Mar 30, 2015

Warning - Danger!

I was given a booklet with excerpts from the lectures of Rabbi Shaul Yitzchak Rabinowitz of Satmar.  The booklet is in Yiddish with English translation.

The gist of his message is, treif phones - which are phones that enable you to do anything but make and receive calls - are a danger for the Jewish family.  And they are dangerous even if you don't own it but people in your circles own them.  The fact that other people in your community own them, and that your children's classmates either have these phones or their parents do, means exposure to danger.

Even if a person does everything right and has a filter and it's used only for business, experience has shown that that it is impossible to control the people around you.  Children are drawn to these phones, even if they only have the ability to text, and all the more so if they enable images. 

Parents might think it's nice to show their children Lag B'Omer at Meron on their phone or other innocuous or even wonderful things.  What the booklet says is this teaches children that nowadays, the prohibition against viewing images is no longer in force.  Your children will likely be less careful than you are.  (Perhaps these are the people seen in the public libraries looking like ultra-Orthodox Jews and checking out CD's of movies and TV shows).

He claims 30% of children own treif phones and are going downhill and taking others down with them.  He says that even for business purposes it's not worthwhile to have these phones because the benefits of the phone cannot compensate for the damage it causes.

He sounds very serious and is raising the alarm about how our children are being ruined while many other frum Jews who are serious about chinuch are focused more on filters and safeguards like Web Chaver.  It's certainly something to think about.


  1. Unfortunately, the more that rabbonim try to eradicate modern conveniences, the more people go underground in their desire to have them. Many Satmar Chassidim own computers in their homes. It would be nice if we all lived in a world where we did not need these contraptions where the bad may well outweigh the good. Satmar Chassidim have communities that are self-contained but at the same time get lots of government help. They don't totally avoid the outside world. Money does come in from other sources. Business is done with people who are carrying treif phones and stores like B and H bring plenty of revenue to the frum community but they are not exactly selling Yiddishe seforim. Can we really shut out the world? Should we completely ignore the world? Can we exist without the world? At the same time, do our children get our complete attention when we are busy checking our whatsapp? Could the time spent checking emails be used to better serve our families or our communities? Then again, what about the emails that save us hours on the phone by letting the community know of an event, an appeal, or an opportunity for a mitzvah? Before emails, we spent numerous hours letting people know of a birth, engagement, or shiva. Now spreadsheets go out and people indicate what foods they will bring or help they will give. Can we stuff the community back into a bottle and sail the community off to a deserted island where only frum Jews live? Most kids get an eye-full by simply walking down the street or riding a bus or subway.
    There is an organization called Footsteps that has over 800 members, all of whom left Chereidi Judaism. This blocking them from knowing anything about the world was one of the reasons that so many left frumkeit. Are we losing more people by getting rid of smart phones than we are losing by keeping them?