There are a lot of good things about cell phones; however, there are also lots of problems with them. Mind you, I am not referring to ‘Internet usage’ … that is a totally different question. And I am also not referring to their ability to disturb davening which is a big problem. Rather, I am just talking about the fact of having a cell phone!

There is much discussion about ‘Kosher’ cell phones and that is good. However, although we discuss the ‘Kashrus’ of cell phones, I have yet to see anyone really address the ‘Yashrus’ of cell phones.

What I mean by Yashrus is not in the usual sense of ‘honesty’; rather, what I refer to is their being a ‘correct’ or ‘straight’ or ‘fair’ mode of communication. What am I talking about? When I was younger there were no answering machines and there was no ‘call waiting.’




If you called someone and they were on the other line you heard what was called a ‘busy signal.’ To those who have no idea what I am referring to, ‘a busy signal’ was a sound you heard when someone was speaking on the phone with someone else so they could not receive your call. I know it is hard to believe, however, there actually was a time when you could not have ‘immediate gratification’ that when you called someone they must answer!

{As an aside, my family is always puzzled when someone calls the house phone (yes, we still have a house phone — otherwise known as a ‘land line’) and the caller says, “I tried Rabbi Eisenman in his office and I ‘got’ his machine, why didn’t he answer!”}

Once we all have cell phones, there is an incorrect sense of entitlement on the part of the caller that the person they are calling must answer! This is not Yashar! Another reason cell phones are not Yashar: When a person leaves you a message with their cell phone, often the message sounds like this, “Hello Rabbi Eisenman, this ….Bernst…and … can you…. Important…please… can count on you… urgent… sensitive….thanks.” A few days later I am sure to get a phone call from Mr. Bernstein who says, “Oh. Hi Rabbi — thanks so much for taking care of what I asked of you yesterday. It’s really appreciated as it was time sensitive…”



What do I do then?

Another point which is not Yashar is that often the caller does not realize that he/she is difficult to hear because of where they are. For example, people call me while they are walking in Manhattan. Here is a transcript of the conversation:

“Hi Rabbi Eisenman… HONK, HONK, my wife… TAXI, TAXI…hospital….MUSTARD AND SAUERKRAUT PLEASE….surgery… doctor… HEY BUDDY KEEP MOVING….sign the DNR?…HONK, SPLASH… Chevra Kadisha…WHERE DOES THE ‘A’ STOP?…burial? So Rabbi, what do you….BEEP, BEEP…silence.”

The bottom line is: Enjoy your cell phone. But never assume it’s as Yashar as you may have once thought it to be!



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