A rare gathering of maronon verabonon, roshei yeshivos
and ramim was held on Motzei Shabbos to address the
damage being done to bochurim by cellular telephones.
Gedolei Yisroel called for the removal of the plague
from yeshiva halls.
Seated on the dais were HaRav Eliashiv, HaRav Aharon Yehuda
Leib Shteinman, HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, HaRav Shmuel
Halevi Wosner, the Admor of Gur, the Admor of Tzanz, members
of Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, roshei yeshivos, marbitzei
Torah, menahalim ruchanim, romim and other
The impressive event opened with a responsive recitation of
Tehillim led by HaRav Boruch Shapira followed by
Acheinu Kol Beis Yisroel for the recovery of HaRav
Moshe Shmuel Shapira, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Be'er Yaakov,
who sent a letter.
The opening speaker was HaRav Nochum Rothstein, rosh yeshiva
of Yeshivas Nezer HaTorah. "There is no yeshiva on earth
without a counterpart Above, and every yeshiva student has a
power and shadow Above, and if there are a thousand yeshivas
on earth there are a thousand yeshivas Above. And what is
studied on earth is studied Above.
"The world is sustained by the words issuing forth from the
yeshivas. Beis Hamikdosh and the Mishkon face
the Mikdosh Shel Maaloh and with this responsibility
resting on us gedolei Yisroel have asked us to meet.
Roshei yeshivos marbitzei Torah are responsible for
the yeshiva students and all of us are gathered together,
bearing responsibility for the existence of all of the
yeshivas, for a rosh yeshiva has responsibility for all of
his students' deeds. We have gathered here with gedolei
Yisroel shlita to hear from them what is incumbent upon
us to do.
"This is a generation with multitudes of bochurim
toiling in Torah, a generations of multitudes of
avreichim who cast off all of the vanities of This
World to toil in Torah. There is no beis medrash
without shiurei Torah and the Soton cannot bear them.
We are here to discuss how when the Yetzer Hora does
not succeed via other paths it brings the little device found
in everyone's grasp.
"Can one sin and not be consumed? In every period we have
been aware of the need to fight against `michutz tishakel
cherev,' to safeguard the bochurim lest there be
tzevochoh birechovoseinu. But who would have thought
the Soton would enter the beis medrash?
"Many have fallen victim. Those who are closely involved in
this campaign know, and everyone sitting here is aware how
many upright, innocent victims have fallen into this net.
Homes have been broken as a result of it.
"There should have been an absolute prohibition against this
tool of destruction, which was deliberately introduced. The
members of the Rabbinical Committee on Cellular Matters can
attest they are asking for a device used only for
conversation, but instead of simply honoring the request they
must engage in exhausting negotiations.
"Our hope is that this will come to a happy end and that the
avreichim and baalei batim who need this device
will find a way. But for the yeshiva students the situation
is dire. Boys are being consumed in fire day by day. Every
week from the best of homes parents complain about boys who
have fallen into this net."
He was followed by HaRav Wosner, who cited Chazal's remarks
that "what remains for us is `this Torah,' but Chazal
stressed `this Torah' and not merely Torah. It must be the
Torah as we received it at Sinai. That is `this Torah.' And
if not in the original form that is not Torah. If Dovid
Hamelech said, `Toras Hashem temimoh meshivas nofesh'
this is parallel to yiras Hashem tohoroh omedes le'ad.
Torah without yiras Shomayim and tohoroh
without Torah does not endure. Our Sages said in Brochos,
yiras Hashem omedes le'ad is he who studies Torah in
purity. This gathering today to honor Hashem and the holy
Torah is about something that has reversed His Torah
"The holy yeshivas in our Holy Land are the designated
purpose of the holy Torah. The Zohar Hakodosh on
Parshas Vayeilech says that when the Jews entered
Eretz Yisroel `each and every soul sang, "Vezos haTorah
asher som Moshe lifnei Bnei Yisroel,"' i.e. when
HaKodosh Boruch Hu gave the Torah, He gave the Torah
in our Holy Land, and He gave them the lands held by the non-
Jews. In Emunoh Uvitochon the Ramban, commenting on
the verse in Parshas Shemos, `E'eleh eschem me'ani ami
meEretz Mitzrayim le'eretz tovoh urechovoh' says this
entire verse speaks of the Torah.
"We in Eretz Yisroel must contend with the power of the will
of secular Jews and porkei Torah. And we have no power
to defend ourselves other than the power of Torah. And the
power of Torah rests in the holy yeshivas, the yeshivos
gedolos and yeshivos ketanos in our Holy Land.
Torah without yiroh and without tohoroh will
not continue to exist for generations. If we want to
perpetuate the Torah throughout the generations for eternity
the Torah must be accompanied by tohoroh and
kedushoh. Before Matan Torah the condition was
`ve'atem tihiyu mamleches kohanim vegoy kodosh.'
"I have studied the issue of cellular telephones thoroughly.
The telephone has two enormous and very terrible detriments.
But before we speak about pritzus and tzenius
and gilui arayos in the most alarming manner, years
ago I heard that the reality for everyone is that even a
kosher cellular phone hounds the person day and night,
wherever he goes, giving him no rest. This is the reality and
it cannot be denied. I have seen avreichim who,
be'avonoseinu harabim, came to kollel, took out
the book—the Katzos or the gemoro—and laid
the phone on the table to remain in constant contact with the
"Before we speak of the great harm done to the
kedushoh and tohoroh of Yisroel, the phone
itself takes away any remnants of peace and quiet. Through
the media [i.e. internet] the phone comes along and steals
our peace and quiet. The phone is the opposite of rest, even
for a tzaddik gomur. And I ask you, how can one bring
a cell- phone into the beis medrash where the pure
words of G-d are spoken, and then the phone rings in the
middle of the shiur? What have we done with the words
of Chazal that he who interrupts his learning to engage in
idle conversation is fed glowing coals? Everything Chazal
said is eternal. Telephones are a leading cause of bitul
"The other aspect of the telephone is the maaseh Soton
that prevents the growth of Torah and yiras Shomayim
in our Holy Land, which has increased and succeeded
be'ezras Hashem, bringing peros hilulim
leHashem in the holy yeshivas. And this applies to all of
our brethren in Beis Yisroel who are chareidim ledvar
Hashem, whether they are Chassidim or Ashkenazim or our
Sephardi brothers. To study Torah is Elokim chaim, to
raise generations for Torah and to set up a legion for
Melech Malchei Hamelochim, and the cellular telephone
is combating this. The latest invention that brings
[bochurim] to the lower depths is pictures.
"`Hatzafoni archik me'aleichem.' The tzafoni is
the telephone, which can be concealed inside a pocket and
hidden from parents, who do not realize their sons are
walking around with a phone in their pocket, do not know who
they talk to and where they call from, and this reality is
undeniable. The incidents of michsholim of pure
bnei Yisroel and benos Yisroel brought before
us in which whole families were ruined, both in Eretz Yisroel
and elsewhere, is clear proof this is a obvious case of a
maaseh Soton unknown since the days of Matan Torah.
"Even if the telephone is prohibited in the commercial world,
in cases where it is demonstrably needed it will of course
only be permitted with a kosher cellular phone for
conversation alone, which will receive the approval of Vaadas
Harabbonim Le'inyonei Tikshores. But in the yeshivas, both
the yeshivos gedolos and the yeshivos ketanos,
as well as the seminaries and Beis Yaakov schools, there is
no place for this instrument of destruction. Neither a kosher
instrument of destruction nor a treif one. And in my
opinion, if the esteemed rabbonim consent, together with the
leaders of the generation we will issue an absolute ban
against bringing this instrument of destruction into a holy
place like the beis medrash.
"Second, in my opinion, every rosh yeshiva or seminary
director who learns of a talmid or seminary girl who
uses this or brings it in violation of the regulation, is
authorized to expel the student without recourse. The
leitz should be cast out, and there is no leitz
greater than gilui arayos and avodoh zoroh.
Although I am always the first to only bring Jews closer to
Our Father in Heaven, just as it is a mitzvah to bring closer
it is also a mitzvah to rebuff what must be rebuffed. And may
HaKodosh Boruch Hu give us the strength to withstand
this trial and insist on the honor of the roshei yeshivos of
the holy yeshivas in Yisroel, Hashem aleichem
yichiyeh, for you purify and sanctify the air of Eretz
HaRav Yisroel Hager, representing his father, the Admor of
Vizhnitz, said: "Great mesirus nefesh is needed to
save the education of the young generation. The Yetzer
Hora does not slumber, but together with gedolei
Yisroel we will succeed, be'ezras Hashem, and will
overcome . . . a declaration must come forth from this
gathering that it is strictly forbidden to possess cellular
telephones and that these telephones should be used for
commercial purposes only, and young men learning in yeshivas
have no need for cellular phones in order to avoid reaching
HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz said: "With the permission of
Rabbenu Hagodol Posek Hador, sheyichiyeh le'orech yomim
veshonim, R' Yosef Sholom Eliashiv, may HaKodosh
Boruch Hu lengthen his days and years with health and
pleasantness until the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, and
with the permission of Rabbenu R' Aharon Leib Shteinman, and
with the permission of all of the roshei yeshivos, gedolei
haTorah, who have gathered to seek counsel for how to
preserve the holy places of the yeshivas . . .
"We are in a very dire situation. Before I came here I heard
from Maran Posek Hador shlita, that accessories of
gilui arayos are being brought into the holy halls.
And these are the holy words Maran Hagaon, shlita,
spoke: What holy place could there be that has such
bochurim? What can we expect of them? Homes that have
transformed the holy into the mundane, homes that will not
produce anything in the generations to come. And the
bochurim must be told to take pity on themselves and
realize how destructive this tool of devastation is.
"A few [bochurim] wrote to me that they are unable to
save themselves. But this is not so, for tshuvoh is
effective. What form of tshuvoh will have an effect on
them? Let them smash the tool of destruction and make a
commitment that in order to succeed in Torah they will never
possess a cellular telephone. Then HaKodosh Boruch Hu
will accept it from them, be'ezras Hashem.
Roshei yeshivos should know that if people inquire about them
regarding shidduchim, nothing good should be said
about them. Period. And the parents of bochurim who
allow them to buy and possess this . . . they think they are
at the yeshiva, but they are not at the yeshiva. This is one
of the ways that can be used to frighten them into abandoning
this abominable way . . . "
Addressing the hundreds of roshei yeshivos and marbitzei
Torah HaRav Shteinman said the threat is not only to a
handful of individuals. "We did not come to this gathering
for naught. A declaration must be made, for as we have heard,
many have already fallen. This is a great danger and we
cannot know where it will lead. What is there to add after
everyone has already spoken?
"There are those who acquire phones with unwholesome
intentions from the start. Certainly they have no place in a
yeshiva. But most bochurim say they won't look at the
bad things, chas vesholom. Probably most
bochurim are not to be suspected of doing this
intentionally. He is sure he will refrain, but he fails to
take one thing into account. The gemoro in Sanhedrin
asks why the reasons behind the Torah were not revealed to
Shlomo Hamelech, who was the most intelligent of all men.
Says Shlomo, I will have many wives and I will not stray, but
he faltered. Shlomo Hamelech, who was sure he would not
falter, who was considered a tzaddik . . .
"If there are no yeshivas there is no Klal Yisroel,
and over this we must fight with all our might. All of
the devices must be returned and it must be said in the
strictest manner that an individual who fails to understand
this has no place in the yeshiva, otherwise this will destroy
the yeshivas. There can be no pity in this matter, for that
would be cruelty. We have no choice. If someone is found with
this, it is a danger for him and for the yeshiva and the
whole world of Torah is in danger. May HaKodosh Boruch
Hu help by saving us and enabling us to eliminate this
plague and may there be no yeshiva with such a breach and may
every individual desist from this."
HaRav Boruch Shapira noted the organizers rushed to hold the
gathering before Chanukoh "so that the bochurim would
come home on Chanukah and leave the cellular phones in their
homes and not bring them back to the yeshivas,
The gathering was held in cooperation with the City of
Jerusalem's Department of Torah Culture and through the
generosity of Heichal Simchoh-Jerusalem Catering.