FOILED Part a Million

I pitched recently a story to an editor of mine about the Haredi Jewish desire to eradicate technology, specifically the Internet and smart phones. Here is my pitch, briefly:

You’ll know, of course, about the battle the Hasidic world is waging against the Internet.  In late May, more than 50,000 Hasids attended the first Anti-Internet asifa at Citi-Field, and similar smaller events were held in London, Zurich, Vienna, and Antwerp in the first week or so of September.  (This, of course, is in addition to the myriad smaller ways various rebbes/rabbis urge followers to abstain from Internet use or, at the least, use filtering software.)  Most of the analysis up until now has been “Of course, religion hates free speech!”  But I’d like to use the 100-page-plus booklet handed out at the first asifa –– which I’ve read twice –– and other sources regarding the secular culture’s attitude toward the Internet to compose a piece directed at the issue from another angle, namely, “Why We Should Approach the Internet Like Hasids.”

And my editor’s response:

I think, honestly, this doesn’t quite work for us either. Thing is, we’re very conscious of engaging with discussions that are taking place at any given time, so this is an idea that may have worked well in the days leading up to, or just after the large Hasidic gathering. But for now it doesn’t seem pegged to anything on people’s minds.

And yet AND YET… today, in Tablet, an article by Liel Leibovitz who I love perhaps to an extent that is sort of creepy, entitled “iPhones Are Bad for You: What the ultra-Orthodox campaign against smart phones as a ‘spiritual Holocaust’ gets right about technology.”  (Full article here.)


“The rabbis, then, have it right. Their reasons for banning smart phones may be different—they are primarily concerned that device owners will use them to access corrupting content like pornography—but their hearts are in the right place. We may not want to follow their advice and banish our iPhones altogether, but we should heed their warning and realize that our new shiny forms of connectedness come at a steep spiritual cost.”

He basically took my thesis!  Instead of being annoyed that he did this, though, I’ve decided that I’ll be happy that Liel and I are on the same wavelength.  (If he were here right now, I’d point my fingers at my eyes, and then silently at his, as if to say, “I’m watching you, LL.”)

PS I’m confused because I’ve always pictured him as a little old man, and yet…

Neither old nor particularly little?

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