Rabbi Arye D. Gordon
On Motzaei Shabbos, Parshas Ki Savo, over 700 people packed into the Nagel gymnasium – not to attend a home game, but to hear Rabbi Yissachar Frand’s pre-selichos shiur at Yeshivat Yavneh. Hundreds of chairs covered the playing field to accommodate the crowd.
The yearly visit of Rabbi Frand is hosted by the Rabbi Jacob Friedman family and Mr. David and Mrs. Gittel Rubin. As per tradition, Rabbi Frand spent Shabbos at the home of Rabbi Aron Dovid Friedman and his family. The pre-selichos shiur concluded the annual shabbaton at Yavneh with Rabbi Frand. After a Friday night dvar Torah, a Shabbos morning drashah, a Shabbos afternoon halachah shiur, and the aforementioned pre-selichos teshuvah drashah on Motzei Shabbos, attendees had been injected with enough “Frand” medication to heal them and keep them until next year.
Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, Dean of Yeshivat Yavneh, did the honors of introducing Rabbi Frand. “What makes the great darshanim? What makes Rabbi Frand’s words so electrifying?” asked Rabbi Einhorn. “It is the X Factor, the urgency of his message. The feeling you get when you walk out tonight that something must change. Whatever it is, it can’t be the same anymore. And that is what makes this annual shiur so mesmerizing and life changing… Let us remember tonight and let us walk out of here changed forever.”
While the audience anticipated a fire-and-brimstone drashah to awaken the sleepers among us (uru yesheinim), Rabbi Frand headed in a different direction.
“Let me begin with a warning. This is not going to be your typical teshuvah drashah,” began Rabbi Frand, “Harav Yitzchok Hutner zt”l explained that teshuvah doesn’t mean to become better. Teshuvah means to become different. And I hope tonight, all of us, including myself, will change some of their behavior.” Rabbi Frand went on to say, “This drashah is about ‘smart phones.’ It is not about the inappropriate content nor about smart phone use in shuls, which are certainly important issues worthy of a drashah. It is about the pernicious effects that smart phones are having on us. And about what cell phones tell us about our lives.”
After discussing the various deleterious effects and stranglehold that the smart phones have on users, Rabbi Frand said, “Cell Phones are not the source of our problems. Cell phones are symptomatic of how trivialized our lives have become. We could not become so obsessed with our phones if we lived more serious lives.”
Rabbi Frand presented a list of no-nos we should incorporate into our lives and those of our family members: Don’t take your cell phone to bed with you. Don’t let your kids go the bed with their cell phones, otherwise they will be texting all night long instead of sleeping. No cell phones at the table. No cell phones when learning, no cell phones during davening.
When one realizes how enslaved we have become to our cell phones and how we must free ourselves, we can appreciate the brachah we say every morning, “Shelo asani Aved. Thank you Hashem for not having made me a slave.”