Cellphone Circus in The Whitehouse vs Shul

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    I think its sad if the way we learn to turn of phones in shul is from non-Jews. So much for us being a light unto the nations…


    Ames, thats not what I meant. I’m sorry it came out that way. I don’t know if I can be clear right now. I’m really sick. I’ll try to clarify tomorrow.


    “eizeh hu chacham, halomed m’KAL adam”


    SJS at night? Yay!

    ames, of course its good to learn from everyone, but something like this which is involving davening, its sad that it has to come from a goy and not an inborn thing.


    an open book

    not sure if this is what was meant, but i think it’s sad that we have to learn something like this from goyim & that don’t think of it ourselves, but once we are in this situation, let’s use it well & learn from it.


    SJS: feel better!

    ames: that clip was hilarious! it’s crazy too, when the speakers/Rabbeim’s cell phones go off in middle of shiurim too! once when a speaker’s phone went off mid shiur, he said Hashem was calling him! the place was rolling!

    i still remember like it was yesterday the first & only time my phone went off in yeshiva! i had my first cellphone for just a week & forgot to turn it off for yeshiva! so my phone went off in middle of learning & i sat there with a straight face as if it wasn’t even mine! i was completely mortified, & it was even a wrong number! every day without fail now, out of habit just shut it off(silent it)!

    it’s sad that people who have phones for so long still can’t remember to turn off the ringer before going into a makom kadosh-shul, yeshiva ect..


    i believe SJ meant that: ideally we should conduct ourselves in a distinguished manner and the goyim should observe us, learn from us, and try to be as good as we are.

    it’s a shame that we do not always conduct ourselves properly to the point that sometimes we end up learning proper conduct from the goyim, upside down. thats what sj finds sad

    i hope i understood her properly


    The Heavenly Call

    Rabbi Yaakov Luban

    The Heavenly Call

    First, A Disclaimer

    The following story describes the irreverent behavior of a group of worshipers in a shul. The author wishes to make it clear that this is not an accurate representation of what actually occurs in most synagogues.

    Rather, it is a verbal caricature of sorts, which exaggerates certain patterns of human behavior for purposes of instruction.

    And Now the Story

    One particularly noisy Shabbos morning, Rabbi Cohen stopped the davening, but he did not pound on the shtender and deliver his traditional fire and brimstone invective. Instead, he looked defeated and spoke in a hushed tone.

    The first e-mail arrived the very next day. The address indicated that it was sent from one Mallach (angel) to another with a copy to Bernie Goldberg. Understandably, no one had ever received a communication of this sort before, and it created quite a stir in Congregation Tefilla Bikavana when Bernie showed it to his friends.

    FROM: A Young Mallach

    TO: His Supervisor

    SUBJECT: Mallachim Conference on Decorum cc: Bernie Goldberg

    This is to summarize the discussion that took place at our recent conference of Mallachim in the Rokiah Hashomayim (firmament of the heaven), and to document my subsequent follow up activities.

    The theme of the conference was the lack of proper decorum in the synagogue environment. The chairman of the conference introduced the topic this way:

    After listening to a fine delivery by one of the Mallachim, I was inspired to propose a new idea. This speaker noted that the central cause for talking in shul, and for that matter, the lack of kavana as well, is that people do not grasp spiritual realities. If man would only catch a tiny glimpse of the spiritual rays of the Shechina (Divine presence) and the hosts of angels, which fill every shul, no one would dare utter a single sound of disrespect. Alas, mortal man is not permitted to see spiritual realities. He lives his life blindly in the transient material world, and only when the soul departs from the body is the neshama stunned to discover that he lived in darkness throughout his lifetime.

    My proposal was accepted, and I was given an opportunity to establish a pilot program to test my plan. It was suggested that my first experimental e-mail communication be sent to Bernie Goldberg, a particularly notorious talker. He is therefore being copied on this memo. He will now be on alert that I will send further e-mails to him in the near future about this matter. I am certain that initially he will think this is a hoax, but eventually he will be forced to change his mind.

    Do you think Hashem listens to your pleas when you constantly interrupt your prayers to speak to a friend or neighbor? More likely, you make the situation worse by your insulting behavior.

    Next Friday, Bernie received a second e-mail. This one spoke directly to him:

    FROM: A Concerned Mallach

    TO: Bernie Goldberg

    SUBJECT: How Many Stars Are in the Universe?

    Look out the shul window at the sun. Try to stare at it. You cannot. If you force yourself, your eyes will be blinded. The sun is 93 million miles away, yet even at such enormous distances, mortal man cannot gaze at the sun. Think about the power of the sun and the fact that it was created by Hashem.

    Later tonight, go outside and look up at the stars in the heaven. How many stars are in the sky? There are 100 billion stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way. Can you picture the magnitude of that number? There is still more. The universe contains approximately 125 billion galaxies, each of which may contain more than 200 billion stars. All told, there are more than 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars (1022) in the universe, some of which are trillions of light years away.

    Who created, in one split moment, on the fourth day of creation, all these celestial bodies? Who continuously maintains their existence? G-d Almighty (7).

    Now human beings are inconsequential specks of dust in the great expanse of time and space. Puny man is but a few square feet of matter. He lives briefly for 60, 70, 80 years and then disappears for eternity into the vacuum of emptiness and non-existence.

    Bernie, think about what occurs when you go to pray in a synagogue. The Almighty, in his kindness, rests his Shechina within the walls of the shul, and sends hosts of angels to act as special emissaries to escort your tefillos to the seat of his Heavenly throne. And what do you do? You foolishly and irreverently sit back in your seat in shul and discuss with your friends your new designer socks, how long you plan to sleep this afternoon, and what brand of tuna you prefer. You chase the angels away and anger G-d every time you step foot into shul. Are you not ashamed?

    Bernie brought this e-mail to shul on Shabbos and showed it to his friends. They were not amused. What nerve the Rabbi had to give them mussar under this thinly veiled guise of e-mail from a Mallach. As a matter of principle, Bernie made certain to talk straight through the entire davening.

    FROM: A Perturbed Mallach

    TO: Bernie Goldberg

    SUBJECT: Have You Ever Davened?

    I know you still think this e-mail is a hoax, but you will soon come to your senses.

    Bernie took the last paragraph of the e-mail as a challenge. He was not going to be intimidated by a prankster, and that Shabbos he talked even more than usual in shul. Rabbi Cohen was particularly upset, and he finally pounded on his shtender and delivered a passionate drasha.

    Generally, a misdeed is fixed and limited, but this sin was almost infinite in its scope. This averah was so massive that Kayin could not bear the burden of the crime.

    We can now understand the comparison. Just as Kayin committed infinite acts of murder, so too is the insult to G-d (made by people talking during chazoras hashatz), infinite in its scope. Both sins are unlimited, and for this reason they are too overwhelming to be borne by mortal man.

    Bernie slowly read the e-mail and his face turned white. He looked as if he had seen a ghost. Here is what this e-mail said:

    FROM: An Impatient Mallach

    TO: Bernie Goldberg

    SUBJECT: The Proof

    Bernie Goldberg. The heavenly court is running out of patience with you. I have been authorized to reveal information that only you know, to prove that I am an authentic Mallach.

    Before mussaf, Rabbi Cohen stood to deliver his weekly sermon. His eyes were particularly intent, and his gaze repeatedly returned to Bernie, as he spoke with measured deliberation.

    Rav Elya Lapian (15) underscores this thought by relating a story that occurred in Russia during the reign of Czar Nicholas. An engineer built a major roadway in Moscow. The Czar was so impressed with the road that he honored the engineer by granting him an audience in the royal palace.

    When the man appeared before the Czar, he was so overwhelmed with fear that his vocal cords froze, and he could not utter a word. The man never recovered from the trauma, and he remained mute for the remainder of his life.

    Bernie listened intently to the Rabbi. This time, the message hit home and he began to cry. For months he had prayed that his son Simcha regain full use of his eyes. Now he recognized that his prayers, interspersed with countless conversations, were meaningless and futile, and he had undoubtedly angered Hashem with his brazen chutzpah.

    A few days later, Bernie received this letter in the mail from Dr. Stanford Bennet:

    Dear Bernie,

    I am the author of the series of e-mails you received. Though you did not know who I was at the time, I am the person who handed the final e-mail to you in shul.

    This past Shabbos, you stood in awe before Hashem for the first time in your life. I hope that you will not reject the lessons of my correspondence now that you know who I am. Please consider the following: If a real Mallach would have sent you e-mail, what would he have said? Might he not have written the exact same message that I composed?

    Sincerely yours,

    Dr. Stanford (Shlomo) Bennet


    The following conversation may have taken place between two angels in the Rokiah Hashomayim:


    1. Shulchan Oruch, Orach Chaim 151:

    4. It is obvious that lack of decorum in the synagogue has been a long-standing problem. In the twelfth century, the Rambam rendered an amazing ruling and abolished the Rabbinic requirement of reciting a silent shemona esrei followed by chazoras hashatz, because the people conversed, and this lead to chilul Hashem. Some four hundred years later, the Radvaz reinstated the original practice because the congregants continued to talk, even with the abbreviated davening. (Teshuvos HaRadvaz 4:94)

    5. Chayai Adom 17:6

    6. Yeshaya 1:12

    7. See Ramo, Orach Chaim 98:1, that man should contemplate the greatness of Hashem and the insignificance of man before praying. Back to Text

    8. Orach Chaim 124:7

    9. Bereshis 4:13

    10. This point is made by the Mishna, Sanhedrin 4:5

    11. 1579-1654, author of the Tosafos Yom Tov on Mishna

    12. See Mishna Berura, 124:27, who quotes Elya Rabbo and Kol Bo, and Magen Avrohom 151: who qoutes Smak.

    13. Igeress Hagro

    14. 1690-1764, in his classic work Yaaros Devash

    15. 1876-1970, in Lev Eliyohu, vol. 3, page 320

    Rabbi Yaakov Luban is the Executive Rabbinic Coordinator of the Kashruth Department at the Orthodox Union. He is the Rabbi of Congregation Ohr Torah in Edison, NJ.


    Ames, I’ll try to be clear today but the fog has NOT left my brain.

    That situation was a ridiculous circus. Unfortunately, it is JUST as bad in our shuls/shiurim today. Aren’t we supposed to be better and show the non-Jews how to conduct themselves? Unfortunately, in this area we do not. Our cell phones ring, our beepers go off, we check out blackberries…etc.

    I agree about learning from every situation. Isn’t it Rashi that said we could learn all the proper middot by watching animals? (Like cats for tzniut and stuff)

    Unless you are an on-call doctor or your wife is ready to give birth, your phone/pager/blackberry should be off during shul and shiurim and at the VERY LEAST on vibrate. (Vibration goes for anyone). Are some of these business people THAT important that they cannot step away for 30 minutes to concentrate on davening? If thats the case, perhaps they need to reevaluate where their priorities lay.


    I can’t believe it that there was no outrage of the Press Secretary or the President himself and make a general rule that at a Press Meeting all phones must be turned off or at least on vibrate.

    Rabbonim & gabbaim fo years have been begging people to shut off their phones before walking into a Shul or Bais Hamedrash

    Rabbi Eliezer Ginsburg does not own a phone and will not have one purchased for him and he has said on many ocassions that the Bluetooth is an Eved Nirtzah and recently he proclaimed that if someone is at a funeral and a cell phone goes off during the Hesdpedim, one should go to the Aron of the Mais and give it a clop, which will of course make a tumult and who knows what , but when the tumult starts , you should scream out and say ” And what , the cell phone that is ringing is not just like a clop on the Aron “.

    I think the message hear is that it is very sad that were are writing about the insensitivity of cell phones going off at the wrong time, but the real people getting hurt is the one who’s phone is ringing and all others are in the middle of Shemonai Esrei trying to daven with a little bit of Kavona.

    Let us see the light and begin to better ourselves and shut off those phones at shul and levaya’s and during the chupa’s, etc etc


    One thing i still don’t understand is what business does gibbs have to throw out his cellphone like that?! is this communist russia?! Does anyone know if he got back his cellphone it might have been expensive.


    The pressroom story was humorous; the tragedy in Israel because of cell phone distraction was not.


    We must be careful in our comments, whether in this post or other posts, there should be no kitrug on Klal Yisroel. ;


    Thank you PM for that inspiring story. I surprised myself when I actually read through the entire post without skipping 😉

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