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    Mobile phones – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Is there a Jewish view on mobile phones as a status symbol?

    A. There are many status symbols in existence, and they are not necessarily ethically questionable in themselves. For example, having a nice house is a status symbol and it can be an important part of one’s public or professional image.

    The problem arises when status symbols become almost like idols and a person’s sense of priorities becomes warped. What really matters is whether you live your life with appropriate dignity, and that can surely be done with an ordinary mobile phone that does not need to be brightly coloured or ostentatiously customised in order to draw attention to its owner. Mobile phones should be viewed only as a useful means of communication for people who need to keep in touch. If you have no real need to keep in touch wherever you are, then sell your mobile phone and stop being a show-off.

    Mobile phones represent additional problems, however. People who bring them to shule on Shabbat are a puzzle. Apart from the requirements of the Shabbat laws, you know you are likely to be asked to leave your phone with an official outside the sanctuary, so what’s the point of bringing a phone with you?

    In addition, surely it is good to have a peaceful place like a shule to attune you to spiritual and cultural concerns and take you out of the rat race. The thought of bringing a phone with you suggests that you have forgotten what a boon it is to get away from all the schedules and demands which phones bring you every other day.

    Leave your phone at home and use the synagogue service as a means of making a call to God and listening to what He has to tell you. That will do your life much more good.

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