Wednesday, June 20, 2012 How to Navigate the Internet as an Orthodox Jew

“Internet in the Jewish Home is a discussion of critical information every Orthodox Jew needs to know about the Internet. It provides a comprehensive worldview as well as specific technologies and detailed tips to enable safer Internet usage. Featuring Rabbi Gil Student and organized together with Dovid Teitelbaum, this lecture gives you the ability to take control of your and your children’s Internet experience.”

For the past few weeks, I have been helping and assisting on the creation of this new website,, and I’m excited to let my friends know that it is finally ready for launch. This project is going to be a work in progress, and I’m open for suggestions and constructive criticism.

After writing my first article about the Internet and my view on educating rather than filtering as the method of choice, I received such positive feedback. I counted over 30 websites that picked up my article, including one blog that translated every word into Yiddish with his own notes. 95 percent of the comments were positive. I had mechanchim and Roshei Yeshiva call me to tell me what a beautiful article I wrote. I really believed I was on to something and that people were beginning to realize the futility of banning something we all use daily. However, not one asifa has yet to even acknowledge any other solution besides filtering, and not one of my ideas was even discussed in a public forum. They kept repeating the “filters” mantra over and over.

Using an iPhone to say Tehillim at Kever Rachol
I wish I had an explanation for this, but I don't. Maybe it’s just too easy to use “filters” as a solution, a “magic pill” that eliminates the “huge problem” of the Internet. The idea of people bringing in their cell phones to have others install filters for them shows how little effort we are willing to put in. If someone is incapable of downloading a filter from the Internet himself do you really think he will know how to make sure his home computers are protected? But, who wants to spend time on education when a simple filter will do the trick? And yet, deep down we all know it won’t solve our problems. A filter is no match when it comes to a geshmaka YouTube video. And yet we always seem to look for the easy fix. But the easy answers rarely solve complicated problems. And when they seem like they do, it’s only because they just push off the problem until a later date. And so just like the deficit, we believe somehow we will figure it out later.

My personal view is that the Internet is just another technology that can be used for good and bad. If we are raised with a proper education and with proper role models, we can embrace the Internet and use it for all the good it has to offer. But if we are looking for shmutz we will find it no matter how many filters are installed.

There is no question that the Internet comes with many concerns. It’s a new medium, and it changes faster than you can send a text message. And yet, I believe the issues we face with the Internet are really the same old problems, because life presents itself with the same moral questions over and over. It’s just the medium that changes.
Some people concocted a new idea that, somehow, the Internet has overturned the order of life and now we face a new yetzer hara leading to new problems that never existed before. I don't buy it. Everything that can be done online can be done in the real world and that is why the Torah is timeless: every generation can learn right from wrong by studying the same Torah. I heard from Rabbi Yitzchok Berkoeitz that Torah SheBalPeh was never supposed to be written down because it takes great men to give over the same traditions and apply it to the new issues of the day. The Torah doesn't mention the Internet, but its eternal lessons can be applied by our rabbis to this new technology. And so, like everything else we do as frum Yidden, we need proper guidance from our Rabonim.

I have been speaking with many of our Gedolim recently, and while my respect for them is unquestionable, I have carried a huge burden trying to explain to them the positive aspects of the Internet. What is so clear to users of modern technology is difficult for non-users to understand, simply out of lack of familiarity. This is why there is so much confusion out there. Some Rabbonim are trying to allow Internet in the home for personal use and yet the Gedolim on top are still not behind this idea. Honestly, I understand them completely. If all they are told is that the Internet is complete shmutz and all they read are horror stories, as the Chareidi papers have been publishing for the past 10 years, why would they allow such a device in the home? How could they allow such a device? If parents and Rabbeim come telling them everyday, that the Internet is at fault for all their problems and is the cause of their children’s unhappiness with Yiddishkeit, they would be wrong to allow such a device near a Jewish home. But let’s face it, who is going to tell their rabbi that it might just be their own fault the kid is not excited about Yiddishkeit or that the problem is much deeper than a bad webpage. So after hearing this kind of talk for so long, is it a wonder our Rabbonim have taken such a strong stance against the Internet? If they didnt I would question their integrity.

It is for a very good reason that Jewish tradition insists on seeking guidance from the older generation. They have experienced life in all its complexities and can best advise us on the way we live. But what happens when you have a generation in which things change so rapidly? When my 10 year old son fixes my iTunes player for me, or my 8 year old shows me how I can get better wifi connection, or my 6 year old daughter tells me how to change my android wallpaper?  The Rabbonim can speak about the dangers of the Internet but they can’t teach how to use it properly if they don’t use it themselves. They can’t explain how to benefit properly from this new technology without mastering it first. Similarly, one can speak about the dangers of driving a car, but if you don’t drive yourself you can’t give a drivers educational course (at least not one I would attend).

So we need to find Rabbonim who go online and are proud of using the Internet for Torah values. Those who know the dangers and can tell us how to use it properly. B”H there are many and I was lucky to have someone in my own neighborhood who is a well known Talmid Chochom (both online and off). He has impeccable Yiras Shomayim and has dedicated himself to the needs of Klal Yisroel with no personal or financial gain. He produces Chidushei Torah daily just because he enjoys it, something the Rambam would have been proud of. And so I was honored when he asked me to help with a project I believed in.

And just as I am helping Rabbi Gil Student with this endeavor, I myself have been helped from more people that I can list on this page. Rebbeim, Mechanchim, laymen, editors, parents, my Facebook friends, and my teenage campers. I hope to publish their names at some point but, in the meantime, I would like to thank my family for allowing me to spend so much time blogging and working on this project, when I should have been helping at home and with our new baby.
What better way to educate the use of proper Internet activity than through this very medium? It is a tool so powerful that even someone as hi-tech as myself is in awe of its potential. (A recent post I wrote about tznius received over 10,000 hits in 24 hours). So making a website to teach proper use of the Internet makes perfect sense. With the Internet you can post comments, share ideas and create discussion forums. The website can be updated as time goes by, so the latest information is available at all times. The latest filters will be discussed and volunteer moderators will be there to help. There are lecture videos, that will guide you through step by step and mp3 audio files to download. It becomes a community effort. When people visit this web page they are making a statement: nobody is forcing me to come here, but I want to protect and guide my family and I want to use the Internet properly. THIS is a true kiddush Hashem.

My hope is that this site will be used to help us deal with the realities of the Internet age. I have invested lots of personal time to take this project on and help it in any way possible, with the hope that we as a klal can respond together -- positively -- to the challenges of the Internet. The website and all the hard work I have done is dedicated to my father’s memory: Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum, Z”L. I hope he is proud.

Come visit and let me know what you think.
Those who are interested in helping out should Email me or Rabbi Gil Student privately.


  1. Wow you surprise us again. This is such an obvious idea and it questions why the ichud didnt choose this route!

  2. There's something very ironic here. The real point of the big "Asifah" at Citi Field was to inspire people to talk about the Internet and stop pretending that it's not a challenge to Jews everywhere. Their mission was very much accomplished as communities like Flatbush, Lakewood, and our own shul in KGH had "personalized" asifahs discussing the Internet as it relates to the specific communities. In essence, the asifah has inspired you (and Gil Student) to make your own "asifah," albeit an online educational forum to discuss the Internet from a Modern Orthodox perspective. Check off another victory for the asifah!

  3. Whats the irony. Did I ever say talking about the dangers of the Internet is something that should not be discussed? I just thought they went about it in a really bad way. And the fact that there was a money agenda behind it makes it immoral in my view.

  4. No, but nobody was discussing an issue you concede merits discussion. Granted, you are now having one according to how you see fit, but had it not been for the Asifa, when would these discussions be happening?

  5. At the very most, its a mitzvah haba biaveira.

  6. Got it. So the Zionist state is great because even if they hate Hashem, His Torah, and His people, it is only in their merit that so many people are living and learning in Israel. But the few guys who inspired 60,000+ innocent people, and have started a crucial discussion among thousands of Jews are bad people because they may have been looking for a buck along the way. Interesting hashkafa.

  7. You said it very well. I rather deal with people that are honest about who they are and what they stand for, than people that say they are lisheim shamayim but secretly have a personal agenda of making a buck off others.

  8. Yes. They are the bad ones who also shot JFK and destroyed the planes on 9/11.

    I'm still not sure how they are different from Artscroll, in that they both have a mission to make a parnassah through a l'shem shamayim way. Artscroll (maybe) wants to help spread Shas, but since they had the idea of translating it, make a dollar off of it. These guys see the dangers of technology, so they want to spread the message, and make a buck serving as the messengers.

    It's not like they're sitting and writing controversial blog posts, collecting thousands of hits, and then posting a huge ad and link to their private business on the top of their blog page.

  9. You dont get it. I'm open about my ad for camp. They claim to be an organazation called Ichud and TAG, not a filtering company. But they are a filtering company and therefore its not being honest. Besides the fact that they are trying to get people to pay for a filter that is available for free. Why this doesnt bother you, I cant understand.

  10. Out of curiosity, did you attend the asifah?
    It seems many bloggers had cronies feeding them the "sound bytes" while waiting at home with their baseball bats.

    My Rebbi, and many other Rabbis I know, using the TAG written guidebook, recommended several technologies such as K9 filter. I have heard the most recommendations for K9 filter, including from their own guidebook. Did they forget to take out all the free filters, or to at least not mention that they were free?

    We look at the world differently, that's why I don't get bothered. You intelligently explain that yapping about the dangers of the Internet is not worthwhile; we should educate about the good uses. But are you not guilty of the same mistake, yapping about negativity, with your blog's approach to the Asifah.

    I point out this irony and the previous one not so you should change your opinion, but maybe rethink how you (and halevai other bloggers) present it. If your blog wants to operate under the mantra of Rav Kook, that a rasha complains about darkness but a tzaddik adds light, you should at least do so consistently. Complaining about the Chareidim's complaining about the Internet does not come across (to me at least) as spreading that light. Calling well-known talmidei chochamim lunatics on a blog claiming to be lashon hara free does not spread that light.

    Reb Dovid, your writing implies that you have l'shem shamayim goals. Please don't let the fame and fire of the Internet get in the ways of those goals.

  11. And you totally ignore what I said. Your rebbi is a good man and honest so he recommended k9. The Asifa and TAG still recommend kosher providers or other pay for companies. The only reason they even put in k9 is because of pressure from without. The horror stories they write about are lies. What else do you want to know. They are crooks. Just because honest rabonim were fooled doesnt make it right.

  12. Again with the tea calling the kettle names. I ignored you yet you addressed all of my concerns point by point.
    Anyway, the booklet they put out recommends K9 at the front of their list, and goes through every filter and provider with pros and cons. None are given more weight to the reader who does not have an agenda. The "pressure from without" you speak of sounds like speculation, unless your anonymous connections at the FBI provided you with that information.
    Do you have any answers for me?

  13. Please dont lie on my blog. The booklet they put out list kosher internet providers first and as the better option. The con they mention about K9 is that you have your own password. They failed to mention something Rabbi Reisman did at the flatbush Asifa that you can make a joint password for you and your wife, so that wont be a problem. Once that is no longer a problem, asking people to pay for providers is NOT ok. Your first post seems to say you dont mind if some people happen to make a buck. I do, when its not publicly known. The Ichud and TAG is a crooked organization. They have thier own agenda and not klal yisroal. Period.

  14. Thank you for again explaining why you spread negativity and criticism on a blog that claims to do the opposite.
    Your honesty is understood and appreciated. I assume many people will return to or strengthen themselves in Torah Judaism as a result of your overwhelmingly harsh critiques of the Charedi world and its view on the Internet.
    Tizkeh l'mitzvos!

  15. So when you finally concede that the Ichud is a fraud, your answer is I shouldnt let the public know because it criticizes the chareidi world. Please blame the ones that commit the crime not the ones that exposes them.

  16. I'm sorry I didn't realize you were doing this for the press. Thank you sir. Unfortunately, you appear to be under the (common) misconception that should there be a crime here, you are justified in "exposing" it. Is that how Torah Judaism works? Are we allowed to say what we please, or are you going to guise this as l'to'eles?

    As if telling many anti-Charedi people that Charedim are evil is very beneficial toward furthering k'vod Shamayim in the world. You may notice that there are no blogs pointing out the fallacies and inconsistencies of the Modern Orthodox world. This can be a result of a) the lack of flaws in Modern Orthodoxy or b) the fact that most intelligent Charedi people seek to further k'vod Shamayim, not point out how other people are not.

  17. I dont remember ever saying chareidim are evil. I never said that and I dont believe it. BTW there was a blog thats entire purpose was to trash MO but he evidently went bye-bye.

  18. I also would like to point out that Tnach and chazal often point out the flaws in great men even though according to you that would be a chilul hashem. Your logic does hold up.

  19. More people have and will continue to leave as long as they see the community's so called leadership choose to hold a grip on their power and privilege at the expense of at times the lives our children. Without the courage of true leaders like yourself, Rabbi Horowitz,etc. to blog and shine a light on these problems (and without access to said writings via the internet), nothing will change. Denial is a lousy strategy for preserving the beauty of yiddishkeit.

  20. What do you mean by saying no one was discussing it? There have been filters for many years. I had one with a Christian company 10 years ago. It's been discussed to death. They've been threatening to throw kids out of school here in Lakewood for almost a decade, the idea that Rabbi Wosner has now revived for us. (Thanks, Rabbi Wosner!) The reason they made a big stink and an asifah now is that the battle is being lost. People are using the internet regularly, and pretty much safely, notwithstanding the scary stories, most of which I don't believe. The real danger they see from the internet, in my view, is that it gives people access to information, which is sometimes detrimentat to the powers that be. This is their last chance to nip it in the bud. I hope they are unsuccessful.

  21. Exactly. All my family that had internet with children had k9 filters installed already before the asifa. Maybe there were some that didnt but they sure didnt need an asifa to make an awareness for filters. A couple of nice articles in the yated would do the job.

  22. As I am quiet new in Jewish, looking around for some Jewish information> Got something important here. Nice to get it.

    Have you seen this video ? It helped me get over my internal anger.


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