The Other Internet Problem

By Jeff Helmreich

Josh Rolnick, The Sh'ma Institute, April 2012

One of the starkest contrasts between American and Jewish law involves humiliation. Today, Americans can literally embarrass someone to death (as in cyber-bullying) without committing a crime, even though they could face jail time for forcibly shaking someone's hand. Jewish law, in contrast, prohibits public insult in the strictest terms, likening it to murder. This legal difference reflects a deeper one: Western society has promiscuously embraced the free expression and use of information, as it has promoted self-actualization through sharing and learning truth. In contrast, Jewish tradition has never much championed the flow of facts, and remains far more concerned with protecting people's good names than with our right to say or know more about them.

Topic: Halakha, Morality, Jewish Law, Tradition, Internet, Ethics, Law

Name of Publication: Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Ideas

Editor: Berrin, Susan

Volume/Issue: Vol.42/no.689

Preview: Download

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Genre: Article

Coverage: United States

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Helmreich, Jeff. The Other Internet Problem. Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Ideas. Josh Rolnick, The Sh'ma Institute. April 2012:


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