I have decided to take selections from the Union of Orthodox Rabbis regarding our children and Social Media the full article is available on the site listed. I will select some idea in an abstract of points that I feel are essential to mention. http://www.ou.org/jewish_action/08/2012/the-social-media-revolution-what-does-it-mean-for-our-children/
Midos Sodom: I don't usually get involved in mayor politics of any city. However, when the body count from Staten Island is not complete and elderly people may be trapped in their homes without light or heat it is not time to run a marathon starting in Staten Island and wasting generators on it. I would rather have these people run house to house mark them off that there are no people trapped inside or bodies. That is the right thing to do not to be closing off streets where you don't have enough food and fuel supplies and people in lower Manhattan picking out food from dumpsters on lines to feed their families. In addition he came out to make a ban on Bris Milah.
Parsha Chayei Sarah
Our Parsha starts with the death of Sarah and ends with the passing of Avraham. In the end Yishmael also does Teshuva. An underlying theme is the Shidduch of Yitzchak and how to go about it. Eliezer was told not to let Yitzchak leave Yisrael. The reason is that the complete reward for Mitzvos comes from doing the Mitzvah in Eretz Yisrael.
Eliezer then goes with 10 camels loaded with jewels, silver, gold, rare spices, precious things, expensive and exotic foods, etc. He then prays to HASHEM for help and sets sort of conditions and tests for the bride to be. 1) He will come to a well. (2) He will meet a maiden. (3) He will request water. (4) She will grant him water. (5) She will also offer to water his camels. (Sounds good? The Talmud says not so. What would have happened if she were a cripple, blind, deaf-mute, not from a good family or married?)
Eliezer finally arrives at his destination and waits by the well. Rivka comes to gather water. A miracle occurs and the water rises towards her. Then as Eliezer requested, the conditions are fulfilled. This shows that she had Chessed like Sarah and Avraham. Taking care of Eliezer and the dumb animals. Without asking whether she is married or not he gives her a nose ring. (When I first read this, I was very upset to think that my holy grandmother had a ring through her nose. Of course this was years before tongue, stomach and other piercing was heard of in western countries )
Rifka runs home and tells her father and brother about the man and the fact that he is a servant of Avraham. Eliezer finds out that G-D has helped him. The ALL MIGHTY G-D of Avraham was with him and Rivka is from the proper family with the proper Midos (humane qualities). Now the question comes about will Rivka marry Yitzchak? The Midrash states that Laban tried to poison Eliezer but accidentally poisons his father. Laban wanted to steal everything from Eliezer. Again G-D helps behind the scenes. Now Laban tries to delay the travel of Rivka. This time Rivka adds her two cents and says that she wants to be a part of the family of the Gadol HaDor (spiritual leader of the generation), Avraham.
They travel to the land of Canaan. She sees Yitzchak praying Mincha. She nearly falls of the camel from seeing the holy Shechina (Spirit) on Yitzchak. Yitzchak marries her and her hospitality takes the physical void left by the death of Sarah.
Avraham (remarries Hagar or) takes Ketura for a mistress. He sends her children away with gifts and they go off to the east (Brahmans?). He continues to be a guide to all until his death at the age of 175 years old. Yishmael in the meantime has repented from his earlier days of idol worship and he rejoins Yitzchak to bury Avraham. The Torah then tells of all the tribal offspring of Yishmael. (This section is only necessary for the fact that Esav in the future will repent after disturbing Rivka and Yitzchak with his Canaanite wives and marry a daughter of Yishmael.)
An aside note is that the Cherokee in their language called themselves “Awne Ketura” are they the Bnei Ketura or from the missing ten tribes or an intermarriage of both? Genetically they have a common father with the Jews.
23:1 And the life of Sarah was a hundred and seven and twenty years; these were the years of the life of Sarah.
Rashi notes that she was as pure as a seven year old when she was twenty and a pretty a twenty year old when she was one hundred. These were the years comes to tell us that all her years were good years (in her deeds but in reality it was only the last 37 years that she received goodness from ELOKIM with and through her son Yitzchak).
2 And Sarah died in Kiriatharba--the same is Hebron--in the land of Canaan; and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her. 3 And Abraham rose up from before his dead, and spoke unto the children of Heth, saying: 4 'I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a burying-place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.' 5 And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him: 6 'Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty prince among us; in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou may bury thy dead.' 7 And Abraham rose up, and bowed down to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.
A number of commentators are critical of Avraham that he made a Bris with Avimelech in last week’s Parsha and with the Children of Chet here (guttural CH). In both cases the land was promised to him and he should have not looked around at the physical power of the other people but trusted in HASHEM as David did opposite Goliad. Today three places of contention are Chevron which Avraham bought, Schem where Yacov made the agreement and Yerushalayim where David bought the Temple Mount.
… 16 And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the hearing of the children of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant. 17 So the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the border thereof round about, were made sure 18 unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city. 19 And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre--the same is Hebron--in the land of Canaan. 20 And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a burying-place by the children of Heth.
24:1 And Abraham was old, well stricken in age; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.
Rashi and the Medrash say that the use of the word “all” things indicates that he also had a daughter from Sarah. No mention outside of this vague reference is made to a daughter.
2 And Abraham said unto his servant, the elder of his house, that ruled over all that he had: 'Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh. 3 And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife for my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell. …
He swore on the holy Bris Mila. I already discussed the fact that Eliezer’s prayer was lacking for she could have been lame, partially blind or deaf, deformed, deranged, unfit for marriage or some other problem.
14 So let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say: Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say: Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also; let the same be she that Thou hast appointed for Thy servant, even for Isaac; and thereby shall I know that Thou hast shown kindness unto my master.' 15 And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder. 16 And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her; and she went down to the fountain, and filled her pitcher, and came up. 17 And the servant ran to meet her, and said: 'Give me to drink, I pray thee, a little water of thy pitcher.' 18 And she said: 'Drink, my lord'; and she hastened, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. 19 And when she had done giving him drink, she said: 'I will draw for thy camels also, until they have done drinking.' 20 And she hastened, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw, and drew for all his camels. 21 And the man looked steadfastly on her; holding his peace, to know whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous or not. 22 And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden ring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold; 23 and said: 'Whose daughter art thou? tell me, I pray thee. Is there room in thy father's house for us to lodge in?' 24 And she said unto him: 'I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom she bore unto Nahor.' 25 She said moreover unto him: 'We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in.' 26 And the man bowed his head, and prostrated himself before the LORD. 27 And he said: 'Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who hath not forsaken His mercy and His truth toward my master; as for me, the LORD hath led me in the way to the house of my master's brethren.' 28 And the damsel ran, and told her mother's house according to these words. 29 And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban; and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the fountain. 30 And it came to pass, when he saw the ring, and the bracelets upon his sister's hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying: 'Thus spoke the man unto me,' that he came unto the man; and, behold, he stood by the camels at the fountain. 31 And he said: 'Come in, thou blessed of the LORD; wherefore standest thou without? for I have cleared the house, and made room for the camels.' 32 And the man came into the house, and he ungirded the camels; and he gave straw and provender for the camels, and water to wash his feet and the feet of the men that were with him. 33 And there was set food before him to eat; but he said: 'I will not eat, until I have told mine errand.' And he said: 'Speak on.' 34 And he said: 'I am Abraham's servant.
Rabbi Yossi Jankovits Shlita brings down the story from the Gemara on Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair and his donkey who would not eat stolen food or untithed food even though animals can eat untithed food. So Avraham sent Eliezer off per Rabbi Yossi’s Drasha this week with muzzled camels so as not even to eat straw from the side of the roads which was permissible in order to education the world against stealing from other fields with your camels, donkeys, horses, cattle or sheep. Even the animals of Tzaddikim don’t sin. This we see that at night Eliezer would unmuzzle the camels and feed them from 32 above.
24:60 And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her: ‘Our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of ten thousands, and let thy seed possess the gate of those that hate them.’ 61 And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man. And the servant took Rebekah, and went his way. 62 And Isaac came from the way of Beer-lahai-roi; for he dwelt in the land of the South.
Coming from Beer Lachai Ro’i: where he had gone to bring Hagar to Abraham his father, that he should marry her (Gen. Rabbah 60:14). And he dwelt in the land of the south: Near that well, as it is said (above 20:1): “And Abraham traveled from there to the south land, and he dwelt between Kadesh and Shur,” and there the well was located, as it is said (above 16:14):“Behold it is between Kadesh and Bered.”
I personally dispute this idea. Hagar had to be at least 12 years old when she became pregnant with Yishmael who was born when Avraham was 86. Avraham was 140 when Yitzchak married Rivka. Which places her at the age of 66 minimum and if she was 20 or 30 when she became pregnant with Yishmael that would add on another 8 to 18 years. Now you might argue that Sarah was 90 when she gave birth. But there is a difference here as a special miracle with Rafael HaMalach occurred. For another miracle to happen again after Avraham has his heirs sounds a bit off to me.
63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide; and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, there were camels coming.
To pray: לָשׂוּחַ is an expression of prayer, as in (Ps. 102:1):“He pours out his prayer (שִׂיחוֹ).” - [Gen. Rabbah 60: 14, Ber. 26b]
Yitzchak was davening Mincha. We have an oral tradition on this. For according to Jewish tradition, Avraham arose and established the morning prayers. Yishmael and Yitzchak followed this custom and one can hear from every Mosque the call to prayer before sun rise and many Jews get up to pray the Amidah precisely at sunrise called “Neitz” in Hebrew. Yitzchak prayed Mincha as seen here and Yacov established the evening prayer and the prayer before going to sleep.
64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she alighted from the camel.
And she let herself down: She slipped off toward the earth, as the Targum כִינַת, “and she leaned.” She leaned towards the earth but did not reach the ground, as (above verse 14):“Please lower (הַטִּי) your pitcher,” [which the Targum renders:] אַרְכִינִי [tilt]. Similar to this, (II Sam. 22:10):“And He bent (וַיֵּט) the heavens,” [which the Targum renders:] וְאַרכִין, an expression of leaning towards the earth, and similarly (Ps. 37: 24):“Though he falls (יִפֹּל), he will not be cast down,” meaning that if he falls toward the earth, he will not reach the ground.
For more details listen to the Shuir of Rabbi Yossi mentioned above.
65 And she said unto the servant: ‘What man is this that walks in the field to meet us?’ And the servant said: ‘It is my master.’ And she took her veil, and covered herself. 66 And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done.
It was a gesture of modesty. For in front of a slave one can be more casual but in front of the public, she had to be more modest. She signaled to Yitzchak that she was going to cover her hair, face, arms and legs in public as was the custom in the middle-east for centuries. The Bnei Yisrael after the incident with Rachel and Leah no longer held that way so as not to be deceived by scoundrels. .
67 And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her. And Isaac was comforted for his mother.
I already mentioned this last spring about what love is about. Here is a completely strange woman of good stock and completely a strange man whom she is betrothed to. She is going to replace his mother as Matriarch and mistress of the house/tent. She is a wife and makes the tent into a home and does her wifely duties and with time comes the love and respect for each other. THERE IS NO SUCH ANIMAL AS SHE FELL IN LOVE WITH PRINCE CHARMING, THEY MARRIED AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER. Once we know this, then we can see how a lasting relationship is formed.
Nowadays, the Orthodox Jews allow the young men and women to meet and discuss if they are compatible. My daughter loves to talk as she is an extrovert. She met a fellow who could not shut up long enough to let my daughter get a word in edgewise. Finally she met her husband who is an introvert and he let her talk and he added to the conversation. They liked each other, grew up and was educated in the same city were religious observant compatible and never touched each other into the wedding night. By acting thusly, they were more intellectually and background compatible before the romance happened. Of course there was the initial infatuation with him being tall and she being cute but that was not the main binding thing that has kept the relationship going.
25:1 And Abraham took another wife, and her name was Keturah.
Contrary to Rashi, this woman appears to be somebody else and the Sages concur with him as a man is not whole without a wife and the word rooted in Yosef or add another wife. The Ramban that Ketura is a concubine as was Hagar but she is a local Canaanite woman – or possibly from the east based on the fact that the sons are sent off to the east.
2 And she bore him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. 3 And Jokshan begot Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim. 4 And the sons of Midian: Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah. 5 And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. 6 But unto the sons of the concubines, that Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts; and he sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.
Yishmael went to Arabia and the other sons were given gifts including the gift of astrological and astronomical matters and sent off into the east. My engineering mentor in ELTA was from Burma and he won the sport Toto with his method and donated every cent to build the Indian Jewish Synagogue in Ashdod either in Rova Aleph or Dalet. He told me that he believed that they became the Brahmans of India. A- Brahm would be the root of their name. All my Indian Jewish friends have told me that the Brahman people eat within a certain circle and prepare their own food and during the woman’s period say away from her. This would indicate to me some rudimentary kashrus and taharos HaMishpacha that they observe. There are other things in their pious rituals and there garments that I wish not to go into details now but this explains a lot about their possible roots.
7 And these are the days of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived, a hundred threescore and fifteen years. 8 And Abraham expired, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people. 9 And Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre; 10 the field which Abraham purchased of the children of Heth; there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife. 11 And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed Isaac his son; and Isaac dwelt by Beer-lahai-roi.
I assume that when Avraham showed signs of deteriorating health and dying that Yitzchak sent messengers to Yishmael to come to see their dying father and participate in his last days. The Torah goes on to explain the generations of Yishmael only because this is need to describe one of the wives that Esav married as described in Parsha Toldos.
Stories or Aggadah from the Talmud Shabbos 30B to 31A
Sometimes our Sages brought down Stories from the Talmud to teach us attributes. Hillel HaNasi also known as Hillel the Elder was known for his humility and Patience here is a story about him. Due to the length, I will be skipping the Halacha from the Rambam.
Daf 30 B (Rabban Gamliel was the grandson of Hillel and he also learned patience something which Rabbi Yochanan in Gemara Tanis was not so patient with his student)
'Matters of learning'-what is that? — As R. Gamliel sat and lectured, Woman is destined to bear every day, for it is said, the woman conceived and beareth simultaneously. But a certain disciple scoffed at him, quoting, 'there is no new thing under the sun.' Come, and I will show you its equal in this world, be replied. He went forth and showed him a fowl. On another occasion R. Gamliel sat and lectured, Trees are destined to yield fruit every day, for it is said, and it shall bring forth boughs and bear fruit: just as the boughs [exist] every day, so shall there be fruit every day. But a certain disciple scoffed at him, saying, but it is written, 'there is no new thing under the sun!' Come, and I will show you its equal in this world, replied he. He went forth and showed him the caper bush. On another occasion R. Gamliel sat and expounded, Palestine is destined to bring forth cakes and wool robes, for it is said, There shall be an handful of corn in the land. But a certain disciple scoffed at him, quoting, 'there is no new thing under the sun!' 'Come, and I will show you their equal in this world,' replied he. He went forth and showed him morels and truffles; and for silk robes [he showed him] the bark of a young palm-shoot.
Our Rabbis taught: A man should always be gentle like Hillel, and not impatient like Shammai. It once happened that two men
made a wager with each other, saying, He who goes and makes Hillel angry shall receive four hundred zuz. Said one, 'I will go and incense him.' That day was the Sabbath eve, and Hillel was washing his head. He went, passed by the door of his house, and called out, 'Is Hillel here, is Hillel here?' Thereupon he robed and went out to him, saying, 'My son, what do you require?' 'I have a question to ask,' said he. 'Ask, my son,' he prompted. Thereupon he asked: 'Why are the heads of the Babylonians round? 'My son, you have asked a great question,' replied he: 'because they have no skillful midwives.' He departed, tarried a while, returned, and called out, 'Is Hillel here; is Hillel here?' He robed and went out to him, saying, 'My son, what do you require?' 'I have a question to ask,' said he. 'Ask, my son,' he prompted. Thereupon he asked: 'Why are the eyes of the Palmyreans bleared?' 'My son, you have asked a great question, replied he: 'because they live in sandy places.' He departed, tarried a while, returned, and called out, 'Is Hillel here; is Hillel here?' He robed and went out to him, saying, 'My son, what do you require?' 'I have a question to ask,' said he. 'Ask, my son,' he prompted. He asked, 'Why are the feet of the Africans [negroes] wide?' 'My son, you have asked a great question,' said he; 'because they live in watery marshes. 'I have many questions to ask,' said he, 'but fear that you may become angry.' Thereupon he robed, sat before him and said, 'Ask all the questions you have to ask,' 'Are you the Hillel who is called the nasi of Israel?' 'Yes,' he replied. 'If that is you,' he retorted, may there not be many like you in Israel. 'Why, my son?' queried he. 'Because I have lost four hundred zuz through you,' complained he. 'Be careful of your moods,' he answered. 'Hillel is worth it that you should lose four hundred zuz and yet another four hundred zuz through him, yet Hillel shall not lose his temper.'
Our Rabbis taught: A certain heathen once came before Shammai and asked him, 'How many Toroth have you?' 'Two,' he replied: 'the Written Torah and the Oral Torah.' 'I believe you with respect to the Written, but not with respect to the Oral Torah; make me a proselyte on condition that you teach me the Written Torah [only]. [But] he scolded and repulsed him in anger. When he went before Hillel, he accepted him as a proselyte. On the first day, he taught him, Alef, beth, gimmel, daleth; the following day he reversed [them] to him. 'But yesterday you did not teach them to me thus,' he protested. 'Must you then not rely upon me?Then rely upon me with respect to the Oral [Torah] too.'
On another occasion it happened that a certain heathen came before Shammai and said to him, 'Make me a proselyte, on condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot.' Thereupon he repulsed him with the builder's cubit which was in his hand. When he went before Hillel, he said to him, 'What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah, while the rest is the commentary thereof; go and learn it.'
On another occasion it happened that a certain heathen was passing behind a Beth Hamidrash, when he heard the voice of a teacher reciting, And these are the garments which they shall make; a breastplate, and an ephod. Said he, 'For whom are these?' 'For the High Priest,' he was told. Then said that heathen to himself, 'I will go and become a proselyte, that I may be appointed a High Priest.' So he went before Shammai and said to him, 'Make me a proselyte on condition that you appoint me a High Priest.' But he repulsed him with the builder's cubit which was in his hand. He then went before Hillel, who made him a proselyte. Said he to him, 'Can any man be made a king but he who knows the arts of government? Do you go and study the arts of government!' He went and read. When he came to, and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death, he asked him, 'To whom does this verse apply?' 'Even to David King, of Israel,' was the answer. Thereupon that proselyte reasoned within himself a fortiori: if Israel, who are called sons of the Omnipresent, and who in His love for them He designated them, Israel is my son, my firstborn, yet it is written of them, 'and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death': how much more so a mere proselyte, who comes with his staff and wallet! Then he went before Shammai and said to him. 'Am I then eligible to be a High Priest; is it not written in the Torah, 'and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death?' He went before Hillel and said to him, 'O gentle Hillel; blessings rest on thy head for bringing me under the wings of the Shechinah!' Sometime later the three met in one place; said they, Shammai's impatience sought to drive us from the world, but Hillel's gentleness brought us under the wings of the Shechinah
Various Thoughts on Social Media
The world of social media represents a similar challenge, but on a far greater scale. While the printing press allowed anyone with financial means to spread his ideas, it was still limited to the upper echelons of society. Those who were not well financed or did not have sponsorship could not afford to print their works. There were still gatekeepers to the spread of ideas, even though the gates had been opened some. With the rise of social media, the gates have been breached. Anyone with a computer or smartphone and “followers” or “friends” on a social network can easily spread his ideas— both good and bad, worthwhile and vapid—to an audience of thousands. This is especially frightening for parents trying to navigate the digital world their children inhabit
… Facebook—the social media platform of choice for most adolescents, with 80 percent of teens on Facebook according to a recent estimate from the Pew Research Center.On Facebook one accumulates “friends” with whom he shares status updates containing text, links, pictures or videos. These appear on the user’s “wall” or timeline. One can limit status updates to select people and not all friends. An individual can post text, photos or links to his friend’s wall or timeline, with or without prior approval from his friend. One can also set up a Facebook group to communicate with people who are not necessarily his or her friend on Facebook, create an event and an organization, business or famous personality can set up a Facebook page to communicate with fans who “like” the page.
Twitter—the second most common social media platform, Twitter is much less popular than Facebook among teens but has doubled its teen users in the last three years to 16 percent of teens (“Teens, kindness and cruelty on social network sites”). Twitter users send public messages, called “tweets,” using 140 characters or fewer. Users can mark their accounts as private for only select people to see, but most tweets are public so that anyone can find them. On Twitter a person accumulates “followers” who subscribe to his tweets. Tweets can then be “re-tweeted” or shared by followers, so one never really knows where his tweets may end up.
Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov Klein: In Pirkei Avos (2:1), Rebbi offers sage advice which, although seemingly obvious and the mantra of any businessman, bears reiteration: “Hevei mechasheiv hefseid mitzvah keneged secharah, When determining the merit of any act, calculate the gains versus the losses.” Many areas of life are cloaked in gray, beneath which both the risks and benefits are concealed. Therefore, to avoid harm’s way, one needs to make an honest assessment.
When embarking upon an honest deliberation, consider the aspects of social media that impact its users. Consider the enormous time wastage, for instance. Recent statistics indicate that fully 80 percent of online teens use social media,1 with 22 percent of North American adolescents accessing their favorite social media sites at least ten times daily.2 Teenagers have on average about 265 “friends”3 with whom they connect regularly. I wonder if an average youth needs that much social exposure and if he or she can handle it.
Twitter, with over 465 million accounts worldwide and nearly a half million new accounts added daily,4 has almost 340 million uncontrolled messages, “tweets,” being sent each day.5 That’s an awful lot of “cognitive perspective” if you ask me.
What about the images uploaded and available through social media? There are 250 million photographs posted every day through Facebook alone.6 In today’s permissive society, it is tantamount to self-inflicted blindness for parents to imagine that all of what is enticingly available through social media is suitable for young eyes—or older eyes for that matter. Are we ready to jeopardize our modesty, the hallmark of Am Yisrael?
There’s more. A recent survey conducted at Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse revealed a link between teen use of social media and substance abuse. It was shown that teens who use social media sites are five times more likely to use tobacco, three times more likely to use alcohol and twice as likely to use marijuana than those who do not use social media. 7
If that’s not enough, consider another social ill that emerged from social media: cyber bullying. With the ability to hide behind the veil of anonymity, youngsters and adults alike post the most brazen, cruel and hurtful comments about others. The defamation, the insults and the pain that are disseminated in blogs have caused untold psychological emotional damage in targeted victims.
Indeed the issue of anonymity has opened the doors to a rash of attacks against that which is most sacred in our heritage: kavod haTorah, the reverence for Torah leaders that is a cornerstone of our credo. The destructiveness promoted by these cowardly and anonymous attacks threatens to produce a generation of severely jaded Jews for whom Torah leadership is a non-entity.
For me, as pressing as this calculation is, so is it a simple one. It ends with the clear conclusion: “yatza secharo b’hefseido,” the losses far outweigh any possible benefits.
To this generation, popularly referred to as digital natives, “the smartphone, the Internet, and everything technological are not ‘tools’ at all; they simply are. Just as we don’t think about the existence of air, they don’t question the existence of technology and media. They expect technology to be there, and they expect it to do whatever they want it to do.” 2 This seismic shift presents a host of challenges and opportunities for educators and parents.
When a five-year-old can seamlessly navigate through an endless array of iPad apps, we may feel inadequately equipped to guide him. What exactly can we teach these little tech ninjas? …
Kids often gravely underestimate the toll that their digital conduct can take on their reputations. A simple review of the day’s news will demonstrate how difficult it is for adults to master the art of reputation management. Imagine how much more difficult it is for adolescents! We need to impress upon our children that “the digital decisions they make today will stay with them, and the rest of cyberspace, forever.”3 We need to impress upon our children that just as their reputations can suffer when they share a vulgar picture, it can be enhanced when they post a picture or comment that reflects their intelligence and interests. The point that has to be driven home is that social media are tools. They can be used for both positive and negative, and the user has the power to determine what type of impact they are going to create.
Technology offers powerful tools, which we use with pride to help reach our students. Could we reach students without technology? Of course, but there is no doubt that technology adds sophistication and breadth to our lessons and speed and convenience to our communications. And since we feel we must educate our students “ba’asher hu sham,” where they are at, we feel we must understand the technology and social media to understand our students.
Some of our students use social media; a sizeable number do not. We do not promote it, but with our awareness comes the responsibility to help our students understand the power of these forms of communication. We surely understand the potentially negative impact that technology, and specifically social networking, can have on our children and we have taken steps to try to address this. A few years ago Head of School Mrs. Helen Spirn, along with Rabbi Yisroel Kaminetsky, menahel of DRS Yeshiva High School for Boys in Woodmere, New York, very wisely instituted an Internet safety awareness program for freshmen and their parents. The program features speakers including Philip Rosenthal, a known computer and Internet safety expert, and law enforcement officers who teach students to use the Internet and social media sites responsibly. At the same time, the program informs parents of their daughters’ online involvement and the dangers therein.
To put my perspective into perspective, however, a few particulars must be shared. First, I use the Internet regularly and I am something of an information junkie. In fact, I’ll admit that while sitting at the recent Internet Asifa, my curiosity got the best of me and I felt compelled to Google just how many seats there are in Citi Field and Arthur Ashe Stadium. But before you think I’ve turned to the dark side, I would like to point out that I personally heard the venerated Lakewood Mashgiach Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon say that the Internet is not the enemy—the Yetzer HaRa is. Like any other innovation to which we have been introduced throughout our history, we need to find ways to adapt the Internet to our needs, to be used in manners consistent with our Torah lives, rather than diving in headfirst under the guise of progress and adaptation to modern times. That said, anybody waiting for this fad to pass is going to be waiting a long time. Whatever way we try to maintain some healthy boundaries, this technology will inexorably become part of almost everyone’s life. The question will ultimately be one of extent and degree of dependency.
Virtually all issues that arise through Internet use increase exponentially when it comes to social media. Certain aspects surrounding the use of social media distinguish them from other forms of communication and raise concerns beyond that which is relevant to general Internet use. There are long lists of pros and cons for their use, which anyone can research. I, however, would like to focus on a few issues specifically pertinent to Torah Jews. Personally, the potential effects of social media have been sufficient to keep me away from “booking my face” and associating my communications with the production of avian vocalizations (tweeting, for the obtuse).
Firstly, as I’m sure many of the contributors to this symposium have pointed out, the amount of squandered time spent on social media sites is staggering. While it may be very convenient to be able to be in contact with almost anyone all of the time, it behooves us to consider how much of this contact is truly important, or even relevant. After all, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey himself thought the title perfect because it reflected “a short burst of inconsequential information.” Is this something to which we should aspire?
The very nature of Internet-based instantaneous worldwide distribution of information gives almost anyone with two index fingers an authoritative viewpoint. It is considered fashionable to have one’s own blog, regardless of the drivel contained therein. It is reminiscent of the old joke that everyone is an expert in the areas of religion, education and politics since they were raised in some faith, they went to school and they have the ability to vote. No less a personage than Rabbi Yisroel Salanter is reputed to have stated, “Not everything one thinks should be said. Not everything one says should be written down. Not everything written down should be published.” Our instantaneous publication ability has all but made this point moot in our cyber world. Suddenly, we can all be experts, we can all be publishers. While the world of academia produces its own share of refuse, at least peer review culls some of the ridiculous being mistaken for the sublime.
My concerns are the same as they would be with any other kind of social interaction; you want your children to be around people who would add value to their lives and not potentially be a negative influence.
This leads to an issue which is actually a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the anonymity that social media communication affords allows anyone to express his or her ideas about anything without repercussions. While in theory this seems like a virtuous proposal, the reality is that boundaries that exist in face-to-face communication come tumbling down and characters are assassinated without ever seeing it coming. There is clear evidence that this factor has also lured many fine people into entering inappropriate relationships. Certain things would never be said or written if people recognized one another. The anonymity of the Internet has often led to the blurring of propriety and, to be frank, decency. The results have been disastrous. I personally know of marriages that have imploded and families ripped apart because individuals have not recognized appropriate boundaries.
Finally, I personally am concerned that social media and even e-mail have greatly affected how we communicate and interact. How many real, live, uniquely human interactions have been abandoned in favor of connecting technologically? I have no doubt that there has been a significant decline in people’s ability to interact with one another in the real world. Everyone just seems so distracted. Who would have ever thought people could walk absentmindedly into mall fountains? Can it really be that Fort Lee, New Jersey actually had to enact a law against texting while walking to ensure successful navigation? Are we that far gone? Apparently. Perhaps the best last word on this issue can be expressed in the words of the most famous psychedelic advocate of the 60s Timothy Leary. During his final decade, he proclaimed that the “personal computer is the LSD of the 1990s”—“turn on, boot up, jack in” reworked his original mantra of “turn on, tune in, drop out” to suggest joining the cyberdelic counterculture. Cyberdelic indeed.
I am pretty certain that I was asked to write this article because I am an educator, fortunate to work with young men and oversee their development. Every concern I mentioned above applies to them. Every one also applies to adults. True, adolescents are notorious for making impulsive and just plain bad decisions. However, the examples we set make a huge difference. Once, when two totally exasperated parents were sitting in my office decrying their son’s inappropriate viewing habits, the father tipped his hand when he exclaimed in frustration, “What business does he have watching these things at his age?” I simply replied, “Do you follow a different Shulchan Aruch than he does?”
Chazal tell us “Al ta’amin b’atzmecha ad yom moscha, Don’t be certain about yourself until the day of your death.” Nobody has any assurances that he is immune and impervious to negative influences. We have a holy mission to raise a generation that will live their lives consistent with Torah values, and it behooves us to do the same for ourselves. I don’t have all the answers or know exactly where to draw the line. We are just beginning to see the effects, and it is clear that they have the potential to be devastating. We need to decide if it’s worth the risks.
Rabbi Moshe Benovitz - Some twenty years ago, the most popular guy in the post-high school Israel yeshivah I attended was the fellow whose father faxed him box scores from the New York Times every other Tuesday. True, there was one fanatical football follower who would occasionally spend an hour or two listening to his brother’s live play-by-play over the old pay phone late on Sunday nights. But for most of us, Sunday’s game results would be partially reported sometime Monday afternoon.… Today’s Israel experience is not quite the same. This has had some drastic implications for the learning and growth experiences of students spending a post-high school year learning. The combination of a seven-second broadcast delay on network television and a Blackberry or iPhone in every hand half a globe away makes it no exaggeration to say that a home run in Pittsburgh can be cheered in Jerusalem before being watched in Manhattan.
Of course real-time sports results are not the extent of the new reality we are seeing. They are simply an indication of an ever-shrinking world where questions of connectivity and identity are being answered anew every day. On the simplest level, the new challenges relate to our students’ capacity to pay attention. Our modern-day yeshivah and seminary environments do not come close to providing a captive audience. Alternative sources of stimulation—intellectual or otherwise—are rarely more than an arm’s length away. Even during those precious moments (Shabbat?) where there is no direct competition from a tweet, ping or other vibration, teachers find that most students’ tech habits have seriously compromised their ability to focus, analyze and immerse themselves in traditional learning.
Just as we limit children watching TV and the bed time of younger children we must limit the hours for social media and check up on the children like a hawk for bad influence and cyber-bullying.
Shuli mentioned this about Iphones and children and the game apps in this article the danger is not the technology but what is happening to the children it is no longer a game with three other children and dice but a solo narcissist game which is dangerous: http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/115253/iphones-are-bad-for-you?utm_source=tabletmagazinelist&utm_campaign=d775817fc3-10_31_2012&utm_medium=email
Years ago after the Nazi Era, the French Christians made peace with the Jews so what religious group is this?: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/161740#.UJf04YYpHGA
Arabs burn the Cedars of Lebanon to remove all traces of Melech Shlomo’s Beis HaMikdash: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/161686#.UJaDqIYpHGA
Israel is having some earth shaking events lately: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4300728,00.html
Orthodox Rabbi slammed my non-Jewish politician for his stand on homosexuality: http://www.nydailynews.com/pataki-slams-rabbi-rousing-sex-marriage-article-1.1196553
The crazies who visited Iran issued a statement while the main Charedim voted differently: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4301831,00.html
The Jewish vote: http://www.jpost.com/USPresidentialrace/Article.aspx?id=290966
A bad marriage, a week community and the conversion went up in smoke a true story: http://rabbichaimcoffman.blogspot.co.il/2012/11/convert-controversy.html
Well in Emek Yizrael the skeletons have come out into the open: http://www.jpost.com/Sci-Tech/Article.aspx?id=291031
Personal Thoughts after the US Elections an Editorial
HASHEM IS IN CHARGE. ON THE PERSONAL LEVEL EVEN MORE DISAPPOINTED THAN THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE WAS THE LOSS OF A FIRM SUPPORTER OF AM YISRAEL WHO WOULD DO SO THROUGH FIRE OR WATER: My biggest disappointment despite the gerrymandering against him by the FL Republicans I thought that he could win. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/allen-west-election-results-patrick-murphy_n_2083846.html Politicians are not clean and it could be that the race is not over: http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=d5bfnocab&v=0016rCg-GFQumivuekrCVCrSna3WAlzCQFa9Ff-Xh3_PSIXoht4uPi4IHi8YLQjviMK7BPjqB7fX9leW-oXyzixWJ83nswWXyO727vEkwVHPiU%3D The Halacha is clear and that is one can pray for the well-being of the president and vice president of the United States and that they be kind to Yisrael. We also can say a prayer for the well-being of the U.S. Armed Forces. Nachum Ish Gam Zu used to say Gam zu Le Tova (all from HASHEM is for the best).
Now the United States must move onwards or as the president says forward. As far as the Israeli Election goes, I expect more of the same. The population is wary of the Labor Party for their abuse of power in the early years of the State. People are not happy with the man they call Pinocchio and Mr. Lapid is the same third party which with the exception of Eric Sharon never got into power but with this exception used well-seasoned politicians.
I hope that I will be proved wrong about my worries about Barak Obama for in this case I would be very happy to say I erred than to cry and say that I was right. So far my leaving stocks and going into various bonds seems to have been a correct idea despite the gains over the last year. The oil rich gulf States are also wary today: http://debka.com/article/22501/Barack-Obama-wins-reelection-Mid-East-faces-nuclear-Iran-Brotherhood-grip
New poll shows the Likud losing votes to the religious parties since they combined with Liebermann: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=290237
After months of quiet: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/161647
Somebody is lying through his teeth: http://www.debka.com/article/22487/Israel-the-Iranian-drone-took-no-photos-Tehran-Yes-it-did
By the time you receive this the election will be over but: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/11/02/claims-increasing-switched-votes-in-ohio/
After Nov. 7th Syria may be on the Agenda along with Iran? http://www.debka.com/article/22495/London-Paris-Jerusalem-line-up-for-post-US-vote-action-on-Syria-Iran-
Not so quiet on the Israeli Northern Front http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4300606,00.html
Grand Central Gaza a bomb planters dream: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/161646#.UJW27YYpHGA
Computer real War simulation: http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Article.aspx?id=290357
US elections are over so this is purely now the interest of Israel http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4301368,00.html
This is what is happening in Syria: http://www.debka.com/article/22499/Israeli-warplanes-fly-over-Golan-as-Hizballah-fighters-pour-into-Syria
The Rebels in Syria getting bolder and bolder: http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=290568
Stray bullets cross into Israel and perhaps accidently on purpose hit our jeep: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=290597
A lone sheep among 70 wolves: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/161749#.UJhwDYYopN8
Ha-Ha Yitzchak Rabin was further right wing than Bibi is today: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4300840,00.html
Nu Bibi nu Barak when are we going to get off of our behinds and do something? http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Article.aspx?id=290647
Silently we will lose our rights http://www.wnd.com/2012/11/u-n-plotting-takeover-of-internet/
A good man made good investments in human resources but got a bad return: http://www.jpost.com/USPresidentialrace/Article.aspx?id=290972
Puerto Rico to become the 51st State which would make officially the US into a dual language country: http://www.aol.com/video/puerto-rico-votes-to-become-51st-state/517532274/?ncid=wsc-video-cards-headline
American Israelis feel strong: http://frontpagemag.com/2012/davidhornik/israel-and-u-s-on-a-collision-course/?utm_source=FrontPage+Magazine&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=b31709c22d-Mailchimp_FrontPageMag
The soldiers on the Gaza Border are more and more put in harm’s way as the wicked there works on new ways to murder. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4303128,00.html
We may have to take a small action along the border but probably do nothing Barak will do nothing: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/161863#.UJxseoYopN8
Now for Mathis Wolfberg’s Good Shabbos Story “Honor your wife.”
The Chazon Ish, Rav Avraham Yeshayah Karelitz (1878-1953) of blessed memory, had gone so far as to refer to Rav Dessler as the gadol hador in kochos hanefesh, the generation's leader in the area of self restraint. Now, an hour before Shabbos, the apartment was nearly empty.
One of Rav Dessler's primary talmidim-students was setting the Shabbos table. As the tablecloth, cutlery, challos, Kiddush cup and Shabbos candles were set on the table, Rav Dessler whispered to his talmid-student, "Put back that Kiddush Cup and take out the other one that is on the shelf."
The talmid was surprised. It seemed like such a mundane matter. What difference did it make what kiddish cup would be used. The talmid knew that this was not the time to ask his rebbi to explain. Nevertheless, he remained curious. He knew that there was a reason for anything his rebbi did. He was the quintessential exacting person and halachic Jew, and he had a rationale for every action. After the shabbos meal the talmid asked the question.
Rav Dessler told the following story. Years later Dayan Ehrentreu heard it from the talmid.
Some history is in order. At the bequest of Rav David Dryan, the shochet in Gateshead, England, Rav Dessler had initially come to that city in Northern England to found the famous kollel, which he led from 1941 until 1948.
When the Ponevezher Rav, Rav Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman (1886-1969) met Rav Dessler on one of his fundraising trips to England, he was so impressed that in 1946, when the Mashgiach (Principal) of the Ponevezh yeshiva, Rav Abba Grosbard, passed away, he offered the position to Rav Dessler.
At that time Rav Dessler felt that his many responsibilities in England did not permit him to leave, but shortly after Pesach in 1949, the Desslers indeed settled in Bnei Brak, and he assumed the position as Mashgiach of the yeshiva.
For all the years the Desslers had been married, since the spring of 1920, Rav Dessler always made Kiddush on a kiddish cup that he and his wife had received as a wedding gift from Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky (1863-1940), who had received the kiddish cup as a wedding present from Rav Yisrael (Lipkin) Salanter (1809-1883), Rav Chaim Ozer's first wife's grandfather.
On their first Shabbos in Bnei Brak, Rav Dessler used a different kiddish cup. Noticing that he had not used the familiar family kiddish cup, the rebbetzin asked him about it. Rav Dessler explained that because they now lived in Bnei Brak whose spiritual guide was the Chazon Ish, it was proper to follow his halachic opinions. According to him, a Kiddush kiddish cup had to be larger than the one they had used until now. Rav Dessler therefore wanted to use the larger kiddish cup.
The rebbetzin respectfully disagreed. She maintained that if their kiddish cup had been used by such gedolei hador (Torah giants of a generation) as Rav Yisrael Salanter and Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky, then it should be good enough for them, as well. Rav Dessler acquiesced, and from then on until she passed away, he used the family kiddish cup he had used in England. Only now, after her passing, did Rav Dessler begin to abide by the ruling of the Chazon Ish, so as not to act disrespectfully to his wife. (from, Rav Paysach Krohn, p. 152 Reflections Of The Maggid)
We read about such a concept in this week's Torah portion, which describes at length the preparations that Avrohom Avinu took to find a suitable burial plot for his wife Sorah who unfortunately had predeceased him. It has been taught that "The actions of the Patriarchs is an example to their descendants." This means to say that we can study the ways of the Avos - Patriarchs to learn the proper behavior in life. Thus we learn from Avrohom Avinu how important it is to honor one's wife.
When describing the extent to which a man must honor his wife, the Sages tell us, "one must honor his wife more than he honors his own body." (Yevamos 62b) This means to say that a Jewish husband is obligated to do whatever he can to honor his wife, even if it causes his physical discomfort! For example, if it is cold outside and a wife asks her husband to bring something in from outside, even if it could wait until the next morning, a man is obligated to honor his wife and bring in the object at that time, instead of waiting until day time when it would be warmer.
By remembering the story of Rav Dessler and by learning from the example of Arohom Avinu, we will all merit to live happier, more fulfilled and peaceful lives. Good Shabbos Everyone. . M. Wolfberg is sponsored by: In memory of R' Yaakov ben Naftoly, of blessed memory Refuah Shleima to Reb Mordechai Menachem Mendel ben Tziporah Yitta Refuah Shleima to Tsviah bas Bracha Leah
A blessed and healthy Shabbos to all,