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The Ichud HaKehillos LeTohar HaMachane anti-Internet rally is coming up in a few weeks, on May 20, 2012. What do contemporary halakhic authorities say about the permissibility or prohibition of using the Internet? Obviously it seems like some forbid and some permit. What are the different reasons for and against prohibiting it?

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    Ironic considering the location of this question. – Shmuel Brin Apr 29 '12 at 20:30
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    for example, this quote is on the internet – Shmuel Brin Apr 29 '12 at 20:35
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    When I click on the link provided in the original question, I get a Google page full of links. Can you specifiy one particular link, please? Your question is still not clear to me. Why, EXACTLY, would the internet be forbidden? Please be specific. – Shemmy Apr 29 '12 at 21:04
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    @ShmuelBrin - If things like Internet and TV are forbidden except for people who aren't religious yet, then why isn't it considered lifnei iver for websites such as chabad.com or aish.com to exist? – Adam Mosheh Apr 30 '12 at 4:41
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    this question is not productive it just makes an interesting chat topic – simchastorah May 1 '12 at 4:39
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To the best of my understanding, based on discussions with my Rav, no one says the internet is Assur. The Rabbonim feel that unchecked internet has been and continues to lead to moral decay. The gathering is to discuss how to limit its use only for necessary needs, in a way that is permitted.

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    If you can provide more information about where your understanding of this position comes from, it would increase the value of your answer. – Isaac Moses Apr 30 '12 at 16:55
  • Opening one's mailbox or answering the telephone can also lead to moral decay if one is not careful. – Adam Mosheh Apr 30 '12 at 20:27
  • Virtually everything can lead to moral decay. These days, even going outside in an urban area can lead to moral decay. The point here is that just like when we conduct our lives in the outside world, we take certain precautions when it comes to morality (e.g. sh'miras einayim, yichud), the same is true when it comes to the cyber-world. The parallels are essentially the same. But no one will tell you that you cannot connect to the internet at all, and if they do, they will likely also tell you that it is assur to go out into the city. – jake Apr 30 '12 at 21:17
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    @AdamMosheh, This is not the place to talk about Shir Hashirim, but just pointing out that "p'shuto shel mikra" does not mean literalism, rather it means the primary contextual intention of the text. There is no doubt to anyone that the primary intention of Shir Hashirim is not a carnal tale. I'm not defending Artscroll though. I'm not sure if I were producing an English Tanach that I would translate an entire sefer non-literally and then advertise it as a translation. – jake May 1 '12 at 6:28
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    @AdamMosheh, My point exactly. – jake May 1 '12 at 16:21
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(For the sake of simplicity I will only address HTTP browsing and not all the different uses of the IP protocol.)

  1. The underlying Halachic reasoning for possible forbidding the use of the Internet is simple: if we know that most (or a large part) of the Internet users end up undermining their Yiddishkeit we would declare that the Internet is a danger and one is forbidden from using it. As the Gemmorah calls it " וכל היכא דקביע היזיקא לא סמכינן אניסא" (Kid. 29)

  2. This is based on the obligation to keep away from potential [spiritual and physical] dangers - ונשמרתם מאד לנפשתיכם (Deut 4,15).

  3. One would wonder why the Rabbis don't forbid driving cars as thousand die and many more are wounded every year in car accidents. The answer is that we hold that spiritual degradation is far worse than physical death (Bem"R 21:4):

"רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן אוֹמֵר מִנַּיִן שֶׁהַמַּחְטִיא אֶת הָאָדָם יוֹתֵר מִן הַהוֹרְגוֹ, שֶׁהַהוֹרֵג הוֹרֵג בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה, וְיֵשׁ לוֹ חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא, וְהַמַּחְטִיא הוֹרְגוֹ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וּבָעוֹלָם הַבָּא."

  1. It should be clear that (unfortunately) the only negative aspect of the Internet that's taken into consideration is pornography, overlooking many others, such as general scientific knowledge (that invalidates many common religious beliefs), the culture of pleasure and entertainment, other religions (incl atheism) and more.

  2. Another legitimate question is regarding the above, why NY is not forbidden to live in? The answer is that the abundance and the availability of the information make it so dangerous.

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  1. It should be noted that as the Rabbis (I mean Gdoylim) themselves don't have any Internet experience, their judgment is based exclusively on what they are told by their immediate surrounding. And it is common that they are manipulated in this way.

  2. The current (end of 2018) situation in Israel is that most Haredi households where the husbands are Avrechim (study Torah all day) don't have a broadband Internet connection (which can cost up to $50 monthly, which is a steep price for many). Of those who do have Internet (90% for women's work), most use a removable Kosher-line cellular modem that is connected only for the time of the work so the kids won't have a chance to experience the Internet.

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