By Chaya Nessa Krycer
There are very few things in life that are inherently good or evil. Most abilities, objects, and resources can be used for either favorable or nefarious motives. Generally, these things have equal capabilities for right and wrong, in order to maintain balance in this world.
One resource that proves this point perfectly is the Internet. Ever since the eventful date of August 6, 1991, the Internet has been available to the public. Now, this is not going to be your run of the mill “Everyone is addicted to technology but my brilliant words will save you from the heinous ditch which has ensnared you.” Perhaps I could have used that approach, but unfortunately, Coronavirus stepped in and drastically transformed our reality. Before the onset of the frightening pandemic, there was a time when we could have easily supplemented the Internet via face to face communication. If people would plan their day in such a way, it was highly probable for them not to use the Internet at all. (If you can’t imagine such a thing, I would like to see what goes on at your Shabbos table).
However, once Coronavirus spread and the quarantine and social distance laws were enforced, all this changed. For students, who would normally spend eight or so hours in school, now spend the equivalent with their classes online. For those in the workforce, in-person meetings were replaced by video calls. In fact, almost all social interactions can now be transferred online via Google’s juicy array of apps, all found at our fingertips.
Now the Internet is extremely convenient, and a lot of good can be done with it. There are many websites that spread Torah and are beneficial for serving Hashem. However, since the Internet contains such lofty sites such as Aish.com, Sefaria, Chabad.org, and, oh, DOJLife.com, to maintain balance it also embraces the evil of evils, the images, and ideas of the very dregs of society.
Now many of you I’m sure are appalled by this vulgar concept. You instinctively reach for your gauntlet to protect yourself from contaminating your mind and soul. However, neither shield nor gun can save you from the iniquities of the secular world. But there is one thing that can rescue us. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s an Internet filter!!! For simplicity’s sake, I will only focus on one kind of filter — the type provided by the company Technology Awareness Group, commonly referred to as TAG.
TAG is an organization that provides filters on almost any device you can name: phones, computers, tablets, Keurigs. (No wait, that’s a different kind of filter). What’s most advantageous about TAG is that its filter is extremely accurate and precise, allowing you to pick and choose which exact websites should be allowed or blocked. Naturally, you are relieved to hear that all is not lost. Even in such out of the way places such as… Dallas, there is access to this noteworthy product. All you need to do is to contact Mr. Shuki Goldstein, Dallas’ TAG representative, and your electronics are protected from harm’s way. You can reach Shuki Goldstein at email@example.com.
All you need to do is to contact Mr. Shuki Goldstein, Dallas’ TAG representative, and your electronics are protected from harm’s way. You can reach Shuki Goldstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is obviously necessary to use a filter all year round, so why is it so imperative that we mention it now, during the nine days? To answer that I will loosely quote Rebbetzin Chana Newhouse, the owner, and rebbetzin of Camp Bais Yaakov. She explains that one of the many reasons Moshiach hasn’t come yet is because we are too connected to the ideals and the morals of the goyim. We are distinct and special when we are separated and not copying the secular world’s ideas and morals. By using a filter on our devices we are disconnecting from outside influences and choosing what we want to enter our homes as Torah observant Jews. Perhaps if we show Hashem we are trying, He will bring Moshiach swiftly in our days, and this may be the last Tisha B’av we will have to fast. The choice is ours.