By Psachya Skaist. My wife’s youngest sister first brought it to my attention on the family WhatsApp group.
“It’s terrible!” “They have to do something about it!” “Someone should tell Rabbi Wallerstein!”
For the uninitiated, the “Shabbos App” project is an attempt by a group of people to create an app for smartphones that would enable one to use it without being mechallel Shabbos)
My immediate reaction was, this has to be a joke! The promoting text was dripping in satire.
“No, it’s real!”
“Check it out! You’ll see!”
Then I thought, “how brilliant”!
A social media campaign to unite frum Jews to think that the smartphone infiltration into our lives is just too much!
I’ll be very honest. As a video professional, I’ve always used and enjoyed technology in work and personally as well. It can be a great way to keep in touch with old friends, get the word out about important projects and in so many ways enhance our lives. When the first Internet Asifa was held in Lakewood a good few years ago, I was skeptical.
It was heavy. Threats implied about kids not being let into schools, Ishurim from your Rov that you have a real need for the Internet in your home. I was not a happy camper!
I would think, and you think that most mature thinking people think (was that too many thinks in one sentence?!) that although there are definite benefits to the progress of technology and using it responsibly in our lives, there is the risk of taking over our lives.
I struggle with that issue and I’m sure many struggle with it as well. Cell phones during davening (even if it’s in your pocket on vibrate- “was that a text or a twitch in my leg?!”), The compulsion to check email, Facebook and so much more.
In this world of advancing technology, the intrusion into our personal lives is felt by non-Jews and secular as well, with the “thinking” people in all ranks coming up with creative ideas to limit the intrusions.
Let’s be honest.
Today, you don’t have to embrace technology to be up-to-date with the latest and greatest.
It’s there. It’s here. It’s everywhere you go.
The asifa of years ago in Lakewood was hard to swallow.
Here I thought – “they finally came up with a genius marketing campaign!”
I was already resisting it emotionally, refusing to condemn the Shabbos app because – – – that’s what they want me to do!
They want me to condemn this stupid app and throw my iPhone in the toilet because – “now it’s gone too far!” Well it seems my sister-in-law was right – it is a real concept.
The interesting thing is if the creators would have marketed the app as a way of making the phone less problematic for people like doctors who have legitimate uses for the phone, that would probably be met with resistance but ultimately would find its use for a limited group of people.
For the Shabbos App people that wasn’t enough.
It has to be marketed as a way of enhancing our Shabbos!
Okay let’s forget about any rabbinic resistance (because as they say in their marketing video “who cares about the rabbis!”)
I think that St. Louis rap artist “Prince Ea” would disagree with them. He put out a rap video illustrating how for the intrusion of technology – social media has affected our lives.
Thank G–d we have what should be natural breaks from our connection to technology – and no – you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to see how a Shabbos clock and an oven differ from a smart phone!
(Let’s put aside for now the concept of “uvda d’chol”, the issur of reading “shtaros hedyotos”, and if a bug in the app causes chilling Shabbos)
What I will say is – look at the sparks of passion for Shabbos that The discussion over the Shabbos app has fanned!
What a beautiful thing! All different stripes of Jews expressing their passion for the gift we call “Shabbos”!
(BTW, in full disclosure. As a video professional and a frum Jew their marketing video is disgusting)
(this article was hand written on paper with ink and transcribed to text with Siri)