Rabbi Aviner: Don't read talkbacks
One of Religious Zionism's leaders says responding to articles on websites may lead to religious and moral transgressions. 'Talkbacks can bring many blessings, but for the most part we see that they have many negative sides which means it isn't worth it in the long run'
Shlomo Aviner, one of Religious Zionism's leading rabbis, has stated that responses to articles on websites should not be read due to fears that doing so would lead to religious and moral transgressions.
In a conversation with Ynet, Rabbi Aviner stressed that this isn't a halachic decree or a comprehensive ban from a higher rabbinic authority, it is a ruling he gave to his students after receiving a question via text message which asked: "After reading a 'kosher' article is it all right to take a look at the talkbacks?"
The rabbi's response: "No, due to major fears that it would lead to 'lashon hara' (gossip, slander), humiliation and valueless time consumption". The question and answer session was published in the Maayanei Hayeshua weekly which is given out in synagogues.
"Talkbacks can bring many blessings, but for the most part we see that they have many negative sides which means it isn't worth it in the long run," Rabbi Aviner explained on Thursday.
In his opinion, the ability to respond to articles and publications and to hold debates should have promoted "clarification and reformation of ideas and opinions" which is why "it could have been a wonderful thing", but instead it is used for diatribes and gossip under assumed identities which the Torah sees as "cursed be he that smiteth his neighbor secretly ".
The rabbi gave an example: "A professor writes an article, and then some pipsqueak comes out of nowhere and responds with 'you know nothing you and your nonsense', you can of course disagree and argue the point, but what kind of cheap rude style of response is that?"
After examining the complicated situation – and the positive and negative sides of talkbacks, the rabbi ruled that it is preferable to give talkbacks a pass and explained: "I can't tell the person who asked me the question to look at the talkbacks in a critical light, read only the positive ones, it doesn't work that way. A person can get swept away by the talkbacks, so a decision is needed. It's like having someone ask if they should eat soup that has a few unhealthy vegetables in it.
"We all give up positive things because of the unhealthy elements they have. I mean, you aren't in the desert with no food, so no, don't eat the soup. Find something else to eat. Instead of reading article talkbacks, I recommend reading Rashi's 'talkbacks' on the Torah."
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