While senior ultra-Orthodox rabbis are stepping up their war on smartphones
and imposing personal sanctions on haredi Jews using the "forbidden device," one religious leader appears to have special privileges.
Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak
says that prominent Lithuanian leader, Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman, has given him and his followers permission to use iPhones "for repentance purposes".
Rabbi Yitzhak was asked to comment on the issue on the website of his "Shofar" organization, after pictures of him using a smartphone were posted on social networks and other websites.
The rabbi, famous for his involvement in activities which are centered on helping Jews to become more religious or observant, referred to those who criticized him as "fools", likening them to people committing offenses against God.
The rabbi wrote in his response, "Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak, may he live long and happily, is against iPhones and similar devices. Fools are asking, without knowing, how is it that Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak has an iPhone. It should be known that the most outstanding man of his time, the genius Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman, has personally permitted the rabbi and his team to use iPhones for repentance purposes."
As part of rabbis' war of smartphones, Porat Yosef Yeshiva head Rabbi Moshe Tzadka recently ordered a worshipper to smash his phone during a celebration of holiday of Simchat Torah.
Before the phone was broken, Rabbi Tzadka said it was a mitzvah of "Kiddush Hasem" and that performing it was like acting on the verse dealing with idolatry: "Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones." (Deuteronomy 7:5)
After the phone owner broke the device in two with his hands, the rabbi called on the audience to repeat after him, "So may all your enemies perish, Lord!" (Judges 5: 31)
An "iPhone breaking event" was held several weeks ago at the Maayan Shalom Synagogue in Bnei Brak. The event was orchestrated by Rabbi Lior Glazer, who told his followers that "a religious person who owns this impure device is an abominable creature."