Lior Glazer
Lior Glazer at the iPhone smashing ceremony (OFFER GEDANKEN) Reuters

A leading ultra-Orthodox haredi rabbi has exhorted his followers in Israel to burn their iPhones, and even forbade the sale of such devices to non-Jews.

Rabbi Haim Kanievsky, who is one of the most influential figures among the havedi community, issued a public notice saying that anyone who owns the smartphone should set it ablaze.

In a written response to a businessman reader of the daily Yated Ne'eman, the Rabbi said "it is forbidden to be in possession of [an iPhone] and one must burnt it".

He added that it is forbidden to sell it to a non-Jew "just as it is forbidden to sell a weapon to a non-Jew", despite the entrepreneur's claims that it was crucial to his business.

Many members of the havedi community have "kosher mobiles" that have no internet connection and cannot send text messages.

On September 12, Rabbi Lior Glazer presided over a ritual iPhone-smashing ceremony. Another organisation, Eda Haredit, has banned the use of such devices, along with Android-run smartphones and BlackBerrys, because of the "spiritual holocaust" they represent.

"Smartphones offer a gateway to the world through which they can access all manner of uncensored information which might influence their identity, despite living within the haredi ghetto," Yedidya Stern, director for the Israel Democracy Institute's project on Religion and State, told The Jerusalem Post.

"Haredim seek to isolate themselves from the world, but using an iPhone or any other type of smartphone can, with the flick of a finger and in a split second, give someone access to all kinds of information and values to which they were never before exposed," he said.

In May a group of leading rabbis in the US, addressing 60,000 Orthodox American Jews in New York, asserted that home internet was forbidden.