Musings of an Orthodox Jew

Thoughts on Torah and the Jewish world today.

Orthodox Judaism, instant messenger and cams!

With new technologies comes new issues.  The internet has been around for a while and the Orthodox world has taken two approaches to it:  adopt it and use it to educate- or completely ban it.  To help those who don’t want inappropriate viewing various filters are available (or just turn your parental control on in Norton etc) and there is even a Kosher search engine http://www.koogle.co.il/English/

One interesting discussion is over the usage of interactive messenging.  As a tool for keeping track of family around the world, being able to talk in real time, it is fantastic.  At the same time though, it is also a tool that can be heavily abused for illict interactions, especially once cam (cameras connected to your PC/Laptop for thise who don’t know) are utilised.  I talk to friends and family  around the world, I have fun seeing them and their kids- yet those of us using such tools also know the frequency with which we get spam and “invitations” to rather inappropriate material and liaisons!

Some communtiies go so far as to ban these interactions, others see the good they can do and encourage their usage- but caution responsibility.  I prefer the second option; as with anything we can always behave inappropriately; we don’t ban magazines or books because inappropriate material can be found, nor should we ban new technologies.  Of course the argument can be advanced that books and magazines don’t wander into our homes uninvited- spam and invitations on tools like Yahoo!messenger or windows Live messenger  frequently arrive unasked for.   On this note I would just say:  like everything else- no email should be opened from am unrecognised source; no invitation from someone you do not know should be accepted unless you recognise the person.  If they know you, let them send an email first and ask to connect.  As with everything on the interent- cauthion and safety are imperative!

 The argument against cam usage is stronger- interaction and teaching is possible with just text or voice, video is an unnecessary luxury.  Should we use IM?  Cam? Personally I think they can be very useful tools- both just for general communication and for teaching and we would be foolish to ignore the benefits because we fear the possible consequences of irresponsible usage.  I would thumb up IM, but remain neutral on Cam.  Limited usage when talking to family etc is of course fun and helps to keep those conenctions alive in a world where people are frequently continents apart; but for interaction with others- especially between a man and an unrelated woman in a private setting- there I would have to agree with the conservative approach and say to not use it.  Why invite temptation? Of course, I am hardly the posek hador- so as with anything I say- check with your Rav and go with his psak halachah.

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November 13, 2009 - Posted by | Random, Torah | , ,

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