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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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Jewish apps for iPhones and iPads

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Today, an overview of some recent Jewish apps for your iPhone or iPad. All are free unless otherwise noted.

• [Hillel] would also say: if I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Avot 1:14)

• “He who guards his mouth guards his soul. One who opens his lips wide comes to ruin.” (Proverbs 13:3)

If you want to carry a little – actually, a lot – of wisdom with you wherever you go, here are two apps for you. You are probably already familiar with some of the teachings of Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), such as the famous one quoted above. The free app includes all six chapters in both English and Hebrew, along with insights and background. [http://bit.ly/jewapp1] Daily Proverb provides selections from Solomon’s book. This English-only app allows you to bookmark your favourite Proverbs and even has a tool to assist you to memorize them. [http://bit.ly/jewapp2]

iComfort ($1.99) demystifes the Jewish laws of mourning. It provides an overview of the stages of mourning (funeral preparation, shivah, shloshim, yahrzeit), advice on comforting a mourner and provides the basic prayers related to mourning, including an audio version of Kaddish. [http://bit.ly/jewapp3]

Kever Pointer App – A Virtual Visit To The Grave ($.99): This is an odd one. It includes interesting background information about the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, as well as historic Jewish figures from the Temple period to the modern era. Since Jews pray toward Jerusalem, I am puzzled by the “Pointer” part of the app, which includes a compass that indicates the direction toward the individual’s resting place.  [http://bit.ly/jewapp4]

 Torahific ($.99) provides riddles about each weekly Torah portion. Questions are drawn from the midrash, Rashi and other classical commentators:

Q: Adam named all the creatures according to their unique nature. Why did he name the dog “kelev”?

A: A dog is called “kelev,” which means “kol lev” (all heart). This name thus describes the loyalty and love that a dog possesses for its owner (and for no one else!)… The name of this creature should inspire us also to be completely faithful and loving to our Master. [http://bit.ly/jewapp8]

Do you know a bar mitzvah boy who’s about to start laying tfillin? Or perhaps someone who wants to restart the tradition? Here are three apps for you. MyTeffilin includes English/Hebrew background about the mitzvah along with clear step-by-step instructions for laying the arm and the head tfillin. [http://bit.ly/jewapp5]

About Tefillin provides the blessings and the Shema in Hebrew and transliterated into six languages (Hebrew, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Persian and Russian). There are links to videos about laying tfillin, including British Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks on the importance of the mitzvah. [http://bit.ly/jewapp6]

When donning tfillin, placement is key. In the old days, you might ask a friend or use a mirror to make sure the head tfillin is sitting properly. But why use a friend or a mirror when you can go high tech? Power up Tefillin Mirror, lift your iPhone or iPad and you’ll see an image of your face along with three vertical lines to help ensure your tffillin is aligned. [http://bit.ly/jewapp7]

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