Rabbi Jonathan Ziring

Episode 7 May 21, 2024 00:54:38
Rabbi Jonathan Ziring
The Koren Podcast
Rabbi Jonathan Ziring

May 21 2024 | 00:54:38

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Show Notes

Join us as we hear from Rabbi Jonathan Ziring teach his Torah al regel ahat!

Rabbi Ziring is the Rosh Yeshiva of Migdal HaTorah in Modi'in. He studied at Yeshivat Har Etzion and continued his learning there as a member of the Kollel Gavoah. He was also a fellow at the Tikvah Fund and Center for Modern Torah Leadership's Summer Beit Midrash. Rabbi Ziring has previously served as Sgan Rosh Kollel of the Yeshiva University Torah miTzion Beit Midrash Zichron Dov and as the Rabbinic Assistant of BAYT in Toronto. He has taught in many contexts in the US, Canada and Israel, focusing particularly on the Halachic Process. His new book Torah in a Connected World: A Halakhic Perspective on Communications Technology and Social Media was published by Maggid Books, an imprint of Koren Jerusalem, in 2024.

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The Koren Podcast was written and hosted by Aryeh Grossman and Alex Drucker and was edited and produced by Alex Drucker. Artwork by Tani Bayer. Music by Music Unlimited via pixabay.com

The Koren Podcast is part of the Koren Podcast Network, a division of Koren Jerusalem.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: The people in the world who want to change the world and are open to looking at all sources of wisdom have found the wisdom in our tradition. And if they can find it, then, you know, I think it can bolster our Emuna. [00:00:25] Speaker B: Hello and welcome back to another episode of the Corhen podcast. We are going to be joined this week by Rabbi Jonathan Ziering, who, as well as being a world class educator and a roshi Shiva here in Israel, is the author of the brand new book Torah in a connected a halachic perspective on communications, technology and social media, which is truly mind blowing. Speaking to Rabbi Zering is a huge privilege, and we are very excited to hear what he has to say in response to our question of what is his Torah? Al Ragh el Akhat? If this is your first time listening, welcome. And if it's not, welcome back. Please do go back and listen to previous episodes once you finish with this one, and make sure to share like and subscribe wherever you're listening. So without further ado, here is our conversation with Rabbi Jonathan Ziering. We are very excited to be talking to Rabbi Jonathan Ziering for this week's episode of the Quorum podcast. And so we'll jump right in to our question of the Quran podcast. Ara Gallachat. Rabbi Ziering, please, can you teach us the whole Torah al Ragilachat? Standing on one leg? [00:01:31] Speaker A: So if I had to pick one thing to be sort of the Torah al Ragilachat, it's a comment that the Rav said in many places, which was that if he had the option, he would have added a 14th animin, the belief that the Torah is relevant in every generation. Now, he notes that at some level, that's implicit in the animam, in the belief that the Torah is eternal. But this is a more proactive declaration that the Torah can be relevant in every generation. And therefore, you need to shift your thinking in such a way that you find how it's relevant. And that belief, that conviction, has really animated the things that I've learned and studied the most intensely over the years. [00:02:15] Speaker B: I mean, so let's dive into that. I mean, first of all, is it incumbent upon us to find the relevance? Or is. Is it really just opening yourself up to Tara, becoming relevant? And it sort of shows itself off? [00:02:29] Speaker A: So, in an ideal world, I think that it's incumbent for us to look for it. Cause it's not always obvious. One of the things that really interests me, and that's the book that I put out through Magid and also things that I'm researching now is the interface between technologies and new technologies and technologies that don't yet exist. And halachah. But often the way in which those technologies are relevant and impact halacha is not obvious. If you don't go with an active conviction and belief that this is going to. That Torah has something to say, has to have something to say, then you're not going to find it. On the other hand, if you're open to it, then you will see it. I like giving people the example I throw out. The book that I wrote was on Torah in a connected world, on communication technology. And I asked people, I'm like, okay, when do you think the first shailah was that was asked the first halachic question that was asked about Zoom, right? And they all assume it was something around COVID sometime in the 2020, some odd. But the truth is that the first time it was asked was in the mid 19th century, by when he happened to be writing a chuvah about tzivoi habaal, by get, where a get has to be given with the direct instruction for the husband. And he was being asked about whether you could communicate that through a telegraph and things like that. And then, as Ray Shlomo Brody has pointed out, he knew, and it's clear from his language that he'd heard through science fiction that had entered the discourse, that there might one day be something like Zoom video teleconferencing. So the end of his chuvah, he writes, and if one day they invented such a thing, so then this is the halachah, right? He knew that it would be relevant. Now, that's like a small example, but he's 100 plus years before the technology is relevant. He already understands that if technology is changing, halacha will have something to say. Again, this is a small example, but you see that his interest is peaked. And even though no one had asked him about Zoom because it didn't exist, he felt like he needed to ask about it. Or maybe even more shocking than eerie, living in the 13th century in Provence, in the middle of his discussion about magic in Sanhedrin, says, obviously unprompted. And he says, and if one day, as we know is possible from science, I'm not sure why he knew this was possible. If cloning, meaning non sexual reproduction, becomes possible, which we know in theory is possible, it'll be permitted. It won't be considered magic because it's Aldera hatava. It can be done. Naturally, he's looking at technology that would not be developed for nearly a millennium, but he's convinced that he needs to speak to the issue. Now. You can see examples in the Gemara also, but those are just sort of small examples where if you believe it, you'll start talking about things that are at best theoretical when you're talking about it, because, you know, halakha will be relevant no matter what changes happen. But you do need to be looking for it. Otherwise, who's going to be looking for cloning in 13th century southern France? [00:05:32] Speaker C: I guess looking at it before we get to more specific examples, just in like a fundamental way. What's the fine line? Or how do we, like, find that fine line when we're looking and saying the Torah is relevant in every generation? How do we draw those? I don't know what it is. Parameters, framework? What does it look like to say, you know, to make sure that when you're coming to these topics and you're looking at Torah in this way, to say, I'm bringing Torah to these issues and not saying, I'm going to try and sort of make Torah fit around what things are today. [00:06:05] Speaker A: Yeah. So this is sometimes a fine line, right? Because sometimes, you know, and, you know, I do have this often people, I find that when they give a shear on the newest technology, it feels kitschy, because what they're really trying to do is, you know, get people's interest, but they're not really grappling with the question. So for me, my method, as one of my favruta rabbi doctor Shlomo Zucker pointed out to me once, and it was helpful for someone else to reflect on what I do. Where you said, a lot of modern halachic works are written Mina Mikorot Adlima Asa. They start with the sources and they go to the practical. My conviction is that when it comes to newer technologies, you don't know where you can't look for the halacha because it doesn't exist. There's no sif in Shulchan Aruch that's going to tell you how to deal with social media, with artificial intelligence. What you need to do is think. Min Hamasa Adla Mikarot. You need to think, how is this shifted life? And then you need to think. And admittedly, this requires creativity, openness, and also knowledge of a broad swath of Torah. What areas of AkA will speak to it? You don't shift it in. It comes naturally. So I do a thought experiment with my students. Since I finished this book, I've been thinking a lot about artificial intelligence. So I said with my students, the way I thought about it was the first thing I did was I sat down and I read 5100 books on artificial intelligence. What are the questions that people are asking? What do they think it's going to change? And I said, listen, I know you have no idea what we're doing. I'm going to walk you through the thought experiment. So I sit down with them, and I say, okay, there are three books written in the last ten years with almost the same title, two with the same title, and one with the opposite. Two books called robots will save Japan, and one called robots will not save Japan. And they're all about the question of whether, if we use artificial intelligence and combine it with robotics, will we be able to solve the problem that you have in a country with an aging population like Japan, of the lack of caregivers? And they debate this. So I said, okay, so you see from the fact that three books are written with basically the same title, that one of the major things that people are thinking about with artificial intelligence is, how will this shift elder care? Can we successfully move from using human beings to using machines that can, through machine learning, figure out our needs and wants, maybe better than we can? I said, okay, that's a question that bothers people. Now, there's not, obviously, a sif in Shulchan Aruch that says, can you use a robot powered by artificial intelligence to take care of the elderly? But I asked them, okay, but what is the fundamental question that's being asked there? And is there an area of halacha which, without forcing it with authenticity, would jump to mind? That must have sources. You don't know where they are, but you know it must speak about it. And after 30 seconds of them thinking about it, inevitably someone will say, well, doesn't kibbut AV aim deal with dealing with elderly parents? And hasn't always been the case that sometimes parents have illnesses or the like that children can't deal with or they don't live close enough and they have to find someone else? If we look in those sources, it must speak to the issue. Right. And if you distill the questions, you'll be able to find it. Right. The key is to not force it, is to figure out what is the question. The question here is, is there something important about the interpersonal element to taking care of the elderly, specifically parents or not? And then you need to figure out, well, okay, that question, at some level has been asked in the past, but how can I distill it and then shape it for this. And what I always show my students after 15 minutes or 20 minutes of this thought experiment is that it took very little time for them to figure out where they had to look. And once they know where to look, it comes authentically, right? Then you start looking. And the Gemara deals with someone whose mother started to be attracted to him, and he couldn't handle it, so he left for Eretz Yisrael. And then you have amachlokit, Rambam and Raivit. Under what circumstances are you allowed to hire somebody else to take care of your parents? And if you think about the broader issues, are interpersonal mitzvot, to use philosophical language? Are they consequentialists in nature? Are they only about the results, or are they about the action? Whether you want to take a kantian deontological approach, you want to take a virtue ethics approach, either one which focuses on the action either because of duty or because of how it changes you. Is kibbutz about taking care of their material needs? It's about taking care about the emotional needs, right. Once you put all that together, you actually have a framework that can authentically speak to the question of, can I replace my personal caring for my parents with robots? But the key is to not. Is to open yourself up and ask the question, well, what, in what way has this technology shifted life? And would the belief that halacha speaks to every aspect of life? Well, if life has changed, then halacha must have something to say about it. And if you open it up, you don't force it from the beginning. Often the things will jump out at you. Not always. Not always. Sometimes it's easier, and sometimes it's harder. And sometimes you have to realize also that what you think is new isn't new. So I always start, the first chapter in my book is about using the brachot of Shekayanu and Mecha Hametem, which are brachot, you say, on friends that you haven't seen in a while. Do you say that bracha, if you haven't, if you've been in communication with them now, while the way we're in communication, whether it be with FaceTime or Zoom or WhatsApp or whatever it might be, is different, this question isn't fundamentally new. People have letters. The first time a question was asked, was asked of Yaakov Chagiz and the Lochod kitano, and then the development of postscam on, well, what is friendship and what is the brachon? What is the experience that you're making the bracha on what is the nature of friendship? Is it simply about being communication? There's something unique about face to face communication. Versions of that question start bubbling up as soon as people can be in contact with people. It is there, naturally, if you're looking for it. But the key is really not force. It is to really ask yourself, in what way has life shifted? And if Halacha speaks every aspect of life, then what area of halacha is going to speak to this experience? [00:12:17] Speaker B: So how can you tell, as the posse, as the person writing the book, as the rosh hashira to the teacher, how can you tell when something is being forced versus something not being forced? I think, as in, probably everyone listening is familiar with someone coming to give a Shia about contemporary halacha, and it's really just an exercise in relevance. It doesn't really matter what the conclusion of the Shia is, doesn't matter what the topic is, necessarily. It's just like, look at me. I am a relevant jewish educator. How do you develop a framework where you're being authentic and you're not forcing things and coming to? I mean, anyone who reads the book will see that these are incredibly relevant questions. They're incredibly relevant examples and things, and we'll come to them in a moment. But you highlight things that perhaps people don't think about but are very, very relevant. Looking back to, as you say, like, you know, hundred, you know, a millennia old source that has relevance today. So how are you building a framework where you know that you're being both authentic and not forcing? [00:13:25] Speaker A: Yeah. So, look, admittedly, it's hard, right? You know, sometimes it is. You know, it's complicated. But my. Like I said, what drives me is the belief that it has to be relevant. There's an excellent book that came out of, I think, Oxford University Press, called Future Morality, which is a collection of, I forget what it is, 2030 essays dealing with emergent technologies and future technologies from the perspective of ethicists. In the introductory chapter, they asked the question, why are we writing this? Right? Why don't we wait? These things don't exist. We don't know how they're going to play out. And he said, very simply, is if you believe that ethics is important, then it can't just be responsive. You have to articulate a language that tells people that not only can we respond when it happens, but that we can help divide, we can help guide the development of the technology. If you really believe that ethics, or in my case, Torah, is important as something to say, it can't just be responsive. A lot of the times, the things that I feel are sometimes forced or sometimes just not so novel, like, important, but not really what animates me are things that are, like, a new technology came, and now I just sort of want to. I want another Nafka to something I already knew. I want another implication. What interests me more is developing frameworks that could help guide it. Again, there's no magic formula, but I looked for frameworks that will help not just respond to the technology, but as this develops, can help us figure out how the technology should be developed, how we should continue to interact, or to plan for the future. When I see a framework that I think actually guides it and doesn't just respond, then I at least it's promising. And I go down, you know, I go down that path. You know, look, there are examples of this in the secular world. You know, when stem cells were first really becoming an issue, the president gathered the president's bio council by something like that committee on Bioethics or something, I forget the exact name of it, where he brought together philosophers and religious leaders from across the world to help him guide policies, because he believed that there was truth in religious traditions that would help him figure out what should be law, including rabbis. Rabbis that he went to to get guidance. If the president of the United States, who is not an orthodox jew and doesn't live his life committed to the belief that Torah is from God, thinks that a rabbi should have something to say about Torah developing technologies in an authentic way, then we should believe it too. But we need to come in with it, with the belief that this can guide how it will develop. This can guide the way we live life. And again, not just try to make it a fancy shear. I already have the shear, and I have a shear on electricity, on Shabbat, ready to go. I already talked about. I've already given it on motion sensors, and now I just want to know. And I've already given it on Alexa, and now I just want to know if it's going to. Now that's important too, right? Halacha also moves incrementally, and if I have a language for Alexa and for voice control, then I might have a language from mind control or artificial intelligence that's important too. But often, people, they're just looking for the next naf so they can give a shit. They already had. And as you said, say, look, Halacha is still relevant, but if you really believe it's relevant, there's a deeper way, and it's relevant in which it guides and shifts the way we think about entire areas. Not just I can come up with a halachic answer to the newest question, but, like, I can guide the conversation. Right. To me, that's a more important conversation, not the other ones aren't authentic, right. But often that comes across to me as less seriously engaging with the belief that, like, Torah should guide. This has something to say. But again, there isn't a magic answer. When do I think it's forced? And when do I think it's natural? And sometimes I don't know whether I'm right. Sometimes the question is so obviously new, the best you can do. And you find this sometimes in Postkin, they'll say, listen, I don't know if this is right, but I wrote this article so that it exists. And now someone can argue. But before someone highlighted the way, this was new, so no one asked. So sometimes you'll be totally wrong. You can do is throw it out there. I mean, the chapter, I think that was hardest to write in the book was based on actual questions. Someone had once asked me, a friend who worked at a data protection company, without getting into all the details, but was there any violation of Lashon Hara if the negative information that is being fed into whatever without giving way too many deals of his question will never be accessed by people, but will be utilized by the systems using the algorithms that are programmed in? Lashan Hara. We think about it causes damage to people, but because people hurt it here, you're potentially hurting people with negative information, but no human being ever knew it. It's being fed into the algorithm, and the answer is being. Is popping out and being given to the bank teller or whatever it was. A question from a country where there aren't so many data protection limitations, right? So you could take private information and give an answer on whether the person should be granted a loan. Right? Is that lashon hara or what is it? And in that chapter, I made it very clear that I don't know what the answer is because no one's ever really asked the question because no, 1200 years ago could really imagine that information would be being given over. That could damage you. But no one ever knew the information. And in that chapter, I'm very clear about the fact that I'm just. I think Halacha has to have something to say. I throw out a few models hoping that someone will pick it up and say, this is compelling. This isn't. And sometimes the answer is you throw it out there and you hope that other people, if they find that it's resonant. And people who care about Torah and know Torah find it resonant, then maybe it's authentic. If not, you know, then you were wrong, but at least you got the conversation going right. [00:19:26] Speaker C: But do you think there's also a value there? The fact that someone will come along and read your chapter and write another book and then see, oh, this is why Rabbi Zering is totally wrong. And this, like, that's part of like. [00:19:36] Speaker A: Request for reaching, you know, Ramosha, lechon simi. You know, I gave it to Ramosha to write to Haskama only because I knew that he wouldn't give me a Haskama unless he felt until he read the book and actually wrote about it. And he, you know, and every time I'd ask him if he had written the Haskama, he's like, I read the book once. I'm not sure yet. I read the book again. But, and then he wrote a very thoughtful letter. But he said his biggest bracha to me is that I have, that I have to write a second edition because things are going to change. My opinion is going to change. There will be feedback. And whether it's me or somebody else, I can't think of anything better. I've already gotten people who are emailing me and they ask me, do you want my feedback? Certain people have been sending me feedback on every chapter, sometimes agreeing and sometimes not. Several of them have said, I'm sending you this so that the second edition comes out better. I'm happy to be wrong. Part of it is you have to get it out there. But the first book on a topic is important. Simply, yeah, I don't care. I mean, the books that have come out in the last few years that really tackled issues that haven't really been dealt with. Part of their importance is that they're out there. I think if you ask Rabbi Yoni Rosenzweig, what is the value of nafshib? Sheila T. On mental health? Part of it is that he's answering actual questions. And part of it is now when people ask about mental health and halakha, there's a book to look at. Now they might disagree, but before that, they didn't know where to look. Right now they might look and say, I disagree with your analysis, but it's a question with sources that I can now address. And I'm happy. I'd be very happy if people write and say, you're wrong, but here's a better model. But the conversation needs to happen in. [00:21:19] Speaker C: The way that technology is just this huge ongoing, endless development. What is the pursuit of exploring technological advances with halacha? What do you think that tells us about halacha and the hallachic system? [00:21:34] Speaker A: I mean, like I said, I think it tells you that halachah has something to say about everything, right. Authentically. Again, you know, halachah, halacha la maseh. People don't understand this phrase, but if you look in the Gemara, right. People think halachah is practical. It's not. Right. In the Gemara, halacha is theoretical law. L'im asa is practical law. And that's why Apsak isn't called upsak achiyom lo halacha le maseh. And the Gemara has different languages for it. There's the bridging of theoretical law with practical law. But every time you bridge that gap between theoretical law and practical law, you show that this isn't only theoretical, it's real. It has something profound to say. It is, you know, it's timeless. And what looks like a completely new question isn't, you know, isn't really new, right. There's. There's deep wisdom that can be brought to bear on the conversation, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly, right. Sometimes, you know, I'll say that halacha tells me that this is also. This is Mutra. And sometimes I'll say halacha provides a framework and points in direction. Maybe it doesn't answer the question, but gives language right. But again, I think the relevance is that it. It makes a statement that God, who is infinite and beyond time, gave us a corpus that can actually be meaningful and let us lead better lives no matter what. That, I think, is a very important statement. I don't know. To me, that's just one of the most important things that you can say about Torah, right? If Torah is limited, I tell people, I'm like, look, there were studies that the average person, and this was a few years ago, spent 9 hours or so a day on screen time. I said, the fact that that's the case, the average person sends, what, an hour and a quarter, an hour and a half generously in shul every day. But everyone thinks halacha had something to say about Tefillah. But if the average person spends 9 hours a day, 9 hours a day on screen with screen time, and Torah has nothing to say about that, that means halacha has something to say about the hour and a half you spend in Shul, and then the few hours, if you're very lucky that you have between Torah and whatever things you're going to do that are like avoded hashem that are classic service of God. But it is nothing to say that would be an indictment of Torah. I mean, look, you look at other examples. One of the most successful, I think, modern developments of halakha is modern medical ethics, where I think most from doctors, and even not from doctors, believe firmly that halacha has something to say about being a doctor. They understand that it has something to say. They go to conferences. They read books. So many doctors I know who are Shomr halacha, they have a passion for reading. The newest book by, you know, by Rabbi Bleich, by Doctor Steinberg, by, you know, by Doctor Rosner, right. By all the people who write about, because they know that saving lives is important. It's. This is something with value. And halachah has something to say, right. They're animated by it because they believe that they're doing a mitzvah. And since it's a mitzvah, right. Halacha has to have something to say. But there is nothing the same conviction or zeal to develop that halacha around legal ethics. There's like one or two books on what does it mean to be a lawyer? That's true to Torah. There's a few books on business ethics, but the parts of our life that we spend so much of our. That we spend so much time on, whether it be work, whether it be screen time, for better or probably for worse, we spend more time there than we do in Shul. But how could it be. How could it be that halacha doesn't have something to say about that, but it does about tfilah, really? Do you think that God created a religion that is relevant 3 hours a day? I mean, to me, that is unfathomable. [00:25:46] Speaker B: So we've been talking up to now about sort of anticipating trends or anticipating technology or whatever it is, and sort of making sure that halacha is part of the conversation. One of the sections of the book that really jumped out to me as being, I'd never thought about it in the way that you present it, is sort of the ebb and flow, I guess, of the idea of herem, that the. I mean, I'll let you talk about it because you literally write the book. But how herem developed as this tool that sort of perhaps went away a bit and now maybe have might have returned. [00:26:29] Speaker A: I'll take a step back, and then I'll come to it. So one of the things that fascinated me most in the book was how much communication technology and social media has changed the way we think about the definition of community. And when I framed it that way, a lot of halakhah that seemed disconnected become connected. So everything, like, from the friendship thing we talked about before, but also things like the classic category for rabbinic authority was Mara d'Atra, literally the master of the place. And now, where place is less important than a social network, does that shift the way we think about rabbinic authority? So these are seeming disparate questions, but they're really not. They're getting to the same question, which is, how do you define community when community is not primarily geographic in our minds? Or by Tztaka, where the category is Anie Irkha. But now we all know that we give money to the schools that we went to, the causes that we identify with, rather than our local charity. Is that okay? Is that Irka? So all those questions, at first glance, have nothing to do with each other, but they do, because they're about defining community in a non geographic world. But one of the ones which you mentioned, which really changed because it went in one direction and then shot back, was, hey, Rem. And we'll use hey Rem loosely to mean, hey, Rem. And Nidoy and the heiram of Rabbein Utam. All these are, without getting into the details, but the idea that we use social pressure to get people to do things that they should be doing. And the classic case, probably the most talked about case, is the case of Agunaot. Not classic aguna. Classic aguna. And the Gemara, which I also deal with in the book, is someone whose husband might be dead, but you're not sure, and therefore is anchored to her husband. But the case where the husband is very much alive but refuses to give a get in a dead marriage. Now, the sort of conceptual problem is that the Gemara says a get has to be given without coercion. It has to be given of his own free will, with the caveat that if a bait enforces you, so then that doesn't count as coercion, as the rambam said, because deep down, every jew has to do the right thing, and therefore, they're just weakening the yitzhara and then getting you to do what you really want. But part of this complexity of pushing people to do things without actually coercing them was using social pressure, various things that are attributed to rabbin Hutam. The problem was, these social pressures worked when you lived in a small community, and there were legal implications to be part of the jewish community. The government wanted everyone to be listed as part of a religion. And therefore, if the community would decide to leave you out of the community, there were extreme implications. And therefore, there were all these social sanctions that were used to convince someone who was supposed to give a get to give a get to his wife. But then what happened was emancipation. You weren't legally bound to the community. Travel became easier. So both legally and technologically, it was easily easier to leave your community, and therefore, you don't want to give your wife a get. So you got on a boat and you left wherever you were living in Russia, and you moved to France, you moved to England, and that was it. And a lot of these social sanctions sort of just stopped being effective. And then came social media. And suddenly the post can realize that the metaphors we use to talk about the world as a globalized community, when it came to the Khiram of Rabbeinu Tam, suddenly wasn't a metaphor. Because if the whole world is a community, then someone could be thousands of miles away and you could sort of tweak the social sanctions using social media. And now if someone was trying to be Maggie and his wife in Israel and disappeared and went to the middle of nowhere, in the midwest, in America, find him and put pressure on him by putting reviews on his business, that this person is abusing his wife by trapping her, you could have the same effect of, hey, im suddenly the postdom woke up and said, oh, these things are possible. And they started grappling with, is this something that we could do? And it came to a head when a baitan in Israel, actually in their psak against the husband, encouraged the use of these tools. And this led to several very thoughtful rabbanim who really care about the impact of Torah on modernity. Sherlo and Ravnavan wrote brief responses, and this was all recorded in excellent article by professors Surya al Rashi and Chanal Rosenberg on how they reflected on this. Because on the one hand, they said, this has sort of brought back the herem of rabbin Uttam, because now we can get you wherever you are. It's a small community. We can put pressure. But they said, the big difference is that, yes, we can get to you. But part of the strength of these tools were that they were employed by Beitan, and therefore, when the husband actually gave the get, they could pull them back. But here, in order for them to be effective, they have to be given over to the, you know, you have to throw caution to the wind and let's do it. Yeah. And then, you know, who knows what's going to happen? And even if the person gives the get, is there any way to undo the damage? And these modern postdocs started dealing with the question, well, on the one hand, we've recreated a community such that we can use social pressure again. On the other hand, in order to effectively use it, we need to tweak it in non insignificant ways. And how do we reflect on that reality? And I agree with you, that was one of the most fascinating things, because they recognize it and they didn't rule it out, but they said, you do. You have to recognize the similarities between globalized community connected through communications technology and the old classic community, and the distinct differences. And you need to tweak these sort of updated uses of Kamen Rodham in the ways that recognize both of them. And that's very challenging. But it was a fascinating sort of case study because that's exactly what they were doing. They were recognizing that community exists again, but in a different way. [00:33:02] Speaker C: One of the things I think that the past, whatever, at now seven, eight months has shown a lot of people in the jewish community is that kind of the spectrum on which people place themselves in relation to what the wider world in the past, whether it's politically or socially, somehow don't necessarily fit as we thought they might have done. People who thought they were one political way in the past suddenly find themselves isolated from that political world because the values that we have as Jews and as Zionists don't suddenly don't fit into those wider models. So in the same way, I think a lot of what we've seen online has completely exploded in terms of fake news and the way people talk about Israel and the way that videos are circulated, the way that even we report what's going on, how do you think that kind of a halachic approach to social media and sharing news online and the way we use technology, how can that, if we're trying to find a new way forward as Jews, as Zionists, as people that live here in Israel, as a jewish community, building a state in Israel, now that we're finding that kind of the previous communities or circles that we thought worked for us in a wider sense, don't work anymore, what does it look like to kind of forge something ahead as a jewish community with those values? [00:34:22] Speaker A: So this is a really hard question, right? I mean, it's not something that just, you know, just Jews have noticed, you know, the way in which this has totally shifted the way we talk about anything, right. And shattered the ways that we have had, you know, been able to have political discourse. I mean, you know, you know, in the secular world, you know, Jonathan Haidt has written several books where he has grappled with some aspects of it, whether it was his, his third book, the coddling of the american mind, or his newest book, the Anxious Generation, which just came out a few weeks ago, whether it's Jonathan Rauch, who wrote an excellent book, the Constitution of knowledge, on how we've broken our assumptions about what we think about knowledge, or Cass Sunstein, who has written, I don't even, I can't even count how many books that he's written on, you know, the effects of polarization and, you know, the number of scholars that we can, you know, that we can talk about that have been grappling with this issue. This is, you know, this is a really, it's a really big problem because, and I don't know if there's a good answer, but social media has really shifted the way we think. It's made everything more extreme. Rabbi Feldman, in his book on Lashon Hara that he published a bunch of years ago through Maget, makes the point that modern psychological research has led us to maybe have new insight on Lashon Hara. Right. He called his book, what was it? False. False facts. False facts and truth rumors. Right. And he said that one of the things that he learned is that there's a whole host of psychological heuristics that people like Kahneman and Tversky have picked up on, like the halo effect and the devil effect, the idea that the same exact information if presented to someone that you already like, you'll spin it in a good direction and someone you don't like, you'll spin in a bad direction. He argues that might be part of why Lashon hara is ASR. Because even when you say something true, it's really false. Because if I've never met you and the first thing I hear about you is negative, then even, it's going to take a long time for you to change my mind, and then I'm going to see the next thing spun. And Rayfeldman argues that we should incorporate our understanding of psychology to understand why the Torah banned things like Lashon hara and recognize that, yeah, even things that are technically true are not true because they're taken in a certain perspective. I think part of it is directly from halakha is like Roy Feldman is seeing maybe the psychological implications of halacha to help us think about these issues. And part of it is simply when I was living in Toronto, used to give. I think he might still do it every year for Shabbat Shuva would give a out of the box Shabbat Shuva to Russia. He said that Shuva is about changing our personality, and he would give a shear on how the newest research from behavioral sciences and psychology tell us that we can take actual action, do actual actions that will make us think differently. Part of it is just recognize that social media and the like is picking up on the worst in us, and we need to be aware of that, and we need to actively, I think, not just engage in Torah, but engage in psychology that help us shift our own ourselves so that we consume it in responsible ways. Whether we can come up with the ways of combating people who've already defined their communities along a certain axis such that they're not willing to listen to nuance, that's a much harder question. We can try. We can try to practice nuance and seeking truth and recognizing complexity in our own lives. I don't know if there's a good answer to how we can, you know, we thought we were part of this community, but they, you know, automatically believe the worst about, you know, Israel because it has been linked to every other cause they have. You know, that's. That's very hard if they're not listening to us. One of the very sad things that we've learned is that, you know, from, you know, a lot of this psychological research is that there is no way. There is no way of convincing someone who always already thinks that you're the devil, that you're not right. Every piece of information, good or bad, will be used, will be used against you. But we can look to Torah to convince us that we have to consume it better, and look to psychological research to recognize how those technologies are bringing about the worst in us and try to at least model better behavior. I wish I had an answer of how we could get other people to model that behavior again. As much as I think that Torah can influence it, and I really do, they're not listening. Whether they're listening to people like Jonathan Haidt, who are in the secular world and is consistent, listed amongst the top ten most influential social scientists, maybe. And if we can contribute to conversation in a broader way, that would be great. But I don't know if I have the answer to it. There are people who try, but I don't know if I have a good, good answer, too. [00:39:45] Speaker C: I think the tendency is that sometimes people who try almost try using the same tools that are being used in the other perspective. [00:39:51] Speaker A: Correct. That's the problem. A lot of the times. That's what we found. I don't know if there's a good answer. Sometimes you just hope to flood the conversation with as many more nuanced and good voices and hope that slowly but surely the conversation will shift. But, yeah, sometimes the most, the loudest people who are already convinced and anything you say is already presumed to be evil. I don't have any. If I did, then I would shift my profession from educator to, I would apply to be the spokesman for Tsao. But I'm not there. And I don't know if there's a magic answer. That's depressing. [00:40:38] Speaker B: No, it's not depressing as well. I think, first of all, it's an excellent sign of a world class educator and a fantastic book that it's a work of halakha that gives you so much to think about in terms of character development and personal choice and how we're consuming this media, the way we're not just consuming the media, but doing so thoughtfully and making sure that we're doing it the right way. Not depressing at all. I think it's a wonderful thing to do. [00:41:05] Speaker A: But you're not depressed? [00:41:07] Speaker B: Not about this, at least? [00:41:08] Speaker A: No. [00:41:09] Speaker C: I think also there's definitely a value for our listeners and those to read the book, to understand. The idea of this book is. This is not the final word. This is not where the story ends. This is like a step on that. [00:41:20] Speaker A: Yeah. I mean, that's, for me, really. It's beginning a conversation about it, about how, in this case, how communication technology and social media affects our lives, and how, you know, both how we have to respond to it, but how we can shape it. But like I said, also the conversation that I want to spark is not just this, but is the general belief that any technology that has the possibility to reshape our world and the way we experience the world, both halakh and Gaeth, respond to it, and if we let it, can shape the conversations we have about it in the way that we use it and pursue it and develop it. Those are the two conversations that, if this book sparks those conversations, I'll be thrilled. And by no stretch of the imagination do I want it to be the end of the conversation. I just encourage people always just to think broadly, both in Torah and my biases beyond Torah as well, because I think if you wanted to speak to the broader world, you need to know what exists in the broader world. In that sense, I'm very much a talmud of revolution that we have to just be exposed to the best and sometimes the worst of what exists in the world if we want to be part of the conversation and keep it relevant. I don't know how many books I've thrown out, but these were books that have helped me think about the conversation that exists outside the world of the Veit Midrash. And I'm sure that they don't. You know, actually, that's not true, right? I would say that. I'm sure they're not. They don't care about what I'm saying. But that's not true, right? I mentioned to my students that one of the things that's amazing to me is just how many books of social science you read these days that quote directly from Heschel's the Sabbath, right? When they're trying to figure out how to use social media or everything from social media, anyone, people from Jonathan Haidt who are talking directly about this, of the importance of taking a Sabbath from it. But to other things, like, there's a book on. On scarcity. I think it's just called scarcity, where they talk about their last chapter, quotes heavily from Heschel, because suddenly the world has woken up and said, wow, the jewish idea of the Sabbath has something profound. And I say to them, isn't it embarrassing that all these atheists, in the case of Haidt non Jews, they are wholly convinced that there is something in Shabbat that can speak meaningfully to the world that we live in, in technology, and yet, you know, we have conversations in the jewish community of, how can we convince our kids not to put down their phones and not text on Shabbat, right? They all see the wisdom in Shabbat of putting down the phones, and we don't. Right? Like, I think part of open, you know, like I said, I was about to say, they don't care what we have to say. But that's not true. That's not true is that the people in the world who want to change the world and are open to looking at all sources of wisdom have found the wisdom in our tradition. And if they can find it, then I think it can bolster Arimuna. When you read in a book from someone who is by no stretch of the imagination jewish or committed to halacha, will say, the solution to problem x, y, and z is Shabbat, right? That should give us, you know, that should make us believe that. Wow, maybe. And I know this is a crazy thought, maybe God was onto something, right? That he starts the Torah with Shabbat. You know, look, I think it is important to put our, you know, to put our voice out there also. Yes. For ourselves, but also, there are some people listening, right. There are people, you know. I know. I remember I was talking to Raikarmi a while ago, and he was so happy that he started a regular column in first things because he said, I've written for tradition for 50 years, and I'm glad to, in a set way, speak to a broader audience, because if you believe that Torah speaks to a broader audience, well, first things, sure, it's for a religious audience, but still, it's a much broader audience, and they're listening. That's a huge kiddush hashem. If you can convince a broader audience that we have something to say. Sure. We have to start with ourselves. I mean, you look at Roy Brody's new book on ethics. The book reviews have not just been in Jewish. Every week he's posting another place, another journal of political thought and politics that has been reviewing his book because they've realized, wow, Torah has something to say about military ethics. That's a testament to the strength and breadth and depth of the Torah. I think we need to celebrate that for ourselves and put our voices out there. And in some cases, people will listen. In some cases, they won't. But that's what we have to do if we really believe that the Torah that God gave us is always relevant and has something to say to the world. [00:46:17] Speaker C: So I think just as we wrap up a final question, thinking about in Yanaidi, Oma, let's say we're recording this during spirit Ome. And the starting point for this period is that this idea that Rabbi Akiva students, that they do not Shalom covered Zebaza, what does that mean today to show covered Zebaza or Shalom? [00:46:47] Speaker A: The key really is, as Hillel put it, right. You need to think, what don't you want to happen to you? I know it's simple advice, but it's not meaning we all jump to conclusions. And we're so easy to see something online and jump to conclusions and attack, but we know we don't want that to happen to us. I think, educationally, one of the most impressive moments. I got permission to share this story in the book. Book. I won't go through all the details, but there was a case when I was in Toronto where someone had. Where there was a group of students who had been in New York for NCSY Shabbat town and their way back, moze Shabbat. It wasn't Shabbat. They ran into Conan O'Brien, and they were very excited, but they didn't have their phones on them because it was after Shabbat and they were coming back from Shul. And he snapped a picture and put it on his social media, and everyone was really excited. But someone had misinterpreted that the picture had been taken on Shabbat and had written an article about it. And it came a whole, you know, it took a long time to clarify, but after the whole incident, Rabbi Seth Grauer, who was the principal of the school in Archaim, had given a speech to the students and said, I want you to just understand you didn't do anything wrong. It was Mozai Shabbat. You were in Mihal Shabbat. Right. But now there's an article out there that says that these high school kids were Makhal Shabbat. By having Conan Iran take their picture on Shabbat, you have to realize that, like, you have to realize how one false move can. Right. Can destroy you even when you didn't do anything wrong. Right. And I thought that was an important educational moment, but I think we need to think that. [00:48:33] Speaker B: Right? [00:48:33] Speaker A: We need to think. Right. Here's a moment where I know that I have been misinterpreted now that everyone thinks I did x. But if you don't want that to happen to you, then maybe next time you see that thing that it's so easy to jump and attack the person in a way that may not be able to be taken back, you should think Hillel's advice is very simple, but it's hard because you actually need to get into their mind, and you actually need to imagine. You need to be creative and say, well, it looks really bad, but maybe it's not. Maybe it's not. If you know that that can happen to you, well, then give. Be generous in your interpretation of what. Of what's happening to others. And again, it sounds simple, right. That what's hated to you, right. Don't to your friend. But in the moment, you often don't think that this is something that could ever happen to you because you're not being generous, right? You're not. The key is to really realize that, you know, the world, just the world of social media is one that encourages us to make snap decisions. But we all have experiences where people have made snap decisions about us that are wrong. And we need to deeply internalize the fact that we live in a world that encourages people to make wrong decisions too quickly. And since we don't want to happen to us. We need to not do that to other people. Again, it's simple, but it's not simple because, like, you know, how many news reports get things wrong because they want to be thorough, but they know that someone else is going to scoop them, and so therefore they're going to share the story without verifying it properly. But that's really damaging, right? That's really damaging. And if the cost is that they're going to scoop you, well, maybe you should. Now, most of us aren't journalists, but in our own life we do the same thing. Thing, right. We want to jump to conclusions because we need to have an opinion about this. You don't need to have an opinion about it. You don't need to have an opinion about it now. You need to realize our world moves really fast. Information travels way too fast for it to be accurate, and you need to give other people the respect that you want. And look, as Ray Feldman notes, sometimes the information is accurate, but that doesn't mean it's accurate in the bigger picture. Sometimes someone really did do something wrong, but just because that's the only snapshot, you have the person. So maybe you can express displeasure at that. But it takes a lot to recognize that that's just a snapshot of we all have bad days, we all do things that we don't, that we're not proud of. And we would hate it if someone else viewed us through the prism of a snapshot of us at our worst. And yet someone else we don't know, or we met just a few times, were so quick to view their entire personality through a frozen moment in time. So sometimes it's not accurate and sometimes it's technically true. But as Ray Feldman says, it's a false fact. We don't want people to judge us that way. We need to give other people the respect that we expect, that we hope that people give us. So I don't know if I can do better than Hillel in that sense. But again, the application is much harder. And just to end with it, I once heard from how much is lost by the fact that you don't learn the second half of the sentence. Maybe we'll finish with this. Is it the first half? Everybody knows what's heeded to you don't do to everyone. But he said the last words are the most important. Vidach, zil Gamor and the rest go learn. And he said, the simple shot is the principle is easy. What you need to do is now figure out how that principle expresses itself in every single law in the Torah, right? You don't understand that that simple advice actually manifests itself in every law, in every experience you'll have. The principle is easy. The key is Vidagh Zil Gamor is every time you have an experience, every time you learn any halacha, see how that principle manifests itself, how it speaks to it. That's a challenge. The first half is easy, but especially in the modern world, the second half is really, really hard. But that's the obligation. [00:52:46] Speaker B: I think it's a wonderful way to end as well, just in terms of what you're saying about finding how that idea manifests, but also in terms of finding the relevance of Tara, how we're experiencing, whether it's interpersonal, whether it's with Hashem, whether it's just in Tara learning, finding their relevance. And I think the book Tarana connects the world definitely does an excellent job of showing relevance of the Torah and the halachic system to life today. And so thank you very much to Rabbi Zering for joining us. [00:53:19] Speaker A: This is fun. [00:53:21] Speaker B: That's all we have time for this week. Thank you so much again to Rabbi Ziering for joining us. And thank you to you for listening. If you'd like to be in touch, you can reach us via email, podcastoranpub.com or on all of the regular social medias at Corenpublishers. You can get your copy of Rabbi Ziering's book Tara in a connected a halachic perspective on communication technology and social media from corinpub.com korenpub.com, and you can save 10% on his book and the rest of your order with the promo code podcast at checkout. That is all. We'll be back in a couple of weeks with another episode, so until next time, goodbye.

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