The Internet Inclination

Put out the fires in our institutions and homes.

Tzvi Fishman

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Two years ago, I wrote an article entitled, “Where Are the Rabbis?” calling on the nation’s rabbis to lead the fight against Internet pornography. I am pleased to announce that slowly, but surely, they are awakening to the challenge.

With summer vacation upon us, a group of rabbis from the religious-Zionist community have circulated a letter
Parents who don’t provide suitable filters for their home computers are infringing several serious commandments.
calling on parents to install anti-pornography filters on all home computers. They write:

All year long, the Internet is a lawless and wide open wilderness that entraps countless victims, our own children, damaging their precious souls. Vacations are times of even greater danger, when the abundance of free time lures teenagers into the easy traps of the Internet. The mantra, ‘It won’t happen to my child,’ is a vain and dangerous excuse for not taking the proper measures to look out for the wellbeing of our loved ones.”

Speaking from their experience as rabbis and educators, the writers of the letter maintain that parents who don’t provide suitable filters for their home computers are infringing several serious commandments of the Torah. They also warn parents to be sure that the cell phones of their children are not open to free Internet access.

Rabbi Leon Levi from Bnei Brak was among the first to warn about the spiritual dangers of the Internet. When he claimed that the growing number of yeshiva dropouts was being caused by addiction to the Internet, many educators turned a deaf ear. The elder Kabbalist, however, continued his warnings, explaining that a person brings a terrible impurity upon himself by viewing immodest images and severs his connection to everything holy, making Torah learning and prayer into dry, joyless matters that can’t compete with the bewitching “highs” of Internet addiction.

A frightening true confession, recently posted on the Forum of our website, that deals with Internet pornography, graphically portrays the tragedy that is spreading like a plague throughout the yeshiva world, not to mention our homes.

The anonymous entry begins: “As a normal bochur, a 'good kid', going to yeshivish yeshiva's, I was first exposed to pornography when bochurim would talk about it in yeshiva . In the 'alef shiur' such things where never mentioned, but in the lower shiurim, regular bochurim were brazen enough to quietly, and not so quietly, discuss their adventures in the world of pornography. Being a nice sweet boy, and a good kid, at one point I was entrusted with a password that could enable me to access websites beyond my Internet settings, and on one occasion, overcome by a lust I had never possessed (nor to that magnitude), I used that loophole to see what would later become an obsessive addiction.”

The confession goes on to detail his horrifying descent into the world of Internet porn. Because I have contact with lots of yeshiva students who have succumbed to the same temptations, I know that his story is not an isolated tale that can be dismissed as some crazy exception to the rule.

This week, in the Shabbat bulletin Komemiyut, which is distributed all over Israel, Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed,
Part of this war, the rabbi writes, is to equip every home with an Internet filter.
one of the leaders of the religious-Zionist community, has come out with a passionate appeal for rabbis, educators and parents to take action to put out the fires that are spreading though our learning institutions and homes.

We can no longer hide from this problem,” he declares. “We must wage a war against the sitra achra (evil inclination) attacking our communities.”

Part of this war, the rabbi writes, is to equip every home with an Internet filter, such as the encompassing new Israeli Internet Service Provider, Rimon: “This must be done immediately, without any postponement, in order to guard the purity of our children.” If parents are lax in their responsibility, then children must demand this of their mothers and fathers. “All of the rabbis and teachers in yeshivot and ulpanot must exert all of their influence on students and parents in this pressing matter.” If this step isn’t taken, he warns, all of the spiritual and intellectual progress of the school year will be wiped out by the pitfalls of unsupervised Internet viewing during summer vacation.