Wednesday, 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)
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
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