Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What's It All For?

This blog isn't about aliyah.  The nice thing about blogging is that you can to pick a topic and blah blah blah all you want.  So today I'll blah blah blah about the "asifa" that was held on Sunday in New York.

In case you haven't heard, this gathering was held to warn everyone of the dangers of the Internet.  I downloaded the "kinus" that went with it and looked through it.

I'm not going to bash anyone here, so if that is what you were hoping for, move on. 

I am just terribly curious.

I am not a very well educated person, Jewishly.  I went to public school, to Hebrew School, and to the Baltimore Hebrew College. the latter providing me with outstanding command of Hebrew, familiarity with Hebrew literature, with traditional texts, and with philosophy.  But I didn't have what one would consider a traditional Jewish education.

So when I approach things it is not with a great deal of background, texts, explanations, etc.  It's usually just with very simple thoughts and questions.

So here goes.

I was always incredibly moved by Parshas Kedoshim when (I think I'm right), we are told that we are a holy nation.  I embrace the idea of holiness, and in my thinking the mitzvos were given to us to make us different and holy.  The incredible genius (a poor word and please forgive me) of Torah is that it lays out how we are to live our lives in the world, with others, in order to comport ourselves as Hashem wants us to - 24/7.  All of the warts of humankind are illustrated in one way or another by the mitzvos - the 'dos' and the 'don'ts' - because we are human, we err, but Hashem wants us to conquer our impulses and go forth to show the world how tough and brave an eved Hashem really is.

With me so far?  Anyone disagree?  I sure hope not or I reallly do have to go back to Hebrew School.

Now the Torah is timeless - Hashem gave it to us knowing full well what temptations were coming our way, and gave us mitzvos to help us to stay straight and show the world how to act.

Now, if we do conquer our bad inclinations, it makes us tough.  Incredibly tough.  I mean, look at us - despite the world the way it is we still keep Shabbos, dress modestly, daven, learn, etc.  That takes a kind of toughness that we probably don't realize we have. 

We live in the real world and see real things, and have to deal with them and we CAN because the mitzvos make us tough.  We were given the mitzvos to show the rest of the world what it means to follow Hashem's Torah. 

We can't do that if we don't live in the world.

So here's my question - why are people not able to overcome the obstacle of the internet?  Believe me, I'm not bashing anyone, chas v'shalom, I'm just confounded by this state of affairs.

If people are looking at pornography on the internet and it is ruining their families and marriages, then why does no one look any further than the computer screen? 

How about looking at the family dynamics and perhaps the yeshiva educations that exist today and ask why they are so fragile that a computer site can dissolve them?

  • Are couples not open enough with each other? 
  • Do yeshiva boys and girls have too much pressure on them to be perfect, modest angels and not allowed to express themselves outside of the classroom or yeshiva? 
  • Do men and women feel so stressed and unhappy that they seek satisfaction outside of their marriages? 
  • Are young couples not given enough guidance about how to have a relationship so that they know how to deal with problems?
  • Is everyone so anxious to find some escape from their lives that they go to the nearst available website and imagine a different life? Why?
  • What is their life so desperately missing that they feel the need to escape?
Aren't those, perhaps, the real problems?

In every generation there are incredible challenges to the Torah Jew - but we have to live in the world, otherwise we are just being mekadesh shem shamayim to each other and that is not how it's supposed to be - at least I don't think so. 

If we think this is bad, I'm pretty sure the temptations will get even more difficult as the years go by.  Shutting ourselves off from the world and what it has to offer does not make sense to me.


  1. I totally agree, 100%. My position on all the sheltering that goes on in certain Jewish communities is - why do you think that Judaism is so unappealing to people that we can't let them see anything else and make their own decisions? I was raised pretty open-minded and "exposed" to the secular world and I choose every day to live my life according to the Torah, because I was taught the beauty of it. If a parent or school is not making Torah and Judaism exciting and interesting to children, then THAT is the problem. Because most people can be exposed to the normal activity of the world and still be observant Jews.

  2. SaraK, you go girl. thanks, abigail!