Internet and Leading Services

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Can someone with an internet connection in his home lead synagogue services? Of course, if you believe–as I do–that an internet connection is a wonderful thing to have then the answer is clearly yes. However, If you take seriously all the extreme, and at times contradictory (even from the same rabbi), rulings regarding internet usage that have been reported in the media, I think we can look at a relevant historical responsum to answer this question. This is useful both in examining the current situation and in seeing how far exaggerated rhetoric can be taken with real-life repercussions. (I am reminded of a devout elderly man I used to know who was prevented by his chassidic family from leading the minyan while sitting shivah for his sister because he was clean-shaven.)

In a 1971 responsum, R. Moshe Stern discussed whether someone with a television can lead synagogue services (Be’er Moshe, vol. 4 no. 143). R. Stern assumes that watching television is a violation of a biblical prohibition. Additionally, since people can see the antenna on the owner’s house, the sin is considered as if committed publicly. Often, guests to a home can even see the television set. Therefore, such a person is a public sinner and may not lead synagogue services. You should prefer praying alone at home to a synagogue where he leads. You must also avoid hearing a sermon given by a “rabbi” who owns a television.

Since internet use is private, unless you blog under your real name, presumably R. Stern would allow someone to lead services even if he has unfiltered internet access as long as he does not publicize the fact.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

21 comments

  1. Am I correct in assuming that the quotes around the word rabbi are a paraphrase of what he said?

  2. This is why I daven at home, because I’m not allowed to daven at the shul where I daven.

  3. They told me I couldn’t lead the davening after i sang Aleynu to the tune of The Flintstones. Now I know why.

  4. HG: You can see in the teshuvah which is linked in the post. He writes ״ראביי״

  5. When I read “Can someone with an internet connection in his home lead synagogue services?” I assumed the question was about being a chazzan from home!

  6. BIBLICAL PROHIBITION??? Does no one else have a problem with that?!!!

  7. At Landau’s, you can’t lead the service unless you wear a gartl.

  8. A biblical prohibition of לא תתורו אחרי לבבכם ואחרי עיניכם

  9. That’s… I don’t even know what to say.

  10. “They told me I couldn’t lead the davening after i sang Aleynu to the tune of The Flintstones. Now I know why.”

    and how did they recognize the tune of The Flinstones?

  11. This is a joke, right? Has anyone ever been barred from being a chazzan because he violates the biblical prohibitions of lashon hara?

  12. We are in Sivan Not Adar.

  13. >That’s…

    Standard.

  14. Why is blogging with one’s real name considered “in public”? It cannot be considered in public unless other Bnei Torah know about it (kiddush/chillul hashem requires ten Jews), but this is not the case in this situation because Bnei Torah never use the Internet so they would never know and thus it would not be in public.

  15. but this is not the case in this situation because Bnei Torah never use the Internet so they would never know

    Somebody at the internet filter company has to search the internet for pornography, kefira, and other things to add to the blacklist…

  16. According to the reasoning of R’ Stern, today when we no longer have roof antenna – someone who watches TV in the privacy of their home – most especially in a room where outsiders don’t enter for example a bedroom – shouldn’t be considered a public sinner

  17. MiMedinat HaYam

    if the ppl in the shul object, then they can set their own rules. if the shul is a “private” shul owned by one individ, he sets the rules. (i dont mean from a practical view, i mean from a halachic point of view.)

    the only occupational related objection to baal tfillah is MB saying a (litigating, vs transaction) attorney cannot be a shliach tzibur.

  18. The other nine guys who said they don’t have a home internet connection–are they disqualified for lying?

  19. Funny, it took me a few sentences as well to realize they were not talking about using the internet as really cool microphone, but rather just a person who happens to own internet access.

    Reminds me of the picture going around that says “If you have a phone with internet with facebook and twitter, but no filter, you can’t make coffee” 😛 (pun on the word filter)

  20. Moshe Shoshan

    Gil
    Brilliant.

  21. MiMedinat HaYam

    ” from leading the minyan while sitting shivah for his sister because he was clean-shaven.”

    i remember attending a pesach hotel program, and the (prominent litvish RY who happens to have a college degree to “please mommy”) declined to count me and others for a minyan cause we dont wear a hat. (his weekly parsha column is listed on all the usual internet sites.) of course, i promptly left for another minyan. i guess thats why he had a private minyan. not to associate with us riff raff. also, a private dining room for all meals, not just the seder.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter


The latest weekly digest is also available by clicking here.

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter

Archives

Categories

%d bloggers like this: