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the technological innovations

Friday, 23 August, 2019 - 8:37 am

I hereby state that we have filtered internet in our home.

The charedi public in general has decided to disconnect from the new technology. Many do not have a computer at home, no email, no WhatsApp – and not even SMS on their phones. Sometimes it seems that they are afraid of all technological innovations.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe had a different approach to the issue.

In 1960 (5720), Rabbi Nachum Goldschmid began to broadcast classes on the Tanya on Kol Yisrael. That same year, Rabbi Yosel Weinberg began to broadcast classes on the Tanya on the American radio. In 1970 (5730) the Rebbe’s hitva’adut was broadcast live for the first time – worldwide, and a year later, in 1971, there were already advanced video cameras at 770 that filmed the Rebbe’s hitva’adut. From the beginning of the 1980’s, when in Israel there was still only one television station, the Rebbe’s hitva’aduyot during the week were being broadcast on cable TV in the United States.

On Shabbat parashat Ekev, 5748 (1988), the Rebbe brought a proof from the week’s parasha that one shouldn’t be afraid of the world and of what it has to offer. Moshe Rabbeinu tells in the parasha how after the Sin of the Golden Calf and the breaking of the Tablets, Hashem said to him: “Make for yourself two stone tablets like the first ones.” In other words, one should go forward with the building of a Mishkan (Tabernacle) for Hashem, with the new Tablets being the first sign of the decision to build it.

But, wait a minute – at the beginning of the book of Devarim, where the words “Di Zahav” are mentioned, Rashi says that those words hint to the fact that they sinned because of the gold. “He (Moshe) rebuked them about the Calf that they made because of all the gold they had, as it says, ‘I gave them much silver, and gold they used for the Ba’al’” and then the Rebbe asks: If they sinned because of the gold, why didn’t Moshe Rabbeinu forbid them the use of gold – forever?

But we see the exact opposite: In order to show them that they were forgiven for the Golden Calf they had made, they were told to use gold for the Temple. In other words, not only did Moshe not fear gold; he went even further and used it for holy purposes.

The Rebbe learns from this that “even when we encounter something that others use for the opposite of kedusha, there is no need to get excited about this, and it must be used for its true purpose, which is the honor of Hashem.” In a footnote, he continues: “And according to this, in relation to the development and revealing of gadgets that were discovered in recent generations, that in spite of the fact that they can be used for purposes that are the opposite of Torah, and as we indeed see that some do, Rachmana litzlan – in any case they should be used for holy purposes – the dissemination of Torah and Judaism and such like. And especially those who use them for trade, it is for things like that that these natural powers were created and that these aspects of wisdom were revealed.”

It is known that chassidim are wise, and a chasid knows when not to go overboard. With the clear knowledge that everything was created for Hashem’s honor, a person also has to set limits for himself before he goes into all types of media in order increase Hashem’s honor: to examine where, how much, and for what purpose.


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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