January 10, 2021 3:32 pm at 3:32 pm #1937197
So we all have conversations. Usually we don’t attempt to record our conversations or publish them into a book. Sometimes we are angry and say things for the moment, sometimes we are feeling weak and may open up about things, or sometimes we are just being plain silly.
But one thing we aren’t wanting Is for our conversations to be saved forever. Of course we can’t do much about big tech saving our messages and conversations, but is it a weird request to ask a friend to erase your messages/conversations history from their own phone?
Now idk If that’s overreaching your boundaries, but after all these are messages that you sent to them. True that some people like to hold on to conversations for whatever reasons they follow up on, but many times the things we write/send/message are just meant to be for the moment and not always to be looked upon again. Especially if you were in an argument, and then made up later but now the messages are still there, it might bring back those negative feelings while reading them again and possibly provoke hostility towards the other even though it’s in the past.
Or when you send things that you just wanted to get off your chest for a moment and now they are saved and so on.
Now before you say be careful what you say, yes I agree. However we are beings with feelings and at times we say things and the moment passes. Nothing is recorded for future reference or remembrance. But when you send a message it is saved.
So can you erase my messages or are they now considered your messages?January 10, 2021 4:04 pm at 4:04 pm #1937214
Ayin roeh veazen shomaas vechol masech basefer nichtovim, eyes see, ears hear and all your deeds are written in a book.January 10, 2021 4:04 pm at 4:04 pm #1937215johnkletsParticipant
Good question, another reason why to listen to the gedolim of E”Y and not use text messaging.January 10, 2021 7:17 pm at 7:17 pm #1937267
@reb eliezer, thanks for staying the obvious I knew this comment would come up. What does that have to do with asking a friend to erase your conversation? Are they Hashem?January 10, 2021 7:23 pm at 7:23 pm #1937269
Johnkelts, when did they say you can’t use text messaging? How about email? How about a physical letter you’ve sent then?
To everyone, not asking for ideas of how to avoid communication. The topic is if it’s ok to ask a friend to erase your conversations or if that’s considered rude.
Another tossup are pictures. What if you came out really bad in a picture and are uncomfortable of it existing. Can you ask a friend to delete it or at least crop you out?
Obviously the best way to know is to ask. But again even with close friends these things can be taken as extremely rude or overstepping your boundaries and cause a fight or at least some tension. As if you are telling them what to do with their own property. But is it their own property when the material is yours?
In a way this is probably a known issue since whatsapp unveiled the delete from everyone option within a certain amount of time, and recently have given an option for disappearing messages which disappear from the history within a few days or whatever the settings are. I think people have realized that it’s annoying to have someone keep your messages which were meant for just the moment and not to be analyzed or taken out of context later on.
But then again that’s whatsapp. You have sms history, email, voice messages, voicemail and so on.
I do try not to leave voicemails or think twice before sending a message. But in turn you are just making life more difficult, and besides sometimes someone is only able to text at the moment and you really need to have a conversation about something important and you end up creating a whole history of messages again.
Any thoughts?January 11, 2021 8:02 am at 8:02 am #1937376johnkletsParticipant
Physical letters is always done with more Yishuv hadaas then texting or emailing. The gedolim indeed said not to use texting and emailing besides for parnasa. But lets not change the topic, i just wanted to point out something interesting.January 11, 2021 8:05 am at 8:05 am #1937384YtParticipant
If your not happy don’t use message services. You can’t ask someone to delete your messages, that’s not the way social media/ texting works.
(Unless it was really private. Or weird)January 11, 2021 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm #1937508
The idea is think before you write a message and then there will be no need to erase. The Orchas Chaim of the Rosh says, to watch הוצאת דברך what comes out from your mouth (including writing) מהוצאת ממונך as you watch what money you spend.January 11, 2021 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm #1937523
Thanks reb eliezer I guess that solves it. I specifically mentioned what you wrote and said that it’s not the topic here. If you read the posts maybe you will understand the topic better. We are not talking of ways of stopping yourself from communicating or to think before you speak. Those are good ideas but again read the posts I covered that already.January 11, 2021 1:00 pm at 1:00 pm #1937535
1: A person should pretty much not leave any evidence of something they wouldn’t want others to see or know. It’s once thing saying it to someone in private. Sending it through any written medium is plain foolishness. As a wise person said “zei nisht a nar mit a tzetel”.
2: Never send an angry text message. Especially to someone that you need to be on good terms with. I have heard of people regretting it big time.
3: Now that the messages were already sent. What should you do? Why do you need to ask anyone in the CR? Simply ask the person to delete them. Nothing wrong with asking. Do they have to delete them because “they belong to you?”. No, they don’t. Words do not belong to you – even spoken ones – after they are spoken to sent out.
Speech has been compared to an arrow: once the words are released, like an arrow, they cannot be recalled, the harm they do cannot be stopped, and the harm they do cannot always be predicted, for words like arrows often go astray.January 11, 2021 1:01 pm at 1:01 pm #1937537
I didn’t read all your posts. You asked if it’s rude. So I think there is nothing rude about asking someone to remove your messages. I would think that any decent person would honor that request. Especially if he would understand your feelings on specific messages. Any person who is indecent enough to deny this request, I would keep away from.January 11, 2021 1:10 pm at 1:10 pm #1937545
I don’t understand the whole thread. of hashomayim yolich es hakol, kesov shenichtav ein lehoshiv. I don’t think you can erase messages sent.January 11, 2021 1:31 pm at 1:31 pm #1937554
Isn’t it similar to speech which cannot be erased?January 11, 2021 2:49 pm at 2:49 pm #1937565
First of all I’m not asking personal questions. This is a hypothetical topic.
Secondly yes speech cannot be erased in the terms of, Hashem knows everything. We are talking about bein adam lechavero in which typically a casual conversation that you have with someone is not going to be recorded or may even not be completely remembered by either of the parties.
Think before you speak very true. But nowadays people are used to communicating via text and even if you want to talk on the phone doesn’t mean a person can talk whenever you would like. People are married, have their own issues and so on. However many times they will be able to conduct a conversation via messaging since it doesn’t require an instant reply such as speech.
So naturally sometimes you are in the moment of a conversation or thought and you just continue the conversation even though you would rather it not be saved.
Yes it’s best to just ask someone if they can delete however many times simply bringing up such a request can cause a rift.
Yt-“If your not happy don’t use message services. You can’t ask someone to delete your messages, that’s not the way social media/ texting works.
(Unless it was really private. Or weird)”
What difference does it make then? If you can ask about that you should be able to ask about anything.
Bottom line is that there are some friends who you can usually just reach via text since either they are long distance, or working most of the day,family etc.
And you have no choice but to have a conversation via messaging. You can be careful with everything you send but then you will have to leave out 80% of what you actually needed to talk about. If you can have that conversation over speech then it wouldn’t be an issue of them having a record of it. Bit if you can message and have them delete the history right after the conversation the you wouldn’t have that issue.
Whatsapp specifically made a feature of disappearing messages and option to delete in real time because apparently people noticed that most of their communication and conversations are meant only for the moment and not to be looked over later on when it loses its context. But that’s just whatssap. There are many other messaging methods. Also if the feature was off so we are at the same point.
What’s regarding pictures that aren’t so flattering. Are you able to request a friend to delete them or crop you out? People are very sensitive and again simply asking these things can cause more issue then leaving itJanuary 11, 2021 3:39 pm at 3:39 pm #1937595
I don’t really understand this topic which is why I didn’t comment
flowers 3 points are all true and obvious .
What piqued my interest was
“You can be careful with everything you send but then you will have to leave out 80% of what you actually needed to talk about. ”
why is t 80% of what you are saying stuff that you wouldn’t want a record of?
Even 20% seems like too muchJanuary 11, 2021 3:44 pm at 3:44 pm #1937597
rightwriter, thank you for your detailed explanatiion.January 11, 2021 5:12 pm at 5:12 pm #1937648
Ubiquitin “why is t 80% of what you are saying stuff that you wouldn’t want a record of?
Even 20% seems like too much”
-you are right tzaddik. Thanks for being such a tzaddik and not even having 20% of your conversation unwanted of being recorded.
But let’s speak of all us non tzadikkim. What if you discussed a medical issue which you didn’t want recorded. What if you were constipated and we’re embarrassed of having it recorded and remained in a chat history. What if you were feeling very low and in a negative mood and shared which you didn’t want on record forever.
What if you had a relationship issue and needed to get something off your chest for the moment and didn’t want it there forever.
Should I go on? I bet in your dirty mind you thought the 80% of the conversation was something non tznius. Thanks for projecting your own thoughts on us.January 11, 2021 7:06 pm at 7:06 pm #1937654
“What if you discussed a medical issue which you didn’t want recorded.”
I wouldnt text it. And that is very rare maaaaaaaaybe 2% of things I text?
“What if you were constipated and we’re embarrassed of having it recorded and remained in a chat history.”
I cant imagine ever texting about being constipated. And I don’t get whats embarrising about being constipated
“What if you were feeling very low and in a negative mood and shared which you didn’t want on record forever.”
Ok this makes sense I guess. thanks for your answer
“What if you had a relationship issue and needed to get something off your chest for the moment and didn’t want it there forever.”
80% of what you text?
“Should I go on? ”
no, thats ok. 80% of the time You text about what a low place you are in. That makes sense given your wildly rude reply .
“I bet in your dirty mind you thought the 80% of the conversation was something non tznius”
Interstign that you went there . Wait I thought I was a ” such a tzaddik”
“Thanks for projecting your own thoughts on us.”
who is Us?
So to sum up 80% of what you text is abou tmedical issues, being constipated , low mood, relationship issues and occasionaly somehting not tznius.
Thanks for your detailed reply .
I get it nowJanuary 11, 2021 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm #1937691
Ubiquitin-“So to sum up 80% of what you text is abou tmedical issues, being constipated , low mood, relationship issues and occasionaly somehting not tznius”
Not once did I mention that any of the conversation has anything to do with something non tznius. Again you are projecting your own dirty mind onto everyone else. Please get some help so that you can get a healthier outlook.
” Wait I thought I was a ” such a tzaddik””
– ya so you thought
“”What if you had a relationship issue and needed to get something off your chest for the moment and didn’t want it there forever.””
Ubiquitin-“80% of what you text?”
-No you silly silly person I was just giving you examples of normal conversation in which a person might not want things to be stored in a chat log. Since you can only imagine that non tznius topics would be the only reason. Just letting you know we don’t all think like you. So I had to make it clear.January 11, 2021 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm #1937720
” Wait I thought I was a ” such a tzaddik ” – ya so you thought”
YOU said I was “such a tzadik”
“No you silly silly person I was just giving you examples of normal conversation in which a person ”
It isn’t normal that 80% of your conversations involve troubled relationships
“Since you can only imagine that non tznius topics would be the only reason. ”
Um again, no that was your suggestion
” So I had to make it clear.”
you’ve made it crystal clear. I have no more questions for you on the subject. Thank you for taking the time.
all the best
I sincerely hope that Your relationships, constipation and all that may ail or trouble you get resolved bekarovJanuary 11, 2021 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm #1937726
Ubiquitin”YOU said I was “such a tzadik””
-its called sarcasm my silly friend
No friend, as I stated in my post, 80% of a “specific conversation” not 80% of all conversations. As in if you are having a specific conversation and are not mentioning 80% of the actual content for fear of it being logged in a chat history. Farshteis?
“I sincerely hope that Your relationships, constipation and all that may ail or trouble you get resolved bekarov”
-haha not only a tzaddik but also a comedian. My silly friend, you should learn to read. I specifically mentioned
that I’m not talking about myself and these are all hypotheticals. And the only reason I gave examples was due to your dirty mind assuming private conversations equal non tznius or whatever other ignorance that spins in your head.
“you’ve made it crystal clear. I have no more questions for you on the subject. Thank you for taking the time.”
-thankfully you have no more questions. Please keep your word.January 13, 2021 8:50 am at 8:50 am #1938304
Ugh, why did this conversation turn nasty?January 13, 2021 8:51 am at 8:51 am #1938305
Regarding the OP, I don’t think you “own” the messages you’ve sent, and I think it’s a bit odd to even request they be deleted, but it might be appropriate to tell the person you sent it to that in retrospect, you wish you hadn’t sent it.January 13, 2021 9:50 am at 9:50 am #1938334
“Ugh, why did this conversation turn nasty?”
I don’t know either.
But it did help me understand the op , his question , and why 80% of his texts are things he doesn’t want a record ofJanuary 13, 2021 9:55 am at 9:55 am #1938339🍫Syag LchochmaParticipant
And i thought only republicans deflect responsibility for incitementJanuary 13, 2021 5:14 pm at 5:14 pm #1938463
Syag: I don’t think ubiquitin’s post can be considered incitement.January 13, 2021 5:42 pm at 5:42 pm #1938493🍫Syag LchochmaParticipant
Which ones?January 13, 2021 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm #1938547
The ones n this tread. Which post do you think is incitement?January 14, 2021 9:48 am at 9:48 am #1938574
daas-“Ugh, why did this conversation turn nasty?”
-quite simple, ubiquitin wanted to share with us that he can only think dirty.
(ubiquitin-“why is t 80% of what you are saying stuff that you wouldn’t want a record of?
Even 20% seems like too much”)
ubiquitin-“But it did help me understand the op , his question , and why 80% of his texts are things he doesn’t want a record of”
-so you are saying that it only took 3 responses for you to finally understand that not everyone’s mind is that sick? Great ; )
daas-“Regarding the OP, I don’t think you “own” the messages you’ve sent, and I think it’s a bit odd to even request they be deleted, but it might be appropriate to tell the person you sent it to that in retrospect, you wish you hadn’t sent it.”
-yes you dont own the messages which are on the other phone, however who does own them? Can we say that the network or app owns them? I mean after all they are the ones collecting your data even if you delete it. So in that case maybe your friend who youve sent the message to doesnt own it either. But its not about who owns it, its the fact that its your content. I mean if you only had a momentary conversation over text, what reason would the other party have for keeping it if what you wrote to them previously doesnt hold for the future since it was only meant for that moment. What if you sent someone a funny video of yourself to cheer them up for the moment they were sad, but now it is saved forever and can possibly circulate elsewhere? Now do you understand the concept of how some things are meant to be momentary but we use texting which is a great way to send material, but the drawback is that its saved. Would that also be an “odd” request on your part to ask them to delete it?
Personally I dont like clutter. That includes digital clutter which includes conversation and messaging threads. So I basically delete messages daily. Thats one reason. The other reason I delete is especially if there were some negative conversations, even though you move past it the messages are still there. And I noticed that if I ever go over them again on some other occasion, I see those messages and am reminded of that negative moment and it gives a sense of being in that moment again, forgetting that you have moved past that. Most people dont realize that when you look at past things you actually get absorbed into them especially messages,emails, pictures and so on.
Ya maybe its odd to ask someone to delete your conversations, but what reason does someone have to keep them especially if they know you would rather the conversation not be saved?
Would it be odd for you to request that they delete a picture in which you dont look too flattering, or at least crop you out? I mean ya its in their possession but the topic is you.
Again, personally I am not a collector of things except for money and mitzvos the (former in order to use) ; ) so maybe to me its less of an issue to delete messages. I guess its the actual request of asking someone to do something on their own phone which I can see is a bit intrusive. And thats the dilemma.January 14, 2021 11:16 am at 11:16 am #1938668
“quite simple, ubiquitin wanted to share with us that he can only think dirty.”
for the life of me I don’t understand how you got that from my question.
I asked “why is t 80% of what you are saying stuff that you wouldn’t want a record of?
Even 20% seems like too much””
When I first saw your question, I thought back to maybe 2 texts over the course of a year that I wanted retracted. considering I text multple times daily (aside from Shabbos and Y”T) Your question related to < 1% of things I texted.
I didn’t reply, because Flower’s points seemd so obvious (namely if yo uwant people to delete it they should but they don’t have to, they dont belong to you)
I asked my question when you said that 80% of what you want to text are things you had to withold if they wont be deleted. This baffled me. So I asked what you were referring to.
You answered in a needlessly hostile and angry way. Though you did answer. so thank you.January 14, 2021 11:16 am at 11:16 am #1938675
Since you so patiently addressed why you want 80% of your text s deleted .
I will answer some of your questions although not addressed to me.
“Now do you understand the concept of how some things are meant to be momentary but we use texting which is a great way to send material, but the drawback is that its saved.”
YOU have to understand the concept. WE all get it. Once sent you cannot retrieve it period. If you want it to be “momentary” do not text it.
YES You cCAN ask people to delete it ( Though ” Would that also be an “odd” request on your part to ask them to delete it? ” – unquestionably Yes )
and nice people would oblige your request. But they don’t have to as you correctly point out “which I can see is a bit intrusive”
“Personally I dont like clutter. That includes digital clutter which includes conversation and messaging threads. So I basically delete messages daily. Thats one reason”
That has nothing to do with other people’s deleting.
“Would it be odd for you to request that they delete a picture in which you dont look too flattering, or at least crop you out?”
YEs, though not as odd (depends on how unflattering) Though I dont think its odd to ask them not to send it around, regardless if they are decent person they wouldnt send around such a picture and would delete it.
I’m sorry I upset you (though I’m still not quite sure what it was) I hope we can be friends againJanuary 14, 2021 11:17 am at 11:17 am #1938688Avram in MDParticipant
Regarding what nefarious things you think ubiquitin is thinking, you made it up and it just makes your posts look rude.
Regarding asking someone else to delete the messages you sent them, you have a right to politely ask once, and they have a right to say no. And you have a right to no longer send them personal messages if you think they are not being respectful of your private communications to them. Everything that is sent to someone else electronically should be assumed to be potentially permanently available, and there isn’t much of anything we can do about it. Adjust accordingly.
Did you know that with Signal you can send messages that delete automatically from the recipient’s device after a period of time following the recipient reading it?January 14, 2021 11:41 am at 11:41 am #1938700
Ubiquitin-“I’m sorry I upset you (though I’m still not quite sure what it was) I hope we can be friends again”
-im not upset sure we are not enemies. It was probably the fact that you wrote suggesting that if someone wants privacy then theh must be doing or saying something wrong. I mean people go to the bathroom should they just leave the door open? They aren’t doing anything wrong right? Same goes for conversation and anything else. This ideology of hey I’ve got nothing to hide is the reason why we are in this situation in the first place, having all the big tech spying and collecting data on everyone. Since people say they have nothing to hide then they are ok with it. Even though recently people are waking up and relaxing they aren’t comfortable with being recorded, video,audio, pictures, and all their other data being collected.
“YEs, though not as odd (depends on how unflattering) Though I dont think its odd to ask them not to send it around, regardless if they are decent person they wouldnt send around such a picture and would delete it.”
-then why is it ok to request it for a picture but not message isn’t it the same concept? No I didn’t mean they would send it around but the fact that it exists there is always a chance it’ll end up somewhere nowadays even unintentionally.
What I was referring to asking someone to delete messages was regarding if you had a bad day, maybe had to vent etc. I would gladly delete a conversation thread if someone told me they are uncomfortable having those messages in a history. I don’t see what the big deal is or why someone would get offended. It’s only the fact that it’s their phone which makes the situation tricky. But again maybe I’m just an easy going guy.January 14, 2021 1:07 pm at 1:07 pm #1938718
-quite simple, ubiquitin wanted to share with us that he can only think dirty.
No. You brought that up, not UbiquitinJanuary 14, 2021 3:17 pm at 3:17 pm #1938781
“wrote suggesting that if someone wants privacy then theh must be doing or saying something wrong.”
I did not mean to suggest that.
and your bathroom analogy is getting me confused again. My question was NOT about the desire to “take back” something that was said. We have all (at least most) been there. Nor about the need for privacy. My confusion was when you said that 80% of what you text are things that you later want to “take back”
worth noting , that if a person spends 80% of his time in the bathroom something is wrong. That doesn’t make him a bad person, and I am not judging. A doctor MAY be able to help, but should definitely be consulted.
similarly if 80% of what a person texts are things he later regrets, that isn’t typical. Again it isnt “bad” but something is atypical. That is what prompted my question. I couldn’t imagine why a person wanted to retract so much of what was said
You response answered it, now I see
“-then why is it ok to request it for a picture but not message isn’t it the same concept?”
Pictures are different for several reason
(Note not all these differences apply to all texts vs all pictures just generally speaking)
1- Text that you sent – by definition – was wit h your consent. If you later regret it that is “your problem” not mine , as opposed to a picture we I take where you look “unflattering” you never agreed to the picture in the first place
2- You cant control how you look in picture maybe you were scratching your nose and from angle looks more embarrassing , certainly a person should delete that and wouldn’t be weird for someone to ask . Text YOU composed you have no one else to blame (I’m not sure that this is different than #1)
3- Picture is unmistakably you. Thus You “own it” more than words which even if I were to forward it would lose their connection to you .
4- Pictures have a tendency to live on, words are typically forgotten about. I cant imagine someone scrolling back to laugh at the time so-an-so was constipated. If they dont look for it they wont find it. Pictures get saved in album, often transferred to cloud, and live on on a computer pop up when google reminds you of this day 8 years later etc etc
If you don’t think any of these differences are real, thats ok to of course.
The gist is the same. In both cases you cant FORCE them to delete it and in both cases they should delete it
“I don’t see what the big deal is or why someone would get offended.”
Its not a big deal, and I dont think people would get offended, it is just “odd” ie atypical. I text 20 people daily probably another 30 people I “chat” with in groups. I can recall 1 time someone asked to delete something that was sent and a handful of times that a message was deleted from the group. It isnt typical that things are later deleted. and certainly not near 80% (for most people) which is what prompted my questionJanuary 14, 2021 3:29 pm at 3:29 pm #1938788
Thanks Flowers, DY, and Avram
I was confused by some of the accusations.
That isn’t to say I am completely innocent of cranking up the rhetoric further (I’m not)January 15, 2021 1:02 am at 1:02 am #1938982
Ubiquitin’My confusion was when you said that 80% of what you text are things that you later want to “take back”
worth noting , that if a person spends 80% of his time in the bathroom something is wrong.”
-dude you are so confused that it’s showing. You keep mixing a billion things together. Who in the world said that I would want to take back 80% of what I said? Who in the world said that 80% of my conversations are private? I said that if you are so careful to not write things that will be saved in history chat, and you avoid your main point/topic then you will end up avoiding like 80% what you actually wanted to say in that particular conversation!
Who said you spend 80% of your time in the bathroom. Do you even have any comprehension? Whatever at this point I figure there is no use.January 17, 2021 2:21 am at 2:21 am #1939392
yes you dont own the messages which are on the other phone, however who does own them?
NobodyJanuary 17, 2021 2:22 am at 2:22 am #1939395
But its not about who owns it, its the fact that its your content.
No, it’s not your content. Rephrasing “you own it” to “it’s your content” doesn’t suddenly make it true.January 17, 2021 2:22 am at 2:22 am #1939396
What if you sent someone a funny video of yourself to cheer them up for the moment they were sad, but now it is saved forever and can possibly circulate elsewhere?
You should have asked not to forward it. Even if you didn’t, it’s fair to ask later on not to forward it. That’s not the same thing as asking to delete it.January 17, 2021 2:22 am at 2:22 am #1939398
Now do you understand the concept of how some things are meant to be momentary but we use texting which is a great way to send material, but the drawback is that its saved. Would that also be an “odd” request on your part to ask them to delete it?
Yes, it would be odd.January 17, 2021 7:42 am at 7:42 am #1939451
yes you dont own the messages which are on the other phone, however who does own them?
Any content that is on someone’s phone belongs to the owner of the phone. And what’s on your phone belongs to you. So the same content can belong to more than one person.
Look up Rabbeinu Gershom on the ban of reading someone else’s mail.
Some of what is found on the subject:
Reasons for the Ban
There are a number of reasons given for this ban:
We do not look at others’ correspondence so that we do not come to reveal gossip or a secret, as that would be rechilus (forbidden talebearing).2
<b>Reading someone else’s writings without permission is like borrowing something without permission, which is a form of theft.</b>
It is incompatible with the rabbinic teaching, “Don’t do unto others that which you do not want [to be done] to you.”
<b>May one who received a letter or email from an individual reveal to others what was written?</b>
One who received a private letter or email from an individual is prohibited from sharing it with others, unless he receives explicit permission from the sender. Accordingly, that which people are accustomed to forward private emails or messages to other acquaintances, may only be done if one has explicit permission from the sender.January 17, 2021 1:36 pm at 1:36 pm #1939545
flowers, for email and text which are not sealed like a letter I don’t know if cherem Rabbenu Gershom applies and we can say on it, of hahsomayim yolich es hakol.January 17, 2021 2:21 pm at 2:21 pm #1939556
Reb Eliezer: From Ohr Sameach website:
Michael from Pittsburgh wrote:
Does the “Cherem d’Rabbeinu Gershom” [“social excommunication”ed.] against reading someone’s mail also apply to E-Mail? At work we all share one E-Mail account, and sometimes I find it difficult to overcome my curiosity.
Rabbeinu Gershom (960-1040 C.E.), “The Light of the Exile,” was one of the earliest and greatest scholars of Ashkenazic Jewry, and led the most prestigious center of Talmudic learning of the day. In his times, there arose a need to institute a number of new measures, called “takanot.” These included the banning of polygamy and the requirement of mutual consent in divorce.
Amongst his most well known enactments is the one you mentioned – the prohibition against reading people’s mail. In those times, Jewish traders in different countries communicated in writing. Often their letters contained sensitive business information which could be very harmful if read by an outsider. As a safeguard against this, Rabbeinu Gershom legislated against reading people’s mail.
What about E-Mail? Is reading E-Mail on a computer screen included in the “Cherem of Rabbeinu Gershom”? I posed this question to Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, shlita, and he made no distinction between regular mail and E-Mail.
You wrote, however, that you share a joint account. Here, the question can be asked, “Is an E-Mail message in a joint account like a post card?” Concerning post cards there is a doubt whether or not Rabbeinu Gershom’s decree applies, since the sender seems unconcerned if others read it.
On the other hand, perhaps the sender trusts that no one will push the button and “open” the message – just as when you send a letter you expect that no one will open and read it.
I asked Rabbi Scheinberg about this as well. Here, too, he made no distinction between a joint account and a private account. People expect that no one read their messages, and it should not be done.
I hope this knowledge helps you overcome your curiosity. If not, let me remind you of the positive commandment of “v’ahavta l’reacha ka’mocha” – “Love your fellow person as yourself.” Our Sages explain this as follows: One must not do to somebody else what he wouldn’t want the other person to do to him. Would you like someone else to read your personal E-mail?
Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 334:22.
Aruch HaShulchan 334:20.
Herald of Destiny, by Berel Wein, Shaar Press.
Leviticus 19:18, Shabbat 31a, Maharsha.January 17, 2021 2:26 pm at 2:26 pm #1939559
Rav Pinchos Scheinberg was asked tbe question about email who considered it as a letter.January 17, 2021 3:10 pm at 3:10 pm #1939562
Thanks flowers. I already saw the same thing.
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