Minute 686: Phone Booth

“I was at a busy airport and the time for Minchah was quickly expiring,” Rabbi Scharf said. “I entered a phone booth and said a quiet Shemoneh Esrei in spite of the bustle of activity outside.”

“I can remember times when I, too, had to be creative in order to make a space that would allow me some privacy and quiet,” Mr. Marcus said.

Seemingly oblivious to the conversation, Yonatan sipped his iced tea. These last comments, however, caught the teen’s attention. “What’s a phone booth?” he asked.

The Rabbi and Mr. Marcus looked at each other in dismay for a moment. Then the Rabbi turned to Yonatan and explained. “Wireless technology is relatively new. It used to be that people didn’t have personal mobile devices to make and receive calls on the go. When someone had to make a call he had to find a public telephone and pay per use. The phones were housed in booths so one could close the door and speak privately.”

“Why would anyone need a booth?” Yonatan said. “Why couldn’t they just put the phone on a pole without the booth?”

How quickly times have changed! Not so long ago, people valued their privacy. Conversations, personal opinions and social contact were kept to oneself. Today, however, instant dissemination of personal information is big business.

What most don’t realize is that participating in the “new” electronic social scene violates basic principles of modesty that our predecessors valued so dearly. Considering when and with whom to share your personal life will reignite your sense of modesty. Modesty is “our” way of life.

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

A person might be walking in the public domain on Shabbos and find money in the street. His yetzer hara for money may mislead him into taking the money and carrying it off. If someone would inform him that the money was counterfeit, the entire test would dissolve and he wouldn’t even need to invoke his fear of Heaven to avoid transgressing. So, too, if a person would realize that all the wiles of the evil inclination are false and counterfeit … nothing would be a test at all. (Eliezer Ben-Tzion Bruk, Hegyonei Mussar, p. 8)


Rabbi Raymond Beyda serves in the Sephardic Community in Brooklyn, N.Y. He lectures to audiences all over the world. He has distributed over 500,000 recorded lessons free of charge. He is author of the book 1 Minute With Yourself: A Minute a Day to Self-Improvement.