Thursday, July 05, 2012

Rav Breuer zt"l on the Internet

Just substitute "internet" for "television."

Courtesy of Reb Yitzchok Levine via Reb Gershon Seif:

In his essay The Television Scandal that appeared in the Mitteilungen, Vol. 21, December 1959/January 1960 Rav Dr. Joseph Breuer wrote in part

What is deeply disturbing, however, is the indifference with which the general public accepts the obvious fact that one of the most revolutionary technological achievements of our time is being used to poison the spiritual and moral values of the contemporary generation, especially the youth. That which is true for obscene and offensive literature, which inundates the current literary market (we need only refer to the millions of copies of objectionable so-called “comic books”), applies in a much higher degree to the television programs, which parallel the level of smut literature. Or could anyone still be unaware of the acute threat to our children’s moral purity and mental health posed by programs that are of a clearly immoral and sensual character, glorifying brutality, crime and naked materialism?

As long as we do not have effective legislative measures to combat the danger threatening the nation, parents who are anxious to promote the welfare of their children will follow the course necessitated by the situation. The easiest way out would be to forgo one’s personal use of the medium and to forbid the children to watch television. Yet it is more than doubtful whether this would have the desired effect. “Stolen waters taste sweetly and secret bread is pleasant” pronounces Solomonic truth (Mishlei 9:17).

The following course may offer better promise of success. Here, as everywhere, parental example is of decisive importance. Parents who regularly spend their evenings in front of the television set, watching one program after the other, should not be surprised if their children, following their example, feel magically drawn to the lure of television. Why should parents expect of their children a fortitude which they themselves fail to exhibit? If parents in their own viewing habits deal with television in the proper manner, both regarding the limitation of time and the careful selection of programs, children will be ready to accept the kind of nourishment that is adequate and healthy. For children will understand, especially with growing maturity, that nourishment for the mind and soul, like that for the body, must be subjected to a painstaking selection.

Let no one underestimate the influence of literature and television on the minds of young and old. We cannot fully protect our children from coming into contact with the sort of material that has such an unhealthy effect on their imagination and senses. Much will have been achieved if our children, together with us, are determined to reject such material as unbefitting the dignity of moral man. The atmosphere in which our children are reared — nurtured and purified by the common striving of school and home will play a major role in the healthy and protected growth of our youth.


  1. The above was written in 1959, a mere few short years after the introduction of widespread public television, when the destructive effects of TV was yet in its infancy and not fully realized.

    The following was singed by Rav Shimon Shwab and Rav Zecharya Gelly (among others) in 1992:

  2. We Jews have been designated by G-d to be a "kingdom of priests, a holy nation." Unfortunately, however, in the two thousand years of our Diaspora, the nobility of the Jewish character has suffered from considerable onslaught. In recent times, particularly, the protective walls that gaurded our sanctity have crumbled. As a result, we are sadly witness to the fulfillment of the pasuk: "They mixed witht he nations, and learned from their actions." Many, including even Torah-observant Jews, have sunk to the practice of seeking their pleasures and enjoyment in the most vulgar, un-Jewish manner. This has occured to the extent that they are willing to open their homes to the worst sort of depravity, through the medium of televesion.

    We must realize that the day will come when each of us will have to account for all of our actions, and we will be hard-pressed to justify how we could have permitted obscenity and indecency to enter our homes, to be absorbed by our children, the pure Jewish souls entrusted in our care. Lately, especially, each day's programs seems to outdo in perversity those of the day before, as wanton murder and violence, immorality and nihilism, are protrayed for the pleasure of the viewers.

    How can we Jews permit ourselves to watch these proceedings - and that, with complete equanimity? How do responsible parents allow their sons and daughters to sit and look at continuous graphic depictions of the three cardinal sins of Judaism - immorality, murder and mockery of faith? Is this the formula for raising an upstanding generation, developing students of Hashem's Torah, refined in character and striving for Yiras Shomayim?

    Even non-Jews with a sense of decency are deeply dismayed at the moral deterioration that society has suffered as a result of the television-spawned culture, the terrible toll it is taking on the country's youth, and how it is directly responsible for the unrestrained, insolent attitude that prevails in the land.

    What, the, are we to say - we who are commanded to keep the mitzvos, we who are instructed to excrcise restraint and to distance ourselves from all manner of licentiousness? We are enjoined both by the Torah and by all standards of derech eretz and deecensy to purge corruption from our midst.

    We must free ourselves and our children, once and for all, from the addictive task-master - the television set - that rules our entire lives. If until now we've been remiss about this, it is high time we take strength and encourage one another, to eliminate from our homes this spiritual pollutant that toxifies the very atmosphere.

    It is incumbent upon every man and woman, every family and circle of friends, to purge television-viewing from their homes, thereby fulfilling the commandment that "our camp be holy," our eyes pure, and our hearts noble, bringing blessing upon the Jewish people - achieving a life of sanctity, and proving worthy of the Torah of Life, "whose ways are ways of pleasantness."

    In response, may Hashem Yisborach accept our teshuva and our tefillos with compassion, and ave us from all our flaws, so that we can serve Him wholeheartedly, and soon merit the full redemption.

    Rosh Chodesh Elul 5752

  3. Rabbi Avrohom Pam
    [Yeshivas Torah Vodaath]

    Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Levin
    [Yeshivas Telz, Chicago]

    Rabbi Aaron Schechter
    [Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin]

    Rabbi Binyomin Paler
    [Yeshiva Mkor Chaim]

    Rabbi Binyomin Zeilberger
    [Yeshiva Bais HaTalmud]

    Rabbi Chaim Baruch Wolpin
    [Yeshivas Telz, Chicago]

    Rabbi Chaim Epstein
    [Yesshiva Zichron Melech]

    Rabbi Chaim Stein
    [Yeshivas Telz, Cleveland]

    Rabbi Elya Fischer
    [Kollel Gur]

    Rabbi Elya Svei
    [Yeshiva Gedola of Philadelphia]

    Rabbi Gavriel Giinzburg
    [Yeshiva Ner Yisroel, Toronto]

    Rabbi Henach Leibowitz
    [Yeshiva Rabbi Yisroel Meir]

    Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan
    [Yeshiva Toras Chaim, Denver]

    Rabbi Joseph Rosenblum
    [Yeshiva Shaarei Yosher]

    Rabbi Leib Bakst
    [Yeshiva Bais Yehuda, Detroit]

    Rabbi Levi Krupenia
    [Yeshiva Kamenitz, Toras Emes]

    Rabbi Lipa Margolis
    [Yeshiva Torah Temima]

    Rabbi Malkiel Kotler
    [Beis Medrash Govoha, Lakewood]

    Rabbi Meir Stern
    [Yeshiva Gedola of Passaic]

    Rabbi Mordechai Gifter
    [Yeshiva Telz, Cleveland]

    Rabbi Shmuel Berenbaum
    [Yeshivas Mir]

    Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetzky
    [Yeshiva Gedola of Philadelphia]

    Rabbi Shimon Shwab
    [Rav, Khal Adas Yeshurun]

    Rabbi Shmuel Faivelson
    [Bais Medrash LaTorah, Monsey]

    Rabbi Shrage Moshe Kalmanowitz
    [Yishivas Mir]

    Rabbi Simcha Bunim Ehrenfeld
    [Mattersdorfer Ruv, Yeshiva Ch'san Sofer]

    Rabbi Simch Schustal
    [Yeshiva Bais Binyomin, Stanford]

    Rabbi Tuvia Golstein
    [Yeshiva Emek Halocho]

    Rabbi Yaakov Perlow
    [Novominsker Rebbe, Yeshiva Novominsk]

    Rabbi Yaakov Schnaidman
    [Yeshiva Bais Moshe, Scranton]

    Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg
    [Yeshiva Ner Yisroel, Baltimore]

    Rabbi Yechiel Perr
    [Yeshiva Derech Ayson]

    Rabbi Yekusiel Bittersfeld
    [Yeshiva Zichron Shneur]

    Rabbi Yisroel Perkowsky
    [Yeshiva Bais HaTalmud]

    Rabbi Yitchok Feigelstock
    [Yeshiva of Long Beach]

    Rabbi Yosef Harari Raful
    [Yeshiva Ateret Torah]

    Rabbi Zecharya Gelly
    [Rav K'hal Adas Yeshurun, Yeshiva Rabbi S.R. Hirsch]

    Rabbi Zelig Epstein
    [Yeshiva Shaar HaTorah]

  4. The 1992 Kol Koreh by the Gedolei Yisroel, including the Breuer Rabbonim at KAJ, completely banned television.

  5. I take it you support the recent call by Gedolei Yisroel banning social media and other non-essential internet access, much as you support the Gedolei Yisroel's ban on television?

  6. You oppose the Gedolei Rabbonim from Rav Hirsch's kehilla ban on television?

  7. Well, the gedolei rabbonim from Rav Hirsch's kehilla placed a ban on television.

  8. Your repeated attempts (whether on this issue or many others) to tie your views to Rav Hirsch ring hollow, when the real gedolei rabbonim of the Torah Im Derech Eretz kehilla, who speak in the name of TIDE, are the rabbonim of the TIDE Kehilla and who know TIDE better than you, come to opposing decisions than you on how TIDE is lived today.

  9. 1. TIDE is not the purview of any specific kehilla. It is the purview of Am Yisroel.

    2. KAJ is not a TIDE kehillo and its Rabbonim do not believe in TIDE, and certainly do NOT know TIDE better than I do.

    (I apologize for the apparent lack of humility in that last statement.)

  10. The Rabbonim at KAJ most certainly do advocate TIDE and speak in its name. (You can ask them yourself.) Perhaps you are calling them liars in that regard, much as you are claiming to know TIDE better than Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch's successors.

  11. They do not advocate TIDE. Moreover, they have no more (and no less) right to speak in the name of TIDE than anyone else. So far as I know, RSRH did not designate an official and exclusive line of succession.

    (Moreover, RSRH was but one (albeit the foremost) of the formulators of the ideology that came to be known by the name he imparted to it. R' Ezriel Hildesheimer, the rabbinic Carlebach family etc. had their own perspectives and perceptions.)



  14. Instead of relying on leftist publications such as "The Jewish Press" (which Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky joked should only be left in the bathroom) to likely inaccurately paraphrase rabbonim, read Rav Shimon Schwab's own writings in his sefer Selected Essays own what TIDE means.

    The rabbonim of KAJ most certainly do advocate TIDE and tell the kehilla how TIDE is lived today. I previously invited you to call the KAJ rabbonim and ask them directly whether they advocate and translate TIDE for today. Their phone numbers is listed on KAJ's website.

    Rav Hirsch was the rov of a Kehilla. KAJ is that kehilla, as it moved from Germany to the New York City.

  15. Is there a point in continuing this conversation?

  16. You can go to sleep now. It's almost 1 AM in Chicago. :-)

  17. Internet is a different animal from television. Internet is now available in the pocket, wifi is available in many places and will soon be everywhere. Television can be eradicated from the home, but the lure of the internet will be there for curious children, even those whose parents do not have it in the home.

  18. What this argument seems to come down to is whether a good Hirschian should believe in the strictest modern notions of Da'as Torah -- that is, complete fealty to whatever the gedolim of your particular sect, in this case traditional Hirchians, advocate. Would Rav Hirsch demand that everyone follow certain gedolim unquestioningly, or would he expect to think for themselves a bit?

  19. the vos is neias post does not discuss the issue at all.

    which i now notice refers to an article of yours.

    the original discussion (and the JP article that is not avail) conclude that TIDE (as practiced by KAJ / breuer's) does not exist anymore.

  20. 1. Lived in Chicago until '01.
    2. Sammy is right.
    3. Clearly RSRH did not demand complete fealty, as he allowed (not l'chatchila) dual membership in the Grossgemeinde and the Austrittsgemeinde.
    4. I think that other than Reb "Joseph" kulei alma lo pligei.