GYE Presentation to Vaad Roshei HaYeshivos of TU
As we announced in the Chizuk e-mail of July 8th, me and my partner were just on a trip to talk about our work before the Gedolim and to try to get their Haskama to send out our materials to the Torah Umesorah school network (almost 700 schools in the U.S). I apologize for the lapse in Chizuk e-mails of the past 10 days or so. It was simply not possible to prepare them. (We plan one day on having an automated Chizuk e-mail system, so that it will no longer be dependent on me :-)
Here are some notes from our talk at the Sullivan-County Day-school in Monticello on July 15 2010, the 4th of Av 5770 before the Va'ad Roshei HaYeshivos (who are mainly the same members of the Mo'etzes Gedolei HaTorah of Agudas Yisrael).
The following Gedolim were present. Click here to download a picture of the Gedolim during the talk (Rav Malkiel Kotler is looking at the handbook).
The Noviminsker Rebbe
Rav Aharon Shechter
Rav Dovid Feinstein
Rav Aharon Feldman (on Skype video, we could hear and see each other)
Rav Aryeh Malkiel Kotler
Rav Avraham Chaim Levin
The following Gedolim were supposed to be there but unfortunately couldn't make it:
Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky
Rav Dovid Haris
Rav Hillel David
After I was introduced by Rav Dovid Najowitz (head of Torah Umesorah), Rav Aharon Feldman requested to make an introduction about Guard Your Eyes to the other Gedolim who were present. He spoke for about 2.5 minutes about our work. Here is a rough (incomplete) transcript of Rav Aharon Feldman's introduction:
I actually spent an hour with Yaakov... He came down to Baltimore and showed me video presentation of what he's doing... And I was very, very impressed.
Based on (various?) statistics, the work that he does, and the amount of people that he reaches... (It's?) the only site, the only way of reaching people that are addicted to these kind of inappropriate materials that are found on the internet... and I know personally many, many cases that... yungerlite... there was a rebbe in cheder who confessed to me that he is addicted to the internet...
This is the ONLY method, Guard Your Eyes, which gives like a 12-Step guide to members, gives them support, gives them a buddy, gives them the ability to cope with the fact that ... they have friends(?), ... It helps them, gives them charts which show them how many days they stayed clean . A man came to me from Guard Your Eyes in Baltimore and said he wants to make a Kiddush because he's a year clean from watching internet (shmutz)...
It's a tremendous ... effective thing, a very, very important thing, wherever we turn there's shmutz... in every possible area you see. And this is the only area that's doing something about it. And I gave them a Haskama... and I'm helping them with other things a little bit. And it's something that we all should support...
As I started talking, my partner handed out the following material to each of the Rabbanim present (click the links below to download the material):
- An updated copy of our handbook (which combines the Attitude handbook and the Tools handbook into one, and has many new things added).
- A diagram of an iceberg / triangle that depicts a model of our organization's operational strategy, both in the present and for the future.
- A draft of a letter from Torah U'Messorah to the schools, that was read to the Gedolim by Rav Dovid Najowitz.
In the beginning of my talk, I played for the Gedolim two MP3 audio clips, one from Rabbi Twerski (1.5 min) and one from Rav Veiner (1 min) to emphasize the terrible destruction that the internet is causing today. Then I described some of our tools and solutions for about 12 minutes, until I was held up by the Noviminsker Rebbe who wanted to ask some questions... From then on, there were questions and answers, and different points were brought up amongst the participants. At the end of the discussion, the Noviminsker Rebbe said:
"Vus ihr tut is heiliger arbit (what you are doing is holy work), because unfortunately a large segment of our society is already gechapt, arein gefallen in grub arein, (caught, fell into the hole) and you're trying to save them, you're trying to help them..."
In the course of the discussion, Rav Feldman made it clear that the Gedolim can no longer prohibit the use of the internet anymore. One can hardly do anything today without the internet and it is a "gezeira she'ain hatzibur yecholim la'amod bo" (a decree that the population can not stand by). However, the bottom line of what came out of the discussion is that the Mo'etzes Gedolei HaTorah want to make a Kol Korei that it is assur to use the internet without strong filters and/or reporting software. As soon as that letter comes out, they would then agree to send our material and offer our services to the schools (hopefully in time for the new school year). They would encourage the schools to send out our Prevention Tips for Parents to the entire parent body of every school, and they would encourage the Menahalim and Mechanchim in the schools to read The Guard Your Eyes Handbook to be well equipped for how to deal with students who are struggling in these areas, whether they may be 12, 15 or 18 years old.
At the end of the talk, I mentioned that we are trying to build the framework to help and accommodate tens of thousands of Jews who struggle in these areas, and I asked the Gedolim for their backing and help.
May Hashem reward our efforts with success, and may we be zoche to 've'hiskadashtem ve'hi'yisem kedoshim".