Tuesday, September 24, 2013


When Limits hit the Wall

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

th (2)A family member lives in an orthodox Jewish U.S. community where the standard is NOT to have an Internet connection in the home, and even to NOT have a computer in the home (if not for a valid educational or business purpose).  Given the shmutz (negative materials) and filtering being complicated, it’s a laudable goal… staying holy by staying away from inappropriate images and content as well as not wasting time sounds like a reasonable idea.

My family member just lost her job of over 15 years – a 50% staffing reduction left her…reduced / redundant.

She went to the unemployment office… they only accept applications by web.  She has no internet.

She looked for jobs in the newspaper… no listings, they’re online now.  No internet.

She wanted to apply for some jobs… web site application page plus resume upload.  No internet, no Word to create a resume.

Her job title, her experience… all listings now require extensive Excel experience, and sometimes SAP.  Yes she’s used some business applications, but limited to filling in information on prepared apps and spreadsheets.

What can she do???

She’s on the phone to us, IN ISRAEL, to write the resume, asking us to perform the application for government assistance (an issue as if they track location something from out of country will look fraudulent).

Here’s her last message, “I am having trouble e-mailing my resume and would appreciate instruction(s) or else I'm (minor expletive deleted). I don't have a computer at home and need to use a friend's when available. She does not have the paper clip icon for an attachment on his screen. Any suggestion would be helpful.”

The problem is that tech skills, like any skills, are learned and mastered over time.  Tools like Gmail and iPads and Windows continue to develop over time, and while they get more efficient and easy to use – still, the concept space has ideas that have to be understood to be effectively used.  And those are gained through use and interaction with regular users.

Turning the Internet into an “evil tool” has consequences, particularly as it’s, in a very brief time of 10 years, become a standard operational tool of business.  It doesn’t need to be this way.  Even further, the community could set up it’s own Internet service provider, investing in whatever level of filtering they consider appropriate.

But promoting complete non-use… the consequences are growing bigger and bigger.

It doesn’t need to be this way – and at the time when they really need it.


  1. The term Luddites comes to mind. As rapid technological advances take place, Judaism needs to adapt to the use of these technologies, and in fact has done so admirably in many respects. Web Yeshiva, online Shiurim, Ask the Rabbi, and the greatest of all... I can now get Talmud Bavli on Ipad for 1/2 the cost of paper edition. This is a suitable adaptation of the technologies available, but in order to have and use this, you must have an internet connection.
    The whole world is going wireless,digital, and we as a people need to adapt our lives and methods of teaching, learning and living accordingly. We are supposed to live our lives in this world, showing the world what is possible,providing examples of how to live and the approach of rejecting and excluding some of the parts of the world, like technology just keeps us back in 1066. The majority embrace technologies and scientific advancement like medicine, DNA research, but I'm personally amazed and baffled why ANY GMO food products are certified Kashrut, given that there is proven health risks using these man-made organisms. How can they adopt such a thing and reject the other. We are called to act with self disciplne,and internet use is just another one of those things we have to exercise such.

    I'm sure somewhere in the Sages writings, there would be discussions of this type of embracing one part of the world and rejecting another side of the coin.

    Some of the greatest minds that have advanced the lives and health of humanity have been Jewish. In the end, we will have to recognize, the internet did not come into existence unless HaShem has allowed it to happen, in actuality and reality, it is HIS creation, and we are given the benefit of using it according to our desires to follow HIS will.


  2. Shlomo, the fact is that the divorce rates in the Jewish community are increasing. Is there a direct or indirect relation to the increased use of technology?

  3. The Torah says, Shema Yisroel ... HaShem echod. VeOhavto es HaShem Elokecho bechol levovecho .. uvechol me'odecho ["Hear Israel, G-d is one. You will love HaShem your G-d with all your heart .. and with all your might."]
    The Mishna in Brochos [9,5] learns a direct derivation of the above: since G-d is the only one, everything comes from Him; you should therefore love him with, and thank him for,everything - as everything is from Him.

    When the telephone and telegram were invented, the Tsanzer Rov said they were 'klippos' [shells] of a higher chochmoh - Torah-wisdom that is due to come to the world.

    Note that he did not desist from using a telegram just because it was a 'shell'.

    These types of 'shells' come from what is known in Kabbalistic jargon as 'klippas nogah'. It is a level between holiness and the profane. As such, it is up to us to uplift the 'klippah' to holiness, in much the same way as we [try to] uplift food and other 'neutral' creations of this world to the world of holiness.

    Having said that, in this case, things might be seen to have been made more complicated by the fact that a large and prominent group of Rabbis have spoken against the use of the internet. If the Rabbis actually forbade the internet, that might (arguably) place it in the realm of the first of the "klippos temei'os" - the realm of uncleanliness. However, such Rabbis that I am in contact with, have merely instructed that it be used with care and with some type of filter; much the same as our food needs a hecsher and supervision in order for it to remain within the realms of 'klippas nogah'.

    Obviously, it still remains up to us to elevate this 'shell' to the realms of kedushoh - holiness.


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