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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘internet’

Khamenei: Islam Forbids Male-Female Chat Messages

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Islam forbids men and women chatting with each other on social networks, Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, the Egyptian daily Al Ahram reported.

He issued a “Fatwa” religious decree that explained chatting between the sexes is immoral. The Islamic Republic has placed severe restrictions on use of the Internet and social networks, and it tried to close them down during the mass protests in 2009 against the fraudulent re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president.

Iran recently blocked a WeChat message that is used on smartphones.

Knesset Bill Aims at Google to Pay Royalties on Israeli Content

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Google will have to pay 7 percent on revenue from Israeli Internet content that is copyrighted if the Knesset approves a bill submitted by Labor Knesset Member Erel Margalit and now under discussion in the Knesset Finance Committee.

The proposed legislation calls for the royalties to be deposited in an account managed by the Finance Ministry, which then would transfer the money to those who produced the content.

Conditions for copyrighted material are that a website be active for more than one year and that at least 30 percent of the content is produced by the website itself.

MK Margalit explained that the bill is designed to protect content producers whose websites often are not used by Internet surfers, who can simply use results from the Google search site, Globes reported.

Margalit warned, “Israeli democracy is in danger…. Google has become a search engine technology tycoon in the State of Israel. Technology is an important means to bridge gaps and the Israeli economy needs new thinking about the connection between high-tech and technology and the country’s economy and growth.”

What’s Wrong With the Star-K Kosher Phone?

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

About a month ago the Star-K, a world renowned Kashrus agency, announced that they were certifying kosher phones. These phones have no access to the Internet, cannot place or receive text messages, cannot take photos, and most importantly, cannot be hacked to perform any of these tasks.

It’s not troubling to me that people would want a phone that is insulated from certain tasks. Although I think it is an unnecessary measure and perhaps counter productive, I don’t begrudge people their personal self control restraints.

What is troubling is that a kashrus agency is part of this initiative. A kashrus agency should be concerned with one thing and one thing only. Their singular concern should be the kosher status of the food. I don’t even think that a kashrus agency must concern itself with humanitarian or other ethical issues that may arise. I have no problem with a secondary agency coming in and providing a secondary level of supervision. But the kosher status of the food cannot be affected by anything other its status as kosher food.

So when I see a kashrus agency entering into the phone market, I see an agency that should be worried about kosher status of food but is now legislating morality. It’s not even as if the technical skills involved in kosher supervision overlap the neutering of cell phones. They have nothing to do with each other. I don’t think it is smart for kosher supervision to be intertwined or even related to morality supervision.

Similarly, when kosher supervision agencies make demands on the clientele or ambience of an eating establishment I believe they are overstepping their bounds. There are restaurants that are not allowed to be open at certain hours because they will lose their hechsher if they are open. This is far beyond the scope of kosher supervision. Tell me if the food is kosher and I will decide if I want to patronize the restaurant. That is all we need from a kashrus agency. The stretching of their authority serves no important purpose for the public. It seems to me that it is merely a self-serving, self-righteous way to legislate their morality. If they can legislate phones and who can eat where, what’s next?

I am not making a slippery slope argument. I am pointing out that there is no logical connection between the kosher status of food and the kosher status of a phone. There is also no relationship between the kosher status of a restaurant and whether teenagers are hanging out. In other words, the kashrus agencies are already legislating their morality. There is no reason to think it only will apply in these two instances because there is no connection between these two things and the kosher status of food.

We need to stop using the word kosher for things other than food. Yes, the word is a general term but it has evolved into a word that describes whether food can be eaten by orthodox Jews who keep kosher. We don’t eat anything that is not kosher. Using the word kosher for phones and Internet implies that the non-kosher versions are not allowed to be used. This is sophomoric and divisive.

If anything, the kashrus agencies should be concerned with the ethics and morality of the actual food. This is something they have resisted time and time again. I am not recommending they get into the ethics of food business, but if they must expand their business and purview of supervision I think that is the first place they should be looking to legislate seeing as they have the knowledge and expertise to monitor and report on that aspect of food production. But teens mingling and phones? They don’t belong there at all.

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The Internet, Halacha, and Olam HaBah

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

It’s simply not possible. I don’t believe it. Nonetheless it is being reported as fact. Rafi’s blog, Life in Israel, has linked to the Hebrew language website B’Chadrei Charedim that quotes Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s response to a question about smart-phones.

There is a Gemarah in Brachos that tells us that a man will lose his portion in Olam HaBah if he walks regularly behind a woman down a river. Rav Kanievsky was asked if this applies to someone who has in his possession an I-phone or the internet. His one word answer according to Chadrei was ‘ B’Vadai’ – absolutely! Anyone who uses an I-phone or the internet is in a category of losing his Olam HaBah – his heavenly reward in the world to come!

If this is true, then yet again, I think we all ought to all just go over to MacDonald’s and have a cheeseburger… or violate any other Miztvah in the Torah we want to violate. Why bother observing Halacha if you’ve lost your Olam Habah?

I happen to know Gedolei Torah and Roshei Yeshiva  who use I-phones and the internet. Are they all doomed?

Once again we have what appears to be a huge dis-connect between what a great Torah sage supposedly said – and reality. Either Rav Kanievsky does not know the extent of internet use among a great number of devoutly observant Jews, or this is a gross distortion or mischaracterization of his views. I think that both things are true. I don’t believe he said it and meant it to be interpreted as simply as that one word answer indicates.

I would not be surprised if this is yet another instance of Kanoim – religious zealots twisting the views of a elderly rabbinic leader to fit their agenda. I’m sure his position is far more nuanced than the one word answer (B’Vadai) he supposedly gave to a simple question.

The Agenda is obvious. There are people who are eager to destroy other Jews in a fit of self righteousness. They do not have these devices and do not want anyone else to have them either. So they make sure to twist the words of Gedolei Yisroel to assure it.

They may think they are doing the right thing. But they are by far doing far much more harm than good. They may in fact be responsible for pushing more religious Jews out of observance than saving them from using the internet.

By putting people who have smart-phones into a category of losing their Olam Habah, it is not too difficult to see many frustrated Frum people who have so often been put upon with comments like this say, ‘the heck with it!’ I may as well live a life of ease and not worry about violating Halacha. I won’t make to Olam HaBah anyway.

The Gemarah upon which this one word response attributed to Rav Kanievsky was based upon does not forbid the incidental following of a woman down a river. The loss of Olam Habah  that the Gemarah speaks of is only to those who purposely do so with lascivious thoughts and the intent to sin in that regard. And even then only if it is done on a regular basis.

I would add that even if someone regularly does things like that and has some sort of sexual addiction, he can get help… and do Teshuva. I find it very difficult to believe that the Gemarah’s intent is that someone loses his Olam HaBah permanently if he does that. It is also known that the Gemarah sometimes exaggerates to make a point. Which may be the case here.

If there is any comparison to be made between following a woman down a river and the world of the 21st century and the internet – it is in the area of purposely viewing pornography on it. The problem is not the internet. It is the websites one frequents… if those websites are pornographic. That is the comparison that Rav Kanievsky no doubt meant – if he said anything at all.  Accidentally accessing a pornographic website is not a cause for losing one’s Olam Habah.

But the Kanoim who publish stories like this do not want to be confused with the nuances of truth. They want convey the message that I-phones and any other device that can access the internet is so evil that one should not even touch it! For if they do, their Olam HaBah is at stake.

When Good Children Go OTD

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

The problem seems to be far worse than anyone thinks. We may even be at an epidemic level. Everywhere I turn these days it seems, I find a family where at least one child has gone OTD (Off the Derech–away from the religious path). Or at least does not follow the Hashkafic path laid out by their parents.

Many of them are all from fine families. Exemplars of great parenting. Nothing dysfunctional about them. The parents have many children all the rest of which are the obvious results child rearing by 2 great parents. Most of their children do fine in the Hashkafic milieu in which they were raised and in which they live. And yet it seem to be increasingly the case that at least one child has no interest in towing the family religious line.

In the families that I know about it seems the problems tend to begin in mid to late elementary school or early high school.

The question is why is this happening? What is it that is driving this OTD phenomenon in good families? It is very understandable when this happens in dysfunctional families where physical or mental abuse exists either between parents; between a parent and child; or both. It does not take rocket science to see why a child associates their strife their parent’s lifestyle. If they are a religious family, then religion is associated with that strife.

But what about the good families with good children where one of them does not want to have anything to do with their family’s religious way of life? Unfortunately I know of far too many situations like these. Hashkafos don’t seem to matter that much. I know families with an OTD child that are very right wing, moderate Charedi, and right wing Modern Orthodox. None of them are so strict as to warrant the kind of rebellion they have experienced from at least one child.

I have no real explanation. But I suspect it has something to do with the current pressure that schools and thereby parents put on their children to excel in their religiosity, Limudei Kodesh or Limudei Chol. I am constantly hearing about how schools of all Hashkafos are ‘rasining’ their standards. That is impacted negatively by the times in which we live. By that I mean the great distractions that now exists that did not exist in the past. Distractions that expose children to a much easier lifestyle than their parents insist upon. Distractions that take away from their study time. Distractions that cause them to question matters of faith. These are distractions that those of us over the age of 30 never had when we were growing up.

The internet, its ease of use and availability, and the ability to easily hide one’s involvement with it puts pressure on young people now – as never before. No matter how much we try to discourage it, limit it, or ban it, it is so pervasive that it is impossible to avoid the influence it has on children. Children can access anything they want as quickly as they can delete it from a screen. A child now has an unprecedented and unfettered window to the entire world. A little curiosity about a taboo subject will beget websites and images that can easily pull a child away from their parents’ influences. It is amazing that there aren’t even more OTD children than there are.

Coupled with this is the increased pressure put upon children in our day to be more religious and be better students than ever before.

The pressure to excel and adopt ever increasing Churmos into our lives has become so ingrained that not conform to these new standards is unacceptable.For example violating a Chumra is as painful to a family as violating a Halacha. I know one family that feels great pain that a child now uses non Chalav Yisroel products. I hasten to add that they are a very loving family – accepting of that child and allowing her to bring non Chalav Yisroel products into the home and use them freely. But it still pains them internally.

And how can any self respecting parent not want their child to excel in school? So with every increase in the amount of material to be mastered, there is a parental motive to see to it that their child measures up. Whether it is the Charedi standard of Limudei Kodesh or the MO academic standard. And in many cases – both.

If you combine the two phenomenon of increased pressure (whether religious or in the level of study)in the home and in school with the ubiquity of the internet – I think one can understand why the OTD phenomenon even in good homes might be near epidemic levels.

I would add that the fact that as the religious population increases, so too do the number of children going OTD – even if the percentages may be the same. But if I had to guess the percentages have increases too and not only the numbers.

I don’t know how to solve any of these problems. But I do have a few thoughts about it. First we ought to be aware of the problems and to recognize that we live in unprecedented times. One cannot for example ignore the internet. Nor can it be successfully banned. But one should do the best they can to set up parental controls, rules, and guidelines about its use. And avoid giving very young children hand held devices.

Of course the most important factor is to love our children unconditionally. Even – and perhaps especially – if they are at risk or OTD. They must know that they will always be loved; part of the family; and welcomed in the homes. Even if they are Mechalel Shabbos, and eat Treif. A bare headed son or daughter whose modesty does not measure up to family or community standards must be accepted. No matter what others in your community think! That may not bring them back. But it will for sure not push them away should they ever want to come back.

Another much harder thing to accomplish is to change the current penchant of religious schools to demand ever increasing religious standards for – not only their students but their parents.

The same thing is to be said with the ever increasing academic standards; or Torah study standards. I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be top schools in an area of study in either Limudei Kodesh or Limudei Chol. But they should be special schools reserved for the very best, brightest and most highly motivated students among us. Putting a child that does not have those qualifications into schools like those will almost certainly set up them up for failure. And failure should never be an option.

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IDF Launches New Media Weapon in Information War against Hezbollah

Friday, July 12th, 2013

The IDF has launched new interaction media websites on the Hezbollah terrorist network in a pre-emptive strike to expose the rapidly expanding empire for what it is.

The vastly researched sites provide media outlets and, more importantly, the general public with a wealth of information that is designed to help Israel overcome the worldwide media bias in favor its enemies,

Operation Cast Lead in Gaza four years ago and the war in Lebanon proved how much foreign media were hell-bent to serve up reportage with a strongly pro-Hezbollah and pro-Hamas viewpoint.

Hezbollah’s move into Syria creates a gigantic threat to Israel, much more than Hamas or even Iran at this point. Hezbollah crippled northern Israel and surprised the IDF with advanced weapons and guerilla tactics in the Second Lebanon War in 2006, and it has a huge stockpile of  missiles ready for launching to strike again.

Lt. Col. Avital Leibovitz, the IDF’s director of the new Interactive Branch, told the Jewish Press and a select number of other media outlets Thursday that in last year’s Pillar of Defense counterterrorist operation against a barrage of hundreds of missiles on southern Israel,  “mainstream media” did not accurately report the massive attacks on Israel.

Now the military is striking back with its new Interactive Media Branch, which is using 30 platforms for websites in several languages – Hebrew, English, Russian, Arabic, Spanish, French and Russian.

“I am not trying to change the media,” Lt. Col. Leibovitz said. In effect, the IDF is carrying the banner of social protest groups, from the Arab world to Europe and the United States, and getting its message across on a new website while counting on a growing following on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

“The idea is similar in its concept of the military adapting to new war zones,” she explained. “This is a new media war zone  of interactive media.”

As of midnight tonight, the IDF has made available nine Hezbollah websites that are stocked with data and researched intelligence information exposing Hezbollah for what it is.

Although Leibovitz said she is not trying  to write an encyclopedia, the websites in fact provide a vast amount of information, with photographs, interactive maps, videos, and documented research, exposing Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and not just a  political party. One website covers its illicit drugs and money laundering operations that bring in the funds to finance terror.

Other sites deal with Nasrallah, the Hezbollah media empire and its army of terror.

It is difficult to believe that foreign media all of a sudden will be nice to Israel, but the availability of the new websites for the general public may generate an even larger following on social media sites that will make it more problematic for media to portray Israel in an unfairly negative tone while treating organizations such as Hezbollah as a “militants” and “resistance fighters” trying to eliminate a supposed threat from Israel.

The IDF’s YouTube postings have received 35 million views. It has 340,000 followers in English on Facebook and 130,000 followers on Twitter, according to Leibovitz.

The new websites have been in the works for six months, staffed by approximately 30 regular soldiers and officers and with the cooperation of intelligence units and the Northern Command.

One of the leaders in developing the sites is 25-year-old Gabriel Freund, an immigrant from Australia, “I have been working for several months to get the site ready to tell the story of Hezbollah in a way that will be easy to share and understand,” he explained.”

Click here to reach the overall IDF site on Hezbollah, which provides link for nine others.

The Hezbollah youth movement

The Hezbollah youth movement

Alleged Canadian Bomb Plotter Made Anti-Semitic Statements

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

The suspect in the alleged plot to bomb the British Columbia Legislature wrote anti-Semitic statements online in March,

John Stewart Nuttall, 38, wrote, “The Jews killed Jesus (they are proud of it),” the Canadian Jewish News reported. He also wrote, “Israel attacked the USS Liberty in a false flag op to try and bring us to war. We are sick of the Jews trying to run our lives and it is about time they fought their own war.”

Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, told CJN, “The anti-Semitic comments and postings of the accused, which attempt to advance tired, idiotic stereotypes about Jews, appear to be part of a broader attitude of intolerance and hatred.”

Nuttall and Amanda Marie Korody have been charged with plotting to attack the British Columbia Legislature on July 1, Canada Day, with pressure cooker bombs.

Savvy Israelis Ahead of US in Smartphone Internet Use

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Israel is ahead of the United States and Europe in the use of Internet on smartphones, and Israel is almost at the top of pack in the percentage of people owning smartphones, according to Google and other market surveys.

Israel is the country that gave the world chat instant messaging, disk on-key, Waze and MobileEye, among hundreds of other high-tech gadgets and computer programs.

The smartphone came to Israel in 2009, two years after it was launched in the United States and Europe, but Israelis have made up for lost time.

Approximately 93 percent of Israelis use Internet through smartphone, compared with 83 percent in the United States, and 77 percent watch YouTube, according to Google and Ipsos MediaCT surveys, which examine habits of smartphone use worldwide.

More than 57 percent of Israelis have a smartphone, up from 35 percent last year. At even half that rate of growth, Israelis will be the most smartphone-saturated country in the world next year. The penetration in France is only 42 percent and in Germany is 40 percent.

Approximately 60 percent of Americans are estimated to have smartphones, and 62 percent of Britons have the high-tech gadget.

Israelis have the popular habit of answering phones in the middle of a chupah or Brit Mila. The new marketing surveys show that half of Israelis feel comfortable in using their smartphones at social occasions. When using the smartphones in coffee shops, more than half of the respondents said they use one hand for holding the coffee cup and the other for the smartphone.

When Israelis start trying to speak with the coffee cups and drinking the smartphones, then we knew have a big problem.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/savvy-israelis-ahead-of-us-in-smartphone-internet-use/2013/06/11/

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