Gevalt! The virus is out of control. A virus far more deadly than Swine Flu. Its germs are all-pervasive, floating everywhere in the air. Gevalt! Gevalt! Who will save us?
The virus is Internet porn.
This week, schools started in Israel. At my 14-year-old-son’s new yeshiva high school, I, along with other parents, attended a welcoming talk from the Rosh Yeshiva. After speaking about the goals of the school, he spoke openly about the dangers of the Internet. He called it a plagued that was wreaking spiritual havoc on the entire generation.
He said he made a survey of two groups - top students and average students. He asked them to estimate what percentage of their friends watched forbidden material on the Internet. The average response rounded out at 85%.
“Once a youth starts polluting his mind with this impurity,” the Rosh Yeshiva said, “It doesn’t take long before he doesn’t show up to pray and has no desire to study. He falls into a depression, thinking that since he is so soiled, what’s the point of praying and studying Torah?”
Besides the computer problem, there is a huge problem now that every youth has a cell phone, he said. Even if parents block the access to Internet from the cell phone company, there are new “Generation Three” wireless phones that can pick up Internet signals from the air. So, while Mommy and Daddy think they have dealt with the problem, their kid is watching porn on his suped-up cell phone and sharing the smut with his friends. And even if the kid doesn’t have wireless capabilities, chances are that he has something called “Bluetooth” which enables him to download all the smut in the world from one of his buddies. So, while in the old days, a kid had to go through the trouble and embarrassment of finding or stealing a Playboy magazine, today, thanks to modern technology, he has a mansion of playmates in his side pocket.
Poison in your child's pocket.
To put it simply, my friends, (even the most liberal and secular amongst you), the situation is a disaster for the holy people of Israel.
I was happy to hear the Rosh Yeshiva speak about the problem. Educating parents is one of the best ways of getting the situation under control. But it won’t be easy. We are speaking of a horrendous, horrendous problem.
After hearing him, I did a little private investigating on my own. With my work on jewishsexuality.com, I am not what you would call a newcomer to the subject. My home computer has several filters, and I made sure to block access to the Internet when I opened a cell phone line for my son. But, it turned out the phone that he had, a gift from his older brother, was one of the new wireless varieties that can receive Internet anywhere that there is a strong signal in the air. Having already heard about Internet problems with some of his friends in our neighborhood, and speaking with a few other fathers, I put two and two together, and realized I had a tough decision to make.
One the one hand, my son was starting out at a new yeshiva high school, and I wanted him to begin on a happy, positive note. Plus, it is a sleep-away school with a dormitory, and he would be away from our supervision all week long, with all of the difficulties, temptations, and character-building potential involved. I knew that if I took away his cell phone on his very first day of high school, he would flip out, and be angry, not only at me, but with his teachers, the Torah, and the Holy One Blessed Be He as well.
On the other hand, after the speech of the Rosh Yeshiva, how could I let him do more damage to his holy Jewish soul, and possibly get other kids hooked on the poisonous virus?
So, when the opening day’s speeches and meetings with teachers was over, I told my boy that he had a choice – either to hand over his wireless cell phone, which I would replace with a regular model when he got home; or to have me turn off his phone line the next day. Angrily, he told me to turn it off on my own, and walked away in a huff toward his dormitory, without a parting smile or hugging me goodbye, no doubt thinking what a terrible father he has.
The next morning, after discussing the matter with my wife, and obtaining her agreement, I went to his phone server and temporarily disconnected his phone line. All week, he has been without a cell phone. When he comes home at the end of the week, and gives me his wireless phone, I will give him a less highfalutin model in exchange and reopen his line.
I have heard that many parents don’t do what I did, because they don’t want to cause friction between themselves and their children.
Once again, to put the matter in context with Judaism, let’s look at last week’s Torah portion. The Torah states:
“When you go out to encamp against your enemies, keep yourself from every evil thing. If there be among you any man that is not pure because of a nocturnal seminal emission ("mikre liela"), then he shall leave the camp – he shall not come within the camp… for the L-rd your G-d walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you, and to give up your enemies before you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He see no unclean thing in you, and turn away from you” (Devarim, 23: 11-15).
Holiness is the foundation of the Jewish Nation. The Torah tells us here that the key to G-d’s watching over us and protecting us from our enemies is directly related to our sexual purity. When we are in a state of impurity due to sexual transgression, the Divine protection of the Shekinah flees from us, G-d forbid.
The Talmud explains that when the above Torah verse says to “keep from every evil thing,” it means that a man should not arouse himself by looking at women and fantasizing about them, because this will lead him to the impurity of a seminal emission, and the squandering of the life-force and souls that are contained therein (Avodah Zara 20B).
This is exactly what happens when men and boys gaze at immodest images on the Internet, whether on their cell phones, or on the computer at work or at home. They pollute themselves and the whole Jewish camp around them, causing the Shechinah to flee.
At the end of the Torah portion is the mitzvah to remember what Amalek did to us when “he met you by the way.” The Hebrew verse contains the root of the same word which we saw above – “karcha b’derech.” Rashi explains that the word “karcha” comes from “mikre,” which means a seminal emission. Rashi explains that Amalek led weak members of the Jewish People into sexual sin, and when the holy Clouds of Glory (the protecting Shekinah that surrounded the Jewish camp) spit them out, then Amalek was able to kill them. Rashi goes on to explain that Amalek further castrated these fallen Jews and derisively threw their foreskins into the air toward Heaven, as if to say to G-d – “What’s the difference between your supposed holy people and us?”
The same strategy of luring the Jewish People into sexual sin, and weakening our connection to G-d, is very much with us today, fostered by the spirit of evil behind the perverts and purveyors of pornography who infect all of cyberspace with their murderous viruses of seduction and sin.
Be warned my good friends, be warned. Download a filter on your home computer. And employers must do so at work. And, parents, check out what cell phones your children are carrying, to make sure they don’t have access to the poison which threatens us more than any other enemy today.