Hayim Leiter
Rabbi, mohel, misader kiddushin, beit din member

The Apple of My i

The first Apple event I’ve ever watched was last week and it was an eye-opening experience.  Maybe I’m missing something because I’m not the biggest techie or maybe I’m still having trouble understanding why I should be excited about purchasing a pocket computer that costs as much as my laptop.  But either way, I came away from the event feeling very unsure of the value of it all.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d be fine if Apple’s ultimate goal is simply to make money or to provide entertainment systems, but it feels like they themselves feel that their innovations are affecting a bigger social change.  They seem to think that they’re setting some sort of social trends and if that’s the case, then we have to ask, are their goals in line with ours?

The crazy thing is that Apple actually believes it’s bringing people closer together.  And that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Granted, Facetime has certainly kept families on opposite ends of the world better connected.  But beyond that, people spend so much time playing with their phones, they completely miss the world around them.  Whether it be texting or emailing or documenting everything, they’re no longer present in the moment.  Not to exclude myself, I’m one of the worst offenders.  But the difference is I recognize that it’s something that needs to be limited and I know that it’s not bringing me closer to my friends and family.

The biggest fallacy Apple is selling is that technology and innovation should be one’s ultimate goal in life and that is just not true.  It’s not that innovation and progress are things to be avoided.  They should be embraced and incorporated into one’s life but there needs to be a healthy balance.

This is why I’m so thankful for the work I do as a Mohel.  Traditional Judaism, on the whole, helps one keep perspective on the place of technology in our lives.  But even more so, every Brit Milah I perform connects me and the people I work with to a tradition that reaches as far back as Avraham and Sara.  This is one of the world’s oldest stories and when we participate in a Brit Milah, it reminds us of where we came from and where we should be heading. And as our world barrels on, full steam ahead into the future, there has never been a more necessary time for a healthy respect of our past.

I think the key is to have perspective on what these gadgets do for us– and that is the key phrase- ‘do for us’.  They are toys.  They entertain and provide us utility and should be used as such.  But they should not be the end all and be all of our existence, as tempting as that may be.  We have to be able to put them down and have some time without all the noise.  But I’m no fool.  Everyone knows that phones are the primary means of documenting Smachot (joyous occasions) so if I told people not to take pictures, I’d probably be out of a job.

Sent from my iPhone

About the Author
Rav Hayim Leiter is a rabbi, mohel, wedding officiant, and member of a private Beit Din in Israel. He founded Magen HaBrit, an organization committed to protecting both our sacred ceremony of Brit Milah and the children who undergo it. He made Aliyah in 2009 and lives in Efrat with his wife and four children.