To the ladies of "Nshei"
As a community member and a professional who receives a fair share of phone calls from families in crises, I want to bring your attention to a safety issue- not a physical threat, but one that relates to our emotional and spiritual safety. I don't want to use the word "epidemic" and to sound alarms, but the danger is definitely present and its incidence has risen in all communities. This concern must be on everyone's "radar" as no family is inherently protected from it. I am deliberately writing to the women of the community- the "Akeres HaBayis" - those that ensure that the atmosphere in the home promotes spiritual growth and not chas ve'sholom- the opposite. The test of this generation is that, for whatever reason, HaShem has dramatically "turned up the volume" by increasing the availability and seductiveness of our environment. One can no longer simply rely on an individual's character and education. Indeed, given the severity of the temptation, one should never assume "my child or spouse would never do that". Yosef was known as Yosef "HaTzaddik" because he was able to resist Potiphera. Can we trust that we are all on that level?! Why do we allow access to websites that contain images and materials that are tempting and perilous? (You don't need an advanced degree in psychology to know that the slippery slope is especially dangerous when no one is home and financial or other pressures mount. And which home doesn't have pressures?) I would like to present one question to "drive the point home" and please excuse its graphic nature. Would anyone tolerate the following scenario: Your son / husband is alone at home. On a regular basis, seductive women persistently knock on the door and coax them to sin. Would you blindly trust that nothing will ever happen? Wouldn't you do everything in your power to remove the threat? Open access to the internet at home or on a phone, in some ways, presents an even greater danger. There is just the person and the
computer…no one else to invol
ve and no one else will know. When Moshe Rabbeinu asks for forgiveness for the Chet HaEgel, he asks HaShem, "How can you blame the Jews for succumbing to temptation?...You gave them a purse of money and placed them in front of a brothel?" Of all metaphors that depict man's helplessness when confronted with a test, Moshe Rabbeinu chooses this particular one- In other words, when such temptation is "in one's face" it is asking too much to expect people to continuously resist. It is not a stretch to say that the brothels have invaded our homes and, this time, they are free. The Talmud tells us that "greatest of rabbis" (Gedolei HaRabonim) would tell their students not to trust their (the great rabbis') willpower and asked these students to help shield them from Yichud with women. The Talmud states emphatically that the reason this was recorded in our teachings is in order to teach us not to be embarrassed about broaching the subject and dealing with it. We need to admit our shortcomings and take necessary action. It is the way HaShem made us and we have to take care of this vulnerability. This is why we have rules regarding Yichud. Our Rabbis knew that we cannot rely on willpower alone. Although not everyone will fall prey, the only way to protect those vulnerable, is by insisting that everyone follows the rules. It was not too long ago that people would avoid talking to their children about safety from predators who can take advantage of them at school, camp, or in a playground. It was uncomfortable to have this discussion and, besides, we thought it was so very rare. But parents' attitudes changed very quickly as incidents came to light. Now, B'H, I believe most parents do have discussions with their children regarding these dangers. These discussions will not eradicate the problem, but we would be absolutely negligent if we didn't try whatever we could do to reduce the risk.
Let’s take a lesson and gain control sooner than later.
We can no longer avoid taking action to restrict internet access because discussion is uncomfortable and the incidence is rare. Horrible destructive episodes have impacted on every community.
We cannot afford to be negligent…we must do everything we
can to reduce this risk. "Internet Safety" is being discussed in the most secular of environments as it is obvious to everyone the danger it presents. For a frum and Chassidishe home, in particular, we would never allow certain periodicals in our home. Even if nothing happens- their very presence is obscene. Somehow, the internet has crept up on all of us too quickly and we have not taken care of the command "Your camp must be clean and holy".