Last week we were informed that we can no longer visit Vosizneias.com whose tag line is “The Voice of the Orthodox Jewish Community” and is a website devoted to bringing news, albeit in a somewhat sanitized version, to the ultra-Orthodox community. This widely advertised ban which was approved and signed by over 30 Rabbis was collective and directed at all of us. All good Jews were instructed to stop reading this news site. Some investigative news sources tied this specific ban directly to a news article which appeared on the site that linked members of the community to illegal activities that resulted in a criminal investigation. Therefore, because of legitimate news reports that certain individuals wish to keep buried the wide readership who get their news from this source are now being told that this news service is a non-kosher resource.
Then just a few days later we were notified that we may not listen to radio, even Haredi radio stations, by another group of Rabbis who endorsed this ban. This prohibition is a larger problem then the prior bans we have heard against selected musicians and music stations that may have played secular music or music played on guitars. This ban is against listening to the radio, any radio, at all. It seems to me that these latest two sanctions are, at least for me, a new way of viewing the philosophy of bans in their entirety. I do not mean because the prohibitions impact me directly, at best their impact is very secondary. I mean that many of the people who use Vosizneias and listen to appropriate Jewish radio programs are caught in a conflict between what they are led to believe is reasonable and fair and part of normative religious practice and what they are now told is illegitimate to do if they are to be a member of the tribe.