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Sunday, April 29, 2012

$1.5 Million Dollars of Donor Money and the Beat Goes On

Hat Tip:  Torah Musing's New and Links:   Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis Raise $1.5 M. for Massive ‘Jews Against the Internet’ Rally At Citi Field

I'm still in disbelief that with all of the pressing financial issues in our communities, anyone can even consider renting out Citifield for a rally when an auditorium would do the job.  In the natural course of events, it seems that things always seem to go from bad to worse.  Now, it is being reported that philanthropists have donated $1.5 million to this massive rally.  While I don't generally believe that money directed at one cause would necessarily be directed at another, one has to wonder what the money might have been funding.  Oy vey.  The entire "massive" affair, which has yet to take place, is just so sad because it is already creating a circus.  At first it was to be for all, then the news came out that it would be for men only, picked up by BetaBeat.  At this point I'm just curious what percentage of Citifield will be occupied.

I actually was thinking of writing a bit about the upside of the internet, how so many women I know are able to bring in respectable income from their home and stay out of the office.  While I'm not opposed to women in the workplace, the organizers strike me as uncomfortable with women's work, but demanding of it.  I think children benefit by parental presence and the ability to work remotely has brought more of Mom and more of Dad into their lives, despite its intrusion.

But, I've decided not to spend any ink contributing to the circus, but I did run into an insightful commentary on Pirkei Avot that was just the thing (based on #17, Perek Alef regarding doing and silence):

"One of the worst consequences of profuse talk, however, is that people who have spoken long and much and zealously of and in behalf of a cause may persuade themselves that this alone constitutes action, and should a voice within them accuse them of being remiss in their concrete efforts for the cause, they will calm their conscience by recalling the enthusiasm and the brilliance with which they had carried on the discussion of the matter at hand!."


JS said...

I don't affiliate with these groups or care about their supposed "leaders" so this doesn't affect me one bit.

But, for those who do, now you know what these people truly care about and where their priorities lie.

AztecQueen2000 said...

At least they're not spending it on a mechitza that will be dismanteld the next day. (Of course, that's because women aren't allowed at all, but that's beyond the purview of this blog.)

ProfK said...

Oh how that saying "the deaf and the dumb leading the blind and the impaired" applies here. 1.5 million dollars spent on a rally against the Internet? Forget for a moment just how much good that money could do if applied to areas of actual need. Are these leaders at all knowledgeable about just what they are suggesting and how it will backfire on them? In today's technological age, they are suggesting going back to the dark ages? Maybe somebody should buy them tickets back to their villages in Europe. Oh wait, those 'villages' all have the Internet now. Perhaps Mars or Venus? Oh wait, some of them don't believe we ever really landed a man on the moon or that we should be doing so, forget the outer planets. This same group thought up kosher phones and bans all secular media. They do, however, seem to love their fancy big automobiles.

Next time one of these leaders gets a headache or a cold, just hand him a piece of willow bark and tell him to chew on it. After all, modern medicine is part of that technological revolution they are so against.

ortho economics said...

An inside source tells me that $1 million came from a business - that sells internet filters, kosher phones, and the like. If in fact 40,000 people show up and they sell $100 worth of goods to 50% they make a killing. If not, it was worth a shot and meanwhile they get good will from all the "rebbes" and other rosh yeshivas involved.

Anonymous said...

The internet allows me to work at home and spend more time with my kids. This blog and ones like it are perhaps one reason that some in the RW world want to restrict internet use, however, as SL does a public service giving thinking Jews a place to compare notes and realize that we are not alone.There is power in blogs like this and it threatens those in power because they cannot control it.
Thanks for your service,

I'm not Jay Wagner said...

Here's my 2 cents: Run as fast as you can from these so called "Torah greats." With idiots like these running the show it's no wonder that young people go off the derech in droves & many of them seek refuge with Hare Krishna's, Jews for J, etc. Common sense should always prevail & at the end of the day if it doesn't then you need to reexamine your motives for aligning yourself with these putzes.

Mr. Cohen said...

What is the source of that insightful commentary on Pirkei Avot?
Who wrote it?

Anonymous said...

I found it to be a waste of money that they ran ads in hebrew only and english only in the free Jewish papers (5TJT, Jewish Home, etc.). Couldn't they do a one page ad half in english and half hebrew?

As for the comment above about this being sponsored by a web filter business, I think they hit the mark. for the last couple of weeks, i've been thinking this some some huge scam where they promote the internet with their approved filter, which will result in a windfall for this company that probably provides kick backs to the rabbis running the event. I hate to be this cynical but I think I'm being a realist.

Mr. Cohen said...

Our righteous and honorable Rabbis are very zealous to attack television and the internet.

Where are the Rabbis who advocate for kosher consumers by criticizing kosher supermarkets, kosher take-out food stores and kosher restaurants that charge rip-off prices that are often double the prices of their non-kosher counterparts?

Where are the Rabbis who advocate for kosher Jews by criticizing landlords who charge sky-high blackmail rents to their hapless tenants?

Where are the Rabbis who fight to expose crooked tzedakah collectors and unworthy Jewish non-profit organizations who extract millions of dollars from generous but gullible Jews?

ortho eco said...

Overall, I agree: stay away and save yourself the time and money. There is othing like hearing from rabbonim who have no idea what the internet is, their thoughts on the internet.

Recently, a young man in my sons (RW) yeshiva was fiddling with his IPhone. When the RY made some joke about playing around during seder, the young man showed the RY that he was doing a search on a phrase in the gemorah to see how often it occurs in the Talmud. The RY was shocked that one can do this. Note that this RY is "a with it guy" - who when asked if he was attending the Citifield shindig said "I am only going if I am starting". (Baseball joke for those who don't get the reference)

By and large these RY and Rebbes think that the internet is just a huge storehouse of smut and worse. And have no idea that the majority of us use it for working, shopping, communicating, etc.

The basic message should be to get a filter to protect (yourself and) your kids, and maybe sign up for covenant eyes (web chaver is chealer). Instead the msg will likely be how the whole thing is unpure and throw it out. But if you really absolutely have to have it, buy a filter from the sponsor of this event.

However, as cynical as I am, I don't think there are any kickbacks taking place.

Anonymous said...

You are so right about these RW rabbis and their lack of basic awareness when it comes to the internet My son recently had his I-phone confiscated by a rabbi at his Yeshiva who assumed that my son was using it to look at porn. We had to go to a "special" meeting to get it back. Funny thing was that during our hour long discussion the rabbi could think of no possible legitimate reason that a 16 year old might have to use no just an I-phone but a laptop. The guy also though I was being a bad role model because I use the internet in my business

LifeAct said...

"At least they're not spending it on a mechitza that will be dismanteld the next day. (Of course, that's because women aren't allowed at all, but that's beyond the purview of this blog.)"

Chicken vs. egg?

I assumed that the reason women were not invited was because they realized it would be wasteful to erect a mechitza a la siyyum hashas. Benefit of the doubt and all...

qsman said...

This $1.5 million would of been better spent to host various talks around the NY area, as well as other communities on the other side of the Verrezano Narrows Bridge on Internet usage and the various tools available. While we on the blogs may be internet savvy, there are PLENTY of people who do not understand the pitfalls, and how to address them. There is no one golden solution, and filtering is not the answer. A combination of filtering, monitoring AND education IS a more viable solution.

The exclusion of women from this whole thing is ridiculous.

Baltimore brought in Phil Rosenthal and Dr. Pelcowitz to talk about the internet dangers, neither of which appear in ANY of the marketing literature. Both girl's schools here now require ALL parents to register for a internet education class provided by TFSA, the local organization. These are EDUCATION classes so that parents understand both wired and wireless internet access capabilities, and present various methods of dealing with said access.

JS said...


Why is another type of Big Brother process the solution? How about people be responsible adults? The whole thing is absurd. Things aren't evil or dangerous. How people use those things can be. Pornography can be dangerous. Heretical information can be dangerous. Neither of these things is the "Internet." It's like banning all books because some contain things you disagree with. Even banning one book is too much. If you don't like it, simply don't read it. Be a responsible adult. If you can't deal with temptation then take steps to prevent yourself from falling into dangerous situations. It's like a recovering alcoholic who knows even a small sip of wine may send them over the edge.

All this Big Brother nonsense is just another nail in the coffin of people taking responsibility for their own actions and thinking for themselves. Better to let some "Gadol" make all your life decisions for you. He'll tell you what is and isn't allowed so the decision-making part of your brain can continue to atrophy.

I've never heard of someone "stumbling" on to pornography or heretical materials on the Internet. You don't go to and find pornography. You don't Google "torah" and find pornography.

I need some "Gadol" to educate me about how pornography is assur or that it can be harmful to family life? I need some "Gadol" to monitor every site I go to on the Internet? I need a "Gadol" to filter the Internet for me? What am I, a child?

If I truly can't be trusted on my own not to sin, then I want MORE education, MORE monitoring, and MORE filtering. I don't trust myself to not eat treif, I don't trust myself to not speak lashon hara, I don't trust myself to daven 3 times a day, I don't trust myself to make proper brachot, etc.

I want my bank accounts and credit cards filtered and monitored for any non-kosher purchases. I want my money or credit cards denied if I try to purchase anything with a questionable hechsher. I want all my food surrounded by a locking mechanism that only unlocks when a bracha is recited. I want incessant and annoying reminders through a pager to make a bracha achrona and go to davening and learn at times prescribed by the gedolim. I want my thoughts monitored so if I think of saying any lashon hara my mouth clamps shut.

With proper monitoring, filtering, and education no one will ever sin again.

eat meat on the 9th of av 5772 said...

Js - your rant is barely intelligible, but I will try to respond anyway. The point of filters is to help prevent one from falling into the trap of porn. Maybe you donlt need it, but your teen age boys certainly do. a recent anonymous poll at a local boys school found that 75% of the senior class was accessing.

If you think people can not accidentally access porn you simply have no idea what you are talking about. A teacher friend of mine said that a few years ago the Social Studies teacher decided to show the kids the White House page....well, a small mistake and WHAM! a bunch of shocked (and happy) 8th grade boys.

One major diff between the internet and books is that one can be done in teh privacy of your own home while the other not so much. Thus the need for some filter.

As far as heresy, if course one can stumble on it - some of the anti-gedolim comments on blogs border on it, and some blogs are already off the deep end. (Not going to mention which blog so as not to add traffic, but one blog seemed to specialize in asking questions on Navi that were heresy and stupid to boot since 95% of the time the gemorah had answers to the questions by explaining simple pshat.)

JS said...

Barely intelligible? I've been called lots of names in my life, but never that one. I guess my education has failed me again.

Maybe you missed the part about a former alcoholic knowing his weakness for distilled beverages and therefore deciding for himself that even a sip was too much. If someone has a predilection for pornographic materials and feels he can't have access to an Internet-connected device without being tempted to go to some porn site, let that person install the filter.

Why in the world is an asifa needed and millions of dollars spent to tell EVERYONE, whether they have a problem or not, to install filters. I'll leave alone the issue that these filters already exist and everyone knows about them. Why is it necessary to force a solution down everyone's throats when only some have problems controlling their desires?

As for your book versus Internet example - that the issue is especially pernicious because the Internet is available in the privacy of your own home - I can think of all manner of sins I can do alone in the privacy of my own home. Why aren't the gedolim concerned about that? Why isn't anyone watching to make sure I don't cook up a cheeseburger?

As for pornography, I'll even take your supposed statistic as the God's honest truth. You really think 75% of these kids are now going to go off the derech? Be social misfits? Incapable of being good Jews? Good husbands? Are they now sexual deviants?

Let's get a grip.

eat meat on 9 Av 5772 said...

off the derech? I did not say that. I didn't :)
Good Jews? NO, not when they are doing a clear issur d'oyraisa. of course one can say that about lashon harah too - but there have been numerous asifas on that too. Every tisha bav in hundreds of locations.
Good husbands? NO, since I assume they are hiding their porn habit from their wives. I have no idea how 'connected' you are, but if you know any missader gittin, just ask how widespread this problem is. You will be shocked.
Secual deviants? Not at all - porn (at least the non-weird stuff) is a pretty normal desire. As my RY once said "If you eat pig and sleep with hookers, you are not a meshuganah. If you eat hookers and sleep with pigs, THEN you are a meshuganah". But normal desire does not equal acceptable orthodox behavior.

As far as the money - read one of the earlier posts - it is a business thing. Paid for by someone who thinks he can make some money on the deal while still coming across as a frum thing to do. which beats making money crookedly.

Dave said...

As far as the money - read one of the earlier posts - it is a business thing. Paid for by someone who thinks he can make some money on the deal while still coming across as a frum thing to do.

So the new definition of "Gadol" is apparently "shill for an infomercial".

qsman said...


In Batimore, it's called AWARENESS EDUCATION, the schools are NOT banning anything. It's up to the individual parents to decide what to do with their kids. TFSA has some arrangements with some vendors for discounts, but they also spell out the advantages and disadvantages of each. This is a LOT different than banning Internet usage.

It's the same thing as financial literacy education. Credit cards are useful, but you can get into serious trouble if they are not used properly, whether to buy Artscroll libraries or lhavdil escort services and gambling chips in Vegas. If people have to cut up their credit cards to keep them out of trouble, then that's their choice.

JS said...

Awareness education? Sounds very Orwellian to me. Call it whatever you want, we all know what the real purpose is.

Dave said...

Funny thing, if a company whose business was selling me a "financial literacy application" to monitor my purchases on an ongoing basis was funding a big "Financial Literacy" event, I'd be suspicious there too.

Anonymous said...

JS, what's wrong with parents wanting to learn a little more about navigating the internet (most aspects of which did not even exist when these parents were kids) and learning effective parenting tools for the digital age? In my book, that's called responsible parenting. Banning the internet is wrong, but it's just as wrong to just let the chips fall where they may and assume it's not that big of a deal- that's plain irresponsible. There's plenty worry about even from a non-religious perspective. My completely secular parents have been attending similar types of classes because they have a 16 year old and they want to be aware of things so they can keep him out of trouble (or spot trouble if it occurs and deal accordingly). It may seem silly to those of us under 35, but it really isn't for those who are older or for whatever other reasons less tech savvy.

JS said...

Nothing wrong with education. I'm just wary of religious groups that claim all they're trying to do is educate when they seem to have the ulterior motive of control. Even without the ulterior motive, religion adds a coercive element to things.

Imagine an "educational seminar" on kashrut that educates by explaining the myriad risks involved in not following various chumrot. Is it educational? Sure. Are they trying to get you to follow these chumrot? It's likely. Even not, will it create communal pressure? Probably. I think it's more likely than not that with enough PR and subtle pressure people will wonder why you haven't yet been "educated" and why you continue to allow myriad kashrut risks into your home.

I hope that clarifies things.

Cholov Yisroel only please said...

J - and your problem with following chumrot is? Realizing of course that most things ortho jews do are 'chumrot' of one sort or another.

Boys wear yarmulkas...ever wonder why?
Tzitit? No need to if they don't wear 4-cornered clothing.

I have no problem with any of this as long as we clarify what 'chumra' is - i.e. a full understanding of minhag versus d'rabonon versus d'oyraisa.

And bear in mind that looking at porn is a d'oyraisa. (You say the 'negative commandment in shma twice a day.)

Anonymous said...

qsman, cholov yisroel only, etc.
JS is correct. Baltimore is becoming more RW by the day which means more in terms of mind control by the day. What is more, it is hypocritical. Many of the same rabbeim that advocate dumping the internet and scream out against it are the very same ones using it 'for Torah purposes' of course. And their children are using it for school. And their in laws are using it to make a living (presumably to support them). And they have the perfect excuse to ignore the bigger problems in the community (child abuse, people going broke over tuition--over 120 comments on the last post here!!!!). Yes, it is mind control, hypocrisy, and a way to maintain the power structure. It is yet another way for Jews to separate themselves from other Jews. Just another 'other' to avoid, no? (Can't wait until someone in Boro Park can't get a shidduch over THIS)

Pragmatician said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
qsman said...

I dont think you heard me correctly.

This is NOT a ban. Banning it just forces people underground. I am not advocating banning, that is a BAD idea in today's society.

If you have not had a child or spouse get into trouble because of inappropriate internet use, then you will never understand the need for education.

Kindly listen to Phil Rosenthal discuss the issues he has run into. Phil is an Orthodox Jew and a former FBI agent, now PI, and he spoke here last year. If his non-rabbinic credentials are not good enough for you, then I don't know what else to say.

Phil's credentials:

The video:

And if you never had to deal with a child (or spouse) getting into trouble by irresponsible Internet use, then you will never never understand the need for education - NOT BANNING!!!!!!!!!!

For the record, I have Internet access at home, and allow my chidren to use a monitored computer that records everything for playback review, as well as keystroke recording. All computers are password protected and require a parent to unlock, and outside access hours are limited. They KNOW it is monitored. My oldest child knows that their cellphone has monitoring software installed for safety reasons.

TFSA philosophy is not to ban anything. If you are familiar with Mesila and their operations, they do not tell people what to do to improve their finances. They simply educate and allow people to make their OWN decisions about their finances. TFSA does the same thing in the IT world.

qsman said...

And I agree that abuse and other items are not getting the full attention they deserve.

JS said...


I understand what you're saying. I don't have an issue with education, per se. I have an issue with education that leads to coercion. This asifa is not about education, it's about forcing a "solution" down everyone's throats whether they have a problem or not. This will ultimately lead to yet another categorization: those who listen to the "gedolim" and install filters or don't use the Internet and those who transgress and aren't careful about gedeirim.

The solution you came up with for your home is fine. This works for you and your family. I don't know if it will ultimately be successful since it's really just a "ban" on certain materials and as you point out bans are never effective. But, that's besides the point. You installed it because you felt it best. Not because some "gadol" coerced you to at some asifa. One size fits all rarely works and that's really what's going on here.

It really is no different than having a list of "gadol approved books."

As for monitoring and filtering, ultimately we have to trust our children and trust that the values and education we have instilled in them leads them to make the right decisions.

Anonymous said...

qsman: At what age are you going to let your children have unmonitored and/or unfiltered access? Will get they get that experience and the opportunity to develop their own self-control and judgment before they are on their own?

Do you let them have unmonitored conversations with friends and aquaintances? At what age?

qsman said...


I dont agree with the Citifield approach. The Baltimore approach does not require parents to do anything other than listen to IT professioanls discussing the issues. I am in the IT field as well andI know the people giving the classes here. And if people choose to ignore the advice, they will have to take responsibility for it.

Your last comment is bang on target, and I was going to make this point regarding the next anonymous poster below you

Mike S. said...

So, the million dollar plus bill for this asifa was paid for by a business hoping to sell internet filters and the like. Given how strict Chazal are about defining bribery, I am surprised no one has raised that as an ethical problem. To me that is a far bigger concern that whatever might be said about the internet. I can and will ignore whatever a bunch of rabbis who can't spell TCP have to say about the internet; it is much harder for me to ignore rabbis who ignore that Torah standards of yosher. They should not be accepting the donation of such a venue from a party with a financial interest in what they might have to say.

I hate haters said...

Your understanding of bribery leaves much to be desired, but I will try to explain it anyway.

Rabbi Solomon of Lakewood wants to make a huge asifa to talk about the potential (his comments as quoted in the 5tjt say that he only refers to the bad stuff not the entire thing) evils of the internet. But that cost money. Sure he could do it in small groups one yeshiva and shul at a time, but for whatever reason (and I may think there is none, but I assume he has one) happens to think a huge splash will have more impact. Some guy steps forward and says "I will pay" with (perhaps) and ulterior motive (we don't know that for sure, but we can guess). And the problem is????

Anonymous said...

I Hate Haters,
The problem is Rabbi Solomon is not dumb. He knows what is going on and knows why the businessman is giving such a large donation. In law we have the concept of the appearance of impropriety, such that even if there is not an actual conflict you must disclose it and possibly withdraw depending upon the circumstances. Here the Rabbi knows he is being used but feels the ends justify the means. Us Haters to dont feel that way, and when our Rabbis sell out its a bad day.


I hate haters said...

Heter - is appears you may ahve some misunderstanding of the terms bribery and selling out.

(1) Rabbi S is not getting any money out of this so it is not bribery
(2) he is getting exactly what he wants which is by definition not selling out.

Maybe you mean he is selling the rest of us out, but I don't see how. Some guys will get up and talk (from what I hear mostly yiddish speeches so I have no idea why anyone except chasidim would go) about the dangers of the internet. They will suggest we buy filters. They may or may not buy it from the sponsor of the event.
There is in fact an 'expo' at the event, so it is pretty clear what is going on and nobody is being fooled.

You don't like it? Don't go. Neither will I. But let's not make some big scandal out of something that is just dumb.

Mike S said...

I hate haters:

The talmud uses a much stricter definition of bribery than civil law. It records the case of a rabbinic whose landlady said "Good morning" when she didn't usually. When she showed up in his court, he recused himself to avoid the prohibition of bribery. Here Rabbi Solomon is getting something (use of a very large venue) tangible.

Anonymous said...

Rabbi Fink has a couple of thoughtful non-kneejerk blog posts on the subject

Understanding said...

Please see my last post on the "Stay Out of Debt" topic because I am leaving the blog, and I wanted to explain why. I am "Understanding" and I posted Sunday May 5 around 7:30 a.m.

Understanding said...

Please see my last post on the "Stay Out of Debt" topic because I am leaving the blog, and I wanted to explain why. I am "Understanding" and I posted Sunday May 5 around 7:30 a.m.

Understanding said...

My post has disappeared from "Stay Out of Debt". No matter. Sephardi Lady, you have a technical glitch. Since I'm leaving the blog it doesn't matter to me but it may to you.

Anonymous said...

Sunday is May 6, not May 5

Mr. Cohen said...

Last week I was distributing devar Torah sheets in Orthodox synagogues.

One Rabbi told me that I could not distribute devar Torah sheets in his synagogue because they contained an email address (actually, they contained a URL, but he did not know the difference).

I told this Rabbi that if he forbids the internet, then he should also forbid the telephone, because the telephone could be used to spread Lashon HaRa; he responded by accusing me of chutzpah.

A few years ago, this same Rabbi created a major scandal by forging the signature of a much more important Rabbi, which resulted in a kosher music concert being cancelled for no real reason.

not a rabbi said...

either say his name so we can know whose psak and hashkafah lectures to avoid or just be quiet.

Anonymous said...

I was called to my son's school for a meeting about inappropriate internet usage. The dire message was that if I did not want my son to become addicted to porn or gay, I had better not let him use his i-phone or the internet. This was a serious meeting that was actually attended by the school counselor, 4 rabbis, and 2 general studies teachers. They also suggested that, to be a good role model, I had to avoid internet use as well and that it might be better if I quit by job if internet use was a job requirement.

I'm not Jay Wagner said...

This is what happens when adults allow these idiot rabbis to make parenting decisions that they should be making.

Avi Greengart said...


Pretty much any job that pays well enough to cover private school tuition for a large family has "the internet" as a job requirement.

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