Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Hey, My Siddur Crashed

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

imageMy business phone plan upgraded me to a late model smart phone.  So it was time to download some Jewish apps for religious convenience.

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.


  1. Hmmmm, technology is great but... I bought an iPhone for my wife and thus "inherited" her "old" (1-1/2 yr) iPod Touch.

    Clever guy, I thought to myself "let's clean it up from all games and girly stuff, and have a good Siddur installed into it".

    I found a nice free app which includes a complete Sepharadi Siddur and installed it.

    The first issue was with the fonts, as the default one is that horrible modern stgraight-stick styled font. I'm a late Hebrew learner and got used to read the traditional font, similar to the one found on paper Siddurim, then I managed to change the font type and size into a good, readable thing.

    First time I tried to use it in real life... after a weekly shiur I use to attend, we gathered a minyan for Arvit and began.

    Until a certain moment I was able to navigate trough the small (compared to a book page!!) screen, cautiously scrolling down the text with my fingertip, but suddenly I touched something wrong and... it went back to the index!! As I tried to chase the point where the kahal were reading, I slightly touched on something else (also wrong...) and there came some special reading for Rosh Chodesh!!! & so on & so forth, till I gave up and grabbed an old book in order to try to catch up.

    In summary, as the kids say today - it was an "epic fail"!!! It may be good indeed for occasional study or reference, but it's too much "nervous" for me. And I'm quite an experienced computer user, dealing with Macs, PCs and all that stuff for years...

    In my case, the Siddur didn't crash - it was *my* brain OS that crashed!!!

    Now I'm back to the old pocket Siddur - until further development of things.

    R. Halevy

  2. On a side matter. This is shocking, a comment left on another blog: " In Lita, R' Chaim Volozhiner said if someone claiming to be a Yid could not speak Yiddish, you should be doresh vechoker to find out what the truth is.

    "Today we should be on guard to make sure a Yiddish speaker is not an Arab terrorist. Yediot Achronot reported this week that a quarter of all students in the Yiddish program at Bar Ilan University are Arabs. Speaking Yiddish fluently could be the perfect cover.

    "And nothing to do with Yiddish but a Muslim Paki from al Qaeda was arrested yesterday trying to blow up the Federal Reserve in Downtown Manhattan. He came to NY under the false pretext of wanting to get a university degree but all he did was recruit Arabs to assist in the plot. After an informant B"H tipped off the FBI, an undercover agent gave him a fake detonator for the 1000 pound truck bomb. The terrorist walked a few blocks away to the Hilton hotel and kept pressing the buttons when he did not hear an explosion. Agents then swarmed in & arrested him."

    How do these guys learn Yiddish. From a Jewish mother?


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