Satmar Rebbe – It’s Me or Your Smartphones!

Taking a hardline against the Internet, Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum says no one with a smartphone can count themselves among his followers.

Gabe Kahn ,

Young cellphone user in Jerusalem
Young cellphone user in Jerusalem
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, the Satmar Rebbe of Kiryas Yoel, gave his followers an ultimatum on Shavuot: rid yourselves of your smart phones or get a new rebbe.

As Satmar hassidim gathered around the rebbe at the end of the holiday, he took a strong line against smartphones, telling his disciples that it is 'forbidden' for them to have a computer in one's home – as has been his position for many years.

There are exceptions regarding computers with filtered Internet access when strictly necessary for earning a livelihood, he said.

He then went on the address smartphones, stating all “klei kodesh" (holy vessels) – fundraisers, Torah students, Torah teachers, educational supervisors, institutional administrators, ritual slaughterers, and scribes may not have such a device – without exception.

The rebbe also called on directors of Satmar institutions worldwide to begin enforcing this within four weeks, permitting a grace period to acquire an acceptable phone.

Anyone who does not comply, the rebbe said, will no longer be permitted to continue in their position with any Satmar institution.

The Satmar rebbe also said that a woman may not have a smartphone under any circumstances.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Avraham Tzvi Wosner in Monsey ruled this week – in accordance with his grandfather's ruling – that those who possess smartphones or have unfiltered Internet access are not kosher witnesses.

According to the report, Rabbi Wosner's decision was made at a wedding when he learned one of the witnesses possessed a phone that was not "kosher." He ordered another witnesses be found.

The move came shortly after a mass rally citing the dangers of the Internet at CitiField in New York City, which was attended by some 40,000 hareidim.