Monday, 16 January 2017

The Magnitude and Root-Causes of Today’s Kedusha Crisis

Part 2/12 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)
What is the magnitude of the problems that have arisen as a result of digital technology, and how can we address the core roots that lead to these problems?

by Yaakov from GYE (See all authors)

Response from Rabbi Y.W:

Dear GYE,

Thank you so much for your information. It was extremely helpful.

I was recently asked to write an op-ed about this issue. I also strongly feel that this issue is the greatest threat that we have today. But for some reason many people have become tone deaf to this issue.

I also believe that the issue will not be solved with filters alone (they are of course critical), but we have to find a way to address the core roots that are creating an emotional emptiness in frum people's lives, that they are seeking to escape that emptiness and pain with unhealthy digital behaviors like binge watching, illicit images, and promiscuity.

Based on what you said, is it accurate to say that around 70% of frum people who have internet still have unfiltered devices?

Also you mentioned that "hundreds of people have been referred to SA therapy because of sexual promiscuity, beyond illicit images. Can you tell me how many hundreds that is. Is it 200. Is it 900?

Also you said that GYE is connected to 20,000 religious Jews who are trying to do teshuva (get help) for viewing illicit images and acting out. Do you have a general sense how many of these 20,000 live on the east coast of the US?

Also what is your estimate of how many more are struggling with these issues and are not ready to try to do teshuva for it? Can one make a projection such as "if there are 20,000 religious Jews trying to change, then there are likely ---- (40,000? or 100,000?) who are trapped but not ready to change?

I also think the fact that many frum people have started watching rated R movies on a regular basis on their phones or tablets is an underreported problem. Based on my anecdotal interviews, I suspect that between 40-50% of religious Jews are watching R rated movies or shows at least twice a month. This will surely lead to further unhealthy internet behaviors and undermine the level of yiras shomayim in the religious community. These behaviors may not lead someone to the GYE community, and our resources are not currently being directed to them

Thank you so much, and tizku lemitzvos. You are literally saving klal yisrael

GYE Responds:

Hi. Please see replies below:

> We have to find a way to address the core roots that are creating an emotional emptiness in frum people's lives, that they are seeking to escape that emptiness and pain , with unhealthy digital behaviours like binge watching, illicit images, and promiscuity.

Agreed 100%. Please see this article from the Mishpacha called "The Next Frontier" that came out in 2010 that addresses this very idea.

In our work on, we put an emphasis on trying to help frum Yidden strengthen their emunah and their sense of purpose. I wrote an article recently called "The Secret of Happiness" that was published in Rabbi Twerski's latest book called "Teshuvah through Recovery". I was hoping to perhaps give frum yidden a deeper understanding about what Yiddishkeit really is all about, as well as a deeper appreciation for the Torah and Mitzvos. I don't know how much we succeeded, but at least one person seems to have enjoyed it, since he wrote me the following after reading it:

I have just read your essay (The Secret to Happiness) in the new book by Rabbi Twerski, Teshuvah Through Recovery. This has changed my life. You have taken some of the most complex and stumbling questions faced by every Jew and organized it in straightforward essay. The levels and metaphors were concise, and relevant! This has truly changed my life and fired me up on how to look at EVERYTHING IN MY LIFE! I want to carry this with me wherever I go. This is why we do what we do, each and every day! I have read dozens, if not hundreds of articles and Torah vorts over my Yiddishkeit... but, this one is different. This one is for me. This one is for many others as well :) Would it be possible to get your permission to print this en masse to distribute in shuls around my area, as well as any other Jews in need? I really think this will change people's lives for those who need to hear it.

We also added a section in our video website called "Strengthen Your Emunah" and under the title we wrote the following:

A lack of Emunah can exacerbate addiction. When a person is missing meaning in life they tend to fill it with anything that feels like it gives them a reason to live, often resulting in unhealthy behaviors. A strong Emunah can motivate and empower us to fight addictive tendencies.

I believe that some of the videos on that page can really inspire people to appreciate the value of being a Torah Jew, for example, "The Mystery of the Jews" and the amazing video about Yishai Cohen (in Hebrew). "Jewish NDE" is also powerful.

I'd be happy to hear any other ideas you might have on ways to address this "emptiness" in frum people's lives. I think it really boils down to chinuch. If parents and teachers are true examples and live inspired lives, they will pass that on to the children in their care, and at least the next generation will hopefully be healthier and more fulfilled adults. This is indeed an area that needs a lot of work. Rabbi Dovid Sapirman in Toronto has attempted to partially address this problem by creating the Ani Maamin Foundation that helps inspire Emunah in today's youth.