Friday, 12 October 2012

Ultra-Orthodox idolatry

Op-ed: Smartphone-smashing at synagogue shows rabbis consider these devices to be dangerous deities

Have you seen the video in which a worshipper smashes a smartphone during the traditional singing and dancing with Torah scrolls at a yeshiva in

And who gives the smartphone "divine" significance? The rabbi, of course. The young man is justifiably embarrassed mainly by the fact that what he sees as a mere device is viewed by the rabbi as a small, dangerous deity. Attributing supernatural qualities to a device is idolatry.

The rabbi is merely following more prominent rabbis, perhaps even Torah sages, who have already issued their ruling regarding the device. They too are idol worshippers in a sense, as they also believe the object has supernatural destructive qualities. These rabbis should instead voice their opinion on the qualities of human beings, those that allow us to tell the difference between good and evil and differentiate between a cell phone bill and what is just in the eyes of God.

Phone-smashing ceremony

Those rabbis who curse the smart phone are guilty of another sin: They do not have any faith in the intelligence of their followers. They believe that man, even if he is raised in a blessed ultra-Orthodox environment, is a mere sack of lust, urges, addictions and overall stupidity. Anything - a picture of a six-year-old girl in the newspaper, a cell phone, the sound of a woman singing or seating arrangements on a bus – can distract him from the Torah.

It seems that deep down inside the haredi leaders would like to keep their holy audience shacked to the benches of the beit midrash (study hall) with tefillin straps from morning till night. This way they will all sit quietly like obedient dummies and study Torah. Until this happens, allow me to question the spiritual qualities of the youngster who smashed the phone and the understanding of Judaism attributed to the rabbis who encourage such behavior.,7340,L-4291320,00.html

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