by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths
High on the list is a virtual siddur, a prayerbook on the phone so one doesn’t have to carry one around for afternoon and evenng weekday prayer. This was particularly convenient as a maariv (evening prayer) group started in my office building (possible now with sundown happening around 5:30).
So I rushed off to the maariv group and started up my siddur app. We did the preliminaries and started Shemona Esrai (the standing silent prayer of 18 blessings).
It was nice, I could read it easily (the location was poorly lit, but that’s not an issue for a lit phone display), and I was enjoying focusing on prayer as a wrap up to my office day. Blessing 1…. 2…. 3…. 4…. 5…. 6….
…and my Siddur CRASHED. I’m in the middle of prayer before G-d staring at some type of phone software error. I tried to start it back up, it immediately crashed again.
I went through the rest by heart, but couldn’t shake the experience… a siddur crash. What a strange cross between modern technology and a multi-thousand year old religious practice.
I deleted that app and found a replacement (pictured above). When I went to maariv this evening, it even poped-up to remind me to add the extra portion for Rosh Chodesh (the new month), a nice surprise feature.
And it didn’t crash.
There’s a communal debate within the Jewish religious community over whether smart phones are worth their risks (with built in Internet access) versus the benefits, with some religious authorities taking positions anywhere from “they should preferably be avoided”, the extreme “they should be destroyed”, and the more lenient “use with caution and for appropriate purposes and/or business only”.
But every tool can be used for the good. And there’s a growing selection of excellent Jewish and Torah apps to consider.