14 September 2014

Shabbat Is a Day of Rest—But Does That Mean I Can’t Text My Friends?

Some Modern Orthodox teens observe ‘half-Shabbat,’ using cell phones in private. How widespread is the trend? Is it a crisis?

That some Modern Orthodox teenagers sometimes break Shabbat is not new. That teenagers might push boundaries in private, with an eye toward returning to the communal norm in adulthood, is likewise not a surprise. But technology is not a youthful fad to be picked up in high school and easily discarded as an adult. Forgoing technology on Shabbat, not being able to use your phone for 25 hours, has become an increasingly dramatic restriction over time, as more and more people read books online, use online maps, get their news digitally, and generally make open-ended social plans based on an assumption that they can contact one another as needed. Today, little in our lives can be done without technology, and as the recent products unveiled by Apple demonstrate, this will only become truer tomorrow.