When Edison invented the light bulb it was a wonder. At the same time, electricity is dangerous. Many people were electrocuted those first years, before grounding and wire splitting were discovered to prevent such incidents. No one in his right mind dared touch electricity before it was safe to do so.
Slowly, slowly, scientists developed safe, plastic, separated wires and other methods to safely use electricity. No house or factory today is unequipped with basic electricity safety features.
Yet nobody has stood up to denounce those who warn of the dangers of electricity. “Primitives!” they should scream. “How can you not recognize the benefits of electric light? How can you not respect the power of electricity? Due to electricity, we have transportation, trains, industry, trade."
Electricity lights our homes, roads and intersections at night. Clearly, it is a precious gift, one that potentially could push the world many steps forward, on condition we learn how to use it properly, and to take heed of the dangers. Otherwise, it is a burning fire with the power to burn people and homes alike, even the whole world.
So, too, it is today with regard to all types of computers, the internet and other cellular devices.
They invented an idea and developed it, but no one bothered to take proper, basic precautions.
Computers broke into the business world and into private homes, but without proper separated wires, grounding international treaties, or any other basic precautions.
As a result, individuals and families have been destroyed, files are subject to industrial theft, espionage and more.
Nor have we seen the worst: computerized terror attacks and warfare are surely on the way.
The primitives among us run after the latest computers and cellular phones. When our sages, who have a 3000-year-history of caution, warned our young people and families to stay away from such things, people laughed at them, raged at them, accused them of being pedantic and small-minded. How could you possibly do without all the benefits of the computer?
Now they’ll understand
Now, following the Trojan Horse scandal, perhaps people will finally understand that a computer is dangerous, no less than it is fantastic and helpful. Everyone understands that cell phones present educational dangers to our children; as useful as they may be at enabling parents and children, and buyers and purchasers, to speak by phone.
Now is the time to return to caution with regard to computer dangers, and to hope that the damage caused by the Trojan Horse scandal will encourage technicians and experts to develop ways to protect and guidelines for protection in the face of an existant danger.
Maybe now they will understand that it is impossible to race forward without securing what you’ve already got. It is impossible to leave exposed electricity in the street and to leave an electric current available to the touch of young people, or old people for that matter.
That which common sense didn’t accomplish, economic reality will force. This way, the terrible spiritual dangers currently destroying many good parts of our young people in general, and amongst the ultra-Orthodox in particular will be avoided.
Rabbi Yisroel Eichler is a former Knesset Member and is now the head of the Center for Jewish Public Relations.