FAQ'SCell Phone FAQ's
How can I remember to turn off my phone before davening?
There's a new app available called SHTOK which will silence your phone when you walk into shul and turn it back on when you leave. You can find it at www.knafayim.com/shtok!
Why can’t I talk on my cell phone during davening?
Does this question even need to be asked? The Rabbis describe many grave punishments that happen to people who talk during davening. The Zohar HaKadosh goes so far as to say, “One who talks in shul shows his contempt for Hakodesh Baruch Hu.”
Aren’t those sentiments against talking in shul harsh?
Yes, they may seem that way, but that is because few people truly appreciate the sanctity of a shul and the function of davening. In the absence of the Bais HaMikdash, a shul serves as Hashem’s house where the Shechina resides. The prayers of Yisrael help anoint Hashem and form a crown on the head of the King of all Kings, Hakodesh Baruch Hu.
How can one keep all of this in mind when he goes to shul to daven?
When you arrive at shul, you should say, “How awe inspiring is this place. This is the house of Hashem and the gate to Heaven through which the expressions of our lips shall enter.” To treat such a place with the proper respect, it is strongly recommended that you turn off your cell phone as you enter the shul.
What if I already davened and I’m just waiting for the current minyan to finish so my shiur can begin?
You should not talk on your cell phone while others are davening because it distracts other worshippers from their prayers.
I understand why I should not talk on my cell phone during davening, but why do I need to turn it off?
A phone that is allowed to ring during davening also audibly distracts worshippers from their prayers.
Why can’t I simply put my phone on “vibrate” so it does not distract others?
Even when a phone is put on “vibrate” mode, if left on a table it can rattle and still audibly distract others. If left in a pocket, at the very least it distracts the owner from his own davening.
What if I put my cell phone on silent mode and merely look to see who is calling on the Caller ID?
Even just glancing at the Caller ID to see who it is can be distracting. If it is your wife or child, you will become concerned about the reason for the call and whether it is good news or bad news. If it is a business colleague, you will worry that you could be missing out on an important update or a business deal. If you don’t recognize the Caller ID number, you will wonder who it is and what that person wants. In all of these cases, your mind will be distracted and your kavana during davening will suffer (or disappear altogether).
What if I’m expecting an emergency call?
The vast majority of the time, one can wait until after davening to return an important call. If it is an absolute emergency, one should step outside the shul to take the call.
What about texting or checking email – it doesn’t bother anyone?
It does, however, show a lack of sensitivity to your surroundings. If you were on a job interview, would you text on your cellphone during the interview? Of course not. Texting during the interview is a sign of a lack of respect to the interviewer and undoubtedly will lead to your not getting the job. All the more so when you text in the middle of davening, which is a lack of respect to the Ultimate Judge who holds not only your parnassa, but also your life in His hands.
What about texting or checking email only when there is a “downtime” during davening such as during the repetition of the shemone esrei?
Regarding one who texts or checks email during the repetition of the shemone esrei, it is impossible for him to concentrate on the words of the shaliach tzibur and he will surely respond with an “Amen Yesoma (orphaned)” (an Amen answered to an unknown bracha). Additionally, he may say an “Amen chatufa (snatched)” (an Amen that precedes the conclusion of the bracha) or an “Amen katufa (cut)” (an Amen that is not pronounced properly). This is problematic because, as stated in Ohr Tzaddikim (Tikun HaTefila 52), “Neglecting to respond to even one Amen requires great penance.”
What about using the siddur app on my smart phone in shul for davening?
It is recommended to daven from a real siddur when one is available. It is likely that a shul siddur was donated and dedicated by someone such that there is an extra level of zechus davening from it. Also, using a smart phone for davening is an issue of maris ayin and one should try to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
So, there is no other realistic option but to turn off my cell phone before davening?
That is correct. May you merit to influence others positively and, in so doing, the merits they earn because of you will be accorded to you as well.