I had this conversation with a friend of mine (I'll call him Shmerel) who is involved with Meshimer. We were at a kiddush and the topic of smartphones came up. Some of my friends boasted about the success Meshimer has (for some reason, it makes the Rebbe Shlita an even bigger tzadik). I usually just ignore those conversations. After all, I have a non-filtered phone and my wife has one as well. So I try to keep a low profile. This time, I was put to the test.
Shmerel wanted to know if I have Meshimer on my phone. I told him I don't, but I have k9. He wasn't pleased. "Why put a goyishe filter, when we have much better filters that even filter out kafirah?" he wanted to know. All eyes were on me. So I took him to task.
"Tell me," I asked him. "When is the last time your wife went to the mikvah?" The expression on his face was priceless. It's the first time in his life he had this question asked by a non-dayan.
"Vee kimt ess doo erien? And it's not eidel to ask such questions," he stuttered out.
"Why won't you tell me? And while you're at it, can you tell me the wording of the last love text you sent to your wife?" I begged.
"That's private!" he exclaimed.
"Exactly!" I told him. "And I'm not about to make my private life public to anyone who works at Meshimer or is in the leadership of Satmar."
My friends looked at each other. "Is it really so that they have access to the information on your phone," one inquired. Another one told me that he was assured that they don't have access.
"Shmerel, you are a straight shooter," I sucked up to him. "Do they or do they not have access?"
"Errr. They won't do it." he finally answered.
"But can they," I quizzed.
"Yeah. If they want, they can," he finally admitted.
"And you blame me for wanting to keep my information private?" I asked him angrily, getting some approving glances form others around the table.
A friend, who's losing sleep at night because of the NSA surveillance program, tried to undo the damage. "Well, they won't do it. They have a policy not to go into anyone's phone without permission of the phone's owner," he assured us all.
"So I have to trust some Yoeli who works at Meshimer to honor that policy," one of my friends quipped. "What are the ramifications if he violates that policy?"
"He'll lose his job," the NSA-fearing-rebbe-loving friend answered.
"That's IF we'll ever find out of the breach and IF he isn't the son of a macher and IF the rebbe won't give him back his job," I didn't let go.
"Moreover," I hastily argued, "if someone wants to do a shidduch and pays the guy who works at Meshimer 10,000 to get all of his prospect mechuton's emails, don't you think he'll do it? Fine. Not for 10k. What about 50k? 100k? There is a price that will get you the information!
"Think about it. If Meshimer was here in the 1990s, Ren Aron would've had access to to all emails and text messages of the zalis, and vice versa! The same would be true with Bobov and all other major kehilos that went through major power struggles and changes, don’t you think? Think about how everyone’s private information would be up for grabs and could’ve been used as a great blackmailing tool. How different would today’s chasidishe kehilos landscape look if they had Meshimor 10-15 years ago? There is going to be more splits and fights in the future, and I don't want them to have access to my phone. No way no how."
When I finished, all hell broke loose. My friends demanded answers. Shmerel tried to calm them down, to no avail.
"It boggles my mind," I told my friends, "how you guys just opened your lives up to some 24 y/o Meshimer worker. Your private information is now in the hands of people who have no checks and balances, no accountability, who are governed by the mood swings of some in power. Your privacy is now in the mercy of a rebbe and his close people. What the hell is wrong with you?"
"I didn't know," one of them told me.
"Of course you didn't," I gave it to him. "You read all the Meshimer publications and get convinced that it's the right thing to do. Those people know how to play with your mind. You'll go off the derech if you don't filter your phone with them. You'll get cancer. You'll keep up the גאולה שלימה. And blah. And blah. And blah. You get so sucked into it that you can't even think straight for a second. You let demagogues convince you to give up the little privacy you have. You are 43 years old, you have grandchildren already, but you're still being controlled by some powers. Don't you feel like a loser?"
Shmerel got up and ran out of there. My friends? I'm positive that they still have Meshimer on their phones. They just don't know how to think outside the box or do different than they were/are told. Me? I'll put their filter on my phone over my dead body.
במקום שאין איש קוקט עס אזוי אויס
נאר נחום ראזענבערג ראטעוועט אונז פון מאלעסטעישן
נאר מייקל בלומבערג ראטעוועט אונז פון הערפיס
נאר חיים שאולזאן פארדאמט אלע רשעות
נאר נפתלי מאסטער העלפט אונז באקומען א נארמאלע עדוקעישען
נאר די סעקולער געריכטן טוען עפעס פאר יושר און צדק