Burn your iPhones, top rabbi orders
Forbidden fruit

Burn your iPhones, top rabbi orders

Chaim Kanievsky says Apple’s smartphone must be destroyed, not sold — even to non-Jews

'You want me to do what?' (iPhone image via Shutterstock)
'You want me to do what?' (iPhone image via Shutterstock)

In a landmark ruling that is sure to attract attention from the warring attorneys of Apple and Samsung, one of the premier Jewish ultra-Orthodox authorities has made it known that owners of Apple’s iPhone are not merely forbidden from owning the device, but are required by Jewish law to destroy it.

In Israel, as in many other countries, the moniker “iPhone” has come to represent all smartphones. The ruling is the latest volley in an uphill battle that rabbis in the ultra-Orthodox community have in recent years been waging against internet usage — and especially Web-connected phone ownership — in their communities.

In a responsum to a reader published on Sunday in the ultra-Orthodox daily newspaper Yated Ne’eman, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky said that “it is forbidden to be in possession of [an iPhone], and one must burn it”; this despite the fact that the reader, a business-owner, said it was “crucial for [his] dealings.”

'Burn the iPhone.' Rabbi Kanievsky's responsum in Yated Ne'eman
‘Burn the iPhone.’ Rabbi Kanievsky’s responsum in Yated Ne’eman

And lest a contrite Jewish smartphone owner think to hawk his device on eBay and pocket the cash, Kanievsky also warned that it is forbidden to sell the phone to a non-Jew, “just as it is forbidden to sell a weapon to a non-Jew.”

Holy fires. Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky lights Hanukkah candles in his home in Bnei Brak, December 22, 2011 (photo credit: Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)
Holy fires. Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky lights Hanukkah candles in his home in Bnei Brak, December 2011 (photo credit: Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

In May, 60,000 ultra-Orthodox American Jews gathered at the Citi Field baseball stadium in New York, where they were told by leading rabbis that home internet usage was forbidden, and that even those who thought they needed Web access at work should try to avoid using it, as the urge to go online was likely the nagging of the “evil inclination.”

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