It was Zos Chanukah and many people in our minyan were prepared for the more propitious davening that the Chassidic seforim discuss. As Neitz arrived, we stepped into Shemoneh Esrai in unison, each of us prepared to address Hashem with our own praise, personal requests and thanks. However, Hashem had a different Avodah in mind.
A few seconds into Shemoneh Esrai, a phone went off. It was a nice piano concerto type of ring, however the timing was awful. It stopped, and a few seconds later it continued. This repeated during the Shemoneh Esrai until the owner grabbed his belongings from a chair and removed them from the Beis Medrash.
What had happened was that a guest had put his things on a chair and put on his talis and tefillin. The seating Gabbai found him a better seat in the corner and he left his things, including the phone, on the chair. When the phone went off the guest wasn’t sure if he was allowed to interrupt his Shemoneh Esrai and walk in front of people to get his phone to turn it off. (Most people with whom I spoke thought that he should have gone to the phone and shut it off.)
In terms of the Shul, the Avodah was overwhelmingly positive. Not a NU was heard in the entire Tzibbur. There was no after-davening reminder by the Gabbai to turn off your phones, which could have led to further embarrassment. The guest offered to apologize and ask for mechila from the Tzibbur, but the Gabbai said it was not necessary. And a post-minyan halachic discussion ensued on what was the correct response.
Zos Chanukah – This is Chanukah – serving Hashem with all our kochos.