A Biblical Guide To Internet Behavior

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My article in this week’s issue of The Jewish Press (link):

The Internet is a medium that has made its way in its short existence all the way to the center of contemporary life. Many of our daily tasks are now tied to it, and will be more so in the future.

Like all tools, particularly the most powerful, the Internet can be used for tremendous good – as well as the opposite. Torah wisdom can provide guidance on proper usage of this new technology. When explained homiletically, Tehillim 34 offers profound insight into some of the key attitudes necessary to responsibly use the Internet. Recited every Shabbos morning, this chapter consists of meditations on attaining the truly good life.

Avoid Bad and Do Good

A key principle of achieving a good life is avoiding bad, sur me’ra (v. 15). Regarding the Internet, this means utilizing strategies to avoid improper websites. It requires using filters and image- and ad-blockers as necessary. It also means making responsible choices about which types of websites to visit.

After avoiding bad, King David tells us to do good (aseh tov). First you must install your filter and other similar tools. Only after that are you ready to use the Internet for positive purposes. And that is what you must do. Make the Internet a tool for your personal growth. Choose a Torah website as your home page; assign a religiously themed picture as your background. The more you use your Internet devices for holy purposes, the harder it will be for you to misuse them…

Read the rest here: link

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor 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 has served two terms on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and currently serves as the Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He 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.


  1. If only filters weren’t so bad that they blocked out a lot of good and sometimes important for work related content.

    I don’t have filters when I go outside. Instead I just avert my eyes. I suggest doing the same on the internet.

  2. A filter works fine for me. I just override it when I need to. It forces me to make that conscious decision.

  3. R Gil- What was your take on the kuntres ‘ha-internet be’halacha’?

  4. Cute but entirely based on unproven assumptions regarding technology.

  5. Great Drasha, but do ypur really beleive that
    “The more you use your Internet devices for holy purposes, the harder it will be for you to misuse them”?

  6. Moshe: Well, if only for lack of time…

  7. Not just time, habit. I think he means it.

  8. Yes, I mean it. “Harder” but not impossible.

  9. Why is it that the Internet Shiur series and this post has not generated more comment (betraying lack of interest) among the readers of Hirhurim?
    I suspect it suggests that the author is really much more right-leaning in his view of technology and engagement with culture than most of his readers.
    (I intentionally phrased my words to avoid making any judgmental statements. Just noting something interesting about the disparity between the values of the blog author and the commenting readership.)

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