Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

3 Teves 5765 - December 15, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Moving Plea by HaRav Nosson Tzvi Finkel to Get Rid of Cell Phones

By Betzalel Kahn

Roshei yeshivas around the country are conveying the message from gedolei Yisroel that the time has come to eradicate cellular phones from the yeshivas.

Following the meeting motzei Shabbos Vayeishev to alert roshei yeshivos about the urgency of the problem, Maran HaRav Eliashiv, who was also among the gedolei Torah in attendance, said that if there are bochurim who are unable sever themselves from cell phones, then special Torah institutions not known as yeshivas should be set up for them. "A yeshiva where bochurim have cellular phones does not deserve to be called a yeshiva," he said.

At Yeshivas Mir in Jerusalem the rosh yeshiva, HaRav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, delivered a moving talk about Chazal's exhortations not to interrupt one's learning. His remarks were later printed up and circulated widely.

"Today one sees bochurim and avreichim walking around with this little box in their pockets. It's repulsive, it's painful to see—much worse than any other interruption," said the Rosh Yeshiva, his voice choked with tears.

"In our present situation anything that we could say has a positive side and a negative side. I was thinking that the deciding factor will be when I step into the beis medrash. Then I'd see if the olom wants to hear. The olom is here and wants to listen. It's evident that the public is thirsty to hear, is waiting to do what it can. And if they want to, then they can. There's nothing they can't do . . .

"We are in a state of bitul Torah befarhesiyoh, a state of deterioration in terms of Torah and yiras Shomayim, a state in which every little thing interrupts our learning. We are in a state of sakonas nefoshos, in the plain sense of that term. There is no excuse to have one of these devices, particularly when it is connected to the most defiled things. This does not fit the image of a ben yeshiva . . . this is not the pure heart of yeshiva students. This appears to be a new habit, a habit of smallness, nareshkeit. This appears to be a decline in ruchniyus."

He then announced a total ban on cell phones at the yeshiva, both in public and private. "In this I have the power to make a prohibition. During sedorim it is also forbidden to touch. This, too, I have the power to prohibit. The yeshiva will not make any allowances and every individual should alert end encourage others. When going outside one should stay away and alert [others]. In the beis medrash, within the walls of the yeshiva, inside the yeshiva buildings I believe I have the power to prohibit it. Make sure it is not found in the botei medrash nor anywhere within the yeshiva buildings. Each of us should reproach his fellow if he sees this instrument enter our daled amos. During sedorim it is strictly forbidden, this I have the power to prohibit. And I ask Hashem to forgive us for having come to the point where such matters have to be discussed.

"Gedolei Yisroel issued a ruling regarding this destructive device: for bochurim no [use] at all, not even in private—perhaps even more so not in private. Today we will sanctify Sheim Shomayim, young and old, and be'ezras Hashem may you merit a kosher wife. Pure and beloved bochurim, come to the rescue! Remove the destructive device from our midst. Sanctify Sheim Shomayim. This is a situation of `the evil Greek kingdom standing up against us,' and there are no excuses. In fact, excuses are needed for the converse.

"Every bochur who is yirei Shomayim cannot have this instrument at all. The biggest kiddush Hashem will be to stop using this thing, which is connected to defiled things, and this depends entirely on you. Ribono Shel Olom, save us! Never was there such a situation. Kiddush Hashem makes demands of our yeshiva more than all other yeshivas. There is no [alternative] . . . This situation must be shattered, the decree torn up. You are not doing me a favor, you are doing yourselves a favor!

"It is very hard for a person to change a habit, but we must. There is an answer to every question, a solution to every problem. If we do not search for solutions there are none. And when we look every matter can be worked out. I have the merit of gedolei Torah, ameilim beTorah, in all of Eretz Yisroel and the whole world. In fact, you tell me solutions. In the merit of the holy Torah, in the merit of gedolei haTorah, in the merit of ameilim beTorah, both here and everywhere else, sanctify Sheim Shomayim. If one has a will it can be done, even a habit can be uprooted. It all depends on you. Make, `Ulecho osiso sheim godol be'olomecho' come to fruition through you."

At the end of the talk, rabbonim including HaRav Binyomin Finkel and HaRav Refoel Shmuelevitz reportedly smashed their personal cell phones immediately.

Inspired by the charged talk and moved by HaRav Finkel's tears, many bochurim who still had cell phones in their possession went to the homes of the Rosh Yeshiva and the rabbonim to turn in what HaRav Eliashiv referred to as "avizraihu de'arayos."

Many other roshei yeshivos delivered similar talks to their talmidim, and yeshivas around the country are following the lead set by Yeshivas Mir to eradicate the plague from all botei medrash.


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