Rishon L’Tzion: A Chief Rabbi of a City May Not Have a Non Kosher Cell Phone


yyoRishon L’Tzion Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef Shlita feels that a rav who serves as the chief rabbi of a city should not have a non-kosher cellular telephone. The rav was addressing a kenos of dayanim and he requested that the participants should not bring non-kosher phones to the forum. The rav added that a dayan and rosh yeshiva are in the same category and they should not have a non-kosher phone.

Speaking about himself, the rav stated he does not even have a kosher mobile phone for he feels the mobile phones simply lead to bitul Torah.

The rav calls on kollelim to prohibit avreichim cellular telephones to the beis medrash, kosher or otherwise. At the very least, the phone must be turned off during limud Torah. The Rishon L’Tzion emphasized anyone with a non-kosher phone should not bother coming at all.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


  1. At every big simcha (or sometimes even at a levayah), we frequently see several of those at the dais (presumably including many chashuve rabbonim and askanim)sitting there talking on their cellphones. While I agree with Rav Yosef on this point (not that he needs my endorsement), I find his view to be in a distinct minority and most rabbonim would be lost without their phones (presumably all of which are GLATT kosher)

  2. How can a phone be GLATT kosher? Did you check its lungs? 🙂

    I have to agree. Although, I’d think a rosh yeshiva, chief rabbi, or rosh kollel would have enough yiras shamayim to not engage in any unseemly conduct or bitul Torah (Angry Birds!) on their phone even without a filter. But most important rabbonim have to have a phone nearby at all times to deal with operation of their institution or community affairs. Similarly, married men in kollel should have access to their phones if needed by the wives or family. Certainly even 15 years ago this was uncommon, but our modern reality dictates being connected, if for nothing else, G-d forbid, an emergency. Certainly, a kollel student should not have his phone out while sitting at his Gemara.

    I was recently in a Gemara shiur with one of the rabbeim in our community, who also happens to by a world-renowned dayan (imagine learning at his feet!). It was 10 PM, and the rav received a phone call. It was from Australia. A life and death medical emergency required his immediate attention. The rav excused himself and took the call. How beneficial for the family in Australia to have immediate access to a Dayan of this caliber on the other side of the world. How fortunate for klal yisroel that we can have a psak halacha from an expert in the midst of a crisis.

    Cell phones, like the internet, like telephones, like automobiles, have the ability to corrupt and disrupt. But the internet is now a repository and conduit for the greatest amount of Torah knowledge in the history of the world. We can use it for good. Hashem gave us the internet. Similarly, with cell phones, Hashem gave them to us for a purpose. We should use them only for good.

  3. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner is the Chief Rabbi of Beit El in addition to being the Rosh Yeshiva of the Ateret Yerushalayim Yeshiva. For years he has used his smartphone to respond to shilahs via SMS text message. A quick internet search will find you hundreds of these concise responsa online.

  4. ArtScroll has apps for learning on a smartphone. Does this mean we should take ArtScroll s’forim out of the beis medresh for encouraging people to use smart phones??

    rather, it is not the smartphone that is kosher or treif, it is the mind of the person using it in a manner not worthy of a bnei Torah that is posul.

  5. This is the issue with having a chareidi chief rabbi. As much as I love and respect Rabbi Yosef, I don’t feel our chief rabbi should be focusing on issues that deal only with the chareidi world. He needs to focus in the larger Jewish world and not only for the religious Jews in Israel. There are many more important issues that chareidi rabbis using cell phones.

  6. Lol this is the issue with a charedi cheif rabbi? There should be no rabbi other than a chareidi rabbi..charedi means he’s from and religious and strict where others aren’t…do you want your rabbi to be an less that the utmost strict? The only reason any on would want that is to justify their own misgivings by showing that a rabbi does it as well…as far as the cell phones “rashbak” said it all too well and I completely agree. We need to focus on the people using the cell phones. A pedophile that has a kosher phone is still a pedophile.and trust me they are definitely out there with kosher phones