Kosher Internet

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For religious Jews in New York & New Jersey, the burning topic is the Klal Yisroel Asifa which will take place on Rosh Chodesh Sivan in Citifield, a place better known for Mets games and Mincha Minyanim with baseball caps.

Much ink (real and virtual) was spilled on discussing this Asifa, which has caused many headlines, and even some strife among certain segments of the Jewish world, many of these articles were dedicated to discussing the Chabad participation in such an event, whether a certain Rosh Yeshiva said something or didn’t, and whether Chabad would come even if invited.

But rarely did an article tackle the main question: What is the purpose of this Asifa? What new solution will be offered?

Every person with an ounce of common sense knows that the internet is rife with dangers, both physical and mainly spiritual, this is agreed upon by all Jewish communities and even by many non-Jewish people too, the only difference in opinion is as to what the solution is, with two main schools of thought:  Some promote a total ban on the internet, while the others promote a level-headed approach, of harnessing the benefits of the internet, while avoiding its pitfalls.

Most factions of the religious world adapted the first approach, announcing a full ban on the internet, condemning any use of it for any purpose. On the other hand, Chabad Rabbis adopted the second approach.

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In a letter dated Rosh Chodesh Sivan 5769 (three years prior to this Asifa) Chabad Rabbis from Israel write: “No Chassidic Jewish home should have internet, and every person should avoid it,” and the continue: “But, if there is a special need for it (such as Parnassah or Health), internet may be used after consulting with a Rov, and installing a proper filter.”  This letter was signed a few months later by Chabad Rabbis from around Crown Heights and other Chabad communities worldwide.

This same approach was clearly outlined in a local Crown Heights “Asifa” organized by Merkaz Anash and titled “Raising the Kedusha in our homes,” which included a speech about the dangers of the internet, and a practical approach to responsible usage.

Obviously, this approach is not new, this is the Rebbe’s approach about every technology, that it should be used for the spreading of  Torah and Chassidus.

Chabad’s approach was used as a reason for those who want to exclude Chabad, as one of the Satmar factions wrote that Chabad isn’t invited because “Chabad are not part of the Klal… All Jewish communities took upon themselves to ban the internet…  only Chabad is the exception to the rule, and they don’t even have a Kosher cellphone…

But, a quick look at the signs produced for this event, shows that (as usual) the orthodox world is following Chabad’s lead, as they clearly write “Can’t live with it, can’t live without it,” admitting that banning the internet didn’t work, and they will adopt the Chabad guidelines, to use only when needed, and only with proper controls.

Not only are the laymen using the internet, but many of the organizations have official websites, such as the Litvak’s “Aish Hatorah” & “Ohr Someyach,” the Belzer “Hidabroot,” Hamodia’s English site, and even the Neturei Karta have their own site…

Before concluding, I would like to discuss a different topic connected to this Asifa, and it is the pride that each Lubavitcher should have.

Originally, the organizers from Lakewood refused to invite the Chabad Chassidim, although many Chabad activists were trying behind the scenes to achieve an official invitation, and to say the truth, I never expected a Lakewood delegation to come to Crown Heights to invite the local Rabbis, even though they sent respectable delegations to beg Rebbes from Borough Park with 100 families to come, and Crown Heights has over 3,000 families (one of largest Chassidic communities in New York). But I believe that no Lubavitcher was really bothered by the lack of invitation. The only issue were the comments allegedly made by Rabbi Kotler.

But recently, a Lubavitcher philanthropist from Israel got involved, and convinced a few Lubavitcher Rabbis to schlepp to the house of the Skulener Rebbe, to beg to be invited…

The only answer I can think of, is that some of our people are suffering from an extreme lack of self-confidence, an inferiority complex, and are insecure in their own communities, and therefore they are in need of feeling good in being a part of some imaginable “Klal Yisroel,” so they convinced some Rabbis to go to the meeting.

Yosef Ben Matisyahu

 

This article originally appeared at  Chabad.info, “Kashering The Internet”, 16 Iyar 5772 (08.05.2012). Photo by: Boruch Ezagui

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