Rabbi Eliashiv declared war on the deaf!

Rabbi Eliashiv, an Haredi rabbi, issued a ruling forbidding schools under his control to admit children, whose parents are using non-“kosher” cellphones (cellphones with intact ability to use SMS, Internet and video).

This ruling adversely affects deaf people, who need to be in contact those parents due to reasons like:

  1. They work with those parents and need to communicate them as part of their job.
  2. They themselves are deaf children of those parents.

It is necessary to take legal action, with the aim of outlawing cellphones without functional SMS, and outlawing discrimination against deaf parents of haredi school children, who use video for Sign Language communication via 3G cellphones.

Sources (in Hebrew for the time being):

Author: Omer Zak

I am deaf since birth. I played with big computers which eat punched cards and spew out printouts since age 12. Ever since they became available, I work and play with desktop size computers which eat keyboard keypresses and spew out display pixels. Among other things, I developed software which helped the deaf in Israel use the telephone network, by means of home computers equipped with modems. Several years later, I developed Hebrew localizations for some cellular phones, which helped the deaf in Israel utilize the cellular phone networks. I am interested in entrepreneurship, Science Fiction and making the world more accessible to people with disabilities.

7 thoughts on “Rabbi Eliashiv declared war on the deaf!”

  1. Not only does this prove that Alexander Graham Bell was a Haredi Rabbi, but he also hated Deaf people- that's why he invented the telephone!

    Obviously, cellular phones and sms are a great improvement to the quality of life of deaf people but deaf people survived and managed perfectly well before the invention of cellular phones and sms. I should know, several members of my family are deaf.

    There are of course other text message sending services which are open to anyone- ie. beeper services. As for your video issues- there are benefits and disadvantages to every technology. The Rabbinate has a responsibility to weigh those according to halachic guidelines and decide. The fact that you have no respect for the guidelines or the Rabbinate means that most Haredi people will have no interest in getting your messages.

    FYI- you can text to a regular Bezeq line as well:

    In short, get a life!


    1. I'll start with replying to your last line. It would be much more difficult for me to get a life if accessibility to jobs and social life is reduced due to difficulty in keeping in contact with people, who refuse to use text messages due to religious reasons.

      While it is true that Alexander Graham Bell's invention put the deaf at big disadvantage, there is a big difference. His invention was progressive. People were empowered to do more things and more efficiently thanks to his invention. The deaf's disadvantage was not absolute – it was relative to those who could use this invention and get ahead.

      During the last few years – thanks to the invention of the TTY, the Internet and text messaging – the disadvantage was ameliorated, and nowadays the deaf are equal to the hearing as far as ability to take advantage of the telecommunications infrastructure is concerned.

      The Haredi's prohibition against usage of text messages is regressive. It neutralizes the equal standing of the deaf, which I mentioned above.

      Before this prohibition, deaf people could use text messages to be in contact with Haredi bosses, Haredi colleagues, Haredi relatives, even Haredi employees. Now deaf people cannot. The technology is there, but the Haredi people choose not to use it, even though it disfranchises deaf people.


    2. Firstly, as I said- anyone can send text messages to a standard bezeq phone and have the messages read to them so you can still write your messages to a hearing Haredi boss, colleague, relative, or employee.

      Secondly, if the Haredi you wish to reach is deaf, then he'll likely have a TTY or beeper service which allows you to contact him as well. So so far, I see know reason why this particular ruling is discriminatory.

      Thirdly- And this is where the absurdity of your comments really comes to light- Did you actually ASK Harav HaGaon Elyashiv Shlita whether or not this rule applies to deaf people and if so in what ways? From the sheer audacity of your comments, it is clear that you have little or no actual knowledge of how a Halachic ruling works or how observant Jews are affected by them? You are taking a generic ruling which I'm sure you never actually read, and you are assuming that it applies in all cases to everyone.

      In reality, Halachic rulings work on the principle of questions and answers (Shealot U'Teshuvot). For this reason there are thousands of Halachic works aptly named Shu”tim. Each generation, the greatest Rabbis write down the more important questions they've ruled on and their explained rulings. As generations pass, the same questions are asked again but in different circumstances, and therefore adapted rulings are made and explained, etc.

      The same is true here. The correct way to deal with your situation is to go to or send a letter to HaRav Elyashiv asking him if there is room to make allowances for deaf Haredim who can benefit from the text and or video services. He would then examine the situation from all the halachic perspectives which led him to make the first ruling, and decide accordingly if there is any leeway to be given in your situation.

      It is quite possible that he will answer you just as I have- that there are sufficient methods available without compromising on the original ruling.
      It is also possible that he will have suggestions of his own. It is even possible that he will say that people have managed just fine for 5000 years without cellular phones and there is no reason to sacrifice religious principles for convenience.

      Whatever HaRav decides, your original statements are incredibly misplaced and disrespectful to a man who has forgotten (Chas VeChalila) more than we are likely to learn in our lifetimes.


    3. Your arrogant reply overlooked or failed to address the following issues:

      1. There are no Hebrew language TTYs.
      2. What if the Haredi person is the one who needs to send a message to his deaf boss/co-worker/employee?
      3. Even if a waiver is obtained for Haredi person in regular contact with a deaf person, what about the situation in which a random Haredi person needs to be in contact with a deaf person, due to one-time business or help or job search?
      4. Even if an Haredi person gets a waiver, how will his children's Haredi school management know that the waiver is genuine and that his children are not to be thrown out of the school?

      Bear in mind that my original posting was in response to Rabbi Eliashiv's directive to schools under his control not to accept children, whose parents use cellphones with SMS capability. No procedure for obtaining waiver for parents, who need to be in contact with the deaf, was publicized.


    4. My reply was not intended to be arrogant- just to point out that you are standing very far outside a community and making judgments with absolutely no basis.

      My response deals with all your points. Everything is a question and everything has an answer.

      Regarding your third point, I am wondering what happens when someone who doesn't own a cellphone at all needs to contact a deaf person. I guess the whole world will end. Maybe deaf people should stop discriminating against people without cellphones? In reality, we both know that there are phone services which will take a hearing person on one end and translate to tty on the other end. In addition there are instant messengers, email, secretaries, all of which have their own halachic issues (but that is a different conversation).

      Regarding your 4th non-point, the answer is simple. Parents would bring a signed note to school. The school would either believe or call and verify the note (if they wanted). Duh!

      You really haven't figured out that your sources are useless left wing Haredi haters?!? You reading Ha'Aretz and saying that no procedure was publicized is ludicrous. You think anyone Haredi read the announcement in Ha'Aretz or on Walla? All you read was a quote from an article in another newspaper. You haven't even read the announcement so how would you know? Also- as I said before, the question and answer process is second nature in observant communities. It is not something that needs to be publicized.

      If you just want a reason to get upset, you can keep basing your views on biased pseudo-news but if you want to see the truth, you need to dig deeper.


  2. According to http://www.nrg.co.il/online/10/ART1/539/232.html, one of the criteria for being Haredi (ultra-orthodox) Jew is now avoidance of cellphones with functional SMS.

    In other words, a deaf child born into an Haredi family will have to leave his community – he will be 2nd class citizen there, not only in his inability to participate in religious ceremonies, but also in his ability to lead a more or less normal lifestyle, to have a job, to have social life.

    In addition, non-Haredi deaf people will have to avoid dealing with Haredi people in any way, which might require cellphones to be used.

    This is akin to the hypothetical case of Jews, who were born with some metabolic deficiency requiring them to eat pork in order to survive. They personally would get an exemption due to “pikuach nefesh” and be able to eat pork. But they would face adverse responses from their surroundings, they would not be able to eat with their relatives and friends, they would not be able to cook for and invite their friends over for dinners.


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