Jerusalem – VIN News posted earlier an Editorial by Rabbi Yair Hoffman criticizing an event where an Israeli Rabbi in a Yeshiva for Baalei Teshuva in Yerushalayim is shown on a YouTube clip holding a ceremony destroying a laptop to protest the danger of the Internet.
Some readers have emailed us claiming it was a Purim Prank, we decided to verify the facts of the story, and sure enough it turns out this was a serious event.
Below is an Exclusive interview VIN News Israeli correspond Ezra Reichmann just conducted with the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Aaron Feinhandler, to hear why he decided to publicize the computer-pulverizing event.
VIN: What’s so bad about a computer?
Rabbi Feinhandler: The computer and specifically the Internet has broken up many families — both religious and non-religious. For the past 25 years, every week dozens of baalei tshuva from all over the country spend a Shabbos at our yeshiva and I am involved in counseling many of them. I know many people whose sholom bayis was ruined because of it. I have given speeches in countless places explaining how dangerous the Internet is.
On the Internet you see women without their hair covered – so why does your wife have to cover hers? If you see immodest pictures on the Internet, why are you putting up mechitzos at weddings? Why are you sending your children to chareidi chinuch if you’re getting the Islamic and Christian world on the Internet?
The reason we send our children to chareidi chinuch is because we want to keep out everything that is out there. So why are we bringing the Internet into our home? We want to dance at two weddings, but it doesn’t go.
Why did Moshe Rabeinu break the Two Luchos? He did it to shock the Jews. He wanted them to understand that the Golden Calf doesn’t go together with the Two Luchos.
Eliyahu Hanavi did the same thing. He told the Jews of his time: Go with Elokim or go with baal — but you can’t have both together.
VIN: Whose computer did you break?
Rabbi Feinhandler: The computer we broke this time belonged to a photographer. He used his computer to develop his pictures, but then he realized it was causing him to fall spiritually. He decided he’s better off taking pictures with a camera and then he’ll develop the film in a photo shop.
By the way, this is the 3rd time we’ve shattered a computer. The first computer we broke was a $1,000 computer belonging to a bochur who wanted to save himself from the temptation of watching films.
VIN: Don’t you have a computer in your yeshiva’s office?
Rabbi Feinhandler: We have no computer in our yeshiva’s office. How do we print letters? We send a handwritten letter to an office service by fax, and they return it printed instead of by email. We pay them for the service. And we have plenty of office work; we have 75 bochurim in our yeshiva and 40 girls in our girls’ division.
VIN: Why don’t you use computers with Rimon or Netiv filtering servers?
Rabbi Feinhandler: If we can’t get people to get rid of the computer completely, we tell people to use Rimon or Netiv. We don’t like to rely on them, because you can get rid of the filters. We know of people who managed to evade the filters, and then they fell into bad things. We can tell you countless stories of youth who left yeshivos and took off their kipot and girls who stopped dressing modestly because of the influence of the Internet.
Lev L’achim say that 70% of all youths who leave Yiddishkeit is because of the Internet or cellphones.
Our boys visit homes voluntarily to try to get people to remove their computers or at least change to a kosher service with filtering.
VIN: Do your students have computers?
Rabbi Feinhandler: Our yeshiva will not accept students who have a computer or unkosher cellphone. When we make shidduchim for our students, we stipulate that the home they found will not have a computer, they will work on a computer at a workplace only if it has filtering, and they will only use kosher cellphones. We won’t make a shidduch for any of our baalei tshuva unless they agree to these conditions.
It goes without saying that you won’t be accepted to our kolel if you have a computer at home or unkosher cellphone.
VIN: What’s wrong with having a computer at home if you have filtering on it? Isn’t it better to expose kids to the computer in a controlled way, rather than having them go elsewhere to see a computer unsupervised?
Rabbi Feinhandler: We feel you have to get rid of computer from your house, period. From my experience, once you have a computer in the house, your child will get used to seeing films. Chiloni films on discs are everywhere, a dime a dozen. The kid will quickly figure out that when Abba is not home or is sleeping, he can watch chiloni films without them knowing about it. After all, Ima and Aba said it’s OK to use a computer and they see all kinds of things on it too.
In a home where there’s no computer and kids don’t get used to seeing it, the kids don’t go around looking for it.
It’s not just a problem for the kids. It’s a problem for the adults too. The parents start seeing films and other things and that brings a big yerida to the home. If there’s no computer at home, the parents and kids will both be OK and won’t fall into problems.
Many families were broken up through meetings which began on the Internet. We want to save people from tragedy. Even many goyim admit that the Internet destroyed their lives. Kal v’chomer us, the am hakodesh, have to keep away from it.
Having a computer in the house is the same as having a cinema theater in house.
With a nonkosher cellphone, you can get connected to the Internet in a minute. It’s like a cinema theater in your pocket. I can tell you that whoever doesn’t listen to the rabbonim on this matter will fall. The temptation is too huge to withstand. Whoever listens to the rabbonim on this matter will have hatzlacha. Whoever cannot withstand the temptation of getting rid of their computer completely should at the minimum get a filtering service.
VIN: What if you need to work on a computer at home or at work?
Rabbi Feinhandler: They need to work on the Internet for their parnossa? It’s better to clean streets and dirty your body than to work on the Internet and dirty your soul.
The Chofetz Chaim told a person who was selling books of kefira that he would arrange a job for him to ring the bell to call goyim to church. When the Yid protested how could he do that, the Chofetz Chaim told him it’s better to ring the bell to bring goyim to church then to sell books of kefira which will bring Yidden to leave Yiddishkeit. The Internet is far worse than books of kefira.