Monday, January 12, 2004

Karma Sutra Acher

A rabbi I once knew once said. “Our last great battle was with technology, and technology won.”

It is certainly true that try as they might the tzaddikate is having a serious problem with their issur on the computer. It simply does not seem to be working out. Not that I disagree that there are certain problems associated with the computer that were easier to manage before the PC had a pride of place in every home.

When I was a young bochur anybody who wanted to see some ‘chazzerishe bilder’ had to go down to the local newsagent. The less brave ones would buy something, preferably from far away enough that the shopkeeper had to leave his place to go and get it, and quickly take a peek at what was under the newspapers.
As far as entertainment goes the system left much to be desired. The glazed-eyed literary Don Juan almost invariably found himself, at the end of a very short adventure, the proud owner of something he did not want and very possibly could not afford.

The braver hearts would actually buy the book. Then the real problems would begin. Where to read it was the first. Where to put it next was the next. But the worst was the risk of getting caught with it. You must understand that the majority, who were good boys and did not indulge their raging, hormone driven curiosity would gladly take out all their frustrations on the hapless moron who did and got caught.

The upshot of it was that there was a very small minority of boys in our yeshiva who had actually seen any real porn by the time they left yeshiva. The Internet has put paid to all that. With every computer today potentially making the Kama Sutra look like a Ladybird book and Kazaa making available the most bestial of stuff to anyone with a mouse, it is no wonder that many of our young men are becoming familiar with perversions we didn’t dare to fantasize existed.

Pandora’s box cannot be resealed. The computer is here to stay and if we want to save our children from sinking into depravity we will have to make changes. Not to the computer, that’s the cop out that has been tried and failed, but to our own attitudes and behaviour. Instead of banning the computer we have to learn to embrace it while banning what is wrong with it. Instead of saying all videos are traif we have to learn to say it is ossur to watch traife videos. The gdarim (voluntary limits) should be on the people not the tools. And maybe then we will also be able to stop having to explain to our kids how comes, if computers are so traif, all the Rabbis have them.

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