Sunday, May 20, 2012

The definition of a 40,000 people Chillul Hashem!

by Judy Brown, Author of "Hush"

This is why the Internet Asifa is important for K’lal Yisroel: because a wholesome lie is better than any broken truth; because denial must be protected at all costs; because ignorance is sacred in a world whose existence depends on it.

And this is why it is important that we be there on Sunday: because we hold the broken truth, the one we experienced firsthand when our rebbis, teachers, and leaders ripped their own lie piece by piece, life by life, in front of our eyes, and then intimidated, threatened, brutalized and suppressed any victim or witness who dared speak out, warning that they would destroy us and our broken truth if we did not accept their lie.

The Internet is an enormous threat to the ultra-orthodox world for the same reason it is a threat in Syria , Iran and Russia; a population that is aware is a population difficult to control. They say that they must fight the Internet for it brings moral decay. What they do not say, even to themselves, is that they must fight the Internet so they can conceal moral decay. That the only thing they fear more than the outside corruption the Internet brought inside, is the inside corruption the Internet has revealed to the outside.

The Internet is terrifying to the rabbanim perhaps because of porn, perhaps because it exposes youth to foreign ideas, but even more importantly, because it enables open dialogue and an honesty they cannot afford if they are to survive as a community, the community they insist they are; pure, innocent, and above their own frailties. And if a few children must be sacrificed for this wholesome lie, then so be it. It is better than any broken truth.

In the last few years, the Internet has served as a crucial tool for victims of sexual abuse. It is through blogs and online discussions that many victims first realized they are not alone, that this is a communal problem. The silence that has kept victims in such utter isolation, unable to connect with others, has been broken by the anonymity and connectivity of the Internet. It was there victims could finally speak honestly without fear. It was there they could hear of so many similar experiences, and reach out to other victims. The Internet played a large role in tapping at the wall of denial, and for the communal authorities this was a dangerous thing.

Denial is a terrible thing to lose. We know. For many victims it takes years to face their own traumas, to break away from the security and warmth of a well taught lie. But no one knows like we do that it is never technology that corrupts man, but man that corrupts technology. Because decades before there was Internet or computers, there was sexual molestation and the worst forms of moral decay. We were there when it happened, when men who did not have access to the Internet turned into beasts, groping, fondling, and raping boys and girls half their size and strength, then terrorizing them into silence.

Today we will stand outside Citifield with our cardboard signs. There will be thousands of Orthodox men walking past us. Some will look quickly away, some will laugh in pity, some will wish they were standing with us. We’ll stand for the first time as a united voice, in public, telling them that we are no longer afraid; that we, who have seen the darkest parts of their world, will never be silenced again; that we will make as big a ‘Chillul Hashem’ as we need to, and for as long as we need to, because there are basic morals and there are cultural traditions and for too long the ultra-orthodox world has confused one for the other.

The Citifield rally is so important to the community because it is another form of denial, another excuse they can point to. It allows them to avoid confronting the most dangerous enemy of all: themselves. The Internet does not molest, only people do; they always have. But if they can just persist on blaming internal problems on evil outside forces they can continue to remain blind to what they refuse to see: themselves. And that is why we will be there, because this is the broken truth.

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Amnon Yitzchak said...

Next phases of asifa will be things like this:


"Mass TV-Throwing Ritual Organized By Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak

Jerusalem - A public ceremony to rid off household television screens was held today under the direction of Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak.

The rabbi opened the ceremony to protest against the incitement of Charedim in the media, and then began the ritual of smashing hundreds of television sets into big trash bins, in front of the Israeli Broadcasting Authorities offices in Jerusalem.

[Photos caption: An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man throws a television screen into a garbage receptacle during a protest against what the religious demonstrators say is the broadcasting of immoral content by the Israeli Broadcasting Authority, outside one of the broadcaster's studios in Jerusalem December 6, 2011. REUTERS/Baz Ratner; People throwing television into a rubbish tank during Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak’s big "temblevision" protest at which his disposing 1000 television sets in front of the Broadcasting Authorities offices in Jerusalem.]

Rav Elyashiv said...

Dark cloud descends, Jewish music a target:

Jewish Music Review:

"R' Elyashiv refuses to sign Israeli ban on Chasidic music

Jerusalem - In the ongoing battle that plagues the Chasidic Music industry in Israel, Israeli news source B’chadrei Charedim reports that R’ Amnon Yitzchak went to the home of R’ Elyashiv tonight, in an attempt to get him to sign on a Kol Korey that would not only ban concerts that were not “up to the standard of purity and holiness”, but would also forbid people to buy albums produced by singers who did not live up to R’ Yitzchak’s standards.

R’ Elyashiv reportedly listened carefully to R’ Yitzchak’s request, but refused to sign his name to the Kol Korey. Sources close to R’ Elyashiv indicate that the Rov felt that there are more pressing issues facing Jews today and this particular issue was not one that R’ Elyashiv had any interest in taking on at this point in time."

Exercise In Futility said...

At least some folks get it:


"A Sold Out Citi Field Plays Host To An Exercise In Futility Today (And The Mets Are In Toronto)

This afternoon, the terrifyingly-named Jewish orthodox group "Union of Communities for the Purity of the Camp" will be holding a rally against the evils of the internet ("and the damages caused by advanced electronic devices"), according to an article on the internet. The primary targets are what we in the internet biz like to call "The Big Three": Facebook, other social media sites and porn.

But what would a cluelessly nonsensical rally be without some intra-group bickering? It seems like some in the Union of Communities for the Purity of the Camp want to advocate for safer internet use while others just want a straight up ban of the internet. The ultra orthodox community has grappled with limiting access to the scary scary boxes of impurity for some time now and will use today's event to rally the troops.

And now, I will block quote three paragraphs because it is necessary.

'In 2005, rabbis in Lakewood doubled down on their campaign against the Internet. Citing the "immoral lures that are present on the Internet," the community banned students enrolled in any of Lakewood's 43 yeshivas from having computers at home. The ban succeeded-to a degree. A year after the ban was instituted, the Lakewood Public Library reported a 40 percent increase in computer use at its branches, fueled mainly by ultra-Orthodox Jews.

The edicts continued. In 2009, the Council of Torah Sages focused its wrath on Haredi websites, calling on readers and advertisers to pull support. The websites were accused of being gateways to "the vilest of places" on the Internet, and of spreading "slander, lies, and impurities." In 2011, Haredi leaders in Israel unveiled an ad campaign claiming that the Internet caused, among other things, cancer. Using gematria, which assigns a numeric value to Hebrew letters, rabbis demonstrated that "Internet" and "cancer" were numerically equivalent. The web was also implicated in causing droughts.

In January 2011, the council issued its latest ruling: "Internet usage should by all means be avoided in homes and, wherever possible, also in business offices. In any event, children should not be given internet access. For those who must have internet access … it is assur [prohibited] to have internet access without an effective filter." Internet filters, the rabbis' newest salve, will undoubtedly be a primary solution advanced this weekend at Citi Field.'

It's crazy to have to say this in 2012, but the internet is not going anywhere, Union of Communities for the Purity of the Camp. But this is probably not about how destructive facebooking at work or watching two girls explore the holiest of holies (maybe also at work) can be. This whole thing shakes out to be little more than a power move. "'By having a following that will make no decisions on their own, the ruler sets the tone,' wrote Michael J. Salamon in the Times of Israel, stressing that Internet access-and everything that comes with it-threatens basic rabbinic authority."

So, CitiField will be home to the hopelessly out of touch today. But hey, at least they sold the joint out.

Rallying Against the Internet [Tablet]"

David Sedley said...

Some wise comments from Rabbi David Sedley:

"Kosher Internet - cynicism = truth

Every time I am at my most cynical about the Chareidi community I REALLY hope that I am going over the top and will be shown to be a fool. Because every time that I find myself to be correct I end up becoming more and more cynical!

Today is the 'asifa' in Citi-Field where tens of thousands of Chareidim will gather to hear chidushim that the rest of the world has already known for years (When Rabbi Yehoshua said "There is no Beit Midrash without a chidush" (Chagiga 3a) he presumably was specifically excluding events organised by 'askanim' in sports grounds, which clearly can be without any chidush).

Five months ago I wrote that:

My hunch is that it won't take long for the posters to go up offering exclusive 'kosher' internet access. This will obviously have some kind of label so that it is clear to everyone in the world who is using the 'approved' version and who isn't. After a few weeks Haredi magazines and newspapers will ban advertisements from anyone not using the approved 'kosher' internet. And at the end of it will be a small 'committee' - working for the good of the community, who will be making lots of money out of this.

Those of you who have been reading some of the blogs will know that the whole event is simply a money making exercise (not for an organisation, but) for a single individual called Nechemia Gottlieb. He is using the event to marry of his children.

And now, on the day of the Asifa Rav Chaim Kanievsky has written a letter, posted on Yeshiva World News:

ובעזה"י יסדרו במשך הזמן אינטרנט כשר אם ישתדלו בזה הרבה ויהיק סייעתא דשמיא, וחובה להשתמש בזה

With the help of G-d with the passage of time they will arrange for a kosher internet if they work very hard at it. May they receive help from Heaven. It is an obligation to use this!

It is almost as if he has recanted his previous position that the internet is COMPLETELY forbidden (many schools made people sign forms agreeing that they will not use internet at all before agreeing to accept their children in the school). It also seems as though he has never heard of the many internet filters already available (some 'kosher' (i.e. made for Jews specifically) and some just plain filters for use by sensible people who want to limit what they (or their children) see on the screen.

I have had the internet in the house since we moved to Edinburgh in 1996. We have had a filter on our internet since we first got it in 1996. (It was not very sophisticated, but neither was the internet back then). Everyone I know has some kind of internet filter.

The Gedolim are truly great in their Torah knowledge. They have dedicated their lives to learning and teaching Torah. Yet 'askanim', for their own purposes, make these Gedolim seem most stupid than your average 'man in the street' (not to exclude women, but I couldn't afford to build a mechitza on my blog). It truly makes me sad and upset to see such a perversion of Torah for the sake of making a few bucks.

Please make sure that your internet has a filter on it (I'm sure it does already). Please also make sure that you know that no filter is perfect (far from it). It excludes things that should be included, and includes things that must be excluded). If you don't have an internet filter, do a search and find one. There are free ones and pay ones and many other options.

Please do not cave in to Chareidi extremism and believe that only the one with the hechsher is kosher.

And to the 'askanim' - PLEASE LEAVE THE GEDOLIM ALONE! It is bad for my cynicism!"