Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ultra-orthodox Israeli rabbi claims he has permission to use an iPhone--as other haredim smash smartphones

Another backlog item, as reported by Kobi Nahshoni of Ynet News, October 17, 2012:

While senior ultra-Orthodox rabbis are stepping up their war on smartphones and imposing personal sanctions on haredi Jews using the "forbidden device," one religious leader appears to have special privileges.

Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak says that prominent Lithuanian leader, Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman, has given him and his followers permission to use iPhones "for repentance purposes".

Rabbi Yitzhak was asked to comment on the issue on the website of his "Shofar" organization, after pictures of him using a smartphone were posted on social networks and other websites.

The rabbi, famous for his involvement in activities which are centered on helping Jews to become more religious or observant, referred to those who criticized him as "fools", likening them to people committing offenses against God.

The rabbi wrote in his response, "Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak, may he live long and happily, is against iPhones and similar devices. Fools are asking, without knowing, how is it that Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak has an iPhone. It should be known that the most outstanding man of his time, the genius Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman, has personally permitted the rabbi and his team to use iPhones for repentance purposes."

Smashing phones
As part of rabbis' war of smartphones, Porat Yosef Yeshiva head Rabbi Moshe Tzadka recently ordered a worshipper to smash his phone during a celebration of holiday of Simchat Torah.

Before the phone was broken, Rabbi Tzadka said it was a mitzvah of "Kiddush Hasem" and that performing it was like acting on the verse dealing with idolatry: "Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones." (Deuteronomy 7:5)

After the phone owner broke the device in two with his hands, the rabbi called on the audience to repeat after him, "So may all your enemies perish, Lord!" (Judges 5: 31)

An "iPhone breaking event" was held several weeks ago at the Maayan Shalom Synagogue in Bnei Brak. The event was orchestrated by Rabbi Lior Glazer, who told his followers that "a religious person who owns this impure device is an abominable creature."
And this earlier report from Ynet News, October 10, 2012:

Ultra-Orthodox rabbis are stepping up their war on smartphones, using the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah as an excellent opportunity to prove just how serious they are.

On Monday evening, during the traditional singing and dancing with Torah scrolls at the Porat Yosef Yeshiva in Jerusalem, yeshiva head Rabbi Moshe Tzadka ordered one of the worshippers to break his phone.

The Anash News website reported that immediately afterwards, the rabbi ordered anyone in need of salvation to receive a blessing from the man – as a sign that his spiritual level was higher after destroying the device.

Before the phone was broken, Rabbi Tzadka said it was a mitzvah of "Kiddush Hasem" (martyrdom) and that performing it was like acting on the verse dealing with idolatry: "Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones." (Deuteronomy 7:5)

After the phone owner broke the device in two with his hands, the rabbi called on the audience to repeat after him, "So may all your enemies perish, Lord!" (Judges 5: 31)

iPhone worth NIS 10,000
Haredi news agency Kav Hahasifot ("Exposure Line") reported that in the yeshiva of Rabbi Shmuel Halevy Wosner, one of the prominent Hasidic rabbis, a donation was from one of the worshippers was refused after it was revealed that he owned a smartphone.

During Simchat Torah, some synagogues "sell" readings of the Torah to the highest bidder. One of the most prestigious readings is that of "all the youth", in which the person reading the Torah does it with all the children who have yet to reach their bar mitzvah.

According to the report, one of the worshippers at the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, headed by Rabbi Wosner, "bought" the reading of "all the youth" for a very respectable sum of NIS 10,000 (about $2,500).

Another worshipper, who heard about the purchase, rushed over to the yeshiva head's son and informed him that the buyer owns an iPhone. The son did not hesitate and immediately canceled the "purchase" and ruled that the Torah reading must be resold.

According to one of the synagogue goers, the buyer's pleas and explanations that he only uses the device for his work were completely ignored.

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