Dinosaurs and phones

I am blissfully unable to text or receive texts, cannot take pictures, cannot record conversations or lectures or face time using my prehistoric phone.

Rabbi Berel Wein, | updated: 07:16

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Over 30 years ago my congregation in Monsey, New York, as a token of great appreciation to me for my rabbinic services, installed a car phone in my automobile. It was a great big clumsy apparatus with the receptors housed in the trunk of my car and the phone itself, which was full-sized, sitting on the console next to me. I am certain that my congregation was well-meaning in giving me that phone, but I had ambivalent feelings when accepting it and having it installed in my car. 

I knew that it meant that people would have access to me while I was in the car, a situation which did not prevail or exist until then, but I persevered, got used to having the phone in my car and it remained with me until I finally disposed of the car. As mobile phones became more ubiquitous and smaller, I resisted the temptation to obtain one. However, when I moved to Israel 22 years ago, I obtained a mobile phone and signed up for a plan with one of the local providers. 

Everyone told me that having a mobile phone in Israel was a dire necessity and that I'd really endanger myself somehow by not having one. So, I got one of those old ones that hardly did anything but receive phone calls. I rarely used the phone, preferring rather to speak on my landline or face-to-face with the people that I wanted to communicate with. I was perfectly content with that state of being and that mode of communication.

After a number of years, this mobile phone simply expired and no longer worked. It could no longer retain a charge and to obtain a new battery or to fix the phone would be more expensive than buying a new one. By this time, everyone was texting, and a phone became much more than just sending and receiving phone calls. Nevertheless, I discovered a store in Jerusalem that would sell me a flip-phone that basically did nothing else but send and receive telephone calls. I never was into sending or receiving text messages and as my eyesight began to decline it was much easier for me to listen to messages than to have to read them. 

Again, I hardly used this new flip-phone except when I was out of Jerusalem and felt that I should not be completely without connection to my family or the outside world. I had this flip-flop phone with me when I traveled to the United States for Passover a few months ago. Before I returned to Israel, I attempted to recharge the battery of the phone. No matter what I did, the phone refused to accept the charge and remained completely dead. I thought that perhaps the charger was no longer working but that did not seem to be the case. I finally concluded that this phone, in the tradition of its predecessor, simply had outlived its usefulness and its manufactured life span. At that point I began in earnest to think about buying a replacement.

Now I was faced with a terrible dilemma. There are apparently very few vendors in the world that sell flip-phones any longer. The mobile phones today do everything imaginable and though a great deal of this is unnecessary it nevertheless comes along with the phone. As such, I had recommendations from my family in America, who are all tech savvy, as to what phone I should purchase. I also have friends here in Israel who gave me recommendations regarding what type of smartphone would 'befit a person of my stature and importance.' 

The matter was researched for me on the Internet and prices and models were closely examined and compared. I am not by nature a person who enjoys fooling with gadgets, no matter how ingenious and captivating they may be. But I did not want to remain without a mobile phone especially since I am living alone in my apartment.

But, in a last act of desperation before committing myself to purchasing a new smart phone, I tried once again to charge my old flip-phone, now a prehistoric relic. Lo and behold, the old dinosaur leapt back into life and charged itself fully.  So, in my joy I completely renounced the idea of getting a new phone, no matter how attractive that idea seemed to be to my family and friends who were looking out for my welfare. With my old phone in working order, I am blissfully unable to text or receive texts, cannot take pictures, cannot record conversations or lectures or face time using my phone. My cup runneth over.




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