Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Well, Now You've Gone And Done It...

Yes, I did it. Perhaps it was time, perhaps it wasn't - and I still don't know the full impact of my decision just yet.

My 2-year Verizon plan concluded and I was up for renewal plus a new phone. After 2 years of frustration with a primitive touch-screen (in place of the "okay/select" and directional buttons), which rarely worked well, and in defiance of ASoG's warnings (she was worried I'd regret getting another touchscreen), I got totally touch screen smart phone instead of another phone which had an actual flip-up QWERTY keyboard.

So while I have now joined the thousands (probably more than that) of people who have these new-fangled devices, the real point of this post is that I also just downloaded the free siddur app. Some nice fellow decided to scan an entire siddur, and made up this fancy-schmancy interface where I can go immediately to Shacharis, Mincha, Ma'ariv, bentsching, brachos, etc.

For the longest time I have held a very negative view of people using their smart phones in the place of siddurim for davening. I think it is a nice convenience to have access to for bentsching, but while saying bikas hamazon takes only a few minutes, any of the three primary tefillos (or Mussaf for Rosh Chodesh and Chol Hamoed) takes a considerable amount of time longer.

Hence, my suspicion is always aroused anytime I see someone using their smart phone in shul/at minyan. True, I should be dan lekaf zechus that they are just using their app instead of a siddur - particularly at Mincha/Ma'ariv in a non-shul location where this would be most helpful - but I can't even begin to count the number of times I've seen people goofing off, checking email, etc during Chazaras Hashatz, or other "downtime."

So why did I download the app, even though I totally agree with ASoG that I don't want to become one of those guys using his smart phone during davening? I view the app as a sort of added insurance fo sorts. I'm sure some instance will come up where it will be easier to use the smart phone or where I won't have my wallet with me and thus my pocket mini benstcher/Mincha-Ma'ariv as well. At the moment, I have three scenarios in my head:

1) The few times I end up davening Ma'ariv in an airport (which happens every now and then) where I will be a little less conspicuous if I'm just standing to the side with my phone instead of clutching my little siddur. I'm not afraid of being seen davening in an airport, or even fielding questions about it afterward, but I'd rather be as inconspicuous as possible.

2) As I have witnessed repeatedly, this app comes in handy at wedding minyanim. There have been more than a handful of instances where I get a ride to a wedding, don't take my wallet since I don't need any money, and later regret not remembering to bring my mini-siddur. I always have my phone on me and now I will have a siddur as well. In fact, I have been saved by several nice fellows who shared their smart phone with me at post chuppa/chosson's tisch minyanim.

3) If I'm in a situation of an impromtu minyan where there are no siddurim provided to the attendees and someone else doesn't have their own siddur. I can simply lend them mine and then use my phone for myself. This is also assuming I can fight off any yetzer hara I may have to check my email over the course of the minyan, which I hope I could.

At any rate, my typical modus operandi will still consist of using my well worn, yeshiva-in-Israel issued mini-siddur, while my new phone will be in my pocket (turned off, of course). Technology is wonderful, and I very much like the idea of having a siddur - or Shas, for example (I've seen a YU BMP rabbi learning off his smart phone on occasion) - but I'm not going to let that positive benefit suck me into a distraction that will ruin my davening experience.

1 comment:

  1. i love my siddur and tehilim apps! they are so convenient and its a nice feeling to know that i always have what i need- added bonus is that yoiu dont have to worry abt taking it into the bathroom which is great! especially for traveling!


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