EXCLUSIVE: PHOTO: Yungerman soaks smartphones, throws them out following Asifa in Lakewood

smartphonesAn Asifa in Lakewood addressing the dangers of the smartphones has prompted a Yungerman to take immediate action ahead of Rosh Hashana.

The Yungerman attended an Asifa at BMG on Wednesday evening, and the next day decided to get rid of his smartphones – both of them.

“Two smartphones soaking in water before going out to the garbage,” the Yungerman wrote to TLS. “This is a real picture of my two smartphones.”

The Yungerman went on to explain to TLS what transpired.

It’s Elul of the year 1930. There are two boys, classmates, living in New York. Both of them sit, deep in thought, turning over in their minds something that their Rebbe spoke about earlier that day, during his weekly Musser Shmuze. “Elul is a time for Kabbalos. Everyone should think of something that would help them in Avodas Hashem, and make a Kabbalah to strengthen that aspect.” Both are good boys, yearning to do what’s right. Each contemplates what would be best for their Ruchniyos. The first comes up with a great idea. His Rebbe always spoke about how terrible Lashon Harah is. He will accept upon himself to study Reb Yisroel Meir Kagen’s Sefer on Lashon Harah, and would work on only speaking positively about others. The second boy too hit upon a plan. For years he’s been hearing from the boys who’ve traveled abroad to learn at the Yeshivos of Europe about the high levels of Torah and Musser there. He had always shrugged of their suggestions that he too join them after hearing them describe the deplorable conditions and the meager lodging that came along with learning in Europe. But this Elul, he made a Kabbalah that, despite his hesitations, he would travel across the seas and go learn in Mir right after Sukkos.

Let’s take a look at them fifty years later. Boy #1 studied Sefer Chofetz Chaim, and completed the entire Sefer. It caused him to be much more careful about his speech, and he rarely spoke ill of another. He grew up to be a talented shoemaker, married, and raised a nice Jewish family in East New York. Between his sons and sons-in-law he counts an electrician, a salesman, a lawyer, and a whopping three doctors. He’s proud of his family and he’s especially proud of all his grandchildren who still keep Shabbos.

Now let’s follow the path of the second boy. He had a hard time adjusting in Mir, but he stuck to it, and eventually became a full-fledged Mirrer. He forged a close connection with R’ Chazkal Levenstein and, during WWII, he escaped Europe along with the Yeshiva. He spent the subsequent years in Shanghai, eventually returning to New York along with the bulk of the Yeshiva. He too spent the next few years in East New York, where he sat in Kollel, after which he started a Yeshiva together with another ‘Alter Mirrer’. His Yeshiva was a mainstay of Torah in America, and he educated the next generation of Roshei Yeshiva.

My Rosh Yeshiva would repeat this story in Elul, and conclude: “Two Kabbalos. Both of them good Kabbalos. But you cannot possibly compare the two. While the first boy’s Kabbalah affected his year, the second boy’s Kabbalah was one that changed the whole trajectory of his life!” He would then press us to follow the lead of Boy #2. “All Kabbalos are good Kabbalos, but try to find something that you will be able to pinpoint 50 years later as the source of your life changing.”

Last night BMG made an Asifa focusing on the ill-effects of smartphones. This morning there were papers by all the Batei Medrashim urging everyone to sign a Kabbalah that they would not own a smartphone, regardless of whether or not it was restricted. Being a smartphone owner, albeit as a secondary phone, I could attest firsthand to (at least some of) its negative influence.

In our day and age, boredom has become a public enemy. The American culture runs after entertainment, looking to fill every second of empty time. Once the brain gets used to constant stimulation, it craves more and more excitable things to keep it stimulated. People loath monotony. This is a direct result of people constantly feeding their brain new information. There is hardly a time when people just sit and think, and train their brains to actually dwell on one piece of information and not just jump to something new and more exciting. The length of attention spans are dwindling. Smartphones are the main medium for that constant flow of stimulation, (or at least it gave it to me). We cannot even sit in the bathroom anymore without feeding our brains an incessant stream of excitement. Now can you imagine sitting down by a Gemora and reading three lines without your brain trying to jump to something else? Can you understand the difficulty of opening a Birchas Shmuel and trying to thoroughly think through a deep Sevora without getting distracted by other thoughts? Can you picture the difficulty of sitting by the supper table and giving undivided attention to your spouse or children without craving something more entertaining?

On the most basic level, my smartphone impeded my simple ability to concentrate. And this was a smartphone that was greatly restricted, with absolutely no ‘Shmutz’ on it. And yet, I was attached to it to a level that I wouldn’t consider giving it up. (In English, the word for this is addicted, though I abstain from using that big and scary word. “I’m not addicted! I could get rid of it any time I choose.”)

When I walked out of first Seder this morning and saw the signs looming in front of me, I was struck to the core. The entire Klal is coming together to reject this phenomenon, to be Mekabel to not own such a device! Am I not part of this Tzibur? Can I just ignore the call, to make believe that they don’t mean me, and just carry on destroying my brain as before? I know it’ll be hard, but it must stop for the very reason that makes it so hard!

I got into my car and drove toward my house, vested on taking action. Enough was enough, this is going to end now.

I entered my apartment and picked up my smartphone, as well as my old smartphone that I used as a backup. I placed them both into a ziplock bag and ‘Kashered’ them with a generous amount of cold water. They both now sit on the bottom of the garbage can in front of my house, damaged beyond repair. And I, for perhaps the first time in my life, can say with absolute certainty that a Kabbalah I made this Elul will change the entire trajectory of my life.


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  1. Beautifull story in my opinion boy # 1’s קבלה is much harder קבלה to under take there are tens of thousands of people sitting in learning world wide but how many of them learnt and know well and practice all the הלכות of the חפץ חיים

  2. The fact that anyone who is not in business and doesn’t DESPERATELY NEED a smart phone and has one is a disgrace. It’s a waste of time and the things that are viewed… EVERYONE should get rid of theirs.

  3. Wow truly inspiring and a sign of gevurah. Not to take away from the message, depending on what type of smartphone (and how new of a model) certain ones are now made to work perfectly even after being submerged in water for hours. Even frozen in the water for hours. So if you want to destroy it, probably better to smash it with a hammer or similar methods. Kol hakovod and ashrecha.

  4. The message is correct but moshol does not inspire me
    From a historical angle no Americans were in Shanghai . They all went back to the States it`s part of the story is only to add some glamour.
    How many alter Mirrer opened up yeshivos?
    Who is to say that boy number one didn`t learn in America and then go on to establish a yeshiva or have a son who did?
    I am in awe of them all but as a group they were not the ones forged mosdos hatorah .
    Yeshivos were started primarily by Hungarian refugees ,American talmidim of Rav Ahron ZTL and American Talmidim of Telz and Torah VoDas

  5. I am in business and also thought that I NEEDED a smartphone. I got rid of mine a short while ago and once I got used to it I have gotten back my LIFE. What a culture of wasted time the smartphone companies have created so that they can sell their $600 phones!!

  6. Can I get this guys address? I think it may be possible to save the phones even after the water damage, so I’ll come take the phones out of the garbage.
    I can use a new phone, and at worst, I can probably get a couple hundred dollars for these phones on ebay.
    Seems like some real Baal Tashchit.

  7. Would’ve been nicer if they were donated to the police dept who provides the phones to victims of domestic violence so they can call or text 911 in an emergency.

  8. unbeleivable story, got real chizuk. when you get hisorrerus these days your supposed to do something about it right away for it to have an effect. and thats exactly what you did. hatzlacha and gmar chasima tova.

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