Q & A: Ask the Rabbi

A ‘Phone Call’ to G-d

Rabbi Yitzchak Zilbershtein gets questions on Jewish law all the time from all over the world. One question was the following:

“When I was out of Israel, I was in a street full of people and saw that it would soon be sundown and I hadn’t yet prayed Mincha, the afternoon service. I thought since there was no synagogue in the area, I shouldn’t pray in front of all these people as I will look very strange and in fact anti-Semites might take the opportunity to hurt me too.”

“I was at a loss of what to do and I turned my eyes to heaven and asked G-d what I should do as I was looking for a place suitable to pray to him so I asked Him for help. Suddenly, I spotted a phone booth and I went in and picked up the receiver as if I was in conversation on the phone when in fact I was really praying, talking to G-d.”

“But after a few minutes someone came along that also needed to use the phone and he had to wait for me to finish my ‘phone call to G-d’. I was a bit flustered at first not knowing what to do since I normally pray for 8 minutes yet here was someone waiting before I would finish praying. I felt a bit bad since the phone company doesn’t want me to usurp its phones just for prayer when the phone is really meant for customers to make phone calls on it. So my question is was I right in preventing the person from using the phone when I was praying in the booth?”

Rabbi Zilbershtein answers:

In the “Path of the Just” chapter 1 it says: “If a man cleaves to his Creator and uses this world only as an aid to serve his Creator he is elevated and the entire world is elevated with him since it is a great elevation to all creations to be used for serving the complete man who is holy with G-d’s holiness…”

“We can learn from this that when a Jew is praying his afternoon service and the only way he can do it is with a phone receiver by his face as if in conversation then this act pf prayer also benefits those around him including the non-Jews that may have been waiting for the phone and it actually benefits the entire world. Therefore you were not wrong in using the phone for this thought you can make an effort to shorten your prayer so it isn’t overly long.”


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