Thursday, September 27, 2012
Apple's Israeli market share might take a serious beating after public censure from one of the country's most senior haredi rabbis.
Rabbi Haim Kanievsky, whom many place in the top five most influential rabbis in Israel, issued a notice on Sunday calling for iPhone owners to burn their devices.
The edict, published on the front page of the influential haredi newspaper Yated Ne-eman, as well as in other orthodox dailies said that the iPhone was forbidden. Kanievsky compared the phones to weapons of war in their potential to cause harm. Kanievsky said that this ruling came about after businessmen asked him if iPhones were allowed under Jewish law.
This pronouncement is just one of a series of blows waged by ultra-orthodox rabbis. Smartphones and the Internet have both attracted the ire of rabbis because they permit easy access to pornography and sources of information from outside the strictures of the orthodox domain.
Many among the ultra-orthodox Jews have so-called "kosher cellphones", with no internet connection or text message facility.
September 12 saw Rabbi Lior Glazer holding a ritual iPhone destruction ceremony in Bnei Brak in response to the malign influence of these phones. The Eda Haredit communal organization has banned the use of iPhone, Blackberry and Android smartphones due to the "spiritual holocaust" they have visited upon people.
The main concern among orthodox Jews is the ready access to uncensored information, according to Professor Yedidya Stern, director of the Israel democracy Institute's Religion and State project. This is an even bigger concern than pornography.
"Haredim seek to isolate themselves from the world, but using an iPhone or any other type of smartphone can, with the flick of a finger and in a split second, give someone access to all kinds of information and values to which they were never before exposed," he added.
Before the Internet, haredi communities relied solely on rabbinic leadership for information and guidance. Television, secular newspapers, libraries and other sources of uncensored or unapproved information was prohibited. Smartphones offer unfettered access to the outside world. Professor Stern added that unlike TVs, smartphones with Internet access are easy to conceal and therefore harder to monitor and stamp out.
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