Anger at Cell Phones in Shul

Maybe this has happened to you. In the middle of davening or a shiur, a cell phone rings.

Here are some ways this might be handled:

1) Recently, I saw the Shliach Tzibbur give a scolding “Nu” from the Amud. I’m not sure that handling a disturbance with a bigger disturbance and a public embarrassment makes sense.

2) Sometimes it is announced before davening that everybody should turn off their cell phone. At this point of cell phone adoption, I’m not sure that it makes sense to give this pre-announcement before every davening. It also might sound like a warning, that if you ignore this announcement, then wrath awaits.

3) In one minyan, the Gabbai made an announcement after davening reminding people to turn off their ringers and notifications. He is a caring person, so I suggested that the person was probably embarrassed when it went off and mentioning it again might increase his embarrassment. He agreed and no longer makes such an announcement.

4) One speaker announced after a phone rang, “Baruch Hashem I can hear”. Although he was trying to say that “it’s no big deal”, it might have caused added embarrassment by bringing attention to the matter.

5) Saying nothing but thinking that perhaps the offender is technically incompetent or inconsiderate.

6) Treating the ring as if someone coughed in the middle of davening. We wouldn’t get angry if someone coughed, so why should we get angry about a cell phone ring mistake.

7) Realizing that this incidence is really a test from Hashem and that the appropriate response is to feel bad about the embarrasment the cell phone possessor is feeling.

If we adopt number 6 or 7, we can actually transform this into a growth opportunity. I can’t wait for the next errant ring.