Wednesday, December 19, 2007

'Kosher internet'

YNet is reporting on a new Haredi initiative to approve internet use. Obviously the approval is very limited, and only for essential business use. And only through an approved internet company with an approved filter.

The rest of the world has had filters on their internet for a very long time. A discerning person has control over what they or their family are exposed to on the web.

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.

Then others will come out with their own versions of the kosher internet. Then the original group will claim that they are encroaching on their territory and that they had been offered exclusive kosher internet by all the top Rabbis (not to mention their investment in technology).

Sound familiar? This is what happened with the kosher phone. And the kosher newspaper before that. Simple formula. Declare something forbidden. Find a permitted way (with Rabbinic approval). Then wait for the cash (and bonus mitzvah points for saving klal yisrael from certain destruction) to roll in.

I do love the last quote though, from R' Wosner (who doesn't actually speak like that in real life):

"Blessed is he needeth not a computer. He that requireth the internet – he shall connect solely through the track supervised by the Rabbinical Commission on Media Affairs."

Haredi rabbis approve internet use for business

A special rabbinical commission for media issues comes to agreement on internet use 'for business purposes only.' The approval is conditioned on connecting to a server especially for Haredim that filters undesirable content

Cracks are beginning to form in the high wall of Haredi internet-phobia: The Rabbinical Commission for Media Affairs, established by leading Haredi rabbis, published in the Monday's Haredi press an announcement permitting the use of the internet "solely for business purposes, through kosher means."

The rabbis explained that the need to solve the problem presented by the internet came from the growing use of computer information systems, email and the internet in the business world.

According to the rabbis, "after consulting with experts, we have found a solution to the impasse which will allow those requiring it to access email only or sites connected to their livelihood."

"This special solution was reached after much labor and sophisticated, technical investments aimed at removing the serious dangers of spiritual obstacles and injuries,' reported the Haredi press."The fact is that the evil inclination has in this generation adopted unsupervised technology and computers as the main weapon in its war (against spirituality)."

According to articles, many appealed to the community's Rabbis to find a solution for the problem of the internet as anyone required to use it to provide himself with a livelihood felt like he was "living on the edge."

The rabbis turned to communications companies that provide filtering services to create a solution for the God-fearing community in a special track under their supervision.

The rabbis further clarify their intentions in the announcement: "It is our opinion that our words do not permit using computers, and consequently, not computerized communications, for purposes not essential for business."

Sunday night a delegation from the commission paid a visit to Lithuanian Chief Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv, who told them that "preventing computerized obstacles (to faith) constitutes banishing abomination and following the Torah's command 'so shalt thou put evil away from among you.'" Rabbi Elyashiv emboldened the delegation in its "war on the computer blight, and (its efforts) to stop the great danger from harming the people of Israel, young and old alike."

Rabbi Yossef Binyamin Halevy Wazner, member of the commission and the son of Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Wazner, considered one of the great jurisprudents of the Hassidic community, told his grandson: "Blessed is he needeth not a computer. He that requireth the internet – he shall connect solely through the track supervised by the Rabbinical Commission on Media Affairs."

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