Purim special: Does God have an iPhone?

Are Purim jokes flights of fansy or the real deal? As explained last time, the properly inspired Purim joke allows both states to coexist simultaneously. So fasten your seatback, and get ready for a one-of-a-kind Purim adventure!

I’ve gotten used to thinking differently about things, so when I started bawling with tears last week over the video where Steve Jobs first announced the iPhone, it was probably to be expected.

After the tears dried and I composed myself once again, I began to realize why seeing this video had such a profound effect on me. While the presentation was about an hour long, what pulled at my heart strings the most were the first three minutes.

Just before announcing the iPhone, it appeared that Jobs was presenting three new products:

     A revolutionary mobile phone

     A widescreen iPod with touch screen controls

     A breakthrough internet communicator

Then the tempo shifts and Jobs starts repeating these three “separate” products again and again, faster and faster in sequence, as the presentation screen begins to spin these three icons around in a circle, Jobs then says these now infamous words:

Are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device. And we are calling it the iPhone.

This video made a lot of things clear to me, but let’s start with the History Channel. Two years ago the History Channel aired a program called the “101 Gadgets that Changed the World,” and the smartphone finished at number 1. When I first heard this it didn’t make sense as the product is essentially just the combination of a computer and a cell phone; and cell phones are just the wireless handheld versions of landline phones, and so on… It didn’t make sense to me how the combination of existing technologies became perceived as one new game-changer.

The question remained until I watched the above video.

Smart, Wide, Phone

The three concepts that were presented that day could be summed up as: smart, wide, phone.

     The “smart” is the revolutionary aspect of the phone … which primarily means that it is a handheld computer.

     The “wide” is both the width of the screen, and the enjoyment to be gained from the device (here most represented by music and videos).

     The “internet communicator” is the idea that this device will foster connectivity with friends and family.

But the secret of the excitement … why I broke down crying and why the History Channel and millions of others saw the iPhone (or smartphones in general) as something new … is because of a fourth concept called: iPhone.

If you ask moralists about their take on the “i” line of products, they’ll probably tell you that the name serves as a reminder that we all buy these things for ourselves; for our own pleasure. But while we should be careful that technology shouldn’t be self-serving, this still doesn’t fully explain the exuberance and excitement over a device that was first and foremost marketed as a product that would help foster connectivity among people.

What then is the product that was announced that day? It wasn’t a hand-held computer, nor was it a better iPod or a phone. Instead it was the potential to live in a more connected world. To speak and interact with friends, family and colleagues with greater ease than we previously thought possible. But while it is true that we are each the “i” speaking, as long as it is a lower-case “i” combined with the capital word “Phone,” then it is okay.

What do I mean? That as long as the focus is on benefiting others, then the potentials are truly endless while using the iPhone and other communication-based technology. But as soon as we become fixated on the apps, surfing the internet, listening to music, then the “i” runs the risk of becoming capital, a sign of self-awareness, instead of fostering a greater sensitivity towards others. [1]

A Fourth Concept  

According to Kabbalah, the three concepts — “smart,” “wide,” and “communication” — correspond to the first three letters of God’s four letter name, as follows: [2]




Yud (י)

Chochmah (Wisdom)

Hand-held computer

Hei (ה)

Binah (Understanding)

Wide Screen

Vav (ו)

Tiferet (Beauty)


The secret of this article is that what most excited people that day, what propelled thousands to wait for days outside Apple stores, and prompted millions of iPhones to be sold, was not the combination of three concepts into one product, but the allusion to a fourth concept called “speech,” or as we explained, the hope that this new gadget will help us live in a more connected and mutually-beneficial world:

Hei (ה)

Malchut (Kingdom)


iphone spin.JPG

Spinning All Four Sides Together

What we have now done is complete the spin that began during that presentation. But instead of attempting to spin three sides together, we have now for the first time added the missing fourth side.

So what exactly was being marketed that day? Let’s see … spinning four sides together, spinning four sides together, spinning four sides together… Are you getting it?

What was presented that day was a modern-day allusion to our favorite little Chanukah toy … the dreidel!


Comparing the iPhone to a dreidel may be difficult to process as first. After all, the classic rendering of the song is “I made it out of clay,” not “chrome, glass, aluminum and plastic for external components.” But in order to better appreciate the correspondence, we need to first explore the mystical significance behind the dreidel, as explained by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh in his booklet “The Dreidel’s Hidden Meanings.”

Spinning Miracles into Nature

…In a sense, whenever a miracle occurs, we can imagine that God too has been playing with His big cosmic dreidel. By spinning this abstract dreidel, God spins His inner light — His revealed finite nature as we experience it normally–blurring the harsh logical rules that govern reality and allow His infinite nature to be revealed. One might say that God is continually spinning miracles into nature.


By meditating on the act of spinning our own physical dreidel, we connect and identify with the Divine and show our willingness to see beyond the square and logical face of nature and believe and tap into the infinite , circular realm of God’s infinite space. In effect, meditating on the dreidel’s spin has the power of open our eyes to miracles.

Does God have an iPhone?

To be honest, I don’t think any of us do. I find myself either holding on to a small computer, a leisure device, a way to easily check my email, and occasionally talk. But when we spin all four concepts together–including the iPhone name itself–we arrive at something truly miraculous: The ability to open our eyes to see the miracles that God is continuously spinning into the world.

Happy Purim Everyone!

Dreidel photo: origamiks.com

[1] For more, read ;http://www.inner.org/leader/leader3

[2] As the motivation is to be brief, the decision was made not to explain the correspondences. For more information, please contact me directly.

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About the Author
Yonatan Gordon is a student of Harav Yitzchak Ginsburgh, and co-founder of InwardNews.com.
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