Is the Internet Kosher?

Is the Internet kosher?

Now, the hot dogs served at Citi Field can be judged kosher or treif.

The Internet cannot. It is a medium for communications and hence cannot be kosher or treif. Some rabbis are making a mass rally about the Internet the center of attention for their communities.

We wonder if the rabbis know that every month we give away 25,000 tractates of the Talmud on our web site www.halakhah.com.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the "Orthodox Internet Rally Divides a Community".

Previously the WSJ reported, "A group of ultra-Orthodox Jews have rented out Citi Field for a meeting later this month intended to draw thousands of men to discuss the dangers of the Internet and formulate a communitywide response. The event, set for May 20, has been publicized internationally within the Orthodox Jewish press and tapped into a world-wide debate over how to reconcile modern life with the Internet's perceived moral dangers."

In our Talmudic view, this event is a giant mistake. Nothing of value can be accomplished through a rally in a stadium to remedy a perceived threat to morality. And clearly the Internet is not the problem. If the ease of accessing pornography via the Internet is at issue, and we assume that is the main concern, then the pornographers who create the content ought to be the target, not the communications and delivery mechanisms of the Net.

It looks to us like the rabbis are making a statement through the rally, but the wrong statement. The event says to us that the rabbis fear that the beauty of the moral life of Torah cannot compete with the attraction of the depravity of the x-rated content of the Internet. A rally, like the one planned, is a sign of panic that the battle is being lost, not a sign of confidence in the strength and validity of Judaism as a moral system and beacon to the nations.

There is much to be done to bolster morality in the world and to promote Judaism. A Citi Field rabbi-rally is not an effective means of doing either.


Rachel said...

Hi Tzvee,

It is so interesting that today's parlance uses the word "Kosher" to mean "acceptable, appropriate, legal, good, clean, etc".

I agree with you -- essentially "don't kill the messenger". However, there IS a greater issue.

I am not sure which came first in this case, the chicken or the egg. I use the internet. I use it a lot. I read online. I read news, stupid stories, and good stories, friends posts on FB, blogs, commentators, and more. I use the internet to learn and do research. I use it to communicate. I use it to network. For me, the internet has been all about the good stuff.

However, I COULD have used it for so much more: I could have used it to target those who reviled me and slandered me and stole from me. I did write about that but I kept it moderate and tame. I did not name names. Only those "in the know" would know to whom I was referring.

I could use it to gossip monger.
I could use it to look at pornography (and yes, there ARE women who do that, although the numbers, at least those known, are disproportionate to the numbers of men doing this).
I could use it to write scathing commentary that incite hatred, fear, and violence.

But the internet is not to blame. I was taught morals, ethics, and humankindness as a child, as a teen, as a young adult, and I continue to learn these things as I continue to grow. Those are the things that "keep me in check".

Morality IS learned. Building brick walls around something in place of teaching beautiful morality simply does not work. It puts what is on the other side of the wall, not out of reach, but on the pedestal of desire.

It is that which must be removed.

Anyway, those are my two agorot...

FunnyAndJewish.com said...

I find too many rabbis fear and want to forbid the internet, failing too see its magnificence as a powerful vehicle for promoting kosher Judaism.