Opinion: Who Are You Talking To? | Avi Gutfreund

Several weeks ago, I spent a few hours sitting in Lakewood’s municipal court as it was in session.

I was struck by the diversity present in that courtroom; not just the ethnic diversity, but the varied assortment of personalities and characters that strode in and out, each coming and going with their own unique needs and agendas to take care of.

What also stuck out to me was that everyone, bar none, were required to shut their phones in compliance to uphold the decorum of the room. Once, when someone had mistakenly not shut their phone, they received a verbal warning that if it occurred again, they may face being expelled from the courtroom.

All this reminded me of shul. We come in, each of us unique in our own ways, with our particular needs and distinct life paths. We come to daven, to beseech for ourselves, for our families, for our community.

But what about the decorum? It is far too commonplace and far too often that people are on their phones during davening. I’m not a rav or a mashpia – feel free to ignore what I am writing – but how is being on your phone in any way befitting of who you are speaking to? How is Whatsapping a group or texting your wife appropriate considering who you are praying before?

Shul is not a courtroom – Hashem is far more powerful than any presiding judge. If you would not whip out your phone during a court hearing, how could you bring yourself to do that when speaking to the Judge of Judges? Davening is an incredible opportunity to bring ourselves closer to Hashem, and daven for our needs. Why would you waste such precious moments with banality? Why would you show Hashem, in who you trust and rely, that He doesn’t quite make the cut in your priorities list?

I know I am being a bit preachy here, and I’m not really in a position to do that, but if you are on your phone during davening I just want to know – who are you talking to?

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