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December 4, 2016 / 4 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘phone’

Was ‘Internet Ban’ an Authoritative Decree of Torah Sages, or Just Baloney?

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

OK. The title is a bit extreme. But at least I have your attention. Last May – one will recall – there was a giant Asifa – a gathering of tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews dealing with the dangers of the internet. Although it was billed as a way to properly use the internet, it was ultimately about trashing it and forbidding its use altogether accept for livelihood purposes. And even then – only with filters and only outside the house.

Not that any of that surprised me. But what did surprise me is the way Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman who introduced 99-year-old Israeli Posek, Rav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner.

Using Rabbenu Yona’s Shaarei Teshuva as his source Rabbi Wachsman said that when Rivivos Yisroel (thousands of Jews) gather in one place and decisions for action are made by leaders of Klal Yisroel, those who separate themselves from those actions lose their portion in Olam Haba. I suppose he would call this ‘decision for action’ by Rav Wosner Daas Torah.

After that introduction what followed was Rav Wosner paskining in the most serious and solemn of tones that it is absolutely forbidden to own or use any device that has internet capabilities in one’s home – even if it is filtered. The only permit was for business, with a flter, and only outside the home. He added that it is even forbidden to enter a home that has the internet. And that religious schools should exclude children whose homes have it.

Despite that edict and Rabbi Wachsman’s dire warnings, that Psak has been almost completely ignored by the vast majority of Charedim. Although immediuately after that Asifa there was a flurry of activity by a number of Charedim to get rid of their smart-phones and remove the internet from their homes – the ban has basically been unsuccessful. I guess those poor people who still have smart-phones and the like (which is probably the vast majority of Charedim) have all lost their Olam Haba.

One of the things I noticed the most in my recent trip to Israel was that in the Charedi neighborhoods in which I hung out – virtually everyone had a smart-phone. They were so ubiquitous, that I could barely believe my eyes. Perhaps some of them had filters, I don’t know. But that wasn’t the Psak of Rav Wosner that Rabbi Wachsman said must be followed – or else! Rav Wosner said that it was only to be used for Parnassa purposes – with filters – in places of business. The Charedim I saw were using their smart phones causally at their leisure during Chol HaMoed Sukkos. Tons of them!

Not to let things just slide, members of the strident right keep coming out with public statements about such devices. Most recently just before Sukkos it was claimed by the Israeli Yated and other Charedi newspapers that Rav Chaim Kanievsky issued a public notice saying that anyone who owns an i-phone should burn it. It was later denied by sources close to Rav Kaneivsky saying that he only wished to warn people about the dangers involved.

Then something amazing happened. Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak was photographed using an i-phone in his car. One may recall that he was one the earliest proponents of destroying them – railing against its dangers. And yet, there he was using it himself. He defended his own use of it claiming he got a Heter (permission) from another elderly Gadol, Rav Aharon Leib Steinman, to use it for Kiruv purposes.

Well… all of a sudden the internet seems to carry some value among Charedim, at least enough to make exceptions to destroying it. And in the case of Rav Kaneivsky – he too seems to place some positive value on it. At least enough to be moved to deny the claim that he had called for destroying i-phones.

One of the biggest criticisms I have about the strident right, is their black and white – all or nothing approach to everything. Of course this is quite in character for them. Everything In their world is black and white, including their clothing. They never heard of the word grey. There is no nuance. No subtlety. No concessions to any of the positive values of something they don’t approve of. If they think the bad outweighs the good – then they just say it is all bad and forbid it. But life does not work that way. Reality will trump rhetoric every single time they come into conflict with each other. As can be plainly seen by the way their bans are ignored.

As I have said over a Gazillion times, the internet is a tool that can be used for good and bad and should be treated that way. The right always said that the bad so far outweighs the good that there is nothing to talk about. Rav Wosner sure felt that way. Even though he probably never used the internet in his entire life.

Another thing I have said over a gazillion times is that I agree with the right about the dangers of the internet. I also agree that precautions must be taken to prevent encountering those dangers. Where I part company with them is in their all or nothing approach. And in their refusal to acknowledge that there is a positive side to it worth utilizing. Their public knows it. Which is why Rav Wosner’s Psak is honored more in the breach than in its adherence.

Rav Shlomo Aviner has the most sensible attitude about using this technology, it is basically the same position most moderate Charedi and Centrist rabbinic leaders have. From YWN:

The rav explained that SMS text messages and internet connectivity are helpful to many people. He feels there is no prohibition in using either of these services.

“It is certainly preferable to have a kosher phone but this is a chumra and not obligatory. One who feels a non-kosher phone is a michshol must prohibit himself from using such a device” the rav stated.

Rabbi Avi[n]er  continued by explaining there are things the Torah did not prohibit but if a person realizes such a device will cause him to stumble, such a person must set restrictions into place to avoid falling due to this michshol.

I wonder if Rabbi Wachsman still believes we are all going permanently to hell?

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Harry Maryles

Postcard from Israel – Mazkeret Batya

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

There are not many places in the Middle East (or in Britain, for that matter) in which one can still find an old fashioned British red telephone box with a working phone. In Mazkeret Batya, south-east of Rehovot, there is exactly that – a remnant from the days of the British Mandate – on the main street of the moshava, next to the museum.

Originally named Ekron after the Biblical city, the agricultural community was established in November 1883 by ten immigrant families from Russia who were joined the next year by eight other families. The moshava changed its name to Mazkeret Batya in 1887 in honour of the mother of Baron Rothschild who, at the request of Rabbi Shmuel Mohilever of ‘Hovevei Tzion,’ had purchased the land upon which the community was built.

Now a fast-growing  town, Mazkeret Batya retains many of its delightful original buildings, some still with the terracotta roof tiles and original timbers imported from Europe, including the ‘new’ synagogue built in 1927, the original well from 1883, the Rothschild farm building (now a community centre), the smithy, the pharmacy and original cow sheds since converted into cafes or houses. A feature exclusive to Mazkeret Batya is the ‘Kazramot,’ or dwellings built with a cow shed on the ground floor and accommodation for the farmers above – in order to get round the Ottoman prohibition of the time on house building for Jewish immigrants.

During the war of Independence, Mazkeret Batya served as the site of a field hospital for the injured from battles at Latrun and a starting point for convoys to besieged Jerusalem. One of the old armoured vehicles takes pride of place at the end of ‘Route of the Convoys Street.’

Visit CifWatch.com.

Hadar Sela

While in NYC, Bibi Devours Traditional Jewish Food

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

While staying at a Manhattan hotel, on Friday the Israeli prime minister made a phone “to go” purchase from Pomegranate, a kosher supermarket at 1507 Coney Island Ave in Midwood, Brooklyn. The establishment is owned by a Satmar chassid.

Shimi Schwartz and Shlomi Leitner, both employees of Pomegranate, told the website JDN that the PM insisted on sampling absolutely every item on the delivery menu, including gefilte fish, tcholent, kugel, and challah.

The two employees reported that the order had been made very close to the start of Shabbat, when most workers were already headed home, but senior chef Meir Iluz, a former resident of Israel, got on top of the order and made sure it arrived on time.

The order came to some $1,800 – not including the delivery tip. The premier appeared satisfied with the contents.

Tibbi Singer

Going In Circles

Friday, September 14th, 2012

When people ask me what kind of column I write for The Jewish Press, I say, “advice,” but I actually make those quotes with my fingers. I don’t think I’ve actually saved any lives yet. But this column is still great way to vent about your problems, so long as you can figure out how to put them in the form of a question.

Dear Mordechai,

The guy next to me on the road is talking on his phone while driving. Is he trying to get us all killed?

Sent from my iPhone

Dear Sent,

I would say you should stay right on him, lean on your horn, and don’t stop. Eventually, he’ll have to hang up.

This all makes us long for the good old days, when phones were attached to people’s houses, so there was only a limited distance that you could drive with them, depending on the size of your cord. Most people couldn’t leave their neighborhoods.

But the truth is this kind of multitasking is nothing new. People have always been doing other things while driving, and people have always been doing other things while talking on the phone. Before we spent all our driving time staring at our phones, we were eating, finding something good on the radio, shaving, clipping our toenails, blindly groping for things our kids dropped under the seat, and passing back open drinks. And back when we had separate devices for phoning and computing, we would only half pay attention to the people we were on the phone with, who would think they had our full attention until we mumbled, “Uch, where are all the jacks?”

“Um, are you playing solitaire?”

“No, I’m… playing jacks.”

It’s not like the really old days, when phones came in two separate pieces – one for the ear and one for the mouth — and the wire was six inches long, so to talk on the phone, people had to lean over them and use both hands. Maybe that would solve the problem.

Or maybe not. People text with both hands too.

Dear Mordechai,

Why does everyone in my shul walk so slowly during Hoshanos? I need to get to work.

Sent from my iPhone

Dear Sent,

I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t be suggesting we all walk faster while holding lulavim.

No shul I’ve ever been to has ever managed to do any better. They could bring in city planners to figure out the best route around the shul, and they could move tables and put up traffic signs, and people will still take shortcuts across corners and merge back in, which, in the end, makes the line go even slower. .

Half of them don’t even realize they’re merging. They’re just looking down at their siddurim and following the tallis in front of them.

Somehow I always end up with a guy in front of me going really slow, and a guy behind me leaning on my back. Or else the guy behind me is a kid, and every time the guy in front of me makes a short stop, the kid pokes me in the back with his lulav. Not that I blame him. The poor kid, with his tiny hands, can’t hold a thousand-page Artscroll machzor and a lulav and an esrog that is bigger than his hands. None of us can really hold all that and turn the page (because somehow you always have to turn the page. That’s the other nice thing about the Artscrolls).

So you figure, “Look, the chazzan is saying everything out loud, 3 words at a time. Why do I need my own siddur?” But then as soon as he’s done, there’s a whole paragraph that you have to say by yourself, and it’s going to take you ten minutes to get back to your seat, because the chazzan, when he finishes, is somehow right back at his shtender, but everyone else is on the exact opposite side of the shul from where they need to be. So yes, you need to have a siddur with you, so you can say the paragraph while blindly making your way to your seat.

We don’t have this problem on Simchas Torah. We go around the shul then too, but people are running, they’re holding each other’s shoulders, weaving in and out, and everything’s fine. And this is on top of Torahs and piggyback riders and sticky hands from all the candy. And I’m not even talking about the kids. But on Sukkos, those same people can’t manage to make it around one time.

Mordechai Schmutter

Netanyahu Rosh Hashanah Message Highlights Gov’t Achievements

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a Rosh Hashanah youtube message yesterday highlighting his government’s achievements throughout the year, displaying one government achievement per month.

Examples given in the video include the return of Gilad Shalit, increasing funding for education allowing children to attend school from age three, and allowing other companies to use cell phone infrastructure, adding several new cell phone companies to the market with significantly lower prices.

The video, below, is in Hebrew.

Daniel Tauber

The Master Conductor Of All Events

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

The incident occurred during The Three Weeks when work at my place of employment for the summer months came to a standstill. I was to meet with a couple of high school buddies of mine at the train shelter in Cedarhurst, from where we had planned to walk to the park.

It was only a few seconds into our walk when I realized that I was missing my cell phone. Even as I searched my pockets, to no avail, I already knew that I had left my blackberry behind at the shelter and hoped I’d find it sitting idle on the bench.

My heart sank. The bench was bare and there was no phone to be found. I borrowed my friend’s phone and dialed my number. A woman answered but spoke only Spanish and didn’t seem to understand anything I was saying. I asked her to put someone on the phone that spoke English. A man said hello.

I explained that they had my phone and asked them to return it to the place where they had found it. The man replied that this would not be possible since he was on the train headed for Jamaica. When I told him he had no right to take it and that I would report him to the police, the phone went dead.

Despite my frustration, my gut instinct told me that my blackberry wasn’t gone for good and that I would be seeing it again. Still, I was no longer in a mood to visit the park and returned home where I used our landline to badger the thieves, determined not to lose track of my phone’s whereabouts. The scenario kept repeating itself; the woman would answer and upon my insistence hand the phone to the same man, until he abruptly terminated the call after saying he had reached his stop and needed to get off.

I called again, but there was no answer. Shortly thereafter our phone rang – the ID displaying my cell number. It was Nanda, my grandmother’s longtime housekeeper who’d been with the family since my mother was a little girl.

“Did you lose a phone?” she asked my mother.

“Yes, Josh did,” answered my mom. “How in the world did you end up with his phone?” she asked the woman who knew us well.

Nanda explained that she was riding the LIRR when a female commuter about to disembark tossed the phone at her.

A startled Nanda checked the blackberry and was even more surprised to find that several recent incoming calls were made from none other than our home number – one she was quite familiar with. That’s when she called us, figuring we’d be able to shed light on the mystery of her unexpected “gift.” (If they weren’t already aware that cell phones can not only be disabled but tracked as well, I had made sure to let the thieves know that their prize find could end up costing them dearly.)

Nanda was scheduled to work for someone in our neighborhood the following day and was more than happy to stop by with my phone. Needless to say I was immensely grateful to her, and more so to Hashem, who saved me the expense of acquiring a new phone, as well as the major hassle of attempting to replace all the accumulated personal data.

The chances of Nanda being in that car of that train at that time and the one passenger (among many) chosen to be the recipient of my blackberry was remote at best. It could only have been arranged by the One that coordinates every aspect of our daily lives.

Joshua Weiss

Netanyahu Touts Economic Achievements in Face Global Crisis

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

At the weekly cabinet meeting yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touted his government’s economic accomplishments and the strength of the Israeli economy relative to the global economy.

“The world is still in a continuing economic crisis, the worst to strike the global economy in 80 years, Netanyahu said. “We are obliged to tighten our belt in order to maintain the Israeli economy.”

Nevertheless, Netanyahu said the government has taken action to increase social welfare programs including making education free starting at age three, which just took affect and providing free dental care for children up to age 12.

The Prime Minister said that extending free education to children to the age of three would save the average household NIS 800 ($200) a month.

He also pointed to the reforms in cellar phone market forcing cell phone companies to share their infrastructure, which has allowed several new companies to emerge offering unlimited cell phone plans at NIS 100 ($25) per month or less.

Netanyahu said these moves were “the most social thing” to do, referencing the attacks made on the government by social justice protestors and Labor party leader Shelly Yachamovitch.

In addition, Netanyahu cited the most recent unemployment report putting the unemployment rate for July at 6.5%, which Netanyahu said was “lower than the unemployment rate in the US, Europe and almost every other developed state.”

Netanyahu also addressed Iran’s nuclear program, reiterating his position that diplomacy has failed because the world has not set clear red lines.

The IAEA “report confirms what we have been saying for some time,” Netanyahu said. “While the international sanctions are indeed making things difficult for the Iranian economy, they are not delaying the progress of the Iranian nuclear project.”

According to the report, Iran doubled the number of centrifuges in its nuclear facility near Qom, which is buried deep in a mountain and considered immune to Israeli attack.

Although not all these centrifuges are operational, according to The New York Times, the facility has three-fourths the amount of centrifuges it would need to be completely operational.

The Times also reported that the agency found evidence of an extensive clean up  at another cite where IAEA inspectors believe explosives tests may have been conducted.

Daniel Tauber

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/netanyahu-touts-economic-achievements-in-face-global-crisis/2012/09/03/

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