Spiritual Block? Try This

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Over 20 years ago, I was learning with a rabbi. He told the following story. A woman who apparently was following his lectures asked him – “I want to become more spiritual. I want to follow Judaism and Torah – but I just can’t get myself to do it. I don’t understand the Mitzvot – even if you explain them.”

The Rabbi replied “Try eating Kosher food for a month and you might better understand the Mitzvot.”

She had to go through a detox period. Just like one has to detox for overcoming alcohol addiction – they do also for spiritual growth. Part of the process is start eating Kosher, guarding the eyes, removing oneself from impure thoughts and acts. Then a person can become a better receptacle for spiritual growth through Torah.

I didn’t quite understand the connection between understanding Mitzvot and Eating Kosher. Recently I came upon a Sefer / Book By Rabbi Matityahu Glazer – On Repentance and Hebrew Letters called THE PREREQUISITES FOR REPENTANCE
REPENTANCE IN WORDS AND LETTERS.

Hebrew letters have significance – in that the Hebrew word defines their essence of the object. The word for “sin” in Hebrew is Het / Sin / חטא – Het, Tet, Alef.

REPENTANCE IN WORDS AND LETTERS
THE NEGATIVE EFFECT OF SIN
…This comes to teach us that the destructive power of the סתן (Satan) creates a “screen” ( מסך ) which separates and “locks out” (נעל) the Divine light.
מ precedes נ
ס precedes ע
ך precedes ל

 

The numerical value of the words פגם [imperfection – (in matters of holiness – especially promiscuity)] and מגף (plague) is 123 (80 + 3 + 40), which is the same as נגע (nega, plague: 50 + 3 + 70) and teaches us about the common source of these words, which is בלע (bela, corruption: 2 + 30 + 70).

 

מגף (magaf) is related to מגפה (magaifa, plague),the letter ג and פ combining to form the word גוף (goof, body) and showing that he comes as a result of overindulgence in the material world.

 

The word אלף (alef. instruction or learning the same as the name of the letter א) refers to an אולפן תורה (oolpan Torah, “study of Torah”), the acquisition of Divine wisdom, as is written in the book of Job (13:33): אאלפך חכמה (a’alfecha chochma ; “I will
teach you wisdom”). Through אולפן תורה , the study of Torah, a person merits the revelation of the Divine light of א, for the light of the Torah has the ability to penetrate the barriers created by sin. From here one learns that the repentant should involve
himself in אולפן תורה as much as possible. Rabbeinu Yona in “The Foundation of Repentance” (“Yesod Hat’shoova” found in Gates of Repentance)
teaches that for one who is accustomed to learn one page of Torah, a proper repentance should include learning two pages of Torah.

 

The opening of the letter ח (chet ) is directed downwards, which symbolizes the sinner whose tendencies and desires are also directed “downwards,” that is, to his materialistic and baser nature. Opposed to this is the letter ה (hai )-of the same shape but with an opening at the top, hinting to higher spiritual aspirations. Therefore, if a person
blocks his spiritual striving and closes the upper opening of the ה, it becomes a ח (chet , sin).

 

The difference can be clearly seen in the words חמץ (chametz ) and מצה (matza ). חמץ, the leavened food forbidden to eat or even possess during the Pesach festival, is a symbol of the Evil Inclination (it “fills” with a void and emptiness-like the yeast that
puffs up dough, makes it rise and expand but essentially adds nothing). The word מצה (matza, unleavened bread), on the other hand, is the symbol of the Good Inclination. The only difference in the letters of these two words is the “window of repentance”- the slight opening at the top of the ה.

 

ונטמתם בם

“That you should be defiled thereby,” referring mainly to forbidden food that defiles the
soul of man. One of the most impure foods is the חזיר (chazeer , pig), equal to 225 (8 + 7 + 10 +200) as is the word op (kleepa , shell; 100 + 30 + 10 + 80 + 5).

 

טמא Impurity is the Blockage of the Spiritual. טמא (tameh , impure) has the same letters as אטם (otem obstruction). Impurity causes a general breakdown of the spiritual structure of a person. Just as an אטם in the body is a barrier that prevents the
flow of blood to the heart, so too does impurity ( טומאה, tooma ) prevent spiritual abundance and existence from reaching the heart and brain of a person. The evil impurity caused by an עברה (aveira transgression) can be clearly seen in its letters רע בה (ra-ba, “evil in it”). This is what our Sages mean when they say (Yoma 39a): עברה מטמטמת לבו של אדם
– “Sin dulls the heart of man.” Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler (Michtav M’Eliyahu ) writes: “The sin itself is the dullness-the desire for and cleaving to the sin does not allow a person to find something to oppose it.”

The Power of Humility as a Prerequisite for Overcoming One’s Sins.

 

חטא  (chet, an unintentional sin) involves a lack of thought at the time of the transgression. When one’s mind-the אלף ( א , alef )-is “plastered over” (טח tach ), the result is sin, חטא. Intentional sins (עוונות) comprise -עוות – נ (avoot noon, “the distortion or corruption of the letter נ, which represents understanding). These letters also allude to the power of thought and purity (עיון, eeyoon ), which
is connected to the Fifty (נ = 50) Gates of Impurity  and Understanding,

A pleasant eye”) עין נוה is ( ענוה )The source of humility”

 

The Chida says that the power of humility is so great that it can mend one’s sins; the letters of ענוה (anava , humility) are the same as those of the word העון 190 (ha’avon, the sin). As our Sages say (Rosh Hashana 17a) כל המעביר על מדותיו מעבירין לו על כל ; “Whoever overcomes his feelings, all his sins are passed over.”

 

Repentance out of humility and love for G-d changes negative actions into positive ones. This amazing concept is unique to Torah thought: not only is a person capable of wiping the slate clean, he also has the ability to turn the negativity he has caused in the world into a positive force.

טמא – tameh is impurity. The letters also spell – Alef, Tet, and a Mem – spell Atum – which means blocked or clogged. If a person removes themselves from transgression – they will open up this blockage of the Spiritual.

Tons of Things to Do at Home Office and Kids are Acting Up – How to Stay Calm

You have to get back to your home office. Tons of things to take care of. You chose the home office either because of convenience or by force majeure – see covid restrictions.

One reason why we get angry is because I have to be productive – this cute little kid is preventing me from doing so. I have important work to get done – this kid is stopping me.

Just Shout – The Easy Way Out

The shout comes out. Poor kid. Poor you.

G-d gave us kids to educate them to become good, kind people. He gave us a pure kid and expects that after 120 years he remains pure, sweet and nice.

That’s one reason why we put them in a Torah School. So how does that help me not to get angry?

Are You Really More Productive by Shouting

At the moment we are in “I have to get things done mode” We think – my productivity is more important than my educating my kid to be a “Mench” / good human being. I am being productive doing work – I am not being productive catering to my child’s whims.

Productivity in Education

Stop right there. That’s where we err. By responding kindly and with care – we are teaching our child to be kind and to care. We are being tremendously productive in educating our children how to properly respond in stressful situations. How to act nicely even under pressure. What can be more productive than teaching a child to be a kind, caring, sensitive person?

Did You Win the Education Game?

You shout – you lose. You lose the opportunity to teach kindness and patience.

Treat every act as an act of building.

That is what Torah is about: building – building people, building relationships – with people, ourselves and Hash-m.

Where Can I Find a Kosher Phone?

I remember the old cell phones. They were about the size of a brick. My first was a small Qualcomm device. Then I got a flip, then a Smart phone. I reverted back to a flip – because – through my filter – I saw I was spending too much time on certain apps. So I got a flip.

I tried looking for a Kosher phone – one without internet access or limited access – or at least one without a browser. Took me too much time. Basically – a person who wants a Kosher phone has 2 options – buy a non-Kosher phone and make it Kosher. Or by a Kosher Phone.

Once a person said “I can’t eat that food – it is not Kosher” The other person replied – “What’s the problem – ask a Rabbi to Bless it.” You can’t make food Kosher – if it is not. You can have a substitute – like Pizza with Vegetarian Pepperonis.

Some phones you can make Kosher. But I think the easiest option is to just buy one that is already kosher. It might cost a reasonable bit more – but time is money.

If you want to make your phone Kosher – one organization that deals with it is called  Technology Awareness Group – TAG for Short – they also go by – Smart Connections.

They also offer phones to buy. Another organization that sells and “Kosherizes” phones is called – Kosher Cell. I suggest – if your interested in a Kosher phone – to skip the hassel of surfing the shopping sites to find one. Just go directly to Kosher Cell and find a phone that suits you or your family.

A Kosher phone is a great addition or substitute for having filters that many kids can get around.

Make Peace – Make it Up

In the first chapter Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers it says to Love Peace:

הִלֵּל וְשַׁמַּאי קִבְּלוּ מֵהֶם. הִלֵּל אוֹמֵר, הֱוֵי מִתַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל אַהֲרֹן, אוֹהֵב שָׁלוֹם וְרוֹדֵף שָׁלוֹם, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת וּמְקָרְבָן לַתּוֹרָה:

12. Hillel & Shammai received it from them [from Shema’ya & Avtalyon]. Hillel says: Be like the students of Aharon – love peace & pursue peace love the creatures & draw them close to the Torah.

Torah Commentator – the Zera Shimshon – asks why does it need to say “Be like the students of Aharon” – we could understand the Mishna without that phrase. He explains that Aharon used to make peace between two parties by saying  to one – you know your friend really wants to make peace. Then he would say same to the other party.  When the two who were in a quarrel saw each other – they would make peace between each other.

He basically told a fib or a white lie to make peace – between friends in quarrel or family members, or between man and his wife.

So that’s why it says that phrase “Be like the students of Aharon” to teach the people – you, To even bend the truth to promote peace.

How to Get Children to Work & You Too – Use Positive Motivation

Eavesdropping isn’t good manners – unless you know the others don’t mind. At times you just have to. Mordechai – from Purim – eavesdropped on the conversation of Bigtan & Teresh and then told the kingdom that they were scheming against the king. One night, The King Ahashverosh was read the chronicles of good deeds and rewarded Mordechai. This was one turning points of Purim. Where the wicked Haman fell & Mordechai rose.

So eavesdropping could be good. Eaves dropping on Torah learning is good. Today I did just that.

Negative & Positive Motivation

The rabbi at a different  table was discussing a way of motivating children to do a chore. He made a fine distinction between giving ultimatums to children and motivating. He mentioned that ultimatums aren’t necessarily productive. If you don’t do “A” you will not go to the park to play. The child motivated by negativity is less responsive than one motivated by positivity. The proper way to motivate the child is to say “sure you can go to the park – right after you do “A”. Choose your “A” – clean your room, fold your clothes, do your homework, etc. Now he has a reason to do the job, He wants to go to the park.

A Cure for Procrastination?

Many procrastinate. Many years I tried to break the habit. I found a similar method to break procrastination. There are things I like to do and things I push off. So I make a rule – clean my desk before I check emails. I push off cleaning my desk – but if I know I must do it before I check emails – I am motivated to do clean the desk.

It’s a takeoff of the carrot and the stick – where you place a carrot on a stick before an animal. For the animal to get the carrot – it must walk – but unfortunately it never gets to the carrot. Here we get to eat the carrot. It’s more like putting the carrot 50 yards away on the ground. In order to eat the carrot – the animal must walk to it.

Find your carrot. Place it in front of your act of procrastination. Now move forward.

 

Let’s Call a Spade a Spade – Don’t Call a Child “It”

Boys will be boys. Sugar & Spice and Everything Nice – that’s what Girls are made of.

The School of Political Correctness

Time to burn your Mother Goose books. Sorry did I say Mother Goose? “Mother” discriminates against the father. I mean Parent Goose.

No “parent” is also derogatory – just because they are older and gave birth to you should we discriminate against children and call them by this name? Let’s call them “adult caretakers”. No. “Adult” is discriminating against children. They should be equals. Let’s call them “older humans”. No that is discriminating. Why should we discriminate against the young. Let’s call them “big humans”. No that is discrimination because you discriminate against the small humans. Let’s call them just “humans”. No that is discriminating against animals. Lets just call humans and animals “it.”

Now that is a solution. Don’t call a president “president”. That is discriminating against those below him. You dare to call a person a principal? How dare you! That means that teachers are inferior. “Teacher?” – what an insult to the students. Please be politically correct. Just call everybody “it” and it will all be fine. “You”? that is discriminating against me. A Manhole? What kind of racism is that – call it a sewer hole. Sewer is a derogatory term – you are insulting the hole. Call it a cleaner thing. The ithole. Now you’re talking.

Manhattan? Let’s be correct and call it ithatten. That’s better. Manchester. Itchester. One small step for man one large leap for Mankind. Please edit that. One small step for it one large leap for itkind.

Parent teacher conference? Sorry. The It It conference. PTA? IIA! “The principal wants to meet with parents and teachers of children who have animals.” G-d forbid. “It wants to meet with its and its of its who have its.” Much better.

I hope you get the point.

Some people want to eliminate the terms “boy” and “girl”, “man” and “woman” – because it might be offensive to others and make them feel uncomfortable. It unlikely might insult this tremendously small part of the population.

Insulting the Many not to insult the minority

What bigger insult than calling a person made in G-d’s image “it”? So should we insult 99.999% of the population – to possibly not insult .001%. Sorry my friend. Doesn’t make sense to me.

But let’s put that point aside.

Calling People Neutral Names Lessens appreciation for others

Calling everybody by a non-gender or a neutral terminology will make people be less appreciated. If I call a principal “it” – it reduces my appreciation for all the work he or she went through to reach this position. If I call a parent “it” – it reduces my appreciation for all the toil they went through to bring up their children. If I call a teacher “it” – it reduces my appreciation for the hard work and sweat and dedication to the students.

If I call a girl or a “pink” an “it” – it reduces my appreciation for her unique qualities and her strengths. If I call a boy “it” or a “blue” – it reduces my appreciation for his unique qualities and his strengths. Calling a person an “it” – equates a person to an object. Women don’t like to be treated as objects. Rightfully so. Why Should children be treated as such?

Judaism says call everyone by their name. Don’t call them nicknames – that may be derogatory and make people feel uncomfortable. Act with Respect towards everyone. Appreciate them as a person. Appreciate their strengths. Be tolerant towards their differences. Call a Boy a Boy and appreciate them. Call a girl a girl and appreciate their uniqueness. Make them feel good by you validating them as a person. Don’t treat them as an object.

Decadence Masquerading as Political Correctness

Many years ago – our forefather Abraham – ridiculed idol worship. People would sacrifice children because they treated their children as objects to satisfy their lust for idolatry. Children should not be sacrificed today – for decadence masquerading as  “political correctness.”

Save Your Children. Appreciate them for who they are.

When Values Backfire or Will Your Children Give You Grandchildren?

In Math class the top student was always first to answer the teacher’s math problems. No one could come close to his quickness in answering the questions. One friend asked him – “How did you become so smart – that you know the answers so quickly?” He replied “Simple – every day I come early to Math Class. I know the teacher will ask questions from the Math Textbook. I look up the answers in our teacher’s Teacher’s edition textbook and I repeat them in class.”

How to win Debates

I usually win ethical and philosophical debates.

Not necessarily because of my debating skills – but because I know which side of the argument to choose. I usually choose the Torah views. Thus I win the argument because I know that the Torah views are the views of G-d. He “thought out” the arguments already – I just have to provide reasons why G-d holds this way. I am like the student that looks up the answer in the Teacher’s Edition textbook.

The Torah is Hash-m’s / G-d’s guidebook. Eventually by choosing Torah views – if you think them out enough you will find out that these are most proper long-term values.

Torah – the Source of Tolerance

The Torah is the source of Tolerance in the world. Recently in last week’s parasha / Torah reading we learn that an evil gentile prophet – Bilaam is hired by King Balak to curse [sonai] Israel. He rides on a donkey. The Donkey veers off the path, crushes his foot into a wall and then stops at a narrow passageway.

Bilaam hits the donkey and the donkey starts to talk.

The ass said to Balaam, “Look, I am the ass that you have been riding all along until this day! Have I been in the habit of doing thus to you?” And he answered, “No.” [Bamidbar / Numbers 22:30]

After the conversation – where Bilaam couldn’t respond to his donkey – G-d sends an Angel to kill it. Why? So that people will not mock Bilaam saying “Look there is the donkey that Bilaam could not answer.” The obvious question is why? He was wicked – don’t we have the right to disrespect him?

The answer – no matter how wicked a person may be – we must act respectfully. That is called Tolerance.

This teaches regardless of how wicked a person is, we must act as we would respect another human being. In the end a person was created in the image of G-d. Pharaoh bathed in the blood of Jewish children, yet Moshe / Moses acted with the utmost respect towards him – as he would a normal king.

Respecting the honor of a person does not mean we must accept his or her values. This does not mean that we have to condone his actions. This does not mean that we have to accept his or her values.

In the case of a thief caught steeling old ladies purses – we must act with respect towards the thief but nevertheless bring them to justice. To condone the act of thievery would be called decadence.

It is popular today to adopt the values of other people because you don’t want to be racist. But this is the exact definition of decadence.

The Difference between Tolerance and  Decadence

Decadence is moral or cultural decline as characterized by excessive indulgence in pleasure or luxury. (as defined by google). The key word is decline.

Tolerance is the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

What society describes as tolerance – for example, as in the case of same gender marriage – is actually decadence. The society passes off decadence as tolerance. It is doing a very good job because many people fall into the trap. Tolerance is not decadence and vice versa.

What’s Wrong with Accepting the Lifestyle of Immorality

The parents who say they accept same gender marriage – end up at times with children who pursue a same gender relationship. Because of this – their children do not have children. Their values with which they raised their children turn against them. They end up with no grandchildren because their children pursued the values – ie, same gender marriage – that the parents condoned.

Thus one must choose their values wisely. One who raises children with Torah values – their children realize the importance to get married, raise a family, help society, live peacefully, do good to others, raise children and live a wholesome life. They pursue a life of positive relations with G-d, Family, Society, Friends and themselves.

Suffering Singles – Ending the Endless Dating Game

I usually have answers to problems.

Through dealing with my own personal sufferings, I learned techniques to solve personal problems.

Apparently because of the effect of my father’s jewelry business that experienced hard times, I also learned to solve business problems.

My mind goes to problem solving mode when I hear of a problem.

The first step in solving a problem is to define the problem.

Ask – “what is the problem?”

One problem in today’s society is many singles stay single and don’t get married.

Some may say that it is not a problem – but according to Torah Jews and gentiles have a Mitzvah to have children.

Also – for the ultimate good of society – it is a necessary good for people to help populate the world. If people did not have children, after one generation, theoretically the population would go to zero. No more new generations – One of the problems of  homosexuality and complete celibacy.

Nowadays, even among religious Jews – many find themselves single.

It baffles me what the basic cause of the problem. The cause of the large single population eludes me. Once the cause of the problem is found it is easier to find the solution. Below are questions for person in the non-married state may ask to help them tie the knot with a worthwhile mate.

Apparently being single is a source of suffering among many singles. Apparently, people want to settle down and found a family. I remember once my cousin mentioned that she went on many dates. Before I started dating seriously – with the intention of getting married – I thought that was a good thing. But then when I was in the dating scene I found that being in a state of doubt is a source of suffering.

So here are some of my thoughts for singles – based upon experience, logic and Torah.

What questions should you ask yourself?

What am I looking for?

These are the qualities that I find to be most important.

  1. Torah Values – someone that has a mentality that wants to bring up a family with Torah values. One that will put their children in a Torah day school.
  2. Good Middot / Character Traits – kind, positive, understanding, calm
  3. Good heart – one that is giving and not stingy.
  4. Responsible – that will
  5. Mentally stable – one that has no psychological issues
  6. Good family – the apple falls not far from the tree.
  7. Put together – dresses, acts and looks clean
  8. Attractive – but not attracting. She or he should be attractive to the the other party. The person should not be repulsive in the eyes of the other.

Why is 1 number one.Torah values of the mates is extremely important – because it sets up a common mentality between the couple. Also it is the best way to have respectful children, that will value being kind and also give you grandchildren. Jews marry Jews because it is a Torah law to have children that are Jewish that will uphold the values of the Torah and not serve idols or other gods.

Gentiles marry gentiles to commonly uphold the Torah’s seven noahide laws for all humanity with the family.

Sorting out the priorities – what is primary and secondary?

I heard many different requirements for a mate – a good singer, fun to be with, one who likes to go out. Apparently – many of the things singles demand are secondary. What good is finding a mate that loves to do outdoor activities  but is a tyrant, or is controlling or doesn’t want to have children.

What does G-d want?

If you  want to know what G-d wants – he wants you to raise a family that will follow the laws of the Torah. Simple. When one follows what G-d wants – one gains because it also turns out the best for the person and the family. Children enrolled in Torah day schools will likely be more respectful to parents  and will likely get married and give you grandchildren and help the continuity of Jewish nation – for they will likely marry Jewish.

What is your fear?

A person I know was turned off by marriage because out of 15 of his friends that married a great majority got divorced. That’s one fear.

I have another friend whose parents don’t get along. Is that the source of his fear?

Another fear is commitment.

Another is the fear of the partner’s spending habits. Some don’t want their partner to spend their money away.

OK. That’s your fear? Is it worth it to stay alone the rest of your life for any of the above? to me, no.

So deal with your fear – get out of your preconceived notions – pray to Hash-m that you will find a mate that will not realize your fears.

Also put stack the cards towards your advantage – look for someone that is reasonable, stable, non-temperamental and not controlling.

Is it you or them?

I asked someone – when they date is it usually you or the partner that breaks the relationship?

If you see yourself rejecting many people – perhaps you have to re-frame your priorities.

If others are rejecting you – perhaps you need to improve your look or your attitude. Some people are overly critical. Some Always think they are right. Some Lack self-esteem. Listen and look at yourself from an outside perspective. Try to determine what is turning people off and change for the better.

Are you making your effort?

Some people wait for Mr. or Mrs. Right to knock on their door. A person is expected to make a concerted effort to get married – like they would for finding a job. Every day – at least 10 minutes should be dedicated to finding a mate. Call the matchmakers.

Are you improving?

G-d wants you to improve. G-d will match you to a mate that is on your level. If a person is hanging out at cheap bars – G-d will allow them to meet a potential mate that hangs out in bars. If a person is careful about Torah and Mitzvot – like being Shomer Shabbat / a Shabbat observer – G-d will allow them to meet a potential mate that is also shomer shabbat.

A mate that is Shomer Shabbat is one of the basic things for a Jewish person to look for. Why? Simple – being Shomer Shabbat keeps the family together for 2 or three meals on Friday night to Saturday night. The family interacts and has a family life. As opposed  to each one involved with their own little activities – like sports, shopping and the like. Those activities can be done on Sunday. Shabbat is family day.

Are you praying to Hash-m?

Part of the effort is to pray to Hash-m to achieve one’s goals. at times G-d puts a person in a difficult situation to get them to appeal to Him. He want’s a relationship with you like a parent wants a relationship with their child.

Are you in lala land?

People think that there is nothing wrong with watching movies or reading the romance novels. The problem is is that these media tend to show people a fantasy life. Thus they unconsciously hope to find the person that will sweep them off their feet. Dream on. Obviously, you want someone that you are compatible with – but if he or she is not a model or a smooth talker – don’t reject them because of that.

Are you and your partner marriage minded?

Some people have no interest in getting married. At times one partner wants marriage – and the other partner is in it for the good times. Make sure your partner is not wasting your time.

But He / She is my friend!

A person’s spouse is supposed to be their best friend. At times people reject a good match because “I can’t marry them- they are my friend!” It’s good to marry a friend. For the ideal ate should be your best friend.

Where is your mate’s mind?

If your date is constantly talking about shopping – that’s where their mind is. If they speak about sports – that’s where their mind it. There is a difference between having a casual interest and being totally engrossed with anything – including sports, being thrifty, shopping.

If you have to – write the answers to the questions above. Write down your priorities and show them to someone who can give you honest Daat Torah / the opinion of the Torah.

Focus on Getting Married not the Secondary

I have a friend – a very good person – his mind is focused on converting others to becoming a vegetarian. I have another friend – he does much kindness with his friend – to the point that he neglected his personal life. There is nothing wrong with that – provided they are doing so with the right intentions – and with the guidance of the Torah. But if these things remove a person from the goal of getting married – they are tricking themselves. A person is responsible for himself to follow the Torah laws before other kindnesses he can do for others.

Get married. Have a family and enjoy life already!

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I ran a series of lectures on getting married. Included here is some of the advice from the lectures.

70 Tips to Protect Kids (and Yourself) on the Internet

The best medicine is preventive.

Judaism teaches the importance of purity in thought, speech, hearing, sight, and deed.

A child learns and lives. What he hears at home and by the media will train his or her thought patterns. Provide them with purity and Torah they will live pure lives.

One of our jobs as parents is to teach our children in such a way that their souls will remain as pure as when they were born throughout their lives. We are guided to that goal through the teachings of Torah. And by imparting it  to the children through the teachings of Torah – through learning it together with them, sending them to Torah day schools and bringing them up in a home conducive to Torah and Mitzvot.

Protecting thoughts from impurity does not only apply to children but to ourselves. Unfortunately many marriages were broken due to social media, improper usage of internet and smartphone apps.

Someone said – before the street was the street and the home was the home. With the TV – we bring the streets into our home. Even more so with the internet.

We thus provide a list of ways to protect the home and family from improper usage of the internet. The best way is to limit technology. Use a flip phone instead of a smartphone, but if the pros outweigh the cons of having a smartphone – we provide some simple methods of protection.

To protect one has to have a rudimentary understanding of technology. If one is not so tech oriented – perhaps they can take counsel with tech protection organizations – like smartconnectionsny.com.

Here is some basic info about technology.

The internet is basically one computer “talking” to another computer. To gain access to internet – one uses a modem or router as the device that allows the computers to communicate.

the basic set up is:

Home Computer —> Modem/Router  —-> Internet Server Computer

Let’s add three more elements : The browser, protection program and the Cloud DNS.

The Browser – like Chrome, internet explorer, firefox or safari is a program that enables the computer to interpret the other computers information. They usually communicate with a language called HTML. The browser can prevent pop-up ads and also other improper material. Some browsers allow extensions or add-ons to be downloaded and incorporated into  browsers that can help you in your parental control quest.

The Protection Program – this program that is on the home computer that protects the home computer from threats – like spyware, viruses, root-kits, trojan horses, malware, and inappropriate information.  The threat protection programs include include windows defender, spybot search and destroy, ZoneAlarm, Comodo Firewall Pro, Avast, AVG Anti-Rootkit, Spyware Blaster, AOL Active Security Monitor, McAfee SiteAdvisor, LinkScanner Lite, McAfee Total Protection, McAfee LiveSafe, Bitdefender Internet Security, Symantec Norton Security Deluxe, Kaspersky Internet Security, Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security, Kaspersky Total Security, Bitdefender Total Security, Symantec Norton Security Premium, Trend Micro Maximum Security, and others. Some are free for basic services. Some include parental controls others do not. Some protect against websites sites include k9.

The Cloud Control DNS – is a computer that is on the internet that the information that is sent to you passes through before it reaches your computer. This includes opendns.com. (See instructions for opendns installation here)

The Questions to ask

Social media sites are sites that allow people to communicate with one another for the sake of socializing through computers. Many exist. Recognize how one’s children are using the social media may provide info on whether the social media is a positive benefit for their kid or is it a negative influence. Are they using it properly or is it helping them to go down further in morality.

Parents may ask questions like – does my kid really need a cell phone 24 hours a day? Do they need a smart phone? How are they using social media? Do they need 24 hour internet access? Do they need access to certain apps? Do children lock their doors for periods of time? Does the Wifi have to be on all the time?

Choosing the Right Browser – Why I Uninstalled Google Chrome

I like google. They help us find info.

  • (I once wrote an email to Google that they could get many Mitzvot if their reason for providing the search engine is to do the Mitzvah of kindness in helping people find information – rather than for the money.)

Chrome is a good browser. But it may be too good. It has a mode – like internet explorer and firefox – called private browsing or incognito mode. This feature allows people to surf without a trace of what they did. great for kids that don’t want parent to find out where they surf.

I tried to disable private mode in Chrome. One article gave 28 steps on how to do it. A bit too many steps for me. apparently you have to do the reverse to reinstate it. I just decided to uninstall it. Some browsers on the computer or smartphone or tablet are made to protect from inappropriate sites.

Protection Tips

Here are some tips to prevent children from accessing sites you don’t want them to be on. We will include a gamut of ideas – some extreme (more secure) to less (less secure).

Caveat – remember to write your passwords in a secret place but accessible by you in case you forget.

The List below includes many ideas – i am sure there are more – and some are repetitive but may be phrased differently to gain a better understanding.

6 Things to Protect Family from Technology

There are 6 things a person restricts to prevent improper usage of technology
Restrict :
RT: the Router or Modem – which provides the internet service – through passwords and other restrictions
CP: The computer – through filters
PH: the smartphone – through passwords
AP: the apps or programs – through passwords or disengaging usage or preventing installation or removal of programs
MH: the mobile hotspot
GN: the availability of all of them

    More Secure

1. GN: Do not use or allow use of a internet, computer, TV, smart phone or tablet for kids or adults. (Our school has a policy that students are not allowed to use internet or smart phone). Rid yourself of devices that capture internet or at least minimize them.

2. RT: Do Not install internet service at home.

3. PH: Rid yourself of your current and/or old (and others) smartphones. Old smartphones can capture internet as well. Use a flip phone instead.

    Less Secure

4. RT: Internet Router Filters: Remove Internet from the House or restrict it to only certain computers. Parental controls allow on the router allow one to restrict which computers use the internet, what time the internet can be used by particular computers and to block any sites that have improper words in their url. (internet address)

4a. RT: Use an internet provider that already filters the internet.
Here are some sites that can help you with filters:
http://venishmartem.com/devices/computers/
A program to help secure smartphones – www.webshadow.org
how to lock down your wireless network
For those who are coping with challenges – guardyoureyes.com

5. GN: Put strong passwords on, Change the passwords regularly to and/or disengage :
– Access to Router administration. change your router pw regularly
– access to the wifi
– the computer (before it boots) and after it boots
– the smartphone
– particular apps on the smartphone
– the mobile hotspot

5b – Restrict Access to programs on computer or phone.

For iphone: it is easier to secure than an android. Some people buy specifically iphones because it has stronger parental controls. Use “settings” to lock access to apps.

For Android:

A special app has to be downloaded to lock apps on an Android. Search apps called “applock”. on an android lock the settings for 2 reasons – 1 to lock the access to children using the Mobile Hotspot. 2 To block children from. One produced by Cheetah – called CM applock on android allows a password on selected apps. It also takes pictures of intruders who tried to access the program – but entered the wrong password.
Lock access to using browsers like chrome or other browsers.

6. RT: Use a service called OPENDNS – found at opendns.com that protects the router from inappropriate sites.

6a RT: Disney offers hardware that is called “circle” that protects family from improper internet usage for about $90. (see meetcircle.com). There is another hardware called koala as well.

7. RT: Turn of wifi – when not using it. change password to wifi regularly.

8. CP: Install Internet filters. – Like K9 (http://www1.k9webprotection.com/) on your devices – iphone.

9. MH: Disengage – mobile hotspots. A mobile hotspot allows a person to access the internet through a smart phone. To get around wifi restrictions – Children can borrow phone and use moblie hotspots for wifi. Put a password on the mobile hotspot application (with an applock program) or buy a phone or service that does not offer it. Note: the mobile hotspot app may not appear in the applock locking app list of programs. In that case one must lock the settings.

10. PH: change password to your phone frequently. A numerical passcode or text password is more secure than a “swipe” password. A swipe password can be easily guessed by children by watching parents unlock phone or by looking at the reflection of grease on the screen. (thus it makes sense to clean phone screen and change password regularly.)

11. CP: change your administrative and system password to your boot up system of computer. for windows based computers – one usually presses f2 or f12 when booting up system.

12. CP: remove the ability to boot up your computer with a usb or cd drive. some can bypass filter by using a USB key with another operating system.

13. AP: Check browsing history regularly to see if there are any inappropriate sites that were accessed.

14. AP: Use only browsers that you can disengage privacy mode or incognito. Incognito mode or secret mode allows a person to surf the web without being recorded in the history.

a program called incognito gone (for windows) (http://incognitogone.com/) allows you to remove incognito mode in several browsers. in order to do it manually see articles below.

https://github.com/wmwood/IncognitoGone/releaseshttps://community.spiceworks.com/how_to/75544-how-to-disable-incognito-mode-in-google-chrome

another way (we recommend the above) to disengage incognito is below. (We tried it but it did not work.)

http://www.thewindowsclub.com/disable-private-browsing-internet-explorer-chrome-firefox mode. In windows you can get around it by

To disengage incognito or private browsing in Windows Internet Explorer
If you are experienced making changes to your computer’s Registry, you can permanently disable the “In-Private” browsing function so that it cannot be turned on by user settings.  If you have never done this, DON’T TRY …………get someone you trust to make this change for you.

Windows key +R

enter regedit and click OK

Navigate to….. HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Safety\PrivacIE

Create a new D-Word “Start Mode”  and give it a value of “0”

Save…OK

15. AP: Use a keylogger – any typing into computer will be recorded

16. GN: Teach children the dangers of inappropriate material.

17. GN: Learn about punishment for releasing seed in vain.

18. GN: Split the password. Husband knows one part of password and wife knows other. And they don’t tell each other their own half.

19. GN: Pray to Hash-m / to help you have a home clean of trash

20.  GN: be in touch with technology hotline. one is called (http://www.smartconnectionsny.com/) They can help you secure your technology for free or a very reasonable fee.

21. AP: In email filter out certain words to send immediately to trash.

22. RT: Put filter words to block sites in router

23. CP: Parental filters on mac or windows to prevent usage of computers at certain times.

24. RT: Restrict / Block all computers from your router except for the one(s) you use. Restrict Time of usage. This is done by logging on to router – see the particular router’s instructions.

25. GN: Use internet only for business.

26. RT: Don’t use wifi. If Kids want to use computer let computer be in a place where there are people who pass by. or limit Wifi by turning it off at certain times. Restrict time of computer usage. Only allow certain computers to log on to your router.

27. GN: Learn Torah Laws of Yichud / Seclusion – apply to computer. Put the computer in a public place where people come in and out to prevent people from doing things in secret. I once asked the Helper of Rabbi Elyashiv about Internet Usage. He said – it should be only used for business – and it should be treated with the same laws as Yichud.

28. GN: Think of futility of sites – it only makes you feel badly afterwards.

29. GN: Think of the day of death. Pirkei Avot. You will be judged and everybody will see your activities on a big screen in heaven.

30. GN: Send your activity by email to a trusted person through program like k9.

31. GN: Refrain from having fashion magazines and other periodicals that have tempting ads at home

32. GN: Observe Laws of Tzniut / Modesty.

33. GN: Be wary of friends of kids that are techies that steer your kids to bypass filters.

34. RT: Don’t show your wifi name publicly. On router administration panel one can choose that the wifi name not be displayed publicly. Change the name and password of the wifi access regularly.

35. RT: Assure your neighbors don’t have open usage wifi. or ask them to not give password to your kids.

36. RT: disengage wifi router button – called WPA.

37. CP: on tablets and macs – set up app access carefully.

38. GN: See if there is suspicious activity on your computer. Like – if you finished using one program and then when you log on you find another program running. Or if you use only a small amount of data on your phone and you see a lot of data being used. (see settings – data usage). If your google search brings up previous searches with improper words – be wary. Some AppLock or AppBlock programs take pictures of intruders.

39. PH: Clean your phone window – to prevent children finding out phone passwords. Children can guess the swipe code based upon finger prints on window.

40. GN: Speak openly about what you expect from kids – if they break rules make consequences

41. GN: educate them in a way that they will be able to make the right choices – Torah education

42. PH: Don’t leave Your phone lying around without supervision

43. GN: Use non common passwords

44. AP: Install web browsers with reporting features – like webshadow.

45. GN: get advice from professional – shmirateynayim.org guardureyes.org http://venishmartem.com/

46. GN: Learn about the consequences and punishments of immoral activity – A Torah book that treats the subject is called “Kav HaYashar”

47. CP: Remove the internet browser application – on apple products – one can easily remove or limit access to applications like app store, safari (the apple browser) etc. this is done through settings – users & groups – select user (press lock to unlock) – then go to parental controls

48. CP: Change password to computer – in windows computers usually there is a boot-up password and a password to get into windows. change both regularly

49. AP: Don’t use multiple browsers or browsers that have privacy / Incognito / Secret mode. Privacy mode – allows a person to browse without websites being logged into history. Some browsers allow a password to be used to engage privacy mode. Put on a password on privacy mode.

50. GN: Monitor the data usage of your applications on your phone. If you notice that mobile hotspot is using a lot of data and you don’t use mobile hotspot – perhaps someone in your family is using your phone. On android – go to > Settings – data usage – see which applications are using much data.

51. CP/PH: An Apple Iphone is more able to be secured from unauthorized access (without using external programs) than an android phone (i speak about the android version 5 – i don’t know about the newer versions). It has parental controls built into the operating system. Android has a program called “Family Link” (which works on Android 7.0 Nougat).

52. PH: On Android – specify which apps and content can be downloaded

Set up parental controls
  • On the device you want parental controls on, open the Play Store app .
  • In the top left corner, tap Menu Settings Parental controls.
  • Turn “Parental controls” On.
  • Create a PIN. …
  • Tap the type of content you want to filter.
  • Choose how to filter or restrict access.

53. GN: Children learn from parents. Limit your own technology usage to set a good example for children.

54. GN: Be on the same page with your spouse regarding tech usage. At times one spouse wants to be more restrictive while the other wants to be less restrictive – discuss what is important together.

55. GN: Install programs, apps and browser extensions that enhance parental control.

56. GN: Make policies at the house – no internet before homework. No usage after 9:00 pm or before 7:00 am. Some can be assured through router settings. Enforce them.

57: GN: Work with School to make and enforce policy. Here is an example of a school policy. One school we know disallows students from smartphone and internet usage.

58. CP: Prevent Wifi Password from being shown. In the wifi settings – in windows 7 – and possibly other systems – whoever has access to the computer can see the actual password of the wifi. One can hide the password of the wifi in windows 7. To hide WIFI password in windows 7 do the following. (be careful when changing settings – perhaps if you are not tech savvy – you can ask someone who is)

1. Open a command prompt as an administrator (right click, select “Run as administrator”
2. Run Regedit
3. Browse to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\AppID{86F80216-5DD6-4F43-953B-35EF40A35AEE}
4. Right click on the key
5. Select Permissions
6. Click Advanced button
7. Select Owner tab
8. Highlight Administrators group and then click OK
9. Under Security, highlight Administrators group and set Permissions to Full Control
10. Delete the key

59. RT: Before purchasing a router – see if it has ample parental controls.

60. RT: Some router companies offer extra parental controls for a fee.

61. RT: Some routers offer a Smartphone app to be able to monitor the internet usage from the app.

62. GN: Don’t be quick to jump on the bandwagon for technology. See first if it is good for the spirituality, education and materialism of child.

63. GN: Discuss concerns with Torah educators, Rabbis, social workers and professionals.

64. RT: Limit IP and/or MAC addresses that can gain access to your router. This prevents people from accessing your router with an outside computer or device without your permission.

65: CP: In browser settings set your privacy and security level higher.

66: CP/RT: A firewall is a program that prevents unauthorized access to computer or router. Set up you firewall on computer and router to allow high protection.

67: CP/PH: In your browser download apps that will allow you more safe browsing. In phone look-up “appblock” or “applock” or “parental control” in playstore or appstore.

68. CP: Set site and search engine mode to “restrict” results. Google search allows one to restrict adult sites. Youtube also has a restrictive mode as well.

69. GN: Utilize several methods of parental  controls at the same time (ie, redundancy), so if one fails to catch an improper site, the other will catch it.

70. CP: You should know how to unlock devices owned by children – to allow you to check up on what they are doing from time to time.

71. GN: You should also have access to their email – or at least put filters on their emails. You should have access to their unlock code to serve to prevent them from accessing certain sites.

72. Check Logs of internet usage. Some programs – like K9 and the router will give you a list of all the sites that were accessed. The browser also does this. By checking History – one can see all the sites that were accessed. Crafty children (or adults) may hide their sites by erasing history of sites visited on browser or by using privacy/secrecy/incognito mode on the browser. But the router also has a log of sites visited. So you might want to check that log of sites visited by accessing your router as well.

73. CP: Some browsers and programs will save your password when you log-on. This is called autofill. Avoid using autofill passwords – especially for the K9 (or other parental control program) administrative password, for administrative controls on the computer, for access to the router, etc.

74. CP: Block pop-up ads. Browsers usually have an option to block ads. Set the browser (or get an extension for browser) to block pop up ads.

75. CP: When a child gets a new phone, tablet or computer – before they use it – you should set yourself up on it as an administrator of the item – and set the controls to what is appropriate.

76. CP: Do not give easy access to children to your email or list of passwords. If they do have access – they might bypass certain restrictions on the computer. Thus it makes sense to put on several levels of parental controls. Some programs will alert you to unauthorized access attempts. Be informed.

Everything in life has a price. It is up to us to weigh the pros and cons of limiting technology and the effect it will have on the future morality of the children and the family.

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As we get new info – we will try to update this page. (bl”n – without commitment)