The I-Phone and the Egel Zahav
We had the distinct pleasure of having Rav Ezriel Tauber come and give some Hizuk to the Yeshiva. I really appreciate the Rosh Yeshiva for brining in various people to speak, many of whom he doesn’t agree with, but just wants us to learn to think for ourselves. It probably also helps with the prestige of the Yeshiva. Some coming back to the Hizuk.
I don’t know if Rav Tauber normally does this, but he brought an avereich with him as a bit of an opening act. With passion and fire he told us how the I-Phone was the worst disaster to ever have befallen the Jewish people. It was worst the Egel Zahav(golden calf), and then he said it was actually worse the sin of Adam HaRishon. The most interesting line from the opening act was this, “A man who has a television in his home and watches pornographic films is considered a Tzadik Gamur compared to someone who owns an I-Phone.” My first thought was that this pure soul has probably never seen the stuff on broadcast television, let alone an actual pornagraphic film.
Unfortunately Rav Tauber continued along much the same line of thought. His deal was that Chazal say that the every generation that does not rebuild the Beit HaMikdash is considered to have destroyed it. Thus given the weight of the sin of the I-Phone, if even a single Jew owns one, the entire generation will be judged as wicked, because the Beit HaMikdash will not be rebuilt while even a single Jew owns an I-Phone. I don’t know what he talked about beyond that, because after 45mins of this, I left, went to the secondary Beit Midrash in the Yeshiva and insinuated myself into an impromptu havrutta between two of the major mekubalim that learn there.
In short, I don’t really like having a cell-phone, and have no desire to own an I-phone, so getting Hizuk on not owning an I-Phone just seemed to be a waste of time. That is my first objection. My second objection is when is Judaism going to stop acting like a bunch of Luddites. One thing that the late Lubavitcher Rebbe ZTz”L used to say was that we need to capitalize on technology and use it for the service to Hashem. That makes more sense.
Let’s look at a short list of previous bans:
The printing press(one was assured of eternal damnation for offering up holy books on the work of the Satan)- Today even the holy Siddur HaRashash is printed on one, and in multiple colors.
Trains(surely the polution caused to one’s soul by being able to go to so easily from one side of the city to another, or even another city where one can mingle with strange folk was a horrible aveirah)- So now there is one running through Jerusalem, and not sing Rabbi protested.
Cars(much the same as trains, but with even less constraints, surely the owner of a car was a hopeless reprobate)- Can you name a single Rav or Admur who doesn’t have a car.
Radios, fax machines, televisions(even without broadast reception), computers, internet and now I-Phones.
I have a rather distinct memory of another Hizuk session about 15yrs ago, when Rav Birnbaum ZTz”L and Rav Kotler proudly proclaimed that one could have a computer the day they brought those wicked devices into their own Yeshivot, but not to worry, it would never happen. Today there are two in the Mir(Brooklyn) and three in BMG, because some enterprising soul developed the program “Otzrot Hokhmah”.