What is this thing, Hashkafa?
If there were no religious criteria for marriage short of “Torah observant Jew,” or “not,” we’d have a much easier time matching people up. But people quibble about the details, and these details are conveniently packaged into something called “hashkafa.” Amongst the things that fall under the realm of hashkafa are: television/movies/videos, various gradations of non-Jewish music (and Jewish music), media acknowledged, internet, time spent learning, shirt color, location and color of yarmulke, etc. None of these things are inherently religious matters, but to many, they make all the difference in the world.
I’ve been mulling over why. Maybe it’s obvious, but I can be a bit slow about some things, so bear with me.
It seems to me, that when it comes to religion, people have a comfort zone. “This is what I’m used to and this is where I’m used to drawing the line,” type of comfort zone. Someone who has never even used email draws the line at no internet. For them, crossing the digital divide is a journey fraught with religious uncertainty. Internet has not been part of their heretofore kosher life, and therefore, they don’t know how to deal with it. When in doubt, “al ta’amin biatzmecha,” so they keep away. Others believe that life is meant to be lived normally, while treading carefully on the safe side of the line. These people use internet with safeguards and filters. Then there are some who point out that you can’t hide forever, that you need to learn to keep a handle on yourself, and that there’s no greatness in having bechira if you don’t use it. These people prefer to surf unrestrained, and learn from any mistakes.
There aren’t many, if any, halachos of internet to broach or obey, yet people trying to maintain their religious integrity have difficulty moving from group to group. They haven’t been trained to live that way. It feels alarmingly free or unnecessarily constrained. They’re used to drawing the line in one location, and aren’t comfortable moving it too far.
And I’m betting that’s how it is in most “hashkafa” cases. It’s just a matter of where you draw your lines, and how far you’re willing to move them for the sake of a partner. Someone with no internet may be willing to have filtered internet as might someone with free-ranging internet habits, but rarely will someone with none feel comfortable moving to free-range, and the reverse.
…And that, folks, was Bad4 coming to terms with the necessity of hashkafic comparisons.