Are bloggers good for the orthodox Jewish community?

I was wondering for sometime what cause Matzav.com would take on in order to compete with Yeshiva World News and Vos Iz Neias. First they tried to go the frum route, they tried to debate whether or not to post inflammatory mail and whether or not to allow comments. They soon realized that the only way to compete is to go on the attack in the name of frum Judaism.

When blogs first started appearing in the frum community people got scared and then they started pointing blame at the bloggers, than all was quiet and once again a website declaring that they are holier than thou has decided to take on the bloggers. Let’s talk about the conspiracy of this in the first place, the best way to garner linkbacks from valuable sites is to write about them and they are great con artists because Matzav will not link to these sites, yet the sites will linkback to them. Matzav, despite claiming to be the site supported by gedolim once again proves that the only way to get ahead in the ruthless internet world is to spew hatred and negativity.

A couple weeks back they had a piece by Rabbi Gavriel Rivlin (pseudonym I hear) titled Harry Maryles have you no shame and in the piece they attack Harry Maryles, Zev Brenner, Vos Iz Neias and what seems like the entire non-gadol kissing online world. Continuing this trend of attacks against websites that matzav doesn’t share views with, Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz has written another scathing really long drawn out piece which should have been 2 paragraphs long.

It’s time to take a stand by Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz (read the entire article)

Tarring The Frum Community With One Brush

A similar campaign to disparage frum Yidden in the religious Jewish media has been underway for some time. Cloaked deceptively in a religious veneer, using Yiddish names and faces, the relentless disparaging of the Torah community by anonymous bloggers, and certain publications, is diluting the power of Torah and halacha among religious Jewry in our society.

I like how you say it’s all about anonymous bloggers and certain publications, yet fail to mention these publications, what gives?

Many of the individuals who habitually undermine our community’s values using purported “news reporting” are emboldened by the built-in anonymity of the internet. They prey on the public’s weakest tendencies. These people, if identified, would draw scorn for their outrageous character assaults and gossip-mongering. They would be pitied for how far they have drifted.

I’m not anonymous, but just because it makes it more fun I’ll pretend you’re attacking me, ok?

Yet, these people, by virtue of their access to the public through a so-called “religious” blog, have the ability to promote their agenda.

I swear I’m only trying to meet girls.

The high cost of publishing once restricted people from foisting their misguided agendas upon an unsuspecting public through the printed word. Slick, colorful publications that would entice a broad range of readers are simply very costly. The internet, though, is free. Anyone can post their views on the internet and have the public read them at no charge.

Hence the reason you yourself have a voice, seems that you found the very venue for your words, yet you are disparaging those who disagree with you.

Thus, the purveyors of daily doses of scandal and morbidity are able to draw in a wide circle of unsuspecting readers. A person surfing the internet for interesting tidbits and “hock“, satiates his appetite for shallow entertainment without much effort.

Trust me, it’s a lot of effort to read through the hock and remain religious, yet thousands of people do it, think about the mesiras nefesh that religious people who are exposed to all the shit out there have in order to still be frume yidden.

Taking Aim at the Frum Community

Unaware of how they are being manipulated, these surfers easily fall prey to a dangerous and cynical mischaracterization of the frum community. They once rightfully viewed frum people as an upstanding group with a few rotten apples. They knew that you can’t impugn the character of an entire community because of the actions of a few.

I am willing to bet that the author has had disparaging things to say about goyim and liberals based on a few rotten apples as well.

But after being exposed to a steady barrage of gossip, depicting one religious person after another as a lawbreaker, one’s attitude naturally becomes poisoned. Malicious speculation regarding the motives of rabbis and other community leaders, as well as entire groups, casting them as hypocritical or irresponsible, compounds the outrage.

On these blogs, religious leaders are consistently vilified. They can do no good. Regardless of what they do, their actions are twisted and portrayed as evil. When that fails, their motives are questioned and they are portrayed as corrupt, willing tools of strongmen.

It’s good to always question!

The people who write, post and comment on the insidious blogs are upset about the way frum Yidden help each other. They are disturbed by the growth of the frum community. It drives them crazy that yeshivos are burgeoning and so many people are learning in kollel. They can’t stand to see so many of us black-hatters. They are jealous of our successes. They can’t stand that we only drink cholov Yisroel and are meticulous in our observance of mitzvos. They look to find fault with us as a way to pump up their own self-esteem.

I am greatly disturbed by anyone who drinks cholov yisroel milk, they should issue you folks collars that don’t allow you to live near schools for fear that you force children to drink that dreck.

So, instead of improving themselves and raising their own standards, they tar all frum people with one brush, dismissing an entire group as schemers, crooks and molesters, people lacking mentchlichkeit and decency.

As you did with the “liberal” media in the first portion of your article.

A Form of Addiction

Each day, unsuspecting surfers are fed gossip packaged as “news reports” – story after story about how someone wearing a black hat or a shaitel turns out to be a conniving crook. Those who seek to protect the kedushah of their followers are called control freaks. Tzedakos that raise and dispense millions of dollars to the poor are lampooned. People who take principled stands are mocked. The only ones spared are those who contribute nothing to the betterment of Am Yisroel.

Unwary people digest the propaganda without analyzing what they are reading. They perceive themselves as doing nothing more than shopping for news, but, in truth, they are choosing to give an ear to the worst form of gossip, and end up passing on the slander in shul. The worst part is that they may not even realize to what level they have sunk and therefore see no reason to change.

How else could reasonably intelligent, well-meaning people immerse themselves in this vileness?

Who said they were well meaning and intelligent, this is the internet man.

Their minds seem to be on automatic pilot. They sleepwalk through item after item of half-baked, childish vitriol without realizing what they are reading and the destructive effect it has on their thinking.

Half baked was a good movie.

It’s time to expose this pernicious trend for what it is and how it is slowly destroying the outlook and hashkafos of many well-intentioned, good-hearted frum Jews.

It’s time to take off the blinders and identify the practice of mindlessly surfing for gossip in the guise of “news” as a form of addiction.

Is searching for gossip better than porn? Serious halachic question folks.Although I would argue that good gossip is way harder to find so it may be considered bittul torah and since porn is easy to find it won’t take away as much time from learning.

Getting Real

The most effective way of reversing the corrosive effects of this practice is to give oneself a healthy dose of reality in real time. Take a trip to Lakewood one day. Walk through the town. See the people and how they live. Go into a bais medrash and sit down. Hear the symphony of Torah as it is studied by thousands. Listen to the rise and fall of voices probing the texts whose ancient truths are as relevant today as they were centuries ago.

Is this true?

Look into the eyes of yungeleit around the country and see the meaning of happiness. Listen to a Torah discourse and hear a depth of perception of Torah that survived the worst nemeses of the Jewish people.

Stand outside the largest yeshiva in the country at the beginning of seder and observe hundreds upon hundreds heading towards their respective botei medrash, ke’ish echad beleiv echad, to accept the Torah anew and to plumb its depths.

Think of how your grandparents would have felt had they beheld such a sight and had they been able to take comfort in knowing that the Torah they loved would one day flourish again.

Try to imagine what the millions who were swept away in the terrible destruction would say if they could stand alongside you and absorb the scene. If only they could see the world of Torah rebuilt, sanctifying and nurturing Klal Yisroel, who would be able to count their tears of joy?

Our response to those who seek to destroy our way of life must be to reaffirm our sacred values, to learn more Torah, and to learn with more hasmadah and fervency. Our response must be to be kind and considerate to our neighbors, Jew and gentile, and to make a kiddush Hashem by who we are and how we live.

See, something good is coming out of blogging already. I would love to see this happen.

We have to do more to prove that we are upright, upstanding and outstanding. That means rejecting double standards and shortcuts in integrity. We must take pains to be consistent, scrupulously honest, and fair in all our dealings. We must never skirt the law or act in a way which can be misinterpreted to our discredit.

Yes you should, because if you don’t – you will be bitch slapped all over the blogging world.

When another Yid is in trouble, we must rally to support him. When we see an injustice, we must do everything in our ability to rectify it. When confronted with cases of abuse, we have to stop the perpetrators immediately. When children aren’t accepted into schools, we must band together and lobby forcefully for the children of Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov. We should not be tolerating corruption or deviation from our hallowed traditions in any area of public life.

All roads lead to Rubashkin, it seems they throw him in everywhere.

An Unparalleled Way of Life

Our way of life is the best known to man. It is divine. It brings joy and fulfillment to those who follow it. We cannot permit it to be trampled upon. We cannot promote through our patronage of their sites and publications those who make an art form out of ridicule and cynicism.

But to woman, that’s another story…if it’s the best and everyone knows it, what’s the difference if a bunch of non-followers criticize you?

We should be so disgusted by their trampling what is dear to us that we shouldn’t need anyone to tell us to give them short shrift. If someone publicly trashed our parents, we wouldn’t reward them by patronizing them. Those who ridicule all that we cherish should be treated the same. Not because anyone told us to ignore them, but because we are so revolted by what they are purveying, we choose on our won to boycott them.

So Rabbi I was wondering what it would take for me to get a kol koreh against my site, I would be willing to make a donation or something, but I need to be accessible online so I can add it to my media listings and I want a framed copy for my library, oh and I want it to be signed by famous rabbis – no obscure rabbis who have a shul in their basement.

People who twist halacha or mesorah should not be given a platform to ply their wares. Media outlets which place authentic, accepted norms of halachic ruling side by side with the drivel of usurpers and reformers should not merit our attention.

Which version of the mesorah are you talking about?

Our response to them should be uncompromising. We have to be able to exercise enough self-control to shun their writings. For when Chazal forbade the reading of apikorsus because of the corrosive effect it has upon a person’s psyche and kiyum hamitzvos, they didn’t differentiate between intelligent and theological treatises and writings that are imbecilic and inane.

Chazal also banned the internet, but you seem to have found a heter for that one.

Lessons from Yesteryear

The Maskilim succeeded in turning away tens of thousands from the path of Torah through the very same type of propaganda invading our community today. They vilified rabbonim such as Rav Yitzchok Elchonon Spector who dedicated their lives to the betterment of the Jewish people. They portrayed Rav Yitzchok Elchonon and others like him as wild-eyed fanatics controlled by radicals.

But all orthodox Jews are radical fundamentalists! Unless they are modern orthodox, but that’s an oxymoron anyway.

In beautiful, poetic rhymes, they mocked rabbonim as caring not a whit about the people’s financial situation. They portrayed rabbonim and roshei yeshiva as being out-of-touch and driven by a desire to deprive the populace of a good life.

Men with beards and the outward appearance of shomrei Torah umitzvos used the written word to foment hatred for traditional Judaism. Motivated by sinas chinom – greed, jealousy and hatred – and with hearts full of malice, they cleverly portrayed themselves as the open-minded heroes battling the close-minded leaders. They painted themselves as the honest fighting the unscrupulous and unethical. They utilized their superior writing talents to ensnare thousands of yeshiva bochurim by promising them a life of blissful fulfillment.

By the time they were unmasked, they had conquered not just souls, but leadership positions and much power. And they accomplished their goals and won converts to their campaign by using the same kind of subterfuge and character assault eating away at our community today. It was the slow drip-drip of nefarious and tainted half-truths that succeeded in softening up the masses.

While we must stand guard to protect ourselves and our families from the vile filth which fills the internet and the general media, that is not enough. Just because something sounds frum and people we know read it doesn’t mean that it has a place in our homes.

Don’t worry, I don’t claim to be frum, I claim to make fun of the frum.

Are there problems crying out for solutions in our community? No question. We have to motivate the people of fine character, steeped in Torah and mussar, to rise above the masses and join forces to find common ground and productive solutions. We should empower them to offer constructive criticism. We should support these people and motivate them to work for the klal without fear of being maligned for their actions.

Like Tropper and Kolko, mamish gedolim!

More than anything, we must make it very clear that those whose goal is to fuel divisiveness in our community, those who take aim at our leadership and impugn the character of recognized gedolim, roshei yeshiva, rabbonim, askonim and plain gutteh Yidden, will be exposed and shunned.

So does that mean any person that is a recognized gadol (like the guys who get their pictures in the Yated Rebbe celebrity gossip column) cannot be taken to task?

I wish to reiterate that my only involvement with this site is the posting of my column, all rumors to the contrary notwithstanding.

{Matzav.com Newscenter}

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