The Citifield Asifa Is No Longer About The Internet.

It has become apparent that the Asifa scheduled for CitiField in two weeks has become more than just an asifa about the internet and it’s dangers (which are very real). It has become a struggle between the mainstream, overwhelming silent majority of supporters of genuine Torah leaders and the small but vociferous minority of critics and cynics looking to turn Haredi Jewry into yet another cesspool of moral relativism.

I’ll admit that there are valid points to criticize about the Asifa and it’s goals. There is legitimate doubt whether it will accomplish much, indeed if there even is a practical “solution” to the internet problem. But this has been turned into much, much more. Bloggers and others have managed to leverage the natural reluctance of even fine Haredi Jews to having restrictions placed on what they may or may not do into an all out attack on Rabbinical authority. They would like nothing more than for this Asifa to fall flat on it’s face, to publish pictures of an half empty stadium and sleeping participants. Will they then use this as proof that the Internet saga has been approached the wrong way? Not at all. They have much bigger plans then that. A poor response from Haredi Jews will be trumpeted from Blogspot to the AP as a “sign” that rabbinical influence is waning and that people no longer “follow the Rabbis like sheep”.

Which is why you should attend the Asifa even if you disagree with it’s solutions regarding the internet or believe it to be a money-making scheme (a ridiculous assertion without a shred of evidence). If that stadium is not filled to capacity, the hit on the Torah value of Emunas Chachamim (Listening to Torah sages) will be incalculable. It will trickle down to every facet of Haredi life, leading to the same breakdown of societal respect prevalent in the secular world.

Our entire Torah is based on mesorah, traditon, and the bearers of that tradition are our parents and especially our teachers and Rabbis (see the first mishna in Avos). Undercut them and don’t be surprised when your kids no longer listen to you.

I will attend that Asifa. Why? Because my rabbis have asked me to. That’s all I need to know. And I’m proud of it.

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28 thoughts on “The Citifield Asifa Is No Longer About The Internet.

  1. The problem with Judaism IS rabbinic authority, or rather the tyranny that rabbis use to control others. Hopefully enough people will break free, think independently and break ranks with the oppressive mesorah they have live with.

    • In other words, you are denying The Oral Torah, Torah Sh’bal Peh. Okay, then you are not an Orthodox Jew, unfortunately.

      But for Orthodox Jews, Mesora and rabbinic authority are the conerstone of our religion.

      • No, that’s just flat out wrong. If you keep shabbos, kashrus and Taharas hamishpacha, you are an Orthodox Jew, no matter what a cabal of self-selected Rabbis determines. Mesora and Rabbinic authority are important, but they are not the cornerstone of Judaism. They are the cornerstone of YOUR Judaism, and that’s what this “asifa” is about – claiming that yours is the one true version of Judaism. (That is why it was unimportant to include Lubavitch and Modern Orthodoxy.)
        Furthermore, if we accept your version of what Judaism is, it could never stand. Isn’t it axiomatic that Judaism would be the conclusion you would reach if you would think clearly and objectively through the logic? So how can you then say that Judaism calls for you to deny assistance to victims of child molestation, to support tax fraud and violence against dissidents, to marginalize anyone who is not able to learn eleven hours a day in high school? These things don’t make sense. Therefore, they are not Judaism.

        • Let’s bear something in mind: I have never opposed anyone’s views per se, it’s a free country, believe what you want. But don’t go calling it Orthodox Judaism, not the way it has been understood for thousands of years.

          To say that Mesora and Rabbinic authority are not the cornerstone of Judaism means that you are denying the Oral Tradition, which means you are NOT an Orthodox Jew. You may dispute who the Mesora belongs to today etc., but your statement is one that belongs to the heterodox movements, not Orthodox.

    • BTW, I don’t see the secular world, who live “free” from authority and “oppressive mesorahs” any happier or more successful than Hareidim. On the contrary, Haredi society is much better off, as evidenced by our lack of so many societal ills suffered by the general public (violent crime, school crime, abortion, single parenthood, AIDS, adultery to name a few).

  2. Thank you for taking the time to make blog. The irony is that I found this blog while reading your comments on mr. Teitelbaums.

  3. כל זה אכניס בקל וחומר

    Based on protecting ourselves from the internet being THE issue that Gedolim have been pushing for years now I for one believe that our Gedolim understood very well that this asifa could or even would become a referendum on their authority and capacity to lead. They are much bigger pikkhim and students of human nature than you or I. They assesses the risk /reward quotient and rolled the dice (so to speak) on one huge high-rolling gamble.

    They hold that the reward of saving Yiddisha Kinder from the ravages of אחרי לבבכם ואחרי עיניכם was worth the risk of undermining their authority from asifa-day forward.

    I don’t sit in on their meetings but I surmise that when some of the more cautious among them counseled “We can’t do this. If it flops and no one shows up we will become a laughing stock and no further directives form is will ever again be taken seriously” someone else responded in essence כִּי אִם-הַחֲרֵשׁ תַּחֲרִישִׁי, בָּעֵת הַזֹּאת-…..; וּמִי יוֹדֵעַ–אִם-לְעֵת כָּזֹאת, הִגַּעַתְּ לַמַּלְכוּת In other words if we don’t use our authority and clout now why bother having it?

    Your point is well taken. Whatever our misgivings we must all attend in order to reap the reward and minimize the risk.

    • Very well said, I could not agree more. I know some of the Rabbonim involved personally. They are extremely serious people, people who weigh carefully every step they take and are not knee-jerk reactionaries and machmirim. But they are the ones that have to deal with the myriad parents, spouses and kids that come to them crying about the charbanos caused by the internet, not the big-talking bloggers and their kind.

  4. The problem is that all this internet banning stuff has already created a huge lack of emunas chachomim. The question is whether they will require everyone to have filters or if it will be just to raise awareness and make people aware of the options that are out there. if they mandate filters it will be a grave mistake.

  5. I find myself far more concerned with the issues that R Moshe Weinberger brought up here http://klalperspectives.org/rabbi-moshe-weinberger/ .

    Bray makes a very good point, but I can attest that having grown up in chutz la’aretz and in an American yeshiva in Israel today, the issue that is killing my peers’ futures is the one R Weinberger analyses, and not אחרי לבבכם ואחרי עיניכם issues.

    • Loved the article. Point well taken, but that doesn’t negate the need for shmira re: the internet. As chazal say when someone is placed at the pischan shel zonos, mah yaseh haben shelo yechta? And this refers to people who are doing well in Yiddishkeit.

      As the wise man said “mizeh umezah al tunach yadecha:…

  6. I’m reminded of the quote by the great R’ Shlomo Freifeld, who really “got” it:

    “If the only way we can sell our children on Torah is by forbidding everything else, then we are bankrupt”.

    Halevai more educators had his clarity that the issue youth struggle with is a failure in the search for and transmission of Dvar Hashem.

    People don’t go OTD because they see or do assur things. People go OTD because they stop believing in Hashem.

    Not to Ch”v belittle the severity of issurim, but issurim do not belie the fundamental issue that lack of faith does.

  7. So, basically… although the rabbonim may have made some mistakes in their approach to the issue, their conclusions, their goals, and their expectations, it’s incumbent on all of us subjects to attend, because if we don’t, certain people will blow it out of proportion and score unfair points, claiming that the failure of the asifa reflects the ‘leaders’ declining prestige and influence, which might…. undermine the leaders’ prestige and influence.

    ….Which would be a shame, since we need their superior perception and wisdom to clarify all our conclusions, goals, and expectations about everything big or small.

    But seriously, it’s really important to all of us little people to do whatever possible to maintain the illusion of our leaders’ brilliance and infallibility—because that’s what Judaism is Really All About: gathering honor and respect for an elite (tho constantly expanding) class of rabbonim* & community leaders.

    Hashem weeps at stuff like this. Or maybe He laughs.

    *which, btw, includes any married male in Lakewood.

    • I never said they made mistakes regarding this issue, it’s an issue that has no clear solution, but whatever can be done, must be done.

      And yes, Judaism IS all about honoring and respecting our rabbonim, unless you belong to the Sadducee sect. Chazal are full of it, see Avos “Morah Rabach Cemorah Shamayim”, Yiftach bedoro ceshmuel bedoro” etc, etc.

      We do not believe in the infallibility of our leaders, but we are commanded to follow them, right or wrong, as the passuk says “lo sosur… yomin usmoel. See what the Sefer Hachinuch says on this mitzvah.

      In America, with it’s egalitarian instincts, it’s a hard concept to accept, but the Torah way is clear: the greatest problems happen when “ish col hayashar beinav yaseh”

    • sorry but i must say you’re definitely right about mesora but first of all where does mesora come in to the picture? ? ? second of all, we have to know that the whole (“almost” at least) rabbinical industry is about the longest beard, always with the head squooshed down forward, & talking about everyone being bad & doing wrong. in history there wasn’t such a thing three rabbanim used to walk always with a certain posture of dignity, the musar drushes were all about that “WE” have to do teshuva & correct things, no wonder our generation is growing up so cynical about everything the rabbanim say, it’s their own fault, they list the respect the dignity there used to be due to their own disrespectful behavior. & don’t get me wrong we still have some of them rabbi Wachsman for instance or let’s say r’tzvi Meir silberberg we still have something left, I’m talking about the majority! ! ! 😦

  8. Are you shutting down this blog, as per the instructions of the Rabbanim whose words you hold so dear?
    I hold by other Rabbanim, whose views weren’t represented at the Asifa, who use the internet to spread Torah values (like you are trying to do with this blog), who run shiurim and promote learning on the internet. There are many Gedolim who aren’t Haredi, whose wisdom is available online.

      • Ever hear of Torah.Org? Aish HaTorah? Chief Rabbi of England? Chabad? Shema Yisrael? Ohr Somayach?

        • They’re your Rabbis? As to the fact that they have sites, it may be geared toward non-Frum Jews.

          If your personal Rav allows you to continue on the internet, than Kol Hakavod. But to rely on the sites you mentioned to determine you own behavior…..

          • “Aizeh hu chacham? Ha-lomed…
            but If you look at the pasuk from Tehillim cited in the Mishna in context, you will see that it does not mean learn from anyone, but rather from those who keep God with them. So I’m open to Torah sources and discussions which I could never access without the internet. Pinchas Winston, a Rabbi in Jerusalem, said years ago that the internet could hasten Mashiach, because of how it can spread knowledge of God. Almost everything can be used for good or evil, whether a medium such as the internet, or something abstract, as knowledge, or even a paradigm. That’s what free choice is about.
            Good Shabbes, good Yom Tov.

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