The Person Behind The Posts

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

A Spiritual Charge in Jerusalem

When we moved to Israel, we bought iPhones for the whole family.  Lest you think this was a deep indulgence in materialism, in the end, the iPhone has a number of applications that I use all the time to help me learn Hebrew.  There are translation programs that work with Google Translate, Hebrew verb tables, an iPhone version of the Prolog Hebrew-English dictionary and a Hebrew keyboard.  There is also a map of Jerusalem bus routes, a siddur, a Hebrew calendar application and a host of other iPhone apps that actually add value to my day as a recent Israeli immigrant.

Needless to say, it's also my calendar, my phone book and my cellphone.  It gets a lot of use each day.

One downside of the iPhone 3 is that the battery life is not so good.  It needs to be charged every night. So I charge it near my bedside, because it also serves as my morning alarm clock.  No matter how low the charge at night, in the morning, it's always 100% charged.

The other morning, as a favor to my husband, I checked the iPhone to see which team won the Super Bowl.  I opened the New York Times website, saw the Packers won, and put the phone down.  Just a few moments later, I wanted to check something else, but the iPhone did not respond.  It was dead.  And I was suddenly very uncomfortable.

This is an understatement.

During my morning prayers, it occurred to me that maybe my iPhone malfunction was a message from Hashem that I am much too dependent on my iPhone.  Most mornings, I check my email before I get out of bed.  I spend way more time with an iPhone in my hands than a prayer book.  So I asked Hashem to please make my iPhone work and, in exchange, I wouldn't take it to my bedside at night.

But after my prayers, the phone was still dead.

I put my SIM card in a different phone so I could at least make and receive calls and I started my day, however uncomfortably.  On the bus into Jerusalem, I focused on the positive.  Thank Gd I had another phone to use.  Thank Gd I was able to remember a few important phone numbers.  Thank Gd it was just something material, and not my health, that was broken.  Thank Gd I was on a bus in Jerusalem. Thank Gd I live in Israel.

After we finished our tasks in the city, my husband took me to the cellphone service center.

We pulled number 350,  When we arrived, they were on number 296.  We were told the wait would be 2-3 hours.  It was every bit that.

As we sat there, we talked about how this kind of wait would really infuriate some people.  At that point, it was 4 in the afternoon and I had not yet eaten lunch.  There were dozens of people in a small, loud, crowded room.  The numbers seemed to crawl forward.

On the other hand, we were together.  We were indoors and the temperature in the room was comfortable.  We had chairs.  There was free coffee.  And we were in Jerusalem.

When it was our turn, we learned that the problem with the phone was that it was completely drained. Apparently, the night before, the phone and the charger were disconnected and, after using the last of the juice to check the outcome of the Super Bowl, the phone just shut down.

We had just spent 3 hours waiting to find out that we needed to plug the phone into a charger.

Instead of feeling like an idiot and having my husband yell at me for wasting his afternoon, we agreed that this was great news.  We had some time together.  The solution didn't cost us any money.  Since we were already in Jerusalem, we went out to dinner and spent the entire meal speaking to one another exclusively in Hebrew.

And the onion soup was delicious.


Karen said...

And the next time you have a problem with your phone, call me. But then you wouldn't have an uplifting experience sitting in the cell phone store. I thought you were going to say that you used your iPhone for a secular, chutznik purpose, and it died, so the lesson was only to use it for worthwhile apps. But then I remembered, it's a chutznik iPhone. You're probably taxing it with too much spirituality.

rutimizrachi said...

I'm so proud of you, and jealous! An entire meal together, exclusively in Hebrew?! Come, touch my hand, so I get a little of that enthusiasm vicariously!

Perspective is a wonderful gift, isn't it? I am so grateful to Hashem that He cares about us so much as to take a few minutes from His busy day to remind us of what matters.

And because I love you, may I second your most important prayer: "Thank Gd it was just something material, and not [your] health, that was broken."

Stay well and strong.

Batya said...

You saw the good in it, such a blessing, B"H!!!

Bracha said...

Just imagine how the cellphone companies could market their service centers to the religious public: "Every moment a spiritual experience!"

Anonymous said...

Isn't it expensive to get iPhones to bring to Israel? I am making Aliyah in July and would like to purchase a few for my family? How does it work? Thanks!

Bat Aliyah said...

To e5d02140-81a2-11e0-afdc-000f20980440 (Hey - you really need a nickname!),

I looked into buying unlocked iPhones in America before we came on aliyah, but a year ago, they were more than $500 each. We bought our iPhones through Cellcom, which is the largest cellphone provider in Israel and we got a deal that links the payments for the iPhone to our service plan. It's my impression that people in Israel don't buy phones outright. They are bought in 36 monthly payments. But that's how it's done here, and there is a high level of iPhone penetration in the Israeli market which, theoretically, should make phones cheaper. In general, I find the whole cellphone industry incredibly complex here, but in the end, I decided to buy them locally and have not regretted the decision.