from home” if we don’t allow him to go to work.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/quit-stomping-on-moderation/2010/03/11/
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