Life without a Web Browser

For several weeks, Mark has been asking me to write a follow-up on my decision to disable my web browser, but I didn’t have anything deep or inspiring to say. All I could think of is that I miss it. This post will be nothing more than a dissertation on that theme, but at the moment I’m inspired to write, and I’m writing the way I would for my personal blog, which means I’m going to tell you about my day.

Today I worked until 5:00 pm, which is unusual for me. I work around my kids’ schedule, which means I usually have to be home by 3:30. Because it’s summer time, though, and because my husband took my kids on an outing, I was able to work like a full-timer today, and I must say, it’s exhausting.

But tonight I have a treat. My husband and kids will be out till very late, so I’m on my own and the house is quiet. Sure, I could catch up on my housework, but I could do that tomorrow, too. I thought of a better plan while walking home from work: I could go to the public library and use the Internet! With the kids home so much in the summer, I don’t have many opportunities to do so. I savored the idea on my half-hour walk home.

Well, I’ve been home for over an hour now, and I still haven’t made it out the door. The reason? I checked my email. After scanning through the horrific headlines from Arutz-7, reading through a few personal accounts of the war that were forwarded to me via several Jewish email lists, I topped it all off with a message from Rebbetzin Pavlov of my alma mater She’arim, who summarized the advice of the Bostoner Rebbe at a recent Tehillim gathering: “strengthen ourselves in mitzvos, to better our treatment of other people, to look at the good in every person and not their deficiencies, to strengthen the holiness of our homes, and to stay away from technologies that could lead to sin.”

That really shook up my plans. Here it is – a rare opportunity to blow off steam in a meaningful and creative way, and boom! “Stay away from technologies that could lead to sin.” My small personal sacrifice could make a difference to Klal Yisroel.

Now, I know some of you reading that will disagree vehemently. I read your comments to me last post. And a not-so-little voice within me is saying, “But I’m not going to use the technology to sin. I’m going to write to my friends.” I might still go to the library. I’m not sure yet.

But if there’s one thing keeping me here, it’s the statement of a Yid I just spoke to on the phone. He’s involved in a great cause for Klal Yisroel, and at this critical time, he’s upped his efforts. He says he works “27 hours a day,” and from what I’ve heard of his schedule, it’s pretty close to the truth. When I told him so, he said, “Aren’t the people in Eretz Yisroel going at it 27 hours a day? Do they get a break from the bombs? If they don’t, then how can I?”

If he doesn’t take a break, should I? If I just do my dishes, make my house a clean and serene place for when my husband and kids get home, will I have done my part for Klal Yisroel? It feels like it’s worth a try to me, but of course, I can say that after having had the satisfaction of some productive writing. But I’ll miss the immediate response. That’s the pleasure of the Internet, and I just don’t know how to replace it.

11 comments on “Life without a Web Browser

  1. Thanks to everyone for saying you miss me and more important, my writing. Thanks to Chaim G. for understanding about this nisayon. And yes, Mark, comparing me to the Melitzer Rebbe is definitely scoff-worthy, but as a writer, I am thrilled to the gills to hear that people like what I have to say.

    Hope to see you all around!

  2. Rachel-

    Where were you when I really needed you? (See my post from July 28th, 2006 “A Miss is a Mile – Old Tehillim Found Open to Psalm 83” (or perhaps 84)

    In particular see comments 15 & 27. Administrators when you see this could you kindly copy, paste and email it to Rachel as she does not seem to be reading thsi blog too often of late. Thanks

  3. Chaim-

    I’m flattered that you include me on that list, though I personally think I add more controversy than actual quality to the threads. (Though I guess controversial things are more interesting to read). I’m still around, I’m just in Israel for the summer and most of my time is spent doing archaeology. And, as Mark knows, I haven’t thought of anything post-worthy lately.

  4. “But the cost is unbearable.”

    How does cutting off access to the Internet on the part of someone who doesn’t abuse it, help anyone?

  5. Good point (#3) about all the people who’ve in the past contributed, but might be away for the summer, or perhaps the enthusiasm has waned.
    Kressel, have you thought of using yeshivanet, where one sets up what websites they want access to, and goes to them through that site? To be honest, I don’t know if it lets you follow links, having not explored it personally. After many years online, I find I do a lot less “surfing”, except when I’m shopping for certain items and am seeking out product reviews and best prices. Even that generally takes me to the same sites continually. My basic visiting is primarily checking emails, visiting here are a few other Jewish & news sites. I think the novelty of the internet has worn off, and it’s now more a service for shopping (indispensable for people who hate stores) and miscellaneous info stemming from Google (like phone numbers, maps), and as mentioned previously, buying airline tickets.
    Bottom line – hope you can “come back”. You can always submit articles by email, it’s just your comments that are/will be greatly missed!

  6. Kressel: Thanks for the post. I am also grappling with this. Are you in touch with frum families who don’t use the internet at home? How does it work for them? I know of at least one neighbor with kids from little to big, who have no internet and they seem happy and well adjusted. Who are we to say they must have the internet?
    We can’t ignore the gedolim who understand what we don’t want to understand about the dangers of the internet. And I know why we don’t: the convenience gets better and better. Can any of us imagine living without a phone, car, major appliances, etc.? The internet has become a staple, that we can’t imagine living without. I am addicted, and I will not argue that tremendous good has not come out of the internet, both individually and communally. But the cost is unbearable.
    So I say to you, Kressel, Yasher Koach, you are an inspiration, and Hashem should give you children who are oskim B’Torah & Mitvos.

  7. Kressel, I’m wondering if Rebbetzin Pavlov, the Bostoner Rebbe and your personal Rav knew of your role in inspiring others with your writing, as you share your honest and heartfelt quest to become the best Jew you can be, that they wouldn’t decide that you should continue that role.

    Rabbi Brody was told by the Melitzer Rav that he should continue his Internet inspiration. In your modesty, you’ll probably scoff at the comparison, but you’ve inspired many different people in many different ways. Even when a post leads to a heated discussion, it helps us deepen our understanding of the issues.

    So perhaps you can take these thoughts to your local Rav and see if you can’t resume building the Ahavas Yisroel that we so desperately need, from the library or from limited home access.

  8. I must say that the absence of Mrs. Housman, Mrs. Silcove, Melech, TFFB, Rachel Adler, Avigdor and Mrs. Newcomb has IMO diminished not just the quantity but the quality of the threads. I would second Shayna’s (e)motion except that I think that Mrs. Housman is grappling with a tough enough nisoyon w/o everyone begging her to give up the good fight.

  9. Kressel,

    You are an inspiration, and the rare person who is busy with actions rather than words. Actions of the inner self are oh so much harder and greater than those that make waves. You have much to be proud of.

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