כ״ז במרחשון ה׳תשע״ד (October 31, 2013)
Usually when I write articles, I need to make sure to explain what I’m talking about. Just in case you like these essays, but don’t follow technology headlines, I try to provide a brief synopsis at the beginning.
But this time, the task of presenting the background material is somewhat easier. A few years back (in the iPhone 4s days), and accessory company by the name of Miansai decided to make a 14-karat gold iPhone case as a “joke”. Now several years later, not only are they still selling their $10,000-a-pop iPhone cases, Apple has also decided to join in on the action. The iPhone 5s is now available in a gold-colored version, and according to the WSJ, supply isn’t catching up. So those are the two basic options: either getting on the waiting list for a gold-colored Apple version, or searching through the cushions for $10,000 for a gold-plated version.
One of the reasons I decided to write about the gold iPhone, is that its a fun topic with a lot of potential. The fact that even the people selling the gold-plated version realize the humor of it all, shows that even when people did decide to buy, the focus is still on the joke.
Welcoming the Unexpected
The gold iPhone story is like the joke at the end of a long day at work. Good jokes can lighten up your whole mood because some new light was revealed, whether the joke-teller realized it or not.
In our present exile, when we feel constricted by everyday pressures, we seek out these “jokes” that don’t seem to abide by the natural order of things. But unlike many of the jokes told on late-night television, good jokes cheer us up in a way that motivates us with positive resolve for the future.
In these pressured times, gold is likened to love that cannot be attained through our own efforts. The only way to “acquire” it is as a gift from God above. This is similar to the sages understanding of why gold is here in the first place. The true purpose of gold is for the construction of the Holy Temple, the Beit HaMikdash. So any gold that we have now, is waiting for that future state when its true purpose will be revealed.
The Intrinsic Value of Gold
Someone who has studied a bit of monetary policy will also realize the importance of this teaching. The value of paper money today is not guaranteed or intrinsic as it once was (either backed up by Fort Knox, or currency made out of precious metals). Granted, this is a simplification, but the value is based on the belief in future stability. If people think the US is doing a good job that week, then the dollar stays the same or goes up. If they’re not doing a good job, but relative to everyone else its still on par, then the dollar may simply stay as is.
But what have we seen over the years with gold? It keeps going up, and up… and up. In order to understand this, a person needs to understand what its intrinsic worth is. From what we just explained, the reason why the value is going up, is because the belief in the actualization of its intrinsic worth (or purpose for being here in the world) is also going up.
Worth its Weight in Gold
How does this relate to the iPhone? Because the Temple is also the center for communication in the world. To quote from a friend, Rabbi Asher Crispe, from his site Interinclusion.org:
“In the book of Ezra (6:3), we find a proclamation regarding the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem “…let the house be built, a place [atar] for the offering of sacrifices….” This place enables people to come close to one another within the house (Temple) which signifies global unity. In modern Hebrew it so happens that the aramaic word for ‘place’ (atar) has also come to mean a ‘Website.’
“Today when we speak of social hangouts or places to ‘get together,’ these meeting spaces enable us to hopefully become closer to one another and develop our relationships. In the Torah, we find the example of the altar (mizbeach) as a unique object in the portable sanctuary or Tabernacle (Mishkan) which symbolizes our capacity for closeness and for repairing and maintaining relations…” (continue reading)
Solid Gold Friendships
What’s the lesson? First, that the value of gold is probably going up because we are anticipating its intended use in the construction of the Temple. Second, we are also awaiting the time when the “value” of communication is also actualized. Even with our fancy phones, hundreds of friends on Facebook, and millions of websites to peruse, has social media brought us any closer together?
What does a gold iPhone symbolize? A time when not only silence will be golden, but speech as well.
(Illustration based on photo from technobuffalo.com: iPhone 5 in an 18-carat gold case with 364 certified diamonds for $100,000)
This post originally appeared on Community of Readers, republished with permission.
LEAVE A NOTE