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Rabbi Sacks: I Use iPhone Too

Britain's Chief Rabbi Sacks issues clarification of statements regarding Steve Jobs, consumerism.
By Arutz Sheva
First Publish: 11/20/2011, 9:58 PM

 

Britain's Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has issued a statement of clarification after a message he delivered regarding the danger of consumerism – and in particular, a reference to Steve Jobs – led to reactions that seemed to point to a need for clarification.

The Chief Rabbi explained that he "meant no criticism of either Steve Jobs personally or the contribution Apple has made to the development of technology in the 21st century" and that he "admires both."

Indeed, Rabbi Sacks added, he "uses an iPhone and an iPad on a daily basis" and "was simply pointing out the potential dangers of consumerism when taken too far."

The original quotes were from a message Rabbi Sacks delivered at an interfaith reception attended by Queen Elizabeth II. Rabbi Sacks reportedly said: "People are looking for values other than the values of a consumer society. The values of a consumer society really aren’t ones you can live by for terribly long."

According to the Telegraph, he then added that "The consumer society was laid down by the late Steve Jobs coming down the mountain with two tablets, iPad one and iPad two, and the result is that we now have a culture of iPod, iPhone, iTune, i, i, i." 

"When you're an individualist, egocentric culture and you only care about 'i’, you don’t do terribly well. What does a consumer ethic do? It makes you aware all the time of the things you don't have instead of thanking God for all the things you do have."

"If in a consumer society, through all the advertising and subtly seductive approaches to it, you've got an iPhone but you haven’t got a fourth generation one, the consumer society is in fact the most efficient mechanism ever devised for the creation and distribution of unhappiness."

"Therefore the answer to the consumer society is the world of faith, which the Jews call the world of Shabbat, where you can't shop and you can't spend and you spend your time with things that matter, with family. Unless we get back to these values we will succeed in making our children and grandchildren ever unhappier."

Sacks' criticism of Jobs was met with some criticism. However, it is in keeping with his principle of promoting eternal values among the general public as well as in his Jewish constituency.

Rabbi Sacks, a noted Torah scholar and intellectual, writes a weekly Torah portion essay which is posted in Arutz Sheva's Judaism section.