Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Groups of Fervently Orthodox Rabbis Ban Use of Internet, Fearing Sin, Ruin

January 13, 2000
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Leading fervently Orthodox rabbis have issued a religious ruling banning their followers from using the Internet out of concern it could lead to “sin” and “destruction” and lead the young astray.

The ruling, which appeared in haredi newspapers, was printed on fliers and posted in fervently Orthodox neighborhoods last week. It was signed by rabbinical leaders of several haredi groups, including the Belz, Sadigura and Vizhnitz, as well as members of the Shas Council of Sages.

Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and rabbis of the Chabad movement did not sign the ruling, nor did the Gerrer rebbe. However, reports quoted sources in the Gerrer group as saying their rebbe saw no need to sign onto the ruling because the group’s own council issued a similar one several weeks ago.

Previous bans have been issued against watching television or using computers in the home, but the groups have been divided on such bans, especially in light of the computer’s widespread use in business and education.

In this case, though, the groups drew similar conclusions regarding the Internet’s access to materials and aspects of secular culture banned by the communities.

A special rabbinical council, whose ruling served as the basis for the ban, termed the Internet a “danger thousands times more serious” than television, which could bring “destruction and ruin.”

The ruling said the Internet exposed users to all kinds of “sin,” adding that if required for work, it should be used sparingly.

The ruling also prohibited the watching of digital movies via personal computer.

CORRECTION: In graf 14 of the story on D.P. camp survivors sent Monday, the name of Regina Spiegel, one of the survivors, was given incorrectly. The graf should read:

“You needed to form these bonds because you had nobody,” says Regina Spiegel, who married her husband, Sam, in the Fohrenwald camp in Germany. “People can’t live by themselves.”

He predicted that a “sweeping majority” of Israelis would support him when a planned referendum on the evolving accord is presented to the public.

Recommended from JTA