Internet Warning at Yeshiva Darchei Torah

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internet ban.jpgA warning about the danger to children of unfettered access to the Internet through computers and cellular phones was delivered to hundreds of Yeshiva Darchei Torah parents Monday night by Rabbi Yaakov Bender Shlita, the Rosh Hayeshiva.

The yeshiva is not known for shying away from modern educational tools and methods – and is even notable for the businesslike manner in which it conducts activities such as large meetings and fundraising – but Rabbi Bender used an uncharacteristically lengthy hour-long address to deliver a firmly anti-Internet message.

He went so far as to say that no home ought to have Internet access without the approval and guidance of one’s rav or rebbe, according to Moshe Benoliel, a yeshiva spokesman.

That would appear to echo a no-Internet policy introduced in Lakewood, N.J.’s yeshiva community several years ago, though it is unclear if, behind closed doors, there is anything approaching widespread observance of the ban.

No specific incident precipitated Rabbi Bender’s remarks, Mr. Benoliel said, though he did relate a few horror stories during his speech.

In bringing up what he considers to be a very serious problem, he “stated that the dangers inherent in modern technology may be the greatest threat faced by the Jewish People in its history,” recounted Mr. Benoliel – Rabbi Bender was prepared with suggested solutions.

Technical experts were on hand, and literature was available to advise parents about Internet filters and even “kosher phones” in which all features are disabled except telephone service and voicemail. No text messaging; no Internet access.

Yeshiva administrators spent days making phone calls urging parents to attend. In the end, 600 people showed up, a very good turnout, Mr. Benoliel said.

thejewishstar.jpg(By Jewish Star Staff)



50 COMMENTS

  1. I assure you that in no way did this mirror Lakewood’s “ban”, or was it a “policy” being mandated.

    R’ Bender strictly gave over his strong feelings that no family should have it. The literature and handouts provided gave methods for those families that Do have internet on how to better manage it with children.

    While I don’t think you’ll see mass disconnects, it was nice to see that they yeshiva doesn’t have their heads under the rugs like many others…

  2. This is an issue that unfortunately affects adults as well.
    Ask any experienced rav or mechanech.
    Rabbi Bender, may you be blessed with many more healthy and productive years to continue your holy work!!
    As I mentioned in a previous post, Rabbi Bender is also leading the way by speaking out for higher – much higher pay for rabbeim and moros.
    Guess what – he practices what he preaches!
    His rabbeim are paid well and he helps them before yom tov.
    May you be gebentched twice!!!!

  3. The “greatest threat to Klal Yisroel” is the exhorbitant,unaffordable,and unsustainable, cost of yesiva tuition especially at such high priced schools as Rabbi Bender’s. Of course this is not a threat to those wealthy enough to afford it.
    Stop critisizing the internent and using it as an excuse for other failures. The internet is here to stay and is indispensible for modern life. Unless you are going to start Amish like communities or isolated compounds like the one that was raided in Texas,you better learn how to live with the internet and all the other realities of modernity.

  4. I have a filter at home, its very good and is built in to the wireless router so it blocks content on all connected computers in the house, its totally customizable and very thorough, its at http://www.browserstopper.com nothing is full proof but this is a very big help, just make sure the password is held by the right person in the house.

    not sure if this will work but HERE is a link.

  5. #3: Chaim Yankel YOU are so right!!!
    Gevaldike Chap.
    We always think ‘they’ are talking about ‘Yenem’.
    Men meint MIRR. Oy Vey.

  6. I.M., so it is your opinion that the internet is safe to leave in the hands of children? We should do nothing about it? And your answer is to ignore it and instead drag out an old controversy that you have no solution for, anyway? Why must an evening of valuable lessons be besmirched by cynicsm? Just give a “Shkoiach” where it’s due, and get off your perch.

  7. I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. The internet is just as dangerous to an adult as it is to a child. Rabonim are against it and consider it poison. Then why are there orthodox jewish sites,simcha sites , news sites , community sites? One may say to install a filter and protection, but thats just temporary. the yetzer hora is stronger than all of that.
    My suggestion is , if we want to teach our children not to be on the internet because it is dangerous then we must practice what we preach. There are NO excuses. Its like bringing a filthy magazine into the house and telling our children , I only bought it for the classifieds or for business.
    According to this ruling , my conclusion is that any yeshiva, orthodox site seriously transgresses the prohibition of Lifnei Iver.

    Editors Note: Dear YWN readers, you will no longer be subject to this bloggers insane comments, as they will no longer be approved. Hurray! 🙂

  8. #5, 6, and 7 The main issue here is the children. They don’t need extra temptations and be exposed to all kinds of filth. The intenet for adults is not to graet either but Rabbi Bender was addressing the children. IT IS TOTALY NOT NEEDED EXCEPT ONCE IN A WHILE TO DO MAYBE A PROJECT. I HAVE CHILDREN AND DON’T SEE THE GREAT NEED FOR THIS NEW “REALITY OF MODERNITY”!!!

  9. btw IM(comment #5) just so that you know because its obvious you comment without ANY research RAbbi bender shlita and his yeshiva are known to make extreme exceptions for people with problems both physical and financial please dont ever blanket statement yeshivos..its a real chutzpah

  10. you / R’ bender (who I admire & respect a great deal) stated

    “that the dangers inherent in modern technology may be the greatest threat faced by the Jewish People in its history”

    hell,
    i wonder if the residents of Sderot & Ashkelon agree

    hyperbole.. getting carried away with our own rhetoric

  11. Rabbi Bender has always been a well-respected mechanech. With this piece of news, we see once again how he speaks out for what is right, even if it’s unpopular!

  12. hey editor – real way to open this topic into a open minded discussion by censoring comments you dont like. Pat yourself on the back for having the power not to allow a thinker to write his opinion of which is a clearly of disagreement with you. I wouldnt be surprised if you filter this message as well.

  13. “Unless you are going to start Amish like communities”

    And what is so terrible about that?! WAKE UP the frum community is starting r”l to have alot of problems IDENTICAL to the goyim (i.e. suicide, drugs, homosexuality…) Maybe if we would seclude ourselves better we wouldn’t have these problems that 50 years ago didnt exist.
    Ma Tovu Ahalecha Yaakov. We are secluded and thats our beauty. Vihaya Machanecha Kadosh, all the tzaros that are jhappening r”l can it be because we are letting these shtoosim into our house? Like the Rosh Yeshiva once said having a TV is like having a sewer pipe leaking into your living room (or bedroom) I believe he would have felt the same way about the internet where every davar mius is accessable by a press of a button

  14. With regards to the children having access to the internet, This isn’t just an issue with Jewish people, but with people of all walks of life. First step for these parents is to Not Let Your Children Have a Private Computer in Their Bedroom!!! You are just asking for trouble. Also, Password protected computers are almost always easy for the children to break.

  15. I have my browser on “Strict” because of all the filth on the Internet, and that setting doesn’t always ensure my eyes’ safety from it. Fortunately, I mostly visit the same sites whenever I’m online, so I mostly don’t encounter any of the problems. It is only when I’m searching for something new that I have cause for concern. The most “innocent” of words sometimes pulls up disgusting websites (and surprisingly, my browser’s Strict setting will sometimes miss these sites), and until you’re in you don’t know what to expect (I once had to click my Task Manager and end the session because of all the cookie prompts which wouldn’t allow me to immediately exit, which I always do on the occasion I encounter such filth). I agree with #14: the main issue is our children, and everyone should take this issue seriously, whether you have children or not. As an adult, I also want the same restrictions in my Internet experience as any child would have.

  16. rebmoish — 4:45 pm states
    “ Rabbi Bender is talking about the greatest threat in RUCHNIOS to our NESHOMOH!!!!! “
    Then perhaps it should have been reported that way.

    by Feif Un — 4:46 pm states
    “It is well known that many Gedolim said a physical threat doesn’t compare to a spiritual threat. If a person dies al kiddush Hashem, he goes straight to Gan Eden. Obviously, dying is a terrible thing, but it doesn’t threaten our true purpose – serving Hashem. Spiritual threats, especially those which aren’t obvious, are far worse”
    The reputed gadol (by the way.. which gadol, what.. where.. no generic self serving quotes please.. specifics) made that statement.. was he under fire or sitting nice and comfortable in his heated / air conditioned home in Flatbush.

  17. Rabbi Bender shlita is 100% on the dot.

    Unfortunately, people would vomit if they knew the real stats of how many frum adults get lost on the internet. I know this from my counselling in the Jewish Community.

  18. The internet has plenty of bad aspects, but this misses the point. It’s not the thing, its the parents. It doesn’t matter which topic, goyish music, internet, movies, dressing bummy, it all stems from the parents. You have to lead by example. Don’t want your kids going online? Don’t do it yourself. Don’t want them to speak badly? Speak properly yourself.

    PS – There was nothing wrong with Rav Mechels comments. Please only moderate comments when they use bad loshon or apikorsus. Its unfair to moderate based on the editors personal opinions.

  19. To #21
    you write “And what is so terrible about that?!”
    You obviousley have no clue what goes on over there.
    No extreme is healthy !
    And alot of the problems you mention is goofah because of that reason, especially within chassidishe circles . (JMHO,disagree if you want)

  20. There is a great free blocker called K9-Web-Protection (www.download.com). Very robust. Knowledgeable users have tried and failed to get around it, and its easy to configure to make sure you can get to sites you need. Just have your Eishes Chail set the password and you’re good to go!

    The Internet is too integral today. We need to do our hishtadlus (e.g. not be lazy (or embarrassed) and take the 10 minutes to put solid protection on our computers), and ask haShem for his protection.

  21. Let’s look at this logically. If filters exist, they should be used. Now if you wish to claim the internet should be assered because one can get around these filtered, such an active step requires a previously corrupted mind or weak spirit. This has nothing to do with the internet, it is all based on one’s upbringing and free choice (and maybe some genetics). As such all these speeches and pontificating are worthless.

  22. #35, B”H thank you for posting such a great suggestion to download the free K9 Web-Protection software. I downloaded it, installed it, and set it to High. I hope others on this site who read your blog post will download it as well.

  23. Let’s not forget R. Yoel Teitelbaum z”l’s famous quip: “noach Williamsburgh is shoin Ameirika.” We can do only so much, the highest fence, the strongest wall the most strident sentry will not keep the world at large out. It creeps up on us and we must know how to deal with it. Indeed it’s all too easy to not have the internet in our homes and “protect” our children that way. But if we do that what might happen when our children go to a friend’s house, or to visit relatives who have the internet, or when they go away to school/yeshiva or even the local library? Will we have prepared our children to deal with the challenges of access to the World Wide Web, which is really just a microcosm of the world at large? Will we have been good parents. Among the “mitzvot ha’av al habein,” are to teach the child a trade and to swim. We have an obligation to teach our children how to survive in the world, and not run from it.

  24. I hate to break it to all those here, but the internet is an extremely valuable accessory even to teenagers. I am in high school, and use the internet to research most of my essays. Yes, I take english seriously. To simply ban something that has both it’s benefits and problems, does not make sense. Yes, the internet is used by most people to access pornography more than it is used by people to access valuable information. But so what? Is that a reason to justify attempting to ban it straight out? How about coming up with a solution that works … and not just take the easy way out, and risk losing out on a potential benefit?

    Here’s my ideas:
    1) No internet for your kids (or for you … don’t kid yourselves … adults have a yetzer hara too), in a place that no one else can find/interrupt you. (consider it as yichud, if you want)
    2) Forget about the programs that filter the internet … they don’t always work, and most teenagers could get through/by them if they want
    3) instead, use a program that monitors what you do see, and that sends a link/info about it to a person whom you would not want to see it if you (G-d forbid) do anything innappropriate. This removes the possibility of you cancelling it, because that person would see that you have cancelled it.

  25. Has anyone ever gone off the derech BECAUSE of the internet?

    Although I have tremendous respect for R’Bender as he is very sincere is his shmuessen, I still think it’s dangerous to always blame the outside world for our problems.

    At what point do we look at ourselves, and examine the way we raise our families, the way we speak to our spouses and children. To reassess our expectations of our children and spouses and to not put so much pressure on young boys and girls to be the best at everything. It appears that people go off the derech because of shame and guilt and depression not because of the internet or kiddush clubs, or night clubs. These are only the venues, not the reasons.

    Of course there are those who disagree and posit that the behaviors (addictions) are the cause for the depression and atzvus. Possibly, but to me it seems that banning and asuring things, although they have there place SHOULD NEVER be seen as the REASON for kids (and adults) being led astray. I think we are only hurting ourself, by not admitting our own fault in all of this. I think parents especially need to reduce the amount of pressure they put on the their children and accept them for who they are regardless of whether they meet your expectations. That’s YOUR EGO, not THEIR PROBLEM. I think we need more empathy and self acceptance and then the mesukim m’dvash of Torah will become palpable and then choosing garbage over treasures won’t be very appealing.

  26. its a little funny how all you people who act like the internet is the worst threat today and would never chas vasholam go on it, r on it right now. Now im sure some of u need it for work but come on, stop kidding yourselves. If you truly belived it was so bad would you really be on it???

  27. Thank you YW for bringing this forth and thank you Rav Bender. There are so many marriages that are unfortunately affected by the internet sites visited by some men. I have dealt with many such cases.
    The damage done is often irreversible. I think if it is discussed and brought to the forum it may remind some that although it is done in private it is still NOT permissible Al Pi Torah or al pi mentshlechkeit.
    It is important to remind people = there is NO EXCUSE whatsoever to visit the sites geared towards the animal soul. We are meant to rise above this and work on this daily – just because the surfing is done in private it is still way off limits for a Yid and bifrat a frum Yid.
    This is not only a problem in Frum marriages but it has affected marriages in the goyishe world too.
    The internet is a wonderful tool as long as it is used for all the good that can be found there.

  28. Yidden, I was at that speech. It was hafleh vofeleh.
    The short article does not capture what really went on there. It was not a ban. It was a realistic assessment by one of the smartest, caring mechanchim of our times of WHAT IS GOING ON IN OUR OWN BACKYARD, and a heartfelt call to action.

    As to the doubters that anyone ever went off the derech because of the internet: What planet do you live on? WAKE UP! Rabbi Bender related a few of many cases that he is personally familiar with where people were irreperably, severely damaged by it.

    Yes, it is a reality, because people need it for business. But how many of us are fooling ourselves when we say we “need” it at home? How many of us allow it to become our kid’s babysitter? How many of us are too cheap or lazy to get monitoring software or a solid filter, or, for that matter, an internet-free phone? That’s why a person needs a rebbi.

    ‘Ein apotropos l’arayos’.

    I have gotten CDs from Darchei Torah in the past, and if I’m not mistaken they’ll mail you one for $3. E-mail publications@darchei.org or call 718-868-2300 ext. 312.

    P.S. It was mostly about kids but it was about adults, too. He said, “Wives, watch your husbands!”

  29. My father O”h used to quote Rav Yoseph Breuer Z”tl about television, “the problem isn’t the television, the problem is the watcher”!

  30. the internet in a way is like a cell phone.
    you can use the cell phone for its perpose or you can use it for inappropiate things.
    internet in a way is the same thing, you can use the web for positive things(school, work…) or unfortunaly you can use it for wrong.
    basically its up to you to choose!

  31. ok 1st of all-all the rabbonim say that the halachos of yichud def apply to the internet,and there are programs that you can have an email sent to someone of every website u visit(u do it 2 s/o who u admire so u care what they think) and i have heard plenty of shalom bais stories that have resulted because of the internet and the problems are not always cureable

  32. Once we are on the topic…I am very distressed on how YAHOO allows a certain advertiser to post a banner on the side of ervery email that you are looking at. ( They say if you pay a premium , you can get rid of it). It just shows that something innocuous as email for business purposes can expose you to some of the evils this media has to offer.

  33. Eastman:

    “As to the doubters that anyone ever went off the derech because of the internet: What planet do you live on? WAKE UP! Rabbi Bender related a few of many cases that he is personally familiar with where people were irreparably, severely damaged by it.

    Do you think the Internet was the REASON or the method by which they went off the derech?

    (Again I’m not advocating for its usage, I’m just stating that it might not be the CAUSE).

  34. At a sign of danger, the ostrich sticks his head in the ground. Sadly, whether its concerts, modern literature, the internet, or a picture of a woman in a shetl store, the first reflex in the yeshiva world is banning or seclusion. There is a belief that by controlling the outside world to the nth degree we can control ourselves.
    We are becoming too dependent on having others fight our yetzer harahs rather than strengthening ourselves for the battle. It won’t work. There will always be a new temptation

  35. Objectionable content aside, parents should be VERY CAREFUL of children’s use of “social networking” sites. I URGE parents to obtain information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. This organization has dedicated professionals, including teachers, law enforcement, and technology specialists who are working to stop, aprehend, and prosecute criminals who lure children into situations of sexual and physical abuse. Representatives from this organization can attest that it happens to children from all types of families; accordingly, all families must be on guard and carefully monitor their childrens’ use of the Internet. The organization will send speakers to schools to discuss Internet safety.

    In short, there are two dangers lurking on the Internet. The first, and one of which we often think first, is the spiritual harm. The other is threats to physical well-being to which attention must be paid.

  36. Response to #16 “Extreme exceptions”. What does that mean. The official tuition in Rabbi Benders yeshiva is $12,000 per child per year. How much of a break will they give on that and to how many people. Also since his yeshiva is known to provide an excellent Chinuch, what does that say about most other yeshivas that can not charge anywhere near those amounts? The crisis facing our community is financial, and that is the cause (in my opinion) of a lot of the off the derech children and adults. Parents do not have time for their kids because they are busy struggling to make ends meet,schools can not hire qualified rebbeim and teachers because they can not pay a living wage, and the really smart people do not go into chinuch because they are smart enough to know that most mechanchim do not make a decent living. The financial pressure on families disrupts Shalom Bais and causes divorce which also fuels at risk syndrome. It has nothing to do with the internet. Blaming our problems on the internet is like punting the ball in a football game. The internet is not required to access shmutz or kefirah, all these things were easy enough to access before the internet was created and can still be easily accessed without a computer. And to abuse drugs you certainly can not do over a computer.