I’ve been following press coverage of the Asifa, Sunday night’s anti internet gathering at New York’s Citifield stadium. While the newspapers pointed out a profusion of black and white and noted the length of lines to the men’s room as opposed to those for the ladies room there was a begrudging admiration beneath the cynicism.
All the papers noted the crowd’s civility and the Tablet reporter confessed to feeling moved as he watched all 40,000 attendees recite the Shema prayer in unison.
.But that is only a fraction of the story.
While many gigabytes have been used up analyzing internet scourges among them instant access to gambling and porn, cyberstalking and ever shortening attention spans –the Haredim tally in as only group to collectively seek solutions.
Unlike the Amish, with whom we share a fashion sensibility ,Haredim aren’t Luddites. We accept the gift of technology even as we realize the it needs to be contained. Most of the Asifa’s speakers didn’t propose an outright ban but rather limits, use of filters, cyberbuddies and other ideas to minimize time spent online.
While many of the webs most lurid features are illegal , the internet is an extraterritorial lawless zone. Lawmakers wring their hands at the possibility of regulation,but our Rabbis insist that the web beast can be tamed. They and their supporters are lonely David’s battling the cyberGoliath armed with a slingshot of good will and prayers.
But they have G-d on their side. Anyone whose ever read the Pentateuch knows that Hashem hates anything that smacks of immorality. As the light onto the nations the Jewish faithful must fight behaviors that violate theTorah.
The Citified Asifa was a start. The Haredim will prove that it is possible not only to survive but to thrive in American 2012 without being ensnared in the web. From press coverage, I can’t help but suspect that many non Haredim, even non Jews are rooting for the Haredim to show the way. END