Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Israeli rabbinical court rules that man's correspondence on Facebook constitutes infidelity

As reported by Itay Blumenthal of Ynet News, May 28, 2012:

A woman who presented the rabbinical court with extremely suggestive correspondence between her husband and other women on Facebook convinced judges that his actions constitute infidelity.

The court subsequently ruled that the husband must pay damages of NIS 150,000 shekels (roughly $40,000.)

The man and woman, who are both in their 30s, met on a dating website. After some months they decided to turn a new leaf in their lives, get married and raise together their children from previous marriages.

Yet six months after the marriage, the woman discovered that the husband continued to correspond with other women on the dating websites and on Facebook and decided to divorce him.

At court, the woman accused the husband of causing the marriage to fail. “He had physiological problems in bed,” she told judges. “He refused to take pills, drank alcohol and smoked pot.”

The woman also charged that for a long time the husband avoided looking for work, instead spending long hours in front of the computer. The husband for his part claimed that his wife refused to have marital relations with him.

“She would not shower, and had telephone conversations with another man,” he claimed.

Attorney Amir Zvulun, who represented the woman, presented the rabbinical court with extremely suggestive correspondence from the man to other women on Facebook to prove that he was unfaithful to his wife.

Rabbinical court judges said the husband’s response to the wife’s accusations proved that he admitted to what he did. His claim that he was not caught “with his pants down” was rejected by the court.

The judges ruled that the husband caused the failure of the marriage and in a precedent setting ruling ordered him to pay damages.
This ruling is in line with concerns expressed by Orthodox rabbis at an assembly of haredi Orthodox Jewish men that filled Citi Field in New York--home park of the New York Mets baseball team on May 20, 2012. As reported by Ben Sales of Jewish Telegraphic Agency, May 21, 2012:

NEW YORK (JTA) -- ..."The Internet even with a filter is a minefield of immorality," said Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, a haredi Orthodox lecturer and rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Meor Yitzchok in Monsey, N.Y. "This issue is the test of the generation. Your strength at this gathering will determine what Judaism will look like a few years from now."

The rally to caution haredi Orthodox Jews about the dangers of the Internet drew a crowd of more than 40,000 men to the stadium, most of them wearing black hats. The group organizing the rally, Ichud HaKehillos LeTohar HaMachane, or Union of Communities for Purity of the Camp, barred women from attending -- consummate with the haredi practice of separating the sexes.

In Yiddish and English speeches, rabbis from haredi communities in the United States, Canada and Israel decried the access that the Internet gives haredim to the world outside their community. Speakers called the Internet “impure,” a threat to modesty and compared it to chametz, or leavened bread, on Passover.

Almost no rabbi directly addressed pornography, which is prohibited by traditional Jewish law. Several speakers also lamented the Internet’s potential to distract men from learning Torah.

To a man, each of the rabbis who spoke said that Jewish law forbids Jews from browsing the Internet without a filter that blocks inappropriate sites. The speeches in Yiddish were broadcast with English subtitles on the stadium’s JumboTron.

Rabbi Yechiel Meir Katz, known as the Dzibo rav, compared the threat of the Internet to the dangers that Zionism and the European Enlightenment posed in the past to traditional Jewish life.

“A terrible test has been sent to us that has inflicted so much terrible damage” on haredim, Katz said. The Internet poses a greater threat to haredim than secularism did, he said, because “in previous challenges we knew who the enemy was. Today, however, the challenge is disguised and not discernible to the naked eye.”

The crowd ranged in age from small children to senior citizens. One participant, Yitzchok, said that although the speakers focused on the Internet problem rather than solutions, the event was “inspiring.”

“This is a beginning,” said Yitzchok, 43. “They’re coming to raise awareness. Every situation is different, everyone requires some filter.”

While haredim must limit their internet access, "many people do need to use it," he added.

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