Monday, July 11, 2011

Addiction Alters Appropriate Appreciation

Reb Yaakov Kamenetzky said that he forgave everyone except the Bochur who introduced him to cigarettes. Everyone who was familiar with RYK knows that he was of the softest demeanor, yet he still felt strongly and was not Mochel the person who he believed was responsible for hooking him on smoke (prior to his quitting).

Whereas nowadays we know how evil smoking is, and how it is the root cause of so many diseases, surprisingly RYK harbored ill will against someone who may not have realized the seriousness of his action.

Today many innocent Yeshiva Bochurim are being ensnared by friends via the ills of the Ipod. The average black-hat Yeshiva Bochur is not familiar with the current shows on television, the music videos of MTV and the decadent movies in the theaters. Yet many a "friend" feel the need to ensnare them into the current secular viewing culture.

I would venture to say that RYK would be more upset about a friend that introduces another to decadent culture, even more so than smoking - for the simple reason that as Jews we should be careful not to sully our Neshomo even more than our bodies.

I recall the powerful story shared by Rav Matisyahu Salomon at one of the first gatherings to alert parents to the dangers of the Internet. A parent complained to RMS that his son was ensnared by the world wide web and was uninterested in learning anymore. The father was afraid that when his time came to leave the world, he would not be reunited with his son, as the father assumed that he would ascend to Heaven while the son was doomed for elsewhere. RMS thundered at him "What makes you think that you will go to Olam Habaah if you were the one who gave him access to the internet?"

Recent articles about Half-Shabbos are what prompted this post. Studies show that teens are sending on average hundreds of TXT messages a day! TXTing has become second nature to most teens, to be viewed almost as talking, walking and eating. It is no wonder then that some are unable to remove the addiction for the 25 hours of Shabbos. Added to that one can easily rationalize that there are those who permitted electricity on Shabbos before the consensus to prohibit carried the day.

It is not easy for those of us who grew up in a generation without Ipods to understand how difficult it may be to forego TXTing for a day. Yet we must show our children the beauty and serenity of Shabbos, as many a businessman has realized that unplugging themselves from their leash is the proven way to regain their sanity. Let us follow their lead to regain our sanctity.


  1. What is the source for the story with Reb Yakov?

  2. I believe you can find it in the AS biography and/or MOAG.

  3. IIRC a few years back NJOP did a Shabbos smoke-out. Maybe it's time to do a Shabbos text-out.


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