Friday, December 28, 2007

Used Properly...

(Picture courtesy of

There are, of course, responsible bloggers, in the Jewish realm as in others, writers who seek to share community news or ideas and observations with readers, and to post readers’ comments. Some explore concepts in Jewish thought and law, others focus on Jewish history and society.

Rabbi Avi Shafran: Blogistan


At December 28, 2007 at 10:58:00 AM EST, Blogger Neil Harris said...


At December 30, 2007 at 10:43:00 AM EST, Blogger Smooth said...

I can't help but feel impugned by the good Rabbi's article. I will agree that some of the J-blogs out there have offended even me with petty, sometimes embarrassing entries about one's husband or one's child or one's friend, or one's rabbi or, even a fellow JBlogger, no less have I been stunned at posts by Jbloggers who argue about Torah and other profound Jewish issues that I would never have questioned. But for a blogger like myself, who uses the blogging medium to advance the knowledge base of the legitimacy and sovereignty of Israel, I resent the association. The title itself, Blogistan, is irritating as well, since most "-istan" countries are Judeophobic and share the single goal to commit genocide against the Jew. I would like to see another Rabbi rise in the Jewish community, a rabbi like Rav Meir Kahane, blessed be his memory, who was brave and inspiring to all of us. Our martyrdom served no purpose in Hitler's Germany. It taught the world nothing—except that Jews are weak, and that it's easy and safe to abuse us. I would like to see a welcome mat from the frum community to bloggers like me - I am Jewish and female - who have devoted most of our spare time, and for gratis too, to defend the legitimate and sovereign nation of Israel, instead of being lumped into a pile of mesuganah lashon hora nutcases. And I will add, that after four years of maintaining my site, Smooth Stone, I am rarely ever supported or linked by any of my fellow J-Bloggers anymore, except a handful. I can't imagine that this decrease in support is because I have offended anyone - I rally against the dangers of radical Islam and Jews in government like Olmert, not other Jews - but I think instead that many Jews find it painful or worse, could care less about Israel and the homeless people who were thrown out of Gush Katif by their own government, and their fellow Jews who live in constatn terror in Sderot. Abandoning ones fellow Jew, I think, is worse than anything.

At December 30, 2007 at 2:37:00 PM EST, Blogger Akiva said...

I continue to find that those who shout the most about Jewish blogs seem to be those who historically are the least responsive to serious community concerns.

We are so concerned about maris ayin that if we eat parve ice cream after our meal, we put the container on the table. Maybe someone should be equally concerned about the many, umm, grey area financial activities or other life activities that other people notice but previously could only whisper about in the back of shul?

When the Eye that Sees and the Ear that Hears was only shel shamayim, people didn't worry. But now that it's supplemented by the digital camera that takes, the recorder that records, and the blogger that posts, it's a horror?

My friends and dear rabbi, it's a bracha! Because the judgment in this world is uncomfortable to deal with, in the next world the word uncomfortable is not the right one.

At December 30, 2007 at 8:52:00 PM EST, Blogger Smooth said...

I guess I will assuage my sadness by saying that Israel has been through other difficult periods of introspection in the past and emerged stronger as a result. I will maintain the same hope for the JBlog community.

At December 31, 2007 at 11:22:00 AM EST, Anonymous Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen said...

Rabbi Shafran's article is based on Torah teachings regarding speech which are often forgotten and which the Chofetz Chaim helped many of our people to remember.

A few years ago, I began studying the writings of the Chofetz Chaim regarding ethical speech, and I also subscribe to the daily halacha which is sent out via e-mail by the Chofetz Chaim Foundation. . One can also request the supplementary mailing "Daily Companion" which gives more detaiils.

We can all benefit from this study, regardless of our background, and anyone who has a blog should certainly have some form of daily study of these halachos. I would therefore urge all of us to have the humility to learn from the following comments of the "Believing Gentile" in Souteast Asia which were posted on this site

"I feel G-d brought me first to the Chofetz Chaim's teachings since controlling my speech is the area where I needed the most improvement. It is the most damaged part of myself that I needed to correct in order to draw nearer to G-d."

In the spirit of these teachings, we should also avoid recommendinng blogs which do not follow Torah guiidelines regarding speech. This is why Torah-committed bloggers need to be very careful as to what links they put on their sites.

At December 31, 2007 at 3:42:00 PM EST, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

If we had managed to make our real-life, real-time communities function properly in all respects and had kept the lines of communication open in all directions, I doubt blogs would have as much appeal as they now do.

However, regardless of why they exist, we need to be discriminating in what we read and what we write in this medium. We can and should steer clear of the bad, cynical, irretrievably skeptical stuff not because of what others say or think but because we are Torah Jews.

The argument that our reading good or innocuous blogs (such as this one!) is step one towards reading the nasty ones assumes the worst about us. That attitude itself reflects a communication breakdown between leaders and followers, which needs to be addressed somehow.

At January 1, 2008 at 12:48:00 PM EST, Anonymous Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen said...

After reading the other responses, I need to add the following comment as food for thought: The problem with some of the "good" blogs" is that they publish any letter which is sent, regardless of content; thus, the blog can become a public vechicle for loshon hara and slander.

I once received mail from a Reform Jewish discussion group. They had a policy that all letters sent to the group would be reviewed, and those having derogatory comments about individuals or groups would not be shown. If this Reform group, which is not committed to halacha, realizes the importance of reviewing all letters that are sent in, certainly, we who are committed to halacha, should have such a policy. This is another reason why all of us need to study the halachos of ethical speech. It would also be helpful if the person managing the blog would have a rabbinical advisor to consult when questions regarding ethical speech come up. Many of us consult with a rav when we have a question as to what to put in our mouths. We should do the same when we have a question regarding what comes out of our mouths - or through our e-mail.

At January 1, 2008 at 3:13:00 PM EST, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

The better Jewish blogs are already moderated precisely to filter out objectionable comments.

The quality of moderation and the principles governing actual decisions by moderators vary a lot. Some moderators are more willing than others to let in the occasional anti-Orthodox or anti-Chareidi comment for the sake of a lively discussion. It does not take long to tell where a blog and its management are coming from. We can be educated consumers.

At January 2, 2008 at 6:16:00 AM EST, Anonymous Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen said...

"Loshon hara" refers to derogatory or harmful speech which is true. There are not only halachic prohibitions against loshon hara and slander (false or inaccurate libels); there is also a halachic prohibition against hearing such words.The Torah does not want us to absorb these unethical messages. Allowing loshon hara or slander on a blog for the sake of a lively discussion therefore requires halachic guidance.

It is also helpful to remember the following idea: Everything we do must ultimately lead to a kiddush Hashem - a sanctification of the Divine Name, and it is a chillul Hashem - a desecration of the Divine Name - to allow loshon hara or slander to have the last word on a blog. May all our words and deeds therefore be for the sake of Heaven.


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