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Recently the use of cellphones and smartphones has met with a lot of criticism in some communities. I'd be interested to see if landline telephones encountered any similar opposition when they were first introduced. Can anyone point me to rabbinic responses to landlines?

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Sara I doubt it. The problem with the cell is in the Public forum you can not daven go to a shiur or have a conversation with people because of cell phones the land line did not have that effect –  simchastorah Nov 26 '11 at 22:57
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SarahBrodsky, welcome to Judaism.SE, and thanks very much for the fascinating question! I look forward to seeing you around. –  Isaac Moses Nov 27 '11 at 3:00
    
@IsaacMoses Thanks, I'm happy to be here! –  SarahBrodsky Nov 27 '11 at 3:02
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My siddur is on my cellphone, so don't tell me it interrupts davening :) –  avi Nov 27 '11 at 4:57
    
What criticism do you refer to? Surely that would define if the same problems apply to landlines. If phones are criticised bec it allows people to speak at distances then it would be the same problem for landlines. If the issues are being able to see the person you are talking to, then this would not apply when the landline was introduced. rabbinic responses to landlines? To what exactly? –  user1040 Dec 2 '11 at 10:25
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2 Answers 2

In Israel you can own a kosher cell phone. This means that you have a constant monthly payment with a bank of minutes you can use to call other kosher phones and landline phones. Taking pictures, surfing, sending SMSs and so on are disabled on the phone. The calls to non-kosher cellphones are much more costly. Kosher cell phones are backed by Rabinical authorities.

(There are some more details about this (that could be found here); I'm just presenting the main idea.)

From the above I conclude that common practice in Israel is that any landline phone is equivalent to a kosher cellular phone. From this I cannot derive what happened when landlines were first introduced, but anyway I suppose they were not criticized.

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To my knowledge there was no opposition to utilizing telephones when they were initially introduced, the difficulty is that this in itself does not mean that there was no opposition. Furthermore, if there was no opposition, it could be difficult to demonstrate this fact since it is unlikely anyone would write teshuvos on why they do not object to an item that no one considered objectionable. Nevertheless, it seems that most of the discussion about [land-line] telephones seem to focus on their status on Shabbos/Yom Tov or their the propriety of using them to fulfill halachic obligations regarding hearing or speaking, which may support the notion that their use wasn't considered problematic in itself. This is also further supported by the fact the functions preserved by the "Kosher" cell phones you mention are those of the land line.

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