Wednesday, May 04, 2005

An anti-cell phone letter

in this week's Jewish Press:
Cell Phones In Shuls

People are using cell phones in all places and at all times. A member of my shul has been using a cell phone even in middle of chazoras hashatz. I am constantly being disturbed by people talking on cell phones while I am trying to learn in my beis medrash. Is this the respect that Hashem deserves? Where is the awe of a mokom kadosh, a mikdosh me`at?

I would like to suggest that every shul and beis medrash, in order to prevent cellular communication, install a jammer device to block all cell phone frequencies. Of course, in certain locations these devices may be illegal. Outside of those jurisdictions, however, this may well be a workable solution.

Shimon Adelstein
I would suggest that the awe one must have in a shul, and how one must conduct himself, is the same as one would conduct himself in someone's home. My basis for this, the statement of Rava in the gemara at the end of Brachot, as cited lehalacha by the Rif. As I wrote on my rif blog:
Rabba said: And spitting inside the shul is permitted.
What is the reason?
We learn from wearing a shoe. Just as wearing shoes is permitted, so too is spitting permitted.

{Brachot 63a}
Rava said: Like his house.
Just as in his house, taking a shortcut, people object, but wearing shoes and spitting they do not object, so too in a shul, taking a shortcut {when not going in to pray in the meantime} is forbidden, and wearing shoes and spitting is permitted.
It would seem that just as people would not object to your leaving on a cell phone (or even answering it) in their homes, so too, from the perspective of attitude and awe for a shul, it would be permitted to leave on a cell phone in shul, just as expectorating or wearing shoes is permitted in a shul, the mikdash me'at, even though it (e.g. spitting) is definitively NOT allowed on the Temple Mount, the makom haMikdash itself (see the gemara or the Rif, immediately preceding).

Of course, there are restrictions some bring down about sicha betaila in the shul, but if we are concerned with this, we would also be concerned with it in terms of the fellow standing right next to you. The same in terms of speaking during chazarat haShatz. The sole issue would seem to be turning off cell phones in awe for the shul, and that does not seem to be the level required, at least in terms of awe for the place. Of course, there might be other issues, such as taking these measures to prevent talking in general, or the ringing disturbing others' prayers ... (Perhaps set on vibrate?)

Anyway, this is just my idle ramblings, and reaction to the statement that it shows lack of respect for the mikdash me'at. Not to be relied upon halacha limaaseh, obviously.

1 comment:

yaak said...

I try to keep mine on vibrate ALL the time - that way, I don't forget to switch it before going to shul.

I know that this doesn't help for women who keep it in their purse usually.


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