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Internet for an Observant Jew: Do the Risks Transgress Halacha?

Published on Tuesday October 6th, 2020

Broken marriages, educational issues, immodest images, laziness with regards to Torah and Mitzvot... Internet is an unavoidable tool through which the observant Jew needs to be able to “remain Jewish” while using it.

Rabbis’ Opinions and Experiences

You have no idea as to what category of people have fallen victim to internet pornography. We would not think that these types of people would be capable of it. Hopefully nobody who’s a Yirei Shamayim is going to go look for that kind of trash and that kind of filth. However, it is perfectly possible that while monkeying around with the internet, you hit a button and there’s a pop-up of a pornography scene. You weren’t looking for it, but it happened. You have exactly 3/10ths of a second to turn it off. And if you avoid it for 4/10ths of a second, you may become addicted. That’s how severe it is. It's one of the most powerful addictions. Day after day after day - I get letters and calls from people who say, "what can I do to save myself?” because they have fallen into the pornography addiction and it has taken them all the way down. It has ruined more marriages than anything, ruined families. It's been terribly destructive.” Rabbi Avraham J. Twerski, MD

Not a week goes by that I don’t have to deal with a Shalom Bayit problem or a problem in Chinuch Habanim or Banot, or a very fine Bochur who will call me up – or at least what is left of a very fine bochur – calls me up crying, begging for help. There is nobody that can claim that either they’re not affected, or a family member, or a neighbor, or the chaver sitting next to them in shul, or the chavruta sitting across from them in yeshiva. If you discounted it until now, you’re gonna have to take my word for it when I say that there is no single problem facing the yechidim in klal Yisrael and communities at large, there is no bigger problem than this. There’s a Chov Kadosh to do something now before there’s no semblance of Kedusha left in Klal Yisrael. And I don’t say that lightly. Keep in mind, the people who come to me are so frum and so upset about what’s going on, that they’re willing to talk to their Rav. That means that there are thousands of people who would never even speak to their Rav. I hate to sound pessimistic – but if you have unrestricted internet in the house – internet that is not both filtered and reported, I would say there’s a higher than 90% chance that people have already been Nichshal (committed the sin) in your house. And if it hasn’t happened yet, there’s more than 90% chance it will happen. And if it’s not happening at home, it’s happening in the office.” Rabbi Yosef Veiner, Agudat Israel, Flatbush

Surfing without a filter violates the prohibition of ‘Yichud’. There is absolutely no excuse not to have an Internet surfing filter on one’s home computer. Not to do so is to violate the commandment, “You shall not put a stumbling block in front of a blind person.” Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner

The Internet is filled with immoral and decadent sites which have the capability of destroying one’s yirat shamayim and tzeniut rapidly, before one even realizes how entrapped he is in their tentacles. It exerts a powerful force over many people that - if left unregulated - has the potential to destroy the fabric of the Jewish home. There are countless horror stories about young people falling prey to online seducers and the tragic consequences of their encounters. There is no need to repeat here that which is well known and documented. Rabbi Daniel Neustadt, Yoshev Rosh, Vaad harabanim of Detroit

A Solution? Guardyoureyes.fr

GuardYourEyes (GYE) is a vibrant network and fellowship of Jews of all affiliations, struggling to purify themselves and break free of lust related behaviors, especially when it comes to the Internet. For the first time, Jews have where to turn to for help in this area, as well as an entire network of services, tools, tips and group support to help break free of the insidious grasp of this addiction. All our work is free of charge and we zealously protect the complete anonymity of all our members.

This topic has been taboo for too long within the religious community. There is an urgent need in this area, which the GuardYourEyes network answers today. Families are literally being destroyed. Husbands, wives and children are all being affected in some way. The ease of accessibility and privacy that the internet provides is the all-out attack of Amalek in our generation.

GuardYourEyes contributes to saving lives and marriages every day, helps people preserve their self-esteem, helps them recover their mental health, and connect to spirituality: everything they had given up on, thinking there was no hope... Finally, people find out that they are not alone and that there is true hope to overcome this addiction.

Fueled mainly by the accessibility and anonymity of the Internet, this affliction has spared no class of Jews all across the religious spectrum. This widespread problem is destroying more peoples’ marriages and religion than almost anything else today. Many of the social ills afflicting the Jewish community today such as youth at risk, broken marriages and even child abuse and molestation can be traced back to this issue. Much of our communities’ investments in education today are being undermined by the strong-pull of these temptations.

Treatment

In less than a decade of operations, with a meager yearly budget and minimal advertising, GuardYourEyes has helped many thousands of Jews get back on a path of sanity, healing and self-control. This has been accomplished through the many features of our network which include a website, forums, handbooks, chizuk e-mails, hotlines and 12 step phone conferences and groups. The achievements to date would mark an unprecedented success for even the best of multi-million dollar rehab centers dealing with different types of addictions.

Prevention

GuardYourEyes has helped prevent thousands from falling into these pitfalls by providing comprehensive filter services, daily shiurim and chizuk emails on Shemirat Einayim, articles and tips, and by boosting awareness of the dangers and giving practical tools on how to avoid these tests. We also have a team of certified computer technicians who offer free help for anyone who wants advice or hands-on assistance with installing filters. We have dedicated an entire website to present various filters adapted to the devices in use today, called Venishmartem.com. 

We attribute our success to five factors:

1. Experience: The tools of our recovery program were developed with guidance from the best experts in the field such as Rabbi Avraham J. Twerski, and through the personal experience of hundreds of dedicated Jews who successfully broke free of their addiction and are determined to help others.

2. A Novel Approach: Our recovery system is not only unique for the Jewish community, but unique in the world, in that we address the many different levels of addiction with a program that uses progressively more “addiction oriented” tools based on the level of the dependence. For example, there are many people who just started to slip in these areas and can get out of it with the proper perspective, filters, some basic safeguards and some accountability. Others need far more intense solutions, such as our 12-Step phone conferences and referrals to live SA groups and therapists. All in all though, this program promises a solution for everyone, no matter how advanced the addiction may have progressed.

3. Anonymity: The many tools and services on our network – our phone line, Website, forums, manuals, chizuk emails and phone conferences – are mostly either on-line, in print or by phone. What makes this so powerful is that it ensures complete anonymity for those who turn to us for help. This is one of the greatest secrets to our success, because anonymity, especially in these sensitive areas - and all the more so in the religious community, is one of the main inhibitions of people reaching out for help.

4. Accessibility: We harness the very power of instant accessibility of the internet which has fueled this epidemic, to reach and help thousands of Jews throughout the world that conventional therapeutic approaches would otherwise not be able to reach.

5. Providing Hope: The inherently pure Jewish souls caught in this addiction are often just yearning for a helping hand to give them that extra push they need to break free. By finding that they are not alone and that hundreds of others have succeeded through our tools, they are instilled with the determination and courage to change.

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