Haredi rabbis issue new halachic ruling forbidding use of smartwatches

"They are tricks of one's desire which imagines that they are supposedly not stated in the prohibition against smartphones."

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February 6, 2018 16:12
1 minute read.
Kosher cellular phones, imported and distributed by Israeli Accel Telecom, are displayed in Tel Aviv

Kosher cellular phones, imported and distributed by Israeli Accel Telecom, are displayed at the company's offices in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: NIR ELIAS / REUTERS)

Several Haredi rabbis signed a halachic ruling forbidding the use of smartwatches on Tuesday morning, the Haredi newspaper Kikar Hashabbat reported.

"The severity of the destruction brought about by smartphones is already known [...] and the great rabbis of our generation have already warned us about the magnitude of the issue," the ruling states.

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"Recently, different types of these devices have been upgraded, which in their appearance and name seem to be other permissible devices, such as the so-called 'smart watch', but they are tricks of one's desire which imagines that they are supposedly not stated in the prohibition."

In the ruling, the rabbis warned that "some even sell them to children and young men, and they take part in causing the public to sin in a very serious manner and place the entire future of a generation in enormous danger."

"We hereby declare our opinion, which is that these devices are forbidden to be used both for adults and children, even if they don't contain a sim card or some kind of blockage," the ruling concludes.

The halachic ruling concerning the use of smart watches comes as an update to an already existing discussion about limiting the use of smartphones.

“There have been two approaches to the issue of smartphones among leading Haredi rabbis,” said Yisroel Cohen, a reporter for the Kikar Hashabbat Haredi news site.



“The first approach has been to prohibit all smartphones, including even the filtered devices, arguing that if you allow, for instance, Haredi businessmen the use of such phones you will open the door eventually to yeshiva students, and thousands of people will end up using them.”

The other perspective, said Cohen, “has been to authorize the use of limited smartphones for those who need them because the situation now is that Haredi businessmen and others are using iPhones and other devices without any protection at all.

“More and more rabbis understand now that there is a need to allow for the use of a protected smartphone, and as a result of that we’re seeing, many more people on the street who are using such devices.”

Niv Ellis and Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report


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