Q. Recently the Jerusalem-based “Edah Charedit” rabbinical court issued a ban on the use of the Internet by Jews, even for commercial purposes. How can so many other rabbis allow and actively encourage the use of the Net?
A. All over the world there are rabbis and rabbinical institutions that use the Internet and email to spread Torah knowledge and to try to emulate God Himself, of whom Isaiah says, yagdil Torah v’ya’adir – “He magnifies the Torah and makes it glorious” (42:5).
The problem that the Edah Charedit may see in the Internet is that, like television and other media, it can be used to portray or even promote the three cardinal sins – murder, adultery and idolatry. It is true that undiscriminating use of these media can and may turn the mind from Torah to sin, and they can become an obsession so that time that could be better employed is diverted into inappropriate thoughts and activities. But this is surely an argument for care, common sense and responsibility, not for banning.
An indication that the Edah Charedit point of view is not the only one is a communication sent out this week by the Lubavitch movement in New York to its representatives worldwide. It begins, “Is the Internet and its almost limitless potential working for you? Are you utilising this amazing medium to promote new programs and reach new people? Are you employing the vast resources that the Internet has to offer in making your shlichut (work for the movement) more successful?”