The Asifa at Citi Cield – An Historic Realignment

The Gemara in Berachos states “Beshas Hamefazrim, Caneis. Loosely translated as “when all are dispersing, you should gather”. Throughout history, there has been no greater time of dispersion, i.e. openness, then today and there is no greater tool for that purpose than the internet. At the asifa last night, Gedolei Yisroel made their decision crystal clear: it is time to Caneis, it is time to gather in.

The following is my understanding* of what took place at the historic gathering at CIti Field. We all know what was said; that the Internet may only be used for business purposes and with a filter. What needs to be understood is that an historic realignment took place that I think will come to the forefront in the days to come.

Gedolei Hador were faced with an excruciatingly difficult question: what is the internet and how should Haredi Jews relate to it. There is no doubt that good has come about through the internet alongside the bad. What was needed was a cost-benefit analysis, a view of the forest instead of the trees. Does the good outweigh the bad or vice versa? Or maybe the internet is neutral and can be controlled.

After much deliberation and based on over ten years of experience with internet-related issues, a consensus was reached. Nimnu vegamru, the bad, the destruction, wreaked on Klal Yisroel and Reb Yisroel as a result of internet use outweighs (by far) whatever positive it can do and has done. Therefore, the internet is out.

Knowing that internet access is a must for businesses, a heter was carved out, bidieved, and for business use only. So for Haredi Jews, the internet was now a business tool and a business tool only, not to be used for Torah, education, information, recreation or anything else.

What came next must’ve been even more difficult to deal with. What about the many people, currently part of the Haredi camp, who will have difficulty or be unable to adjust to the new approach? Here they ran into the difficulty faced by our leaders throughout the ages. Whenever gedarim and seyagim, (i.e. fences and walls) are erected to promote observance and protect the Haredi camp, besides for protecting those within, they also keep others out. With the internet in particular, there are many who are already knee deep in it’s clutches and may be unwilling (or unable) to give it up.

This dilemma, as difficult and as heartbreaking as it is, did not prevent our leaders, from Chazal on forward, from doing what needed to be done. Not from a sense of apathy toward those who cannot toe the line, chas veshalom. Quite the contrary, every soul outside the wall is another hole in our collective soul, in the komah shleima of Klal Yisroel. Nevertheless, in the interest of the greater good, of protecting and enhancing the vast majority of Haredi Jews and their children, the decision was made to gather in. Caneis. To proclaim “Mi Lashem Alai” and hope and pray that as many as possible responded.

Following in the footsteps of every takanah of Chazal, from when Dovid HaMelech excluded the Givonim, down to modern times when Gedolei Yisroel  eschewed Zionism, the decision was taken and the battle was joined. Not lightly, for there is a price to pay. No, not the ridicule of the haters, which factors little into the decision-making process of people entrusted with the future of authentic Judaism. Rather it is the percentage of hamon am, regular people, who will be unable to jump on the train leaving the station and may be lost forever, along with their progeny.

Many believe there is a different path that could’ve been taken, the path of more openness. Gedolei Yisroel considered it and rejected it. Going forward, the line in the sand has been drawn and judging by their track record, much good will come from it.

*This is just aniyus dati, my own understanding of what I heard. I have not discussed this with anyone nor do I have inside knowledge of what transpired.

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25 thoughts on “The Asifa at Citi Cield – An Historic Realignment

  1. We all know what was said; that the Internet may only be used for business purposes and with a filter – Ah, how are we suppose to know that? Was this said other than in Yiddish?

    • I do believe Rabbi Wachsman mentioned it in English as well, but I may mistaken. The translation of Rav Wosner’s speech should’ve mentioned it too, but then again it wasn’t up to par.

      Rav Salomon did apologize to the English-speaking public for the preponderance of Yiddish speakers. There should have been more speakers in English, agreed.

      • That’s not what I took out of R’ Wosner’s speech. According to R’ Wosner, the Internet is Assur, and no school should accept children who have internet in the home. Which stood in direct (and embarrasing) contrast to the more “moderate” approaches which allowed internet, with filters, for business use (although according to some, it probably falls into the category of Aino Roeh Siman Brocha).
        I wish what you were saying was accurate, but the facts clearly indicate it is not. There was no Nimnu V’Gamru about this at all. It was billed as an Asifa where responsible internet usage would be discussed and promoted. It turned into a fire and brimstone indictment of the vast majority of Klall Yisroel. What should have been a united front presented by the Gedolei HaDor turned into a comedy of extremists going off the reservation interspersed by mainstreamists trying to backtrack. Was it inspiring to see 40k rent-a-chareidim fill a stadium and be Mekabel Ol Malchus Shamayim? I guess. But that being the highlight of the night speaks volumes about the collosal failure of the event (not to mention the pictures of the Gedolim walking away from the dais with their meshamshim, who are busy texting on their phones…)

        • I don’t have the text of RW speech, but I distinctly remember him allowing it for business purposes (if filtered).

          Who at the asifa disagreed with that?

          The nimnu v’gamru at the asifa was internet for business use only with a filter. You may disagree with it, but the Rabbonim have made their stand clear. This is considered using technology responsibly.

          • But it’s not considered using p’sak responsibly. There is a concet of davar sh’ein hakahal yochol la’amod bo.

            • Do you have an idea who Rav Wosner is? After Rav Elyashiv, he is the greatest poseik alive. I’m sure he is aware of your concern and issued his psak nontheless.

          • I must apologize. I re-listened to R’ Wosner’s speech and I was mistaken. He did not asser the Internet in the business with a filter. Only in the home, regardless of whether it is filtered or not. My apologies.

  2. You do realize that this gathering was billed and meant for “all klal yisrael”, don’t you?

      • I see. So “all klal yisrael” means “all who agree with what I think”.

          • > So DO explain, whom DOES all of Klal Yisroel include? Trotsky too?

            YES!

            He was Jewish, he’s part of Klal Yisroel.

            If the asifa had been billed for “All Chareidim,” fine. Then excluding non-Chareidim wouldn’t be insulting. But extolling the achdus of all klal yisroel while excluding most of klal yisroel is awful.

  3. “So for Haredi Jews, the internet was now a business tool and a business tool only, not to be used for Torah, education, information, recreation or anything else.”

    So does that mean that you cannot use a site like HebrewBooks.org anymore?

  4. Who are these “gedolei yisroel” that you speak of? Many American gedolim wanted no part of this, including the biggest poskim alive today – Reb Shmuel Kaminetzky, Reb Dovid Feinstein and Rav Yisroel Belsky (though he is ill). Other non-participants included Rav Meir Stern, the Satmar Rebbe (of KJ), Rav Yosef Rosenblum, Rav Chaim Epstein, Munkatcher Rebbe, the Nitei Gavriel (Rav Gavriel Tziner) – the list goes on. This was the project of the Mashgiach, not the “gedolei yisroel” as a group. The fact that most speakers were from outside the US (Antwerp, Montreal, Israel X2) speaks for itself.

    The gedolei yisroel (as if they constitute a unified group) did not organize this asifa. This was a project of a handfull of respected gedolim that was opposed – sometimes openly other times quietly – by many other gedolim. To suggest that a psak by an Israeli posek (a great posek at that but an Israeli) is somehow the will of the leaders in America is false.

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