Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Internet and “All Segments” of Klal Yisroel

“600 Rabbonim from all sectors of Klal Yisroel” this is how a Newark, New Jersey meeting of rabbis was described at website (or blog) called “Lakewood Local”. The meeting was held as a precursor for a planned “Asifa” – a gathering of what is hoped to be a widely attended event to to discuss the “dangers” of the internet. The post says the media announcement will be forthcoming and it is hoped that there will be large nationwide attendance on the proposed May 20th date. From the article:

The gathering is being called by The Skulener Rebbe Shlita ,Rabbi Matisyahu Salamon, Mashgiach of Yeshivas BMG as well as all leading Admorim and Roshei Yeshivos of the United States.

At the gathering, practical ideas and methods will be presented which will enable individuals and kehillas to implement practical and realistic safeguards to help overcome the ever growing technological threats that faces our communities. These ideas will be further tailored to accommodate the specific needs of the varying communities and kehilas.

Nothing really to argue about here, I just hope the post means what it says about including all sectors of Klal Yisroel. If that’s the case, this will indeed be an unprecedented display of Achdus.

But based on this post, I have to question if they really mean it. The above mentioned names do not breed confidence that “all sectors” will be included. This is not disaparage the names mentioned. It is just that I saw no names mentioned that represent the segment I belong to. This doesn’t mean that they will not be involved, I suppose. But it is curious to note that if this ‘Asifa’ is as advertised, that not a single name from my community is mentioned. Did Rav Hershel Shachter attend? …or Rav Yosef Blau? …or Rav Mordechai Willig? …or any Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Universty? If so, why were their names not mentioned?

That such a gathering is really needed, is something I’m not completely sure of. I think that by now, most Orthodox Jews of any flavor know what the dangers are and how to deal with them. Is there any parent alive who hasn’t heard of ‘Filters”? But I guess it can’t hurt.

I am also pleased to note that this group realizes that different communities require different solutions to meet their needs. Although I would argue that there is not all that much of a difference between the various segments of Orthodoxy when it comes to Internet porn. None of us want our children to access it.

I am also curious to know how they will deal with “Frum Blogs” like mine. Will there be some sort of consensus reached on this? How will it affect this blog? I’m not sure that’s possible. Some prominent figures vilify me and others have excerpted some of my posts in their Shiurim.

Much as I would love to see Achdus here, I wonder if this can be entirely the case. There may be a lot of overlap in how to deal with the internet. But there are some areas where there will be differences. In some case profoundly so.

For example, will there be a positive side of the internet presented? Or will it be only negative? The more right wing a segment of Orthodoxy is, the more negatively they see it. In Israel some on the extreme right want to ban it entirely. Other less strident will allow it for Parnassa. Still others may see it as a necessary evil in other areas but still encourage it to be avoided entirely if possible.

On the opposite end of the Orthodox spectrum are those who understand the value of this medium and extol its virtues - while recognizing the inherent dangers within it. Dangers that should be avoided.

Regardless of all that - if indeed the entire spectrum of Orthodoxy is represented at such a gathering, even if nothing about the internet is resolved, I will consider it a success. Because for the first time in my memory there will be a real show of Achdus in Orthodoxy. It will be great if this meeting will host rabbinic leaders from all segments of Orthodoxy and allow them all present their views equally to all attendees. Will they? Or is their idea of “all sectors” mean only those on the right? I guess we will have to wait and see.