Apple’s smartphone market share in Israel has suffered another potential blow,
following public censure by one of the most senior haredi rabbis in the
Rabbi Haim Kanievsky, who ranks in some estimations among the
five most influential rabbinic authorities, issued a public notice on Sunday
saying that anyone who owns the company’s iPhone device should burn
In the pronouncement, published on the front page of Yated Ne’eman –
the most influential haredi newspaper – as well as several other ultra-Orthodox
dailies, Kanievsky said it was forbidden to own an iPhone, comparing the device
to weapons of war in its potential to cause harm.
The rabbi said his
ruling came following several questions put to him by businessmen asking whether
it is permissible to use the device according to Jewish law.
public announcement is part of a general offensive being waged by many ultra-
Orthodox rabbis, who frequently denounce smartphones and the Internet because of
the ready access they provide to pornography, as well as to sources of
information beyond the strict confines of the ultra- Orthodox world.
members of the ultra-Orthodox community have “kosher cellphones” that have no
Internet connection and cannot send or receive text messages.
September 12, Rabbi Lior Glazer held a ritual iPhone-smashing ceremony in Bnei
Brak in protest of the supposedly malignant influence of the device, and the
hardline Eda Haredit communal organization has also banned their use along with
Android smartphones, BlackBerrys and similar devices, because of the “spiritual
holocaust” they have wrought.
According to Prof. Yedidya Stern,
director of the Israel Democracy Institute’s project on Religion and State, the
open access to unlimited, uncensored information is the real concern of the
haredi leadership with regards to the Internet, more so even than access to
“Smartphones offer a gateway to the world through
which they can access all manner of uncensored information which might influence
their identity, despite living within the haredi ghetto,” he told The Jerusalem
“Haredim seek to isolate themselves from the world, but using an
iPhone or any other type of smartphone can, with the flick of a finger and in a
split second, give someone access to all kinds of information and values to
which they were never before exposed,” he said.
Before the development of
the Internet, members of the haredi community were totally beholden to the
rabbinic leadership for the information they could access, Stern added, since
television, secular newspapers, libraries and any other repository of unapproved
information was banned by them.
The growing ubiquity of the Internet and
prevalence of smartphones, which unlike televisions are easy to conceal, is
proving harder to stamp out, the professor said.