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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Rav Kanievsky’

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.

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

I do not question the sincerity or intent of HaGoan Rav Chaim Kanievsky. As a religious Jew I agree that Torah protects Klal Yisroel from harm. From YWN:

Rav Kanievsky told the hundreds who inquired to simply remain in Bnei Brak, for the Torah city may rely on the words of the Chazon Ish ZT”L, that there is nothing to fear in Bnei Brak due to the zchus of the limud Torah and bombs will not land in the city.

All well and good. But I have to question why he did not mention the great Hishtadlus of the Israeli government that with the help of the United States created the “Iron Dome.” Which in large part has aided in that objective.

For those who haven’t been paying attention, Israel has in place an anti-missile system that seeks out and destroys those rockets from Gaza that are aimed at population centers. So far it has been 90% effective, although unfortunately 3 people have been killed by rocket attack, it would have been a lot worse without it.

The problem with these kinds of pronouncements is that it makes it seem like there is no Hishtadlus needed. One need not be concerned and be careful about bombs as long as one lives in the holy city of Bnei Brak.

Really? Is Bnei Brak immune from attack? …or any other evil that may befall it just because of the Torah learned there? I don’t think so. The great Yeshivos of pre Holocaust Europe were also great M’komos of Torah. The city of Vilna where many of them were located was called the Jerusalem of Lithuania. We all know what happened to them.

One might answer that the Holocaust was an exceptional circumstance where God carried out His heavenly decree which overrode the protective seal of the Torah. But I must ask, how can anyone today know that this is not the case once again?! …God forbid!

There were also similar statements by many Gedolim in Europe during the Holocaust telling people to stay put. We all know what happened to them as well, Rachmana Litzlan.

Rav Kanievsky is not a Navi.There is absolutely no Nevuah today. But there is something called Ruach HaKodesh. That is when one becomes imbued with a non specific heavenly spirit that helps guide them in making decisions. But I do not recall Rav Kanievsky ever making any such claim. His father in law, Rav Elyashiv, actually admitted that he did not have Ruach HaKodesh to Rav Nosson Kamentesky when he jumped the gun on banning his book, Making of a Gadol.

In times of trouble like these, it behooves us to remember a phrase made popular in song after the attack in Pearl Harbor during World War II. A phrase that speaks to Hishtadlus: Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. This certainly holds true today. We indeed must pray for God’s protection but must also make the maximum effort to do whatever can physically be done to protect ourselves and defeat the enemy.

I also wish he had mentioned the contributions of the IDF. Do they deserve no credit for protecting Bnei Brak’s residents? Many Israeli soldiers from the most secular to the most religious (Zionists… and these days even Charedim) are poised and ready to go into battle for their countrymen. Which includes the residents of Bnei Brak. These young men are literally putting their lives on the line for Klal Yisroel. Why not mention that when speaking of the Torah’s protection? Does he not recognize their contribution?

I’m sure he does. I wouldn’t even be surprised if he and other rabbinic leaders have called (or will call) for a mass prayer rally for the protection of our soldiers. But it would have been nice if he had mentioned it here too. Hakoras HaTov to the IDF is better expressed before the fact than after the fact in my view. Because that would give Chizuk – strength and encouragement – to all of our fighting men as well as to their worried families back home.

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