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Isn't it pretty?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Monsey Internet Statement

Take a look at this post on Seradez (check out the site for adorable baby pictures as well as a lot more also). I think it's an incredibly well-written article, with an extremely valid and important point. There's a lot I want to say about it, but when I think more about what I want to say, I fear that my biases about different streams of Judaism come out, and I am not sure they are accurate, so I am going to hold back. In general, the recent symposium on the Internet in Monsey and the previous ban in Lakewood leave me a bit upset. I understand where they are coming from, but I feel like it is putting a Band-Aid on a much larger problem. And I feel that these kind of bans strip adults from using their own sense and judgement, which leaves one devoid of the freedoms they should be allowed. I don't think Judaism endorses such censorship, however, a lot of rabbis seem to feel that it is a necessary precaution. But these are the kind of attitudes that I (and others, I am sure) find stifling and demeaning. These kind of bans are saying that the rabbis don't trust me to make my own decisions; that they don't believe that the average Jewish adult has the kind of restraint to avoid the evils that the Internet can be used for. What they miss though, is that the Internet can be used for a lot of good also. There are so many sites out there that offer Torah, learning, and community. I have met several people who became frum stemming from finding Torah on the Internet. Initiatives like Beyond BT is set up to be a support system for frum Jews; Ask Moses is a site for people to go to get answers to those questions when they don't know who to ask (Disclaimer - Ask Moses shouldn't be used as a halachic authority, but it does have some good information). I think making statements telling people not to use the Internet is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater - it will keep many from the good things the Internet offers, and many of those who it will keep away are the ones who wouldn't have used it for bad to begin with. The people who want to find negative influences on the Internet are going to do it anyway. Like the author of the article on Serandez mentioned, many would be better off if the rabbis addressed the real problems happening, and intiated a support group to help them overcome these weaknesses, rather than just banning everything good and bad. Anyway, that's my two cents about it. But I doubt it's a surprise to anyone that I am in favor of the Internet - I don't know how I would get through my workday without it.

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