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The Greatest Hanukah Gift

By Tzvi Fishman
12/17/2008, 12:00 AM

The star of this week’s Torah portion is Yosef, who is called “the Tzaddik” because he conquered his sexual passion.

I can hear your groans, “Here he goes again with his hysterical warnings.”

In response, allow me to quote the opening sentences of the classic book, “The Path of the Just,” written by the great Kabbalist, Rabbi Moshe Haim Luzzatto:

“I have written this work not to teach men what they do not know, but to remind them of what they already know and what is very evident to them. But to the extent that these matters are well known, and their truths revealed to all, so is forgetfulness in relation to them extremely prevalent.” 

Day after day, dressed in the most seductive outfits, the wife of Potiphar would approach the young Hebrew slave, Yosef, and beckon him to her quarters to lie with her. She would whisper immodest things in his ear. Yosef’s great test wasn’t just a onetime challenge. Egypt’s most beautiful woman kept after him for months on end, doing everything in her powers to cast her spell over him. On that fateful day when she threw herself at him with all of her charms, she made sure that she and Yosef were alone in the house. The only thing standing between Yosef and the forbidden act was his fear of G-d. His father and family were hundreds of miles away, he was in the prime of his strength, she was the most seductive woman in Egypt, and still he resisted.

What was his immediate reward? He was thrown into prison for years. What in heaven’s sake for? Rabbi Leon Levi answers: because in a moment of weakness, he thought about succumbing to temptation and actually lying with her, and Hashem punished him for that fleeting thought alone.

If Yosef was imprisoned and bound up in chains for that one little slip, what awaits Internet addicts like us for the times that we allow our eyes and thoughts to wander and view images we shouldn’t see?

In our time, the Internet is Potiphar’s wife. Every time we sit down at the computer, we are tested with the very same test as Yosef. Thousands of seductive women are just a quick click away. And who has the strength to resist?

Potifar's Wife

For us, Divine assistance comes in the form of an anti-porn filter. Thank G-d, there are many on the market. Many can be downloaded for free. In Israel, the new Rimon filter is highly recommended. So grave is the danger of Internet watching that many Torah authorities have ruled that Internet surfing without an anti-porn filter is strictly forbidden. Rabbi Leon Levi calls it the greatest spiritual danger of our time.  Viewing erotic pictures on the Internet, whether they be in ads, on the Yahoo home page, or in adult sites, cause a person to violate a long list of Torah commandments, including:

“You shall be holy, for I the L-rd your G-d am holy!”

“Thou shall not turn astray after your hearts and after your eyes which lead you astray.”  

“Therefore shall your camp be holy, that He see no unclean thing in you and turn away from you.”

“And you shall guard yourself from every evil thing.”

“Do not turn astray after their gods!”

“Thou shall not bring an abomination into your house.”

If you have children at home, and you haven’t taken measures to guard their viewing habits, then you are also violating the Biblical injunction "not to put a stumbling block in front of a blind man."

And if you insist that gazing at women is a harmless endeavor, and that you haven’t done anything at all, please be aware that the eyes are the windows of the soul, and that this seemingly “harmless endeavor” severely damages a person’s connection to G-d.

So if you haven’t installed a censoring filter on your computer, install one now. Let that be your gift to yourself and to your children on Hanukah.