Reb Michel Twerski On The Dangers Of The Internet & Social Media Sites

internet[This past Shabbos, R’ Michel Twerski Shlita- Milwaukee (Horinstipol) Rebbe, spoke about the issues of the use/overuse of the Internet and technology, especially social websites that are tragically destroying families in Klal Yisroel. The article below was sent to the members and friends of  Congregation Beth Jehudah -R’ Michel & R’ Benzion Twerski’s Shul. (Publicizing this article has bee authorized).

Dear Chevra,

Last week’s Dvar Torah after the Shabbos morning davening generated a good deal of discussion, and some misunderstandings. The following will hopefully clear up some of those misunderstandings, and provide concrete suggestions on the implementation of a workable policy.

The development of technology, specifically the irrefutable harm of Internet use and abuse have led to serious family and community concerns not even on the radar screen of our previous generation. The rise in easy access of our families, especially our children, to the Internet has led to an exponential increase in precious time spent addicted to social media such as Facebook and YouTube, video games, and truly horrific violent and pornographic images as well as a greater opportunity for our children to be targeted by predators that lurk online. 

Our community has continually been an inspiration in its aspirations toward greater Avodas Hashem and Torah observance; we have never shirked our responsibility in providing our children with a safe environment in which they can develop toward a promising future.  

With that knowledge, we are certain you will embrace the following safety guidelines, already in place in many other Torah communities:

1. All computers in the home including laptops must have filters such as k9 or net nanny, etc. installed and activated to block out pornography and social network sites. Computers brought home from work must be placed somewhere inaccessible to children and should have password protection at startup. Obviously children should not have the password to disable the filters.

2. We would urge that as little time as possible should be spent on the internet for recreational purposes (this pertains to both adults and children); the internet should be accessed only in an open area of the home (not in a private room with the door closed) where spouses and parents can monitor use. Filters should not be relied upon as foolproof gatekeepers; filters have been known to be overridden and hacked through, particularly by our very intelligent and savvy younger generation;

 3. With the surge in WiFi technology, be sure any WiFi Internet connections available from home computers are password protected. The prevailing Rabbinic perspective is the adult woman of the home (i.e. mothers and wives) should have exclusive control of the password protection such that husbands and children do NOT know the password to gain access to the Internet or to add/remove filter controls.
4. Any handheld devices that our children have access to, such as. cellphones, PSP games, Ipods or other devices that can potentially access the internet must have the Internet disabled, or at the very least, the device must be password protected at startup.

5. Children should not be given access to adult family members’ social media or networking accounts, such as Skype, Facebook, Twitter etc., nor should children have their own accounts on these or any other social media/networking sites.

6. Similarly, Email accounts for children are strongly discouraged and should only be allowed if parents have access to the accounts and are monitoring their children while they are emailing.

These  represent just starting points for protecting our families from the insidious effects of internet abuse that can easily ensnare innocent young people into self-destructive behaviors, causing unimaginable grief and heartache to themselves and their parents. 

We recommend you review this letter with your children so that they have a clear understanding of the seriousness of the issue and the potential consequences involved.

Due to the grave danger involved, we cannot afford to be dismissive of any of the concerns detailed above. 

With prayers for success in protecting the neshomos Hashem has placed in our trust,

Rabbi Michel Twerski                     Rabbi Benzion Twerski

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  1. R Michel Twerski Shlita has been called upon from all over the world for family counseling. The biggest problem today is the internet and social networking websites such as Facebook that are destroying families and poisoning teenagers.

  2. not true , people are the source of their own ill’s those who have problems will always find a way to point a finger at what causes them they should just look in the mirror

  3. R Michel has been called upon from all over the world for family counseling. The biggest problem today is the internet and social networking websites such as Facebook that are destroying families and poisoning teenagers.

    If a down to earth out-of town Rav/Rabbi as Rabbi Twerski who is professional educated and counseling children, husband, wives for these problems – many from the larger Frum Jewish communities is stating this is problem and offering possible helpful solutions – maybe you should consider them as he is first most a Gadol BaTorah a major Talmid Chochom. He is not an extremist and he is stating that these are a MUST for his kehilla.

    As a matter of fact he first stated that he has never spoken before like this to his community but if someone does not like what he was about to say they can move !!!!!!

    Lifnei iver Lo sitan michshal. There is a reason why there are laws that are derabanan in order not to transgress the Deorayso laws.

    The same here. The person who is dealing with all these problems is suggesting that you consider these ideas and implement them.

    According to you there should never be any melochos derrabonon. But the rabbonim obviously disagreed with your thinking. People are weak in every generation. And new desires arise in every generation. What used to be idol worship, today is social websites. It kills the essence of family unity and Jewish perspective of life.

    This week look at the ad Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen put in the paper and discussed with his Kehilla.

  4. My life was ruined by this. I feel our community is too soft when dealing with this. This is grave danger. You have to SCREAM!! Not recommend! You say if you don’t have a filter on your computer you can’t daven in this shul! You can’t come to this school! Etc. Just like having a television at home just to watch the weather channel isn’t acceptable in most frum communities not having a filter on your computer which is MUCH worse should be not tolerated. I just don’t understand why people don’t feel that way! When was the last time a rov got up and “recommended” not to have a television at home? Its the most mind boggling thing to me.

  5. if someone knows he or she shouldn’t do something, why not just DONT DO IT?
    i know i shouldnt do drugs… so i dont.
    i dont need a police man next to me 24/7 to tell me not too…

    what happened to self control?

  6. %5 – u never heard of a yetzer horo ? People know what they should not do but have a yetzer horo for it & they can’t always control it.

  7. It’s like that saying, “guns don’t kil people, people kill people”. If a person has it in them to “destroy” their family then it will happen no matter what is put in front of them. It is not Facebook, it is the person who has no self control.

  8. In response to numbers five and six. There are categories of temptation that Chazal did not leave in our hands. Ein Apitropes Larayus insists that we are not allowed to trust our sel control when it comes to these temptations. This is why the laws of Yichus are so stringent. It is not an insulting stance, just a realistic position.

  9. We have many halachos regarding issur yichud, for a good reason. Why didnt Chazal just say, control yourself? That reasoning itself is the yetzer hara talking.

    Ohr HaChaim writes that once in a situation of nisayon involving arayos, its very difficult to control one’s yetzer hara, our MAIN avoda is to avoid the nisayon in the first place.

    Anyone made out of flesh recognizes the truth of this.

  10. no torah based haskafas hacaim=no seichel re:internet. Filters don’t work well with savvy teens. I know one that can get around anything on the market.

  11. An ounce of prevention is worth tons of cure. Would you keep drugs around the house if you are sure that you and your whole family have “self control”? People lose their self control sometimes – a lost job, despair, heartbreak, curiosity… and by then it would be too late. In the beautiful insular world of this community, where a husband knows only his wife B”H, leading to often much stronger and lasting marriages, such “slips” could have devestating effects on a whole family. You even see big presidents and attorney generals getting in trouble – who can be so sure of himself that he never will mess up? For those who are so confident of themselves “Al taamin b’atzmecha ad yom moscha” Don’t test your willpower – put in a filter and accountability and never think of it again – ie. get the drugs out of the house.

  12. i dont get why people think the internet is such a bad thing…yes people can get sucked into to it cuz of Facebook or Twitter or even video games…dont get me wrong i would be the 1st to admit i was stuck on the comp for 8 plus hrs but it would be at a time were i had off from work the next day or if no1 was around or i was up late at night board…and yes there are dangers with ur I.D. it is A LOT easier to steal some1 I.D. online then going into some1 trash and geting info like that…some 8 year old kids now a days can hack into a person comp from just outside your house or around the world but thats why there is a company called LifeLock (which i highly recommend) that can protect you I.D. but still i think the internet is great and and it can be like a drug at sometime but if i had to pick between goin out to dinner/hang with friends vs the comp…i deff pic my friends…its not that hard to have a lil self control with something this dumb

  13. The world is on the Internet. The world of music, art, history, literature. To prohibit children from this exposure is sad. It takes the work of the parents to control what’s being viewed, but If you are raising them properly and set their values it is not difficult. The Rabbi’s suggestions are common sense rules for every family. Isn’t the Scoop a social network? Is the Scoop evil? Let’s take responsibility for ourselves.

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