Friday, November 25, 2005

Lakewood reaction to internet ban

First this: Someone recently recieved permission from one of Yeshiva's poskim to have the internet and was told, when he has guests staying in his house for shabbos he should remove the keyboard.

Now this: The following is an anonymous comment on a previous post regarding Lakewood's internet ban, answering the posed question: "what would you do, if you were the Rov in Lakewood seeing the constant harm the internet, causes or contributes?" :

First of all, I don't believe 90% of the scare stories re. the internet. But if I were the rov, I would arrange for the community to be educated about the dangers and about how to protect against them. If I thought giving up the net was the right thing to do, I would urge people to do so. I would *not* try to tell adults what they may or may not do. I would *not* cynically use the kids' chinuch as a club to beat anyone who disagrees with my view. I would *not* punish kids b/c their parents have a different view than my own. I *would* recognize that ultimately chinuch is the parents' job, and that parents can generally be trusted to make the right decisions regarding their own children. I would *not* try to undermine the authority of parents by pretending that they are not fit to make chinuch decisions.
What's needed is to educate people as to the dangers, not to withdraw from society and stick our heads in the sand. What's not needed is the kanoim's approach (sadly, more and more often the approach of our "leaders" as well) of "my way or the highway."
You'll be interested to know, and perhaps you already do, that many principals at the meetings argued against the coercive approach, and for the approach of educating people as to the dangers. The kanoiom turned a deaf ear. They know best.
And this is in addition to their wilfull blindness as to the real cause of kids' problems. There are very, very few kids who become "fardorben" from the internet. It's the other way around. Fardorbene kids are busy with the internet. But how were they ruined in the first place? Could the oppressive "one size fits all," super-frummie, mehalech of our great leaders have anything to do with that? You bet! But don't expect them to admit to it.
Let the kanoim butt out of everyone's business, and let the "leaders" grow a backbone and begin thinking for themselves. That's what I would advise if I were the rov.

Think education will have the desired affect? Are the Kanoim the ones making the decisions rather then the cooler heads?

Is this ban causing a lot of resentment? Perhaps a backlash...?

Is the internet to much a leviathan to control at all?
posted by Yeshiva Orthodoxy
at 12:59 PM

16 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me add that I would have no problem with the schools making rules against kids using the internet. That's in their realm, and it would be a good rule. But where do they come off trying to run everyone's lives?

Personally, I think any parent who allows his kids free run of the net is a fool. But guess what? Most parents are not fools, and can be trusted to do what's best for their kids.

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I'm at it, I'll post an e-mail I received, written by someone who was at the internet asifah. It's a bit long, but well worth reading.

The writer of the piece below is a Lakewood resident and was at the asifa
that was recently held there.
Clearly he has serious problems with the approach being taken in Lakewood
regarding the use of the Internet.
-------

It would seem to me that the guys in charge here are on pretty weak ground,
both in terms of understanding the dangers of the internet and in terms of
understanding its necessity. So despite all their talk about how much
thought went into these rules, and all the gedolim etc., I have very little
confidence in them or respect for their takanos.
The horror stories these guys were farkuyfing about the dangers of the
internet - mostly by the guy who seemed to be the main organizer (someone
told me his name was Anisfeld and that he is the menahel of Mendel's
place) struck me as being significantly overblown. This guy tried to
convince parents that they, the parents, have no idea what their kids are
up to. Only the menahelim of the yeshivos know. And what the menahelim know is
that kids are sneaking onto their parents' computers without their
knowledge, bypassing their internet connection passwords, and in some cases
attaching exterior modems, phone jacks and wi-fi connections to computers
that don't have any connection to the internet etc. etc. I think that this
guy is out of touch with reality, besides for possessing the arrogance so
typical of many contemporary mechanchim. I think it is absurd to suggest -
as he did - that in a given class of kids as many as 8 might have logged on
to a computer and bypassed their parents' passwords and then seen all sorts
of divrei nevala. Even assuming that the story is true - and I rather
incline to think it is highly exaggerated and distorted - I would have to
think that one kid in that class did it and shared it with his friends. Not
that it is nearly as common as he was trying to suggest. And similar
applies to all the other stories.
I am highly skeptical as to whether it is possible for a normal computer
user to bypass passwords altogether. I have a suspicion that there is some
confusion here between passwords of internet filters, which are locally
installed software and presumably have the password stored somewhere in the
program files or possibly even have outright bypass features, and ISP
access passwords, which I would imagine are only found on the hardware of the ISP
and are not accessible within the computer itself. But even if not, I
highly doubt whether a normal computer user can bypass them. Possibly computer
geeks or hacker-type guys know how to do this. This is not a reason to
hassle the entire population of normal people, IMHO, and even if it is,
they shouldn't pretend that they are doing it for some sort of realistic
possibility if they are not. (I myself don't know how to bypass an access
password, and - based on my experience at my office - I think I know more
about such matters than most people who are not computer geeks or IT
professionals.) Also, you can tell from the web browser's history function,
as well as from the "temporary internet files" folder what websites the
computer has been to.
I also think that, for the most part, much of what they were talking about
along these lines would apply - to the extent that it applies at all, as
above - to older high school kids. Not to kids in elementary school. The
speakers were pretty clear that they meant otherwise, with repeated
references to tzatzkalach and 11 year old boys. I asked my 11 year old son
if he knew of any kids who had ever been on the internet - he was mesupak
about one kid who once had some internet stuff for a project/report, but he
inclined to think the kid's parents had printed it out for him. Unless of
course, this is all part of my son's devious sneakiness, and he really has
a secret internet life of his own, as these guys would have you believe. What
would I know.
It is possible that these guys, being mostly ignorant of computers
themselves, went out and spoke to IT people who were familiar with arcane
ways to bypass passwords and the like, and between them concocted this
silliness - a combination of menahelim who know nothing about computers and
computer geeks who know nothing about kids, with no one involved who was
capable of making any sort of realistic assessment of what a kid might be
capable of and how difficult it really is to monitor the presence of a
computer that has internet in a house of kids (assuming they are not
allowed to access the internet or even the computer). I guess that's a limud zechus
of sorts, but not much. And it was particularly galling for Effie Wachsman
to compare chillul shabbos - an issur de'uraisa and chiyuv sekila - to a
new and highly debatable issur that contemporary mechanchim have thought up
themselves. I think some people are getting a little above themselves here.
To the other side of the equation, what struck me most about R'
Mattisyahu's drasha was that his remarks about how even for parnassa you really need to
consider whether it is worth being machzir al hapesachim rather than be
exposed to the internet. It would seem to me that he simply doesn't realize
how much the internet is, and is increasingly becoming, a part of the
normal business process, for any business. He spoke about the guy who compared it
to a car, but I don't think he really appreciated it. I think he is
visualizing the issue in terms of a guy who has a business selling things
over the internet - a guy like that, to his mind, should maybe go into
another business, or be machzir al hapesachim if he can't. He doesn't
realize that even people who are in businesses that have nothing to do with
the internet still have to use it if they deal with other businesses or
government agencies, since this is increasingly the way the world is run.
Doctor's offices submit insurance referrals over the internet. Real estate
hockers get all sorts of information over the internet, from MLS listings
to government-provided info and more. The same undoubtedly goes for lawyers,
mortgage brokers and just about anyone else doing business with other
businesses or requiring government info. I know someone who works in
kashrus and all sorts of necessary kashrus information is transmitted through the
internet. I can't imagine whose pesachim you will be able to be machzir on
if everyone resigns all jobs that require use of the internet. I seriously
cannot believe that R' Mattisyahu appreciates all this and still can make
statements of the sort he made.
I think in general people need to appreciate that the world changes. Things
that are not necessary in one period become necessary in others. If you did
not have a phone 100 years ago you were OK, because people did not
communicate by phone. But if you don't have a phone today you are not
merely failing to take advantage of the advances of the last 100 years, but you
are worse off than a similar guy back then, since now society is structured in
such a way that phones have become an integral part of it. The same goes
for cars (or other mechanized transportation) since necessary institutions are
now located a lot further away from people's homes than they used to be.
And the same goes to a large extent for the internet.
You really have to wonder, in light of this type of ignorance, how the
rabbonim who are approved to write the excuse notes are going to determine
who really needs the internet for parnassa, in light of the apparent lack
of understanding about the nature of the internet and its centrality in
business. (I was actually struck by the fact that R' Mattisyahu
consistently referred to "internet" rather than "the internet" - I was wondering if this particular indication of a lack of familiarly with the internet was deliberately feigned or was genuine.)
The thought occurred to me that R' Mattisyahu could have given the exact
same shmuess about phones. Can you imagine the amount of lashon hora that
is spoken over telephones? I think it is pretty safe to say that an enormous
amount of lashon hora gets spread around as a result. And for every ma'amar
chazal that RMS can pull up about shmiras ha'eynayim, I can whip out
another one about lashon hora (per the CC). So that's it - we should outlaw all
phones. Unless you need it for parnassa - in which case you need a note
from an approved rov. And even then you should consider being machzir al
hapesachim. One other jarring aspect of R' Mattisyahu's drasha was how he went on and
on about how great and wonderful and leshaim shomayim all the menahelim are,
and their concern for the children. Hard to believe that he is referring to
the same tzadikim who wanted to leave numerous kids in limbo without any
school, rather than risk undermining the holy prestige of their mosdos. A
guy at the asifa told me that people are actually trying to tie the two
issues together, the spin being that the kids that weren't being accepted
were kids who were internet viewers, and that as part of the final p'shara
they agreed to implement this takana. This is completely bogus of course,
as everyone knows - a lot of kids were rejected for not having good marks, or
>for being sefardim, or for just plain being unconnected to the right people - even without reference to the fact that several speakers mentioned that the internet thing has been going on for months.
After all that however, the fact remains that these guys hold the hammer in
their hands. You need them more than they need you. If tomorrow they came
out with an announcement that they were going to kick any kid out of school
whose parents do not put a bumper sticker on their cars that said "I ♥ MENAHELIM,"
you would have to go along as well. So I think it all depends on
what the actual attitudes are of the individual schools, and, to a lesser
extent, what the attitude is of the rabbonim who can write the exemptions.
Time will tell.

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this ban causing a lot of resentment?

For sure.

Perhaps a backlash...?

If only.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Yeshiva Orthodoxy said...

Thanks for the input.

"..would have no problem with the schools making rules against kids using the Internet. That's in their realm, and it would be a good rule. But where do they come off trying to run everyone's lives? would have no problem with the schools making rules against kids using the Internet. That's in their realm, and it would be a good rule. But where do they come off trying to run everyone's lives? would have no problem with the schools making rules against kids using the Internet. That's in their realm, and it would be a good rule. But where do they come off trying to run everyone's lives"

Is not your child affected by the other kids' home environment?

"Mattisyahu's drasha was that his remarks about how even for parnassa you really need to
consider whether it is worth being machzir al hapesachim rather than be
exposed to the Internet. It would seem to me that he simply doesn't realize
how much the Internet is, and is increasingly becoming, a part of the
normal business process, for any business..."

This is true. No one that is not personally acquainted with the Internet can (fully) comprehend it.

"R' Mattisyahu could have given the exact
same shmuess about phones"

The Internet is in a league of its own.It has a unique ability to bring all that is outside, in.

Thanks again.

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there really were some principals who were against this takanah, then why did they sign the letter? If i'm not mistaken, every school is represented (besides for the day school), if one principal did not agree to it, then its school should not be part of it.

11:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Is not your child affected by the other kids' home environment?"

To an extent, sure. But not nearly as much as they would have us believe. And certainly not enough to justify these draconian measures. I'd say that in the vast majority of cases, a child's main hashpa'ah is from his home. Wouldn't you agree?

And besides, kids have been led astray by bad friends from time immemorial. This has been going on since long before the internet. There always will be kids who are a bad hashpa'ah, so long as there is still a yetzer hara in the world.

11:16 PM  
Blogger Yeshiva Orthodoxy said...

..if one principal did not agree to it, then its school should not be part of it.

And what, turn into a Solomon Shechter (CH"V) ?


There always will be kids who are a bad hashpa'ah

It is not unreasonable for some schools to insist on a very frum parent body.And of course student body.

I frankly believe, for varius reasons, the ban will not be affective.
Mainly, the Internet is too much part of the economic structure. And in the coming years will only become much more so.

12:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a question -- is the person who posted the anonymous reaction that is the subject of this post an Israeli?

2:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Several associates of mine have received permission from Yeshiva poskiim regarding the internet, but to date not a single "ksav ishur" has been provided to anyone. Apparently, the vaad cannot agree on security standards as well as what qualifies as tzoriq parnassa. The poskiim are giving their permission when queried, but are unable to provide the ishur at this time. Since the policy was supposed to be effective immediately after Sukkot and children without an ishur from internet enabled homes were to be prevented from returning after the break at that time, the whole project has one foot in the grave. The overwhelming sentiment is that these takkanot will go the way of the chassunah takkanot - observed only in the breach.

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If there really were some principals who were against this takanah, then why did they sign the letter?"

In a single word: Pressure!!

"It is not unreasonable for some schools to insist on a very frum parent body.And of course student body."

I don't understand. You thing people who had the internet will be frummer as a result of this ban? I don't see it.

And yes, it is perfectly proper that they make demands on the students. The students, hear? Not the parents.

The fact is that while they pretend this is a chinuch issue, that is just a fig leaf to allow them to forbid the *parents* from having the net. The primary target here is not the kids, which is why other sensible solutions are not being considered.

And finally, no, I am not an Israeli (though I fail to see the relevance of the question, unless it is an attempt to identify me).

10:31 AM  
Blogger shmuel said...

Hacking an xp password with safe mode is simple, and the info is posted all over the net

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah? I'm going to try to find it right now. Let's see if you're right.

12:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And what about if your internet access screen is password protected? Can that be hacked too?

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, I see that the xp hack looks pretty easy. But so what? That's only relevant if you're trying to keep the kids off the computer altogether. A better idea is to just password protect the e-mail access.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Yeshiva Orthodoxy said...

There is no way to come up with a universal definition of "for parnassah".

The Internet in Yeshiva's offices mostly used for getting gov't programs, be considered "for parnassa";or "for saving money" which would make it assur?

12:59 PM  
Anonymous SephardiLady said...

When parents are paying in tuition what other people make in income a year, it would seem logical to make the definition of "for parnasah" as lenient as possible. And, in our home, savings is sustanence.

But, then again, is any of this supposed to be logical and make sense?

2:18 PM  

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