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Dealing With Technology’s Negative Aspects
Proclamations abound in Hebrew, English and Yiddish concerning a mass rally called for Sunday evening, May 20, at Citi Field (Roosevelt Avenue and 126th Street in Flushing, Queens). Seating capacity is approximately 45,000, including standing room. Ticket sales, at $10, began on May 2.
The rally will focus on and attempt to deal with the negative aspects of technological advancements, primarily the Internet. Hardly a day goes by without yet another technological breakthrough being announced, with each new device further revolutionizing technological applications.
The rally was called for by Rabbi Yisroel Avrohom Portugal, beloved Skulener Rebbe in Boro Park, and Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon, greatly respected mashgiach ruchani of Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood. Rabbi Salomon has for years stressed that the greatest challenge facing the frum world is the encroachment of the Internet.
The Skulener Rebbe’s call represents the invitation to the chassidishe community. Rabbi Salomon’s call represents the invitation to the yeshivishe community.
In addition to the Skulener Rebbe and Rabbi Salomon, attendance at the event has been endorsed and encouraged by the Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe, the Beis Din Tzedek of the Eidah Hacharedis of Jerusalem, Rabbi Shmuel Wosner, Rabbi Aaron Leib Shteinman, Rabbi Yehuda Adas, Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, and virtually every leading chassidishe rebbe and rosh yeshiva.
An English broadside proclaims the importance of rabbonim from “out of town” communities participating in the event as representatives of their communities.
The call to “out of town” rabbis is from (in the order on the proclamation): Rabbi Chonon Wenger; Rabbi Doniel Neustadt; Rabbi Avrohom Weinrib; Rabbi Dovid Merling; Rabbi Naftali Burnstein; Rabbi Gershon Bess; Rabbi Moshe Silver; Rabbi Yitzchok Margareten; Rabbi Avrohom Teichman; Rabbi Zev Cohen; Rabbi Shmuel Baddouch; Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro; and Rabbi Dovid Haber, all prominent rabbis in the United States and Canada.
“Expo” hours are listed as 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and the “asifa” (assemblage) program is from 7 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. Ichud HaKehillos LeTohar HaMachane, the sponsoring organization, was established to deal with the challenges of technology perceived to be damaging to the fabric of religious communities.
The Internet has of course had a tremendous impact on culture and commerce, including the rise of near instant communication by e-mail, instant messaging, voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) “phone calls,” two-way interactive video calls, and online shopping sites. Every facet of the Internet serves and has an impact on the observant community. And the Internet continues to grow, driven by ever greater amounts of online information, knowledge, and commerce. Since 2007, more than 97 percent of the world’s telecommunicated information is carried over the Internet.
Some governments, such as those of Iran, North Korea, Burma, China, and Saudi Arabia, restrict what people in their countries can access on the Internet, especially political and religious content. This is accomplished through sophisticated software that filters domains and their content so that they may not be easily accessed without elaborate circumvention.
In Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, Internet service providers have voluntarily restricted access to socially unacceptable sites listed by authorities. Many countries, including the United States, have enacted laws against the possession and/or distribution of certain material over the Internet, especially that of child abuse. But software filtering is not mandated. There are many free and commercially available software programs with which a user can choose to block offensive websites on individual computers.
The darker side of all the new technological advances is widely recognized. Legislation has been enacted to deal with practical problems such as hand-held cell phone usage during driving, texting while driving, privacy issues, etc. Monumental challenges continue to threaten civilized conduct in addiction to frivolous computer usage and Internet addiction. Some national political leaders, here and abroad, have been disgraced and destroyed by the exposure of their computer habits.
As of 2011, more than 2.2 billion people regularly use the Internet. Torah study has been immeasurably advanced by computers and the Internet. Heaven surely created the Internet for hebrewbooks.org, the website that has more than 51,000 sefarim instantly available, printable and downloadable for free. This means that if you have Internet access, you automatically have access to a Torah library of more than 51,000 sefarim regardless of how much shelf space you have or how small your home is.
Innumerable other websites house seemingly unlimited divrei Torah. Several illustrious chassidishe Rebbes have websites to disseminate their teachings and serve as successful vehicles of outreach.
The positive aspects of the Internet for the observant community can be extolled without end. However, the dark side of the Internet also affects the observant community.
Satmar Internet Usage
The Internet is a reality, literally a necessity, and will not go away. That realization is accepted by all segments of the observant community. But the international Satmar community, led by Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, the Satmar Rebbe based in Kiryas Yoel and Williamsburg, has laid down the law on Internet usage for its chassidim.
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Rewind sixty years to 1953.
Television was considered kosher by most and featured the likes of Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, George Burns, Red Buttons, Perry Como, Arthur Godfrey, Clayton Moore as The Lone Ranger, Dinah Shore, Red Skelton, Danny Thomas, Jack Webb as Joe Friday on “Dragnet” and many others who provided great memories.
Yet all are part of one neshamah, planted in rich, verdant soil, determined to grow. May our garden continue to produce a glorious assortment of flowers and trees, each attached firmly to its roots. Our diverse southern vegetation flourishes and grows into different trees, flowers, and fruits, and a rainbow of glorious shades and hues appears. Yet each shoot is rooted in the same soil, stretching its branches and blossoms heavenward in an endless pursuit of growth and connection to the One above.
This past Lag B’Omer, we were blessed to make our first upsherin, where we celebrate our son’s first hair cut. It’s a wonderful milestone that mimics the three years that we refrain from plucking a tree’s first fruits and symbolizes the entry of the child into the world of Torah learning. It’s a clear sign to everyone; this boy is no longer a baby.
Although there are more direct and faster routes to Beer Sheva and Eilat and all the sites and towns in-between, the Basor River is one of the beauties of the Negev that defiantly justifies a diversion.
The importance of death customs has been ingrained in me since birth. When I served as a shomeret for my grandmother, I was instructed not to eat, drink or perform a mitzvah in the same room. In the shock of death, it seemed rather inane to be told it would be considered mocking the dead. My grandmother was gone; she couldn’t do those things because she didn’t exist anymore, a fact that still makes me tear up.
I would have to say that one of the most annoying things about having a newspaper advice column, aside from all these people writing to me and asking for advice, is that they frequently don’t tell me WHY they’re asking.
Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l, who passed away on 28 Tammuz, (July18) this year at age 102, spent all of his days and most of his nights learning Torah. He was the paramount leader of our generation, and inspired tremendous awe and reverence in everyone who knew him. Now, every woman has the stunning opportunity to do something in his memory. A Sefer Torah is being written in his memory and women around the world have the chance to dedicate a letter.
Due to her family situation, it is understandable that she will have more responsibilities than other girls her age, but she would benefit from having some free time and receiving more appreciation for her hard work.
For children, summer means outdoor sports, picnics, and of course, no school! Teachers and students work hard all year long – and everyone deserves a break from education over the summer. However, this two-month break can often have some pretty devastating consequences.
It was only after we celebrated the great news that we were expecting twins that we saw the first sign of problems. First of all, my wife was losing, not gaining weight, even as the babies continued to grow normally. Soon after, routine blood work revealed that my wife was suffering from gestational diabetes.
Rabbi Pinchas Gruman is the new rav of the Minyan at Aish Tamid.
One of the most respected Torah figures in Los Angeles, Rabbi Gruman has been described as “The Los Angeles link in the mesorah of the yeshiva world” by Rabbi Nachum Sauer. As a talmid in Lakewood in the 1950s, Rabbi Gruman received semicha from Rav Aaron Kotler, zt”l, and Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l. Soon after, he moved to Los Angeles.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/my-machberes/my-machberes-15/2012/05/03/
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