Asifa -My Thoughts…
I really was not going to write about this, mostly because I don’t see how it affects me, but since I got a long stream of emails asking me my thoughts, I’m going to take a swing at it. Essentially I think that the Internet, and thus the subsequent asifa is a great red-herring and scape goat rolled into one. Sure the internet is an issue that needs to be dealt with, it is a new technology after all. However it is by far not the greatest problem facing Judaism right now. In fact I wouldn’t even rank it in the top ten.
It is easy to blame everything from the Shidduch crisis to child molestation on the internet, and if truth be told, I am sure that the internet, and especially it’s misuse does contribute and conflate those preexisting problems, however it is not the problem. One of my Martial Arts instructors likes to say, “Guns don’t kill people, I kill people.” What can I say, he’s Russian and he likes it better his way. However the point still stands, a gun or the internet is simply a tool in the hand of a user, each as a function that can be used for a variety of good or bad purposes, however in and of themselves that are purely neutral.
A new technology is always a great scape goat for the world’s problems, take this quote for example:
I was against the steam enginge train when they first appeared in Gur (Góra Kalwaria). I wasnt comfortable with the idea that my kids could now easily get to Warsaw and all the filth contained therein.In Gur we had the rebbe and the torah for 200 years and that was all we needed. But now the draw to something evil is strong and the train will corrupt our youth.
Then it was a train, now it is the internet, there will always be an excuse, there will always be something else that we can blame instead of looking inward and facing our own problems head on.
Here is a truth. Pandora’s box of the internet has been opened, like it or not these Rabbis who want to exclude the internet from people’s lives are fighting a loosing battle. Rabbis opposed the printing press, because academics and apikorsim would be offering up holy books upon it’s unholy alter(look it up if you don’t believe me). Rabbis opposed the telegraph, and then it’s successor the Telephone. Television(even viewers and VCR’s/DVD players). Fax machines. Cell phones. Smart phones. Now internet.
Like I said I know that there are problems with the internet. The phenomenon called in this CNN article “popcorn brain” is undoubtedly what Rav Ephraim Wachsman was talking about when he said,
The webbed mind has to struggle to understand Torah. There are those who sit at home and click and click into oblivion.
However the answer is not going to be bans or blaming all of the world’s ills on the internet. It is going to be engaging it and setting guidelines for holy usage. While actually fighting the battles that need to be fought. Unfortunately, mandatory attendance of school aged boys and their fathers in order to falsely inflate the number ect, make that unlikely to happen.