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January 22, 2017 / 24 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘internet’

A Chasidic Rebbe’s Approach to the Internet

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, Emes Ve-Emunah}

The great ‘Internet Asifa’ held back in May of 2012 and attended by tens of  thousands of mostly right wing Orthodox Jews still reverberates in my mind. Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, an American Rosh Yeshiva and popular motivational speaker got up at that gathering and introduced the keynote speaker, Rav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner, ZTL of Bnei Brak by quoting a passage from Rabbenu Yona’s Shaarei Teshuva. He said that when the multitudes of Israel gather and decisions are made by the leaders for action, anyone who separates himself from the group has no portion in Olam Haba.

After which Rav Wosner said that it is forbidden for anyone to have the internet. That ruling was back pedaled a few days later to exclude those that desperately need it for work and even then only with filters. But the sentiments remained the same. The internet was defined as evil and to be avoided at almost all cost.  Chasidic Rebbes like those of Satmar had no use for these exceptions. They forbade it completely. One of the 2 Satmar Rebbes boycotted the event because they had heard that the internet wouldn’t be entirely banned. (Nonetheless, it seems that most Satmar Chasidim seem to ignore the ban.)

Although Rabbi Wachsman told people they would lose their eternity by not listening to Rav Wosner, most non Chasidic American rabbinic leaders have taken a far more rational and practical approach to the internet. But among much of the Charedi world in Israel and among Satmar like Chasidim even in America there is still an extreme contempt for it.  I believe that’s because of the far greater isolation that exists.

This is old news. What is not old is the emergence of a saner Chasidic voice in Israel whose views reflect the more rational approach that the rest of Orthodoxy subscribes to.

In fact there is not much daylight between what I have said in the past and what Rav Boruch Meir Yaakov Shochet, the Karlin-Stoliner Rebbe said about it recently. I don’t know much about the Karlin-Stoliner Rebbe other than I have heard of him. But According to an article in the Jewish Press His words not only echo mine, it’s almost as if he has read my blog on these issues. Here, from the Jewish Press is what he said about the internet and smart phones:

1. According to Torah one cannot prohibit something which may also be used for positive ends.
2. As technology is becoming more advanced every day, it makes no sense to issue frequent prohibitions which would surely be eliminated by new prohibitions following the next innovation. This belittles the image of today’s sages and results in fighting symptoms rather than the real problem.
3. A rabbinical decree which the people are unable to abide by is no help at all. A high percentage of Haredim are using the Internet, and turning a blind eye on the problem is bound to cause harm. The Internet cannot be prohibited, much like the use of a car–which may result in an accident, cannot be prohibited.
4. Finally, the Karlin-Stoliner Rebbe is by no stretch of the imagination a liberal, emphasizing that he only permits using the Internet through massive filters, and also pointing out that just the way some people should not be allowed to drive a car, some Chasidim should not be permitted to own a smartphone.

I believe that most Modern Orthodox rabbis would agree with this approach. Especially when children are in the picture.

Why has it taken so long for this view to emerge among the right wing? The culprit in my view is isolation. You cannot effectively deal with the real world if you are not really living in it. This applies to the myriad of issues facing the Orthodox world. Not just devices which carry the internet. You must be part of the real world in order to understand what you are dealing with.

In all too many cases elderly leaders that are unfamiliar with the things they are asked to comment upon end up making mistakes – which later have to be corrected when they become better informed. As was the case with Rav Wosner who had to back pedal on his total ban on the internet at that gathering.

Relying on others who themselves are isolated or have agendas of their own to tell you what it’s like ‘out there’ and then ruling based on that can lead to tragedy. This is not to impugn the integrity of those leaders. It is to highlight the necessity of living in the real world in order to make informed decisions about it. And not to rely on others whom you believe have the best of intentions. But may in fact intentions that are not so honorable.

I also have to wonder why an American Rosh Yeshiva like Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman didn’t realize this enough to hold back on the kind of dire spiritual consequences he implied would happen for those who did not follow Rav Wosner. An elderly Rav from Bnei Brak who lived for decades in a bubble called Bnei Brak and therefore had little if any real life experience in the rest of the world during that time. Did he believe that Rav Wosner had Ruach HaKodesh? And no matter what he said – it was Daas Torah? Clearly Rav Wosner did not use Ruach HaKodesh if he had to back pedal a day or two later. And how does all this impact the Charedi view of Daas Torah?

Well, at least there is one Chasidic Rebbe in Israel that realizes what most of the rest of us do. He didn’t rely on Ruach HaKodesh. He used his God given mind – and used common sense on this issue. Hopefully more right wing rabbinic leaders – even the more extreme Chasidic ones – will come around. When they do, it is just a shame it will have taken so long.

Harry Maryles

Israeli Chasidic Rebbe Permits Use of Filtered Internet, Smartphones

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

According to Rabbi Boruch Meir Yaakov Shochet, the Karlin-Stoliner Rebbe, Jewish Law is not in conflict with technology, and this includes innovations such as the Internet and smartphones which almost universally prohibited in Haredi, especially Hasidic circles, according to news website Behadrei Haredim, citing Rabbi Shimon Spitzer, a representative of the Rebbe.

In the Karlin-Stoliner Rebbe’s opinion, a draconian, sweeping prohibition on electronic communications creates a situation where many break the law in secret and are exposed to dangerous content, when a more permissive approach would have encouraged open use with filtering of inappropriate content.

The Rebbe established a rabbinical committee to debate the issue and gave his certification to a store in the largely Chasidic Beitar Illit that sold sanctioned Smartphones. At the time, the city erupted in protest, but the Rebbe eventually won the day.

Rabbi Spitzer has now been sent as the Rebbe’s emissary to promote his position to the multitudes of Chasidim, delineating the following four principles:

1. According to Torah one cannot prohibit something which may also be used for positive ends.

2. As technology is becoming more advanced every day, it makes no sense to issue frequent prohibitions which would surely be eliminated by new prohibitions following the next innovation. This belittles the image of today’s sages and results in fighting symptoms rather than the real problem.

3. A rabbinical decree which the people are unable to abide by is no help at all. A high percentage of Haredim are using the Internet, and turning a blind eye on the problem is bound to cause harm. The Internet cannot be prohibited, much like the use of a car–which may result in an accident, cannot be prohibited.

4. Finally, the Karlin-Stoliner Rebbe is by no stretch of the imagination a liberal, emphasizing that he only permits using the Internet through massive filters, and also pointing out that just the way some people should not be allowed to drive a car, some Chasidim should not be permitted to own a smartphone.

JNi.Media

Anti-Porn Censorship Bill Passes Unanimously in Ministerial Committee

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

A bill to censor pornography on the internet by default has passed unanimously in a vote on Sunday by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation. It was sponsored by Bayit Yehudi MK Shuli Mualem-Refaeli, who said she is “not interested in blocking a campaign for breast cancer awareness,” but rather wants to be sure that local websites clearly tag content in a way that assists the filters.

The bill forces Israeli internet service providers (ISPs) to censor pornography by default, and requires users to notify their service providers either in writing, by phone or via the ISP website in order to opt out of the censorship.

The measure is aimed at knocking out underage access to online adult content.

“In the balance between the private individual and society, we take a wide view,” Mualem-Refaeli said. “We are calling to create a society that protects itself from things for which we pay a heavy price. A person who is interested in these sites needs to understand that at the moment Israel is in a process, that he is an individual but part of a whole society.”

The measure now heads to the Knesset to begin the process of final approval in the Knesset plenum.

Israeli ISPs are required by law to notify their customers that they provide internet filters they can use without charge. But lawmakers say many parents and other adults are not aware the option exists, making it clear that ISPs either do not notify their customers, or provide the notification in such a way as to make the option difficult to understand.

Hana Levi Julian

Massive Cyber Attack Knocks Out Major US Internet Sites, Then in Parts of Europe

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

A mega cyber attack on the eastern United States late Friday knocked out the internet via simple devices such as digital recorders and webcams, rapidly spreading to the rest of the country and then to parts of Europe.

Internet giants such as PayPal, Twitter, Spotify, as well as other customers of the Dyn infrastructure company in New Hampshire were down across the Eastern Seaboard at first, but then the malfuction spread rapidly across the internet to other sites.

Dyn is a firm that acts as a kind of distributor or switchboard for internet traffic. The company’s chief strategy officer, Kyle York, told Reuters, “The complexity of the attacks is what’s making it very challenging for us.” The Flashpoint security firm is assisting Dyn with analyzing the attack, Reuters reported Saturday.

The company said the attacks were coming from millions of internet addresses, which called it an especially potent type of distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS). Such an attack involves flooding the target with so much junk traffic, the targeted address freezes up.

Users were also unable to reach CNN, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Yelp, Mashable and some sites hosted by Amazon.com Inc.

The hackers used home devices previously infected with a malicious code – in this case, Mirai code that was dumped on to the internet a month ago – – that caused outages that began in the United States, but quickly spread across the country and then to Europe.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have launched an investigation into the breach.

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said at a briefing on Friday that it was not yet clear who was behind the attack. The comment came in response to a question about whether the breach was part of “what seems to be an escalating cyber war with Russia.”

Earnest replied, “I know that the Department of Homeland Security … is monitoring this situation. And they’ll take a close look at it. But at this point, I don’t have any information to share about who may be responsible for that malicious activity.”

Users in some areas of Western Europe were unable to make payments on the PayPal site late Friday as well. There was no indication that Israel was affected by the cyber attack.

Hana Levi Julian

Pokemon Is No-Go In Gazan Hamas HQ

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

The new virtual reality ‘Pokemon Go’ smartphone game is not only being carefully monitored by the Israeli military, but it’s now also being watched by the top echelons of the Hamas terrorist organization.

The internet in Gaza runs on 26 technology, as it does in many areas of the ancient city of Istanbul, for that matter. But it hasn’t stopped residents in the region from downloading the game and playing it, to the chagrin of the ruling Hamas terror group.

Due to the slow rate of the internet, it can be very expensive to run. However, that is not real issue.

The biggest problem with Pokemon Go in Gaza has to do with the same issues being faced by other players and governments elsewhere around the world: the boundaries being breached by the game and its players.

One Gazan player told the Associated Press he found himself unable to catch a fourth Pokemon he had had in his sights. The little creature was located on the premises of the Hamas Palestinian Legislative Council — a government building that is off-limits to everyone, including cute little Pokemon.

Hana Levi Julian

AFSI Urging Congressman’s Resignation over Calling Jews ‘Termites’

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

The organization ‘Americans for a Safe Israel’ (AFSI) launched an internet campaign late Monday to demand the resignation of Democratic Congressman Hank Johnson of Georgia.

Johnson is “an anti-Israel Congressman and a friend of such groups as Jewish Voices for Peace, and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, compared Jewish Israeli citizens living in Judea and Samaria to “termites” while speaking at an event sponsored by an anti-Israel organization that supports boycotts of Israel,” the group said.

In a petition circulated around the Internet, the group is urging surfers to contact Johnson to demand an apology and his resignation.

The group also urges readers to “express your outrage to the Democratic National Convention and demand they respond.”

Interested readers can contact the DNC by clicking here.

Hana Levi Julian

Major Internet Firms Join ADL, European Jewish Groups to Battle Hate Speech Online

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

European Jewish students are teaming with the New York-based Anti-Defamation League to expand the organization’s Cyber-Safety Action Guide for European Internet users.

The European Jewish Congress and European Union of Jewish Students will work together to help expand the guide, and develop translations in French and German.

The news follows an agreement between the European Commission and Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft on creation of a “Code of Conduct” addressing online hate speech.

ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said in a statement that the Code of Conduct “closely tracks ADL’s ‘Best Practices for Responding to Cyberhate” originally released in 2014.’”

The Cyber-Safety Action Guide includes tabs where visitors may access information on submitting complaints and reporting hate speech to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

It also provides quick links to each company’s cyber-bullying and harassment policies and terms of service, as well as links directly to online complaint forms. The guide is currently available in English and in Spanish.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/major-internet-firms-join-adl-european-jewish-groups-to-battle-hate-speech-online/2016/06/02/

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