The Cell Phone of Zos Chanukah

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.

One thought on “The Cell Phone of Zos Chanukah”

  1. Do our cell phones and outerwear belong inside or outside the sanctuary – is it a matter of reverence? Just like we wash our hands before we enter the sanctuary to daven, shouldn’t we hang up our outwear before we enter the sanctuary. And to remove all risk of disturbing others during davening, shouldn’t we leave our cell phones with our outerwear? Little things like washing our hands, hanging up our coats, and taking precautions to ensure an undisturbed davening, are simple ways to honor the sanctity of davening and the sanctum where we do it. Is it just too inconvenient? Is it too much to ask? Is davening not enough of a priority? Perhaps, doctors, police and others who need to be “on call” are exceptions. We’ve been given the divine power of a free will to make sacred what we do and where we do it. Are we sheep just following the crowd, doing what everyone else is doing, or does Hashem expect each of us to decide how much reverence to show Him. Every little thing we sacrifice counts; does it not?

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