Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

When is The Internet not the Internet?

Past postings have speculated on the prospects for the insular religious Jewish communities in general, and the Agudath Israel of America in particular, becoming an internet presence. The rabbinical sages have nominally banned the Internet (with an ever-growing list of exceptions for business and livelihood purposes). It has been, and continues to be, my contention that official acceptance of the Internet will occur gradually, as the rabbis are able to find credible face-saving stories to make it look as though they are not backpedaling from their original stance.

[Note the use of the term "official" acceptance; many in the insular communities alreadly are cryptocyberians.].

Well, I got the latest Hamodia weekly edition today from my usual source, and, in a 2-page spread on pages C28 and C29, Hamodia announces its "Free Digital Edition," "Opening a Clean Window to the World," with the blessings of the rabbinical sages. An Internet version of the same display ad is available here (and you can read it in its entirety if you are so inclined). The long and the short of it is that it involves a one-site connection with no active clickable links, so you cannot be exposed to any material that will evoke impure thoughts.

Curiously, the internet version of the display ad (but not the print version) bears the legend "Hamodia's Clean Window email edition does not in any way endorse or condone personal/home email/internet use."

So the "Clean Window" edition of Hamodia is delivered over email, which supposedly is to be accessed only in the office and not at home. I think we all (including the rabbis) know that there are more homes with internets in these insular communities than anyone cares to publicly admit, but it still has to be kept sub rosa.

I note one teenage girl's account: "One friend goes to a really religious school and tells me that if her principal knew she had an email address she would be kicked out." This young lady's friend would do well to obtain the principal's own e-mail address (and preferably, those of her husband, children and mother-in-law). That way, any threatened expulsion from school can be parried by a threatened public disclosure of the principal's own family e-mail addresses.

If this Hamodia "Clean Window" thing is successful, then I would not be a bit surprised if similar technologies from similar vendors were to become a component of the Agudath Israel's soon-to-be-resurrected Jewish Observer. They will be pleased to use the internet, as long as it isn't really the internet.

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