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April 25, 2014 / 25 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘internet’

T’shuva Starts at Home!

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

In today’s blog, we are going to take a short hiatus from the writings of Rabbi Kook and look at a different aspect of t’shuva. In last week’s Torah portion of “Ke Tetze,” we find the following:

When your camp goes out to fight against you enemies, then keep away from every evil thing. If there be any man among you who is not pure by reason of the impurity that chances by night, then he shall go outside of the camp, he shall not come within the camp; but it shall be when evening come on, he shall immerse himself in water… for the Lord your G-d walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you, and to give up your enemies before you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He shall see no unclean thing in you, and turn away from you (Devarim, 23:10-16).

Unlike the claims of “Ultra-Orthodox” Jews of today who negate, and even denigrate, participation in Israel’s armed forces, there are several commandments explicitly written in the Torah which deal with Jewish soldiers and our wars against our enemies. The holy heroes of our Biblical past, whether it be Avraham, the sons of Yaacov, Moshe Rabeinu, Yehoshua, King David, the Macabbees, or Rabbi Akiva, who gladly carried the weapons of Bar Kochva out to battle, were also fierce military warriors.

A reality in conquering and settling the Land of Israel, the Land where Hashem commands us to keep the Torah, then as now, is the need to use the military capability that G-d gives us. One of these mitzvot is to keep our army camps holy, not by dodging our share in the war effort, but in working to insure that the proper level of holiness is maintained, which would certainly be the case today in Israel if all of the “Ultra-Orthodox” Jews would enlist alongside their brothers. However, this is not the subject of this blog.

The commandment to guard our holiness applies to our communities and homes as well. Our Sages tell us that “keeping away from every evil thing” means keeping away from sexual transgression and from gazing at women (Avodah Zara 20A). The continuation of the verse is clearly referring to the unintentional spilling of seed in vain which is wont to occur when a man gazes at immodest images. Engaging in this wasteful act deliberately is even graver, and is considered one of the severest transgressions in the Torah (see Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer, 23:2). The Torah informs us that as a result of the spiritual impurity which this causes, the Shechinah flees from our presence, making us vulnerable to our enemies. No other sin triggers such an extreme reaction. The Midrash teaches that the Holy One Blessed Be He is slow to anger in regard to every sin, except immorality (Bereshit Rabbah 26). “Rabbi Simlai taught that wherever there is sexual immorality, indiscriminate destruction comes to the world and kills the good with the wicked” (Ibid.) This is the reason why we are called upon to keep our camp holy, to insure that the Shechinah, which guards over Israel, never leaves us prey to our enemies, G-d forbid.

Today, the “evil thing” in our communities and homes is the onslaught of immodest websites and images on the Internet. For example, a while back, every time I punched in the words “Jewish Press” on my search engine, an ad for a website called “Hottest Jewish Girls” would show up right next to it on the page. Now a man has to be an absolute tzaddik, or have the strength of Superman, or have downloaded a reliable filter, not to be tempted to look. Unfortunately, the evil inclination often wins out, and the result is that our homes become polluted with a terrible spiritual pollution which drives the Shechinah away, leaving ourselves and our families exposed to terrible consequences, may G-d have mercy!

On the eve of Yom Kippur, to enter into a mood of repentance, many congregations recite the prayer called “Tefilla Zaka,” which begins:

Almighty, Father of mercy and forgiveness, Whose right hand is extended to accept those who return in t’shuva, and Who created man to bestow goodness upon him at the end of his days, and Who created in him two inclinations, the good and the evil inclination….

Stolen Waters are Sweet

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

The great debate over the internet has been focused on the Shmutz (pornography) it contains and the pitfalls of dragging people into an abyss of internet addictions that have destroyed families. I don’t think this is an arguable fact. It is a danger that affects everyone. Religious , secular; Jews and non Jews alike.

There are religious Jews right here in Chicago I know personally that were ensnared into online chat-rooms that in one case – if not for intervening circumstances – may have led a married male adult into an affair with a minor teenage girl!

I am not going to go into what the root psychological causes are for such things. Suffice it to say that the internet is not a cause but a facilitator to such terrible ends. I would go so far as to say that there are probably more people who have these problems than we may think – considering that addictions of this type are so easy to hide because of the ability to quickly both access and delete an internet site.

In that sense I agree (and always have) with those on the right who say that these dangers are real and we need to protect not only our children – but ourselves from becoming exposed and addicted to these sites. I would add that if one does have such an addiction that they seek professional help before it ruins their marriage …and their lives. Because – as I said the addiction is there for psychological reasons.

But this post is about another less talked about but serious issue about the internet. It is about opening up a world heretofore closed to many religious Jews. It is the world of information and knowledge that is not sourced in the narrow culture that one is raised in. One will find perspectives on life that are radically different from what they are used to and are quickly accessed. And sometimes this new information can play havoc in one’s life.

This phenomenon was ably described in an article in Tablet Magazine. It was written by a young woman who has left her Chasidic community. It’s hard to tell from her article whether she remained observant – although there are hints that she may no longer be. But clearly she lost a lot because of her odyssey on the internet. Her husband eventually left her.

Even though one can see here how online experiences contributed to her journey, I reject the notion that learning about and even accepting the perspectives of other people is necessarily a bad thing. It can be but it depends on the particular perspective one accepts. I happen to believe that some of what she experienced was a good thing. The following is a telling excerpt about her journey:

I was not raised to think. I knew what I needed to know: about tznius and that modesty is, or should be, my most important preoccupation. I knew that striving to have seven or 10 or a dozen children and being a good and pious homemaker is the pinnacle of achievement for a woman, the thing I was brought into this world to accomplish. Secular education was frowned upon. More than frowned upon: Being educated, oifgeklert, was a shame, a blight on the family. There was the very bare minimum of secular education, of course: reading and writing and elementary math. But even that was an afterthought. Fear of God, being a good girl, and growing up a pious Hasidic woman was the meat and potatoes of our education.

On the Internet, I cared about so many topics, yet knew that I still knew so little. The world, the physical boundaries, the world of ideas, the world of dangerous questions and of even more dangerous answers seemed big, wide, and endless. It was a world of things I never imagined and never even dared to try and imagine.

I got to know some people on the Internet. A rabbi from Brooklyn, father of six children, emailed me that he read my questions about the prohibition on birth control and that he would be glad to show me the rabbinic sources on the matter and that a lot of what I was taught in my Hasidic girl’s school might be not be true. A woman, Modern Orthodox, responded to my description of the Hasidic ritual of shaving the head by asking, “Why in the world do you do it?”

Because you have to, I said.

That she learned that the dogma of Chasidus does not define observant Judaism for everyone is a good thing. Knowledge in this case is power. But did her online experience take her too far? Could that have been prevented if it did?

It is never a good idea to live two lives which she did at first. An overt one in her isolated real world – and a covert one in her virtual world online. At the same time – had she been more open from the start I’m not sure her online education would have been tolerated in her community. Even if it meant only changing her Hashkafos and not essential religious beliefs and practices.

Knowledge is good. It is a powerful tool for improving one’s life. But in some cases, as with this woman it also had a terrible consequence.

This is not to say that all knowledge will improve one’s life. Many skeptics have been created by being exposed to contradictions between science and Torah that seem to be irresolvable. Or to Biblical criticism based on modern scholarship.

One well known blogger (who no longer blogs) very famously and very publicly became a skeptic in precisely that way. And he expressed sorrow at it – although to the best of my knowledge he remains a skeptic to this day. This is not a good result.

Does that make a ban worthwhile? One could argue that it does – since saving the soul of even one Jew is worth the price. The problem is that the internet is not the cause. Just as is the case with porn addiction, the internet is a facilitator.

Bright young minds will have questions. The most logical place to see answers is from your parents or teachers. But when questions are explicitly or implicitly forbidden, these very same young people will seek answers elsewhere. The easiest place to find them is the internet. Ban, no matter how strong they are, no matter how enforced they are will not prevent a young person from somehow finding access. And that’s when the slippery slope begins. Furthermore the taboo against the internet will prevent any countervailing arguments.

Young people will have questions and the internet is too ubiquitous to withstand any ban, no matter how severe. Once one is convinced they found the truth in the words of heresy, no one will be able to disabuse them of that notion.

A far better approach in my view is to meet the challenge head on. Orthodox students should never be discouraged from asking questions. And more importantly teachers have to be prepared to answer them. And admit when they don’t have a good answer.

Mayim G’nuvim Yimtaku. Stolen waters are sweet. The more something is banned, the sweeter the forbidden fruit becomes and will surely be sought out by increasing numbers of people. It is of no use to simply say to a student “Don’t go there.” Or accuse a questioner of heresy by dint of merely asking a question. People with unanswered questions will find a way to answer them. And often those answers are what leads them astray.

Nowhere is the ban stronger than in the Chasidic world where this writer is from. Did she leave observance entirely? I don’t know. Could it have been prevented if she had been denied internet access? Again, I don’t know. But one thing is certain. The internet is here to stay and becoming as integral a part of our lives as the telephone is. More so, in fact.

I may be spitting in the wind here. I’m sure that very few Chasidim will be reading this post. And even less pay attention to it. Certainly not their leaders. But even though I am a Daas Hedyot, that doesn’t mean my points aren’t valid. Or that my warnings aren’t true. Or that my advice shouldn’t be taken seriously. MiKol Melamdei Hischalti. So I will offer it anyway knowing full well that no one in that world will take heed.

Learn a lesson from this woman’s story. Open up your minds. Allow questions to be asked. Be prepared to answer them honestly and to admit not having answer when you don’t. Teach your students to use the internet responsibly and don’t make into a forbidden fruit with bans and extreme sanctions. Do not expel people form you community who do not adopt ever Chumra you demand of them. Be tolerant of all Hashkafos. You never know. This may actually do more to preserve your way of life than all of your

Libby Kahane Questioned by Israeli Police

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Libby Kahane, widow of Rabbi Meir Kahane HY”D, was questioned by police this week after her grandson, Meir Ettinger broke his bail conditions last Shabbat.

Ettinger has been under house arrest for several months after being indicted approximately six months ago on charges that he gathered information on IDF troop movements in order to block further evacuations of outposts in Judea and Samaria.

Rebbetzin Kahane had signed on as a guarantor on the conditions for Ettinger’s release.

The terms of his release include: not using the telephone, not using the internet, and not to leave his house. Police arrested Ettinger after he went to pray on Shabbat.

IDF Redefining Cyber Space as Battlefield

Monday, June 4th, 2012

The IDF Operations Department has put together instructions for military operations in cyberspace against enemies of the Jewish state.

According to a document released by the department, the IDF will engage in consistent and continuous intelligence gathering operations online, and said it will handle cyberspace as a battlefield as important as those at sea in the air, and on the ground, executing attacks when necessary.

Among the goals of Israel’s cyber warfare program are thwarting and disrupting enemy projects limiting the operational freedom of the state and the IDF, reducing the capabilities of Israel’s enemies online and on the ground, conducting public diplomacy, advocating for Israel, and assisting in IDF military operations in combat.

In January, the Israeli Defense Ministry established a special cyber warfare administration, to conduct cyber warfare in a coordinated effort between the IDF and Israeli security agencies.

January saw a significant increase in cyber attacks on Israeli interests.  Hackers broke into the Israel Fire and Rescue Services website, threatening a war between Israel and Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad, writing “Death to Israel”, and posting a picture of an armed Palestinian Authority man.  They also broke into the website of Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon .

In an attack causing grief throughout Israel, a group of Saudi hackers published the credit card information of many thousands of Israelis, urging haters of Israel and other hackers to use the credit card information to make purchases online.  Israeli banks froze the accounts of those who were hacked, and compensated owners of cards which were used to make illegal purchases.

According to senior security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Isaac Ben-Israel, the state of Israel suffers 1,000 cyber-attacks every day.  Ben-Israel said the increased number of attacks have led Israel to pass laws requiring that major Israeli infrastructures institute measures to protect themselves from cyber terrorism.

Israel’s involvement in cyberwarfare has not been limited to its victimization, however.

In June 2010, Israel gained international admiration for its alleged involvement in the Stuxnet virus which caused severe damage to the Siemens supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems utilized by Iran’s uranium enrichment infrastructure.

In September 2007, Israel carried airstrikes on Syria dubbed Operation Orchard. Sources in US industry and military speculated that Israeli cyberwarfare had allowed Israel to pass under Syrian radar undetected.

Jerusalem vs. The Asifa

Monday, May 21st, 2012

I missed the Asifa. Admittedly, I wasn’t planning on going, though I do feel jealous of those software developers who managed to get 50,000 men (and an unknown number of women who participated remotely) to pay actual money to listen to a multi-hour sales pitch of their products, and then have their community leaders tell them to go buy them, which on top of that, they probably will.

Now that’s marketing to a captive audience.

Obviously internet filtering is important if you have kids in the house, and I guess for a closed, insulated community being hit on the head with the outside world it warrants an outing to Citi Field on a Sunday to find out how to protect yourself (and to get out of the Beis Medrash on a Rabbinically sanctioned field trip).

But in my mind, I was comparing it to another mass gathering that same Sunday – one I participated in with my family.

The Jerusalem Day Parade.

30,000 people, a significant number of them teenagers, mostly religious, gathered together to celebrate one of the modern, open, unexpected and important miracles of our day, the reunification of Jerusalem.

I admit that at one point I wondered, which gathering was the bigger Kiddush Hashem?

But mostly I asked myself, which one would inspire my children about the beauty and possibilities of Judaism?

A public gathering that demands yet even more conformity to community social pressures and standards, this time only to buy a kosher phone, or use an internet filter with the proper hechsher, or a gathering that thanks God for the incredible gift he gave us that actually we prayed for.

Obviously, one gathering isn’t mutually exclusive of the other.

I’m sure many of the Israeli yeshiva students who marched yesterday have internet filters in their homes.

But I wonder, how many men at the Asifa said Hallel that morning, or at least didn’t say Tachanun in commemoration of the miracle that occurred for all of Klal Yisrael, that they too benefit from whenever they visit their national homeland.

 

Tibbi’s Roundup: The Rebbe and the Dog

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

One of the questions posed to PM Netanyahu and his new coalition bride Shaul Mofaz by one of those pesky Israeli TV reporters was: Only a short while ago, Mofaz called Bibi a liar. Now the two of you are headed into a long-term marriage (a year and a half is eternity in Israeli politics). What’s the deal, then, is Bibi still a liar? Is he no longer a liar?

Surprisingly, both men were totally ready for the taunt, and both pulled out their obviously rehearsed answers which, I believe were, more or less: “Blah blah before, then blah yada yada and then, you know, like that.”

But the question is still a question. It reminded me of the story about the lion who sent the fox to find his daughter a husband. The fox went to the bear and couldn’t find a shidduch there. he went to the wolf – no shidduch. So he stood in the middle of the road, seriously worried, what is he going to tell the lion?

A dog passed by and saw the fox looking so worried, so he asked what’s his problem.

The fox told him everything and the dog said: “Whay didn’t you come to me? I have a lovely boy, at just the right age, ready to go.

The fox wagged his tail nervously and answered, “Listen, the father of the bride is our master, the Rebbe Reb Aryeh Leib Lion, I was looking to get him the son of Reb Dov Bear, or Reb Ze’ev Wolf. But it looks to me that you—please don’t be offended—you look like dog…”

So the dog wagged his own tail and said, “And you’re supposed to be the smartest of all the beasts? I say you haven’t been keeping up with social progress. It used to be, the Rebbe was the most important person. Now any politician can rise up and become important. And it so happens that a politician can often be a dog…”

SMACK ME SILLY AND PASS THE PICKLES, WE GOT US A UNITY GOVERNMENT

JoeSettler and Jameel combine their analytic resources to divine who got what out of the new Israeli coalition government of 94 (Ninety Four) MKs and who knows, 45 ministers and deputies? Such a small country, so many chauffeured limousines…

Winners and Losers: Israel’s Historic Unity Government Avigdor Lieberman: Loser. Lieberman will keep his job, avoid elections, and get the opportunity to try to pass more laws he wants. But on the downside, the investigation(s) against him will now continue, and his influence has been severely diminished. We’ll see if he can make a comeback out of this.

Moshe Feiglin: Loser (Netanyahu election shenanigans aside) Moshe would have done well in elections. It remains to be seen if Likud MKs will still have as much influence in the unity government, because right now his influence is through them. On the other hand, there’s a slight chance he may be entering the Knesset as a new MK to replace someone else who might be leaving. In which case, he will become a winner. JoeSettler and Jameel, The Muqata

HIGH SPEED ASIFAH-NET

Jacob Gluck (Planned Citi Field Anti-Internet Conference Fraught with Internecine Rivalry) mentions a fact I had not been aware of:

The campaign is a costly one – $850,000 just to rent the Citi Field stadium. Tacking on the cost of promotion and logistics it is estimated to cost nearly 2 million dollars. The principal donor on behalf of the Hasidic sector can be found in Mr. Hershel Schreiber, the owner of the famous photographic retailer in Manhattan, B&H.

This is grand! A fortune that was made almost exclusively because and through the Internet, is now being spent to try and curb the evil influence of the Internet. Boggles the mind.

Gluck thinks it makes no difference what the subject matter is, you just can’t get Haredi Jews to agree on anything:

By now, however, some serious structural problems with this whole campaign are emerging, chief among which is the virtual impossibility of uniting a substantial portion of the deeply fractious haredi sector under a single banner. No matter how hard the organizers tried and continue to try to steer clear of petty rivalry among the hundreds of different subsects that comprise Ultra-orthodoxy, by satisfying some groups others will automatically feel snubbed and thus boycott the conference. Jacob Gluck, HasidicNews.com

Harry Maryles writes that he feels “compelled to point out an article in Hamodia that demonstrates quite clearly a major difference between Haredim and other Orthodox Jews. The subject is the internet. And it is Rav Matisyahu Salomon who seems to be leading the charge. Below is a composite of Rav Salomon’s point vs. Harry’s. Go read the who;e thing, it’s as good as usual.

Tibbi Singer’s Daily Roundup: Be the Best Sheigetz You Can Be…

Monday, May 7th, 2012

This Jewish guy gets to a small town out in the hinterland, and in his kosher traveler’s guide he finds a motel that’s run by a Jewish lady. Sunday morning the church bells are ringing and he hears the motel owner yelling out: Jimmy, the bells are ringing, time to go to church!

So the guest knocks on her office door and asks, What’s it to you if Jimmy goes to church or not?

So she wipes a tearful eye and says, Jimmy is my only child, and, God forgive me, he converted to Christianity. So I’m thinking, if I didn’t merit to have a God fearing Jewish son, at least let him be a God fearing sheigetz.

Reading Menachem Lipkin’s entry (see below) about Ami magazine and their coverage of things non-Haredi reminded me of that story. In a sense, we, Haredi, stam frum, and secular, are wishing for the other to be the best God awful misguided fool they can be.

Better than violence..

GEORGE CONSTANZA COULD WIN THE VIETNAM WAR

What an awesome article by Sultan Knish! And, incidentally, you can apply everything he wrote about GW’s and Obama’s fundamental failures in Afghanistan to Israel’s failures with the Palestinians. It comes down to politicians doing stuff because it made sense at the time. It’s the stuff that spawns all human tragedy.

My recommendation to all political leaders is to follow the example of Seinfeld’s George Constanza, who knew the value of doing the opposite of what made sense to him.

Winning the War

The Afghanistan victory lap is as much about disguising the ‘cut and run’ phase; as it is about reminding the folks in Virginia and Iowa that the man on television parachuted in, cut the throats of all of Osama’s guards, shot him in the face and then made a topical quip. Waving around Bin Laden’s head is a good way to distract them from the fact that the United States has lost the war in Afghanistan, that Obama’s own strategy there failed badly and cost numerous American and British lives, and that we are turning the country over to the Taliban.

Afghanistan and Iraq were part of a strategy for containing and draining the fever swamps of terrorism. That strategy failed for a variety of reasons, not the least of them being that we failed to learn the lessons of Vietnam. The Obama Administration alone managed to roll out a “hearts and minds” strategy and a brief push to intimidate the other side into coming to the negotiating table for a face-saving withdrawal. It’s almost a pity that Obama wasn’t old enough to have to dodged the draft. At least that way he might have actually known something about the Vietnam War. Daniel Greenfield, Sultan Knish

WE’RE ALL THE SAME UNDER THE BEARD

I’m waiting for the day when the media offer this headline:

Secular People Stole a Million Dollars

Agnostic Molested Children

Religiously Ambivalent Guy Cheated the IRS

It’s only fair. If we’re so happy to point out that this or that individual who just robbed the public treasure is a shomer Shabbat, we should also mention that the guy who did the hit and run eats traif.

With that in mind, here’s a juicy Jewsy:

Again: Haredim Stole Millions From Government In New Yeshiva Fraud, Cops Say Israel police raided several haredi yeshivas earlier today and arrested five school principals in what police say is a multimillion shekel fraud scheme. Failed Messiah

And, speaking of folks who won’t publish the picture of a woman, here’s a gripe against the Haredi Ami magazine.

Yom Ha’Atzmaut Through Charedi Eyes Ami’s CEO and Editor In Chief, Rabbi Yizchok Frankfurter, penned an editorial that was very troubling.  It represents much that is wrong with this type of publication today. Make no mistake, while Ami pretends to be an opened-minded publication, throwing out a few bones here and there to unsuspecting readers, at its core, as proven by this editorial and the fact that they won’t publish pictures of women among other things, they are solidly in the Chareidi camp. Menachem Lipkin, Emes Ve-Emunah

CULTURE SHOCK NEVER GOES AWAY

The difference between knowing and being…

My Children Live a Mixture of America and Israel. Today, my husband mentioned Shirley Temple and my children were oblivious to who she was. It happens quite often and is, for many people, unexpected. For the most part, their English skills are quite good. They are, most definitely, all bilingual. They understand English, read it, and speak it quite well. But where they “fall” – is with the culture and the sayings related to it. Paula R. Stern, A Soldier’s Mother

THERE’S AN INTELLECTUAL IN MY SOUP

Leslie Stein (“The Making of Modern Israel: 1948-1967″) is tackling the familiar question: Can one be an anti-Zionist without being an anti-Semite? But don’t assume you know what she’s about to say. Read, man, read, she’s really good.

Why Do We Need an Asifa?

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

There is a huge argument raging right now on Twitter about the next big Internet Asifa scheduled for the end of May in Citi Field. Let me briefly summarize the other positions:

 

#1 The Asifa is just the latest attempt by the zealots and the gedolim they control to control our thoughts

#2 They’re worried about a neo-hashkofa haskola* and are trying to limit access to blogs and the like

#3 They fear their authority is eroding

* I first heard the phrase “neo-haskola” from Mis-nagid in 2005, and have used it promiscuously ever since

To which I reply: No, sorry. This Asifa has nothing to do with any of that. They’ve given up trying to ban the Internet, and the average haredi isn’t interested in thinking or reading. The problem, primarily, is porn.

To which the others reply (paraphrased): But people have always looked at porn! That can’t be the issue! Its a scam! A trick! They don’t really care about porn! They are just using that as an excuse! What they really want to do is run our lives, and close our minds. If they are saying they care about porn, they are a bunch of liars! And hypocrites! Porn has always been a problem! How dare they make believe that they all of a sudden care!

To which I reply: Sure people have always looked at porn, but over the last few years porn has become easier to consume. You can do it quickly, privately and at no cost. The desire to look at porn is a constant, I agree. But the obstacles to looking at porn have been mostly removed. When obstacles disappear consumption goes up. That’s ECO 101.

To which they reply: What are you talking about? You could ALWAYS look at porn

To which I reply: Sure people have always looked at porn, but over the last few years its become easier. You can do it quickly, privately and at no cost. The desire to look at porn is a constant, I agree. But the obstacles to looking at porn have been mostly removed. When obstacles disappear consumption goes up. That’s ECO 101

For some reason, my opponents are unable or unwilling to understand this. In their replies, they point out again, and again in various ways, that porn was always available. What they aren’t grasping is that nowadays more people are seeing more porn because, thanks to the Internet, the porn-watching experience has become so simple. In yesteryear, a shy kid might not be brave enough to ask an older cousin for a magazine, and he might not have had the money to buy one himself. Plus there was always the danger of being spotted in the store, or of the parents finding the contraband. Today, none of that is a worry. The teenager of 2012 can sit with his iPod and feast at a never-ending porn shmorg — all free, all private, with little to no risk of discovery. As a result, porn consumption has skyrocketed.

The purpose of the Asifa is to raise awareness and to discuss solutions. The analogy I gave on Twitter is this: Say you lived in a neighborhood that was frequently visited by bears. The non-idiots in the community would understand immediately that bears are attracted by food and you can encourage them to move on by cutting off their food supply. The non-idiots would take down their bird feeders and keep their garbage in doors for as long as possible. Expert non-idiots might start treating their garbage with some kind of bear repellent. But what abut the non-idiots who just don’t know about the bear? What about the people who are idiots? Until both groups are told about the problem and taught bear-control procedures, the bear will keep coming back. So, what you need to do is have a public meeting, where the problem can be publicized and solutions can be taught.

Its the same with the porn problem. Non-idiots already have filters and are already watching their kids and teaching them how to make good choices. But most people are not non-idiots. Most people don’t know what to do, and may not even be aware of the severity of problem. For instance, most people don’t know (until its too late) that a kid with an iPod is running a XXX theater during recess. Most people don’t know (until its too late) that their 15 year old texts on shabbos. Most people don’t know (until its too late) that their spouse has developed an inappropriate friendship with someone on Facebook How do you fix that? How do you protect people before it’s too late? By raising awareness at a public meeting, which is just another word for asifa.

I’m oversimplifying. Other problems the asifa will tackle include kids who text on shabbos, adults who look at porn, and married people who use the Internet to form emotional connections with members of the opposite sex or to meet extramarital partners and set up assignations. All of that happens today with greater frequency for the same reason 14 year old boys see more porn: Its become cheaper and easier to do. The purpose of the asifa is to raise awareness about all of these problems and to let people know what they can do to protect themselves and their families.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/dovbear/why-do-we-need-an-asifa/2012/04/29/

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