Feb 15, 2009

The Internet Gmach

LaDaat.net is reporting on a new gmach. An "Internet Gmach".

"Internet Gmach" makes me think of someone installing a wireless router, and leaving it unsecured, thus enabling other people within range to piggyback off his internet access for free.

"Internet Gmach" in the haredi world means something else. It means you are not allowed to use the internet, but you really need to - to pay bills, buy things for cheaper, look up information, whatever.

"Internet Gmach" therefore means that they will have somebody surfing the internet for you.

You submit your requests for what you need on the internet, even anonymously (obviously, otherwise your kids will never get a decent shidduch, or will not get into the top yeshivas), someone will surf the net for you, take care of what you need taken care of, and send you your information to either a fax number or a kosher email address (whatever that is).

The goal of this gmach is to minimize unkosher surfing. "They" have found that people sometimes need internet access, but don't have their own computer and internet access, as they are not supposed to, so they go to their friend, to surf just for a few minutes (like when you double park to run into the store "just for a minute". Needless to say, the minute becomes hours very quickly.

The gmach's goal is to lessen the number of people surfing the internet - because now they can get their needs taken care of by proxy - and being exposed to unkosher web sites.

I wonder how much they pay for the person with the job surfing the internet.. I would like that job. I also wonder if there are restrictions what you can request they search for. That would be fun playing with them like that....

And how do they find the guy who will be surfing the internet for the gmach? Is he the yeshiva dropout - let him use the internet since he is messed up anyway? Or do they only choose tzadikkim - but they would prefer to spend their time learning?

(thanks to Jameel for sending me the link)


  1. I've always wondered who are the guys who get to vet and approve websites for the like of Rimon and Moreshet?

  2. From my perspective, which is subjective, this illustrates the mechanism of Doublethink that tends to manifest when societal rules go contrary to reality.

    But maybe I'm being hypocritical. Scratch that... I AM being hypocritical. I don't watch TV or read the newspapers because of the negative effect they have on the mind in general, and my mind in particular. But I do use the Internet. A lot of my work revolves around the Internet. Many of my consulting jobs have come through the Internet.

    I've learned a lot of Torah because of Internet, especially in the early days of the WWW. But now, I question the real value it gives... mainly because, as you write, it's so easy to get caught up in nonsense.

    Lately, I've realized that I'm reading things (like Haaretz and Lisa Goldman) that otherwise I'd avoid.

    Look at the situation with the Israeli model who's on the cover of Sports Illustrated. This made the news all over the place, including "religious" websites. How many guys went looking for that picture? I feel sorry for this beautiful young Jewish woman, allowing herself to be portrayed in such a bad way. But she does exemplify the Tel Aviv, Herzilya, Ramat Aviv Gimmel anti-Torah amoral culture that goes out of its way to pervert every decent thing. And this amoral culture also helps our most violent enemies. They've been strengthened by the Internet.

    I don't have an answer to the problem, which I see as our age-old struggle with the Yetzer Hara. Probably R'Salanter has something to say about this.

    It makes me want to disconnect. But how, then would I have the kind of valuable interaction I'm able to have by keeping up with this blog?

  3. I forgot to click the email update box.

  4. Bob,

    You really think Bar Rafaeli thinks she's degrading the Torah? I highly doubt she can even name the first parsha of Bresheit. Look at this incredible gap between us. I think if I asked my mother who Avraham, Yitzhak, and Yaakov were she'd look lost, but she'd be able to name who Larry Moe & Curley are and even Huey Duey and Luey. Cut the hating out and just try to understand each other. Chilonim Don't want to be religious because they see the religious world as incapable of being able to coexist with the modern world and they see their leaders stealing our money in the knesset. Once the religious world makes strives to come closer and be a part of society, you'll see the gap shrink. Religious people have more of a responsibility to get close to their "kidnapped" brothers than vise versa. By putting more and more barriers up we're see thousands just go to the wasteside - look at the intermarriage rate in America. Until Chabad did outreach NO ONE Else did or cared. The Sfardim do a much better job at this than the Ashkenazim.

    As far as who started the "gmach". FOLLOW the papertrail. See who is actually profiting off this business. Something tells me there's going to be a lot of kickbacks and someone's going to buying brand spanking new barsolinos!

  5. M b D

    If I came across as hating, I did a poor job of expressing my perplexed state of mind.

    I don't fit easily in either group... the Chiloni think I'm too orthodox, the Orthodox think I'm too Chiloni. But I made Aliyah, and am determined to remain here and deal with what's happening in the best way possible, always listening and learning. Always hoping to live long enough to see the Korban Pesach on Har HaBayit.

    It's unlikely the young Israeli model even cares whether or not she does something against the Torah, which is of course what the Shabbatian-Frankist culture that produced her intends. Shabbatian-Frankist culture loves to pervert and distort everything.

    It's good to hear you say that observant Jews need to do more to reach out to non-observant (or marginally-observant) Jews.

    The Judaism of the Galut can't possibly be the Judaism that will actually bring the Geula. If it were, it would've been accomplished long ago.

    The Shabbati Zvi movement did a lot to confuse us, probably more than the Haskala. Then Jacob Frank came along, and all hell broke loose, as was his intent.

    If you haven't read Rabbi Antelman's two-volume "To Eliminate the Opiate" I urge you to get it. I have a PDF of the first volume if you want it.

    We need a QUALITATIVE shift, not a QUANTITATIVE one. Rabbi Steinsaltz said something like this a few years ago, but I don't recall his exact quote.

    I think this qualitative shift is taking place with people like Rafi, yourself, and many others. Jews like you guys haven't walked the earth in any significant numbers since the days of Bar Kokhba.

    I'm listening to a mix of Matisyahu, Burning Spear, and The Gladiators now. Matisyahu's "Dispatch the Troops" just came on. A lot of wisdom in his songs.

    From my admittedly limited understanding of Torah, you guys are actually bringing into reality the kind of culture that the past 1,874 years of galut has preserved via the mechanism of the Shemona Esrei, and our "religious" festivals and events. (I start counting the galut from 135 c.e. when the Romans crushed Bar Kokhba and changed the name from Judea to Syria-Palestina.)

    Thanks for your comments.

    Kol tuv

  6. Bob,

    The big problem is the heredi institutions became like the Catholic church. They opress creativity and free thought. Fire bombing stores that sell the Mp4 players - can it get any worse?
    I believe they still put Rav Steinsaltz into herem. oh well!

  7. Who exactly are these people fooling?

  8. Ya so that was MY question--which kinda guy is the one surfing? Dropout or tzaddik, exactly. Fascinating.

  9. Bob - that was way over my head, but I think it sounded like a compliment, so thanks if it was!

  10. Bob:

    "But she does exemplify the Tel Aviv, Herzilya, Ramat Aviv Gimmel anti-Torah amoral culture that goes out of its way to pervert every decent thing."

    MBD basically said what i wanted to say to you. it's not an "anti-Torah" culture but rather an aTorah culture. and i'm not sure what you mean with your reference to sabbatianism and frankism. those 2 antinomian movements were specific reactions to mainstream rabbinic judaism. modern hiloni culture does not at all see datiyyim as their reference point.

    i recently flew continental to israel. it bothered me to see all the hilonim eating non-kosher food when they could have easily eaten kosher food. but do i think any of them actually thought about it and purposefully decided to eat treif?

  11. Lion of Zion:

    I think I understand what you're saying. Your dichotomy (against Torah - without Torah) is useful.

    Presumably those who are against Torah know something about it and have consciously chosen to be against it.

    Those who are without Torah know nothing and thus aren't consciously choosing to do what they do.

    So it becomes a matter of who's responsible for their actions.

    I'm certain there's been a lot of discussion about this in Gemara, although I barely know anything more than Pirkei Avot; and what I know of it isn't much, especially compared to most of you guys.

    I'd like to hear about this matter of responsibility from those of you who've really studied Halacha.

    Still, it seems to me that the result is the same, no matter the label.

    These two people have had a tremendous impact in history. Not just Jewish history.

    Gershom Scholem's books provide all the details. Rabbi Antelman makes sense of those details.

    Shabbatian-Frankists have been around for a very long time, but not out in the open. America was really the place where they started building their culture.

    Formal groups are quite active today. There's a large following around a particular individual and they have a strong Internet presence.

    On a certain level, they're interesting. They're pretty well read in Islamic and Hindu metaphysics, as well as some of the more esoteric Kabbalistic systems.

    The parts of Torah they focus on completely ignores important elements such as the Sanhedrin, Korban Pesach, Temple Service, Davidic Monarchy, and sovereignty of Jewish Law over specific geographical areas that are today essentially off-limits to us.

    Interestingly, those areas were designated specifically for us by the nations that became the United Nations. This was the Mandate for Palestine.

    While I'm personally motivated by what the Torah says, I know that most of the world will never be motivated by Torah. So, it seems important to shift the discussion to International Law (IL).

    By IL, the Jewish People are the sole owners of the land from the Jordan to the Mediterranean.

    Eli Hertz has documented all this http://www.mythsandfacts.com/index.asp

    Howard Grief, Paul Eidelberg, and Louis Rene Beres have provided a remarkable set of political science, history, and legal citations.

    All the arguments are in our favor. Now we have to find a way to get the Yeshiva bokers to learn those arguments and start making use of them.

    I believe this is what's happening today, and that those who participate in this and other similar groups are bringing a genuine Renaissance of Torah culture. But this time it's in the land designated for us by Hashem. Is it a coincidence that International Law has been an instrument for bringing Hashem's Will into existence?

  12. What does their knowledge, or lack, of Torah have to do with the conscious decisions.
    They do not know Torah, but they are still consciously deciding how to live their lives. Their decisions are not anti-torah (not necessarily at least), but they still considered all the options they are aware of.

    If you live a life of Torah you are also not considering every possibility - just the ones you are awar eof.

    So I agree that Bar Rafaeli, or anyone else, is doing what they do not to go against the Torah, but just because that is the way they live their lives with the Torah in it.
    But I don't think that means their decisions are not conscious decisions.

  13. Rafi

    I'm trying to understand this from the perspective of law. I know only a very little of Halacha, but quite a bit more about U.S. and International Law. However, don't take that as a statement that I'm an expert. I'm just an over-educated pedestrian.

    The same action done by a child or by an adult will be judged in completely different ways.

    A child isn't held to the same standard as an adult, usually because a child isn't considered to be conscious of their actions while an adult is considered to be conscious of their actions.

    A person who isn't conscious that they're violating Torah law is like a child. One who is conscious and violates Torah law anyhow is like an adult.

    The often-cited "ignorance of the law is no excuse" isn't completely true. It can be a defense in many cases, even when it's a person who's considered an adult.

    Most of the time it's only dictatorships or petty minded bureaucrats that say "ignorance is no excuse".

    So if Torah holds the ignorant as well as the educated equally responsible, I'm interested in knowing more about how this is substantiated.

  14. I would not say they are equal. There is the concept of "tinok she'nishba" - a person who had no knowledge of torah and therefore no idea that what they are doing is wrong. They do get certain leeways and allowances because of it. I dont know that they get a free pass, but they do get certain leeway.

    But I don't know if that is the same as saying they are not consciously choosing to do what the do. They are choosing their actions, they just are not aware of all the ramifications.

    Maybe there is no difference.

  15. Would a Din Torah really hold someone who was no doubt a Jew by Halacha (Jewish Mother) but had never had ANY Torah education to the same level of responsibility as a person who had a comprehensive education in Torah?

  16. M b D

    You comment about Haredi institutions being like the Catholic Church is very interesting.

  17. There are many variables on the question of culpability according to halakha.

    Typically, one who does something consciously but in ignorance of the law is considered shogeg, which recognises that he's not a deliberate wrongdoer, yet he is considered at fault for not knowing the rule.

    Having said that, that doesn't refer to someone who has never been exposed to Torah, who could be considered as a tinok shenishba as Rafi says. Exactly who is (un)lucky enough to get this exemption is the subject of many poskim and thinkers in the last few decades.

    And then there's all the other in betweens. The halakhic aspects of this discussion needs a beis medrash, and some guidance through all the sources with a real talmid chochom.

    Regarding the comparision to Catholicism, I suggest you read or reread Dostoevski's Grand Inquisitor (from Brothers Karamazov) for some thought provoking material.

  18. Speaking of CHaredim and catholocism,

    I was told about a Bes Din no less than when asked about returning a dog to its owner said that there is no chiyuv since anyone who own's a dog is not 'amcha'.....

    and so it goes.

    but of course the minor crime of child molestatation leaves ones in perfect communal standing.

  19. once we are on the topic, I always wondered if "tinok she'nishba" is like a "get out of jail free" card.
    Will such a person not be punished for anything he/she does, because of the status of tinok she'nishba? or will they get punished, just less than someone who knows better?

  20. Bring it on! Once people get to pay their bills online they won't need to go to the post office!
    The line there is ridiculous, always way out of the door, and guaranteed 20 minute wait.
    Oh, hold on, wouldn't that require credit cards?? Which for some reason haredim refuse to own. Maybe someone will start a credit card gemach...

  21. they are better off with no credit cards. credit cards are bad for your health.

  22. As someone who came from the non-observant world and crossed over, I can tell you that Torah is not even anywhere in the back of mind for these individuals. Yes, every individual does have a conscious and believe me it worked when I was going on my vegas yuppie getaways. However, you can't really compare Bar Rafaeli who knows nothing about the Torah and cares not to know anything of the torah when you see the Heredim on the media (Shas and UTJ) making a mockery of it? What is worse... This Jewish woman who knows nothing prancing around in a bikini OR some black hatter in Monsey selling traife meat as kosher OR some religious teacher molesting a child.

    I for one would much rather be friends with Bar Rafaeli and this crazy liberal Israeli society that is trying to good with the little knowledge they know THAN people acting like they speak the word of G-d and manipulate his teachings.

  23. It's probably ladies who run the gemach.
    Less of a problem with tzenius.

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.


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