Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Internet, Intermarriage and Pornography

R. Mordechai Willig in this week's TorahWeb, invoking R. Eliyahu Dessler's concept of nekudas ha-bechirah -- a point of choice (link):

Many rabbonim, including myself, have dealt with marriages threatened by a wife’s discovering her husband’s viewing of internet pornography. One who believes that otherwise scrupulously observant Jews, ordained Rabbis, or Torah educators do not make the wrong choice on this matter is simply mistaken.

Some rabbonim have, therefore, advocated a ban on the internet. Such a ban may be impractical or above our point of choice. Yet we dare not trivialize the significant danger the internet presents, or limit our acknowledgement of the danger to our children. The internet and the evil inclination form a potentially lethal combination for all.

The Vilna Gaon has taught us that, with Hashem’s help, we can overcome the most ubiquitous yetzer hara. Bad choices of the past can be reversed, and sins erased. An eternally blessed future is within our reach. However, for this bracha to take effect, we must avoid klala, making poor choices on seemingly inconsequential matters without realizing the curse which may result. As we read parsha Re’eh, we must resolve to discern which choice is beracha, which is klala, and to choose beracha.
See also this recent article in Mishpacha (link):
“A computer is not a toy,” [R. Leib Kelemen] says. “It is a tool, like an electric saw. Ablanket ban on home computers is as foolish as a blanket ban on electric saws. But it is just as foolish to leave an electric saw plugged in, out in your living room where there are children. Chinuch is all about teaching our children how to use life’s tools. We must know when to teach our children to use each of life’s tools, and how to teach them. That requires daas Torah.”

A prominent rabbi and thinker consulted by Mishpacha feels that “there is no force stopping the Internet from being global — it is far too useful a device. It is one of the greatest discoveries in the history of mankind. Although there are those in klal Yisrael who think that they will be able to keep the Internet out of their homes and lives, they must realize that it will never go away. A person must learn to adapt. The way to win the war of the Internet is not getting rid of the Internet itself. How can we?”

He goes on to state: “The initiative to ban the Internet outright is crumbling, because people are beginning to understand how incredibly useful it is. The Internet can be compared to a light bulb. While light bulbs have infinite positive uses, the light they provide can also make it easier for a thief to steal. Is that potential robbery enough of a reason to outlaw the light bulb?”...

Rabbanim, educators, and computer experts agree: When allowing Internet access on their home computer, it is vital that parents accept an obligation to stay one step ahead of their children in understanding its mechanics. If a parent is not computer literate, then the children should simply not have access to the computer unless a capable adult is present.

However, it bears remembering that the problems of Internet usage aren’t limited to children, and as such, the solutions shouldn’t be limited to the younger generation. Parents must protect themselves as well. With hundreds of Internet filters and monitoring software on the market, however, it can be difficult to know which to choose.

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