June 16, 2016 Whassup on Whatsapp?
A screenshot taken from a Whatsapp group titled in Yiddish “Satmer Worldwide” is circulating on Whatsapp, the social media platform of choice for many Hasidim. It suggests that as part of the ongoing campaign amongst Hasidim to limit their use of internet and smartphones for non-commercial ends, the focus has now turned to the widespread use of Whatsapp and Whatsapp-groups.
This “Satmer Worldwide” group’s purpose seems to have been the sharing and discussing of internal news of interest to Satmer Hasidim (Aroinim faction), usually involving the rebbe, his institutions and the community. The members of the group were men who take a stronger interest in or are more active with internal affaris than the average Satmer member does.
The Yiddish message reads: “Per the rebbe’s request that we commit to not busy ourselves with Whatsapp groups, we’re going to leave this group. With God’s help, we shall meet one another at simchas.”
Today’s front page of the weekly Satmer Yiddish newspaper, Der Blatt, representing the same Satmer faction, reports about the rebbe’s public address during last week’s Shovuos holiday, alerting his followers to the ills he associated with Whatssapp groups, homiletically connecting them to the three cardinal sins, namely the exposure to and dissemination of nonconformist sentiment, immodest content, and gossip.
Listen to the Satmar Rebbe Aaron Teitelbaum explaining in Yiddish the ease with which exponential sharing is possible through such groups (i.e., social media). This recording was from the last Shovuos Tish, which extends well past the end of the holiday, which explains why a recording (prohibited during the holiday)
Update: A whatsapp-shaming ad campaign is now ongoing by Vaad Letahreinu, the official Satmer committee for the regulation of Internet and technology: