British Chief Rabbi Blames Apple For Helping Create Selfish Society

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rabbi-jonathan-sachsThe late Steve Jobs helped create a selfish “i, i, i” consumer culture that has only brought unhappiness, the British Chief Rabbi has claimed.

Lord Sacks said that advertising only made shoppers aware of what they did not own, rather than feeling grateful for what they have.

He insisted that a culture in which people cared solely about themselves and their possessions could not last long, and that only faith and spending time with family could bring true happiness.

The Chief Rabbi’s comments are likely to raise eyebrows because he singled out for blame Jobs – the co-founder of Apple who died last month – by likening his iPad tablet computers to the tablets of stone bearing the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses.

Speaking at an interfaith reception attended by the Queen this week, Lord Sacks said: “People are looking for values other than the values of a consumer society. The values of a consumer society really aren’t ones you can live by for terribly long.

“The consumer society was laid down by the late Steve Jobs coming down the mountain with two tablets, iPad one and iPad two, and the result is that we now have a culture of iPod, iPhone, iTune, i, i, i.

“When you’re an individualist, egocentric culture and you only care about ‘i’, you don’t do terribly well.”

He went on: “What does a consumer ethic do? It makes you aware all the time of the things you don’t have instead of thanking God for all the things you do have.

“If in a consumer society, through all the advertising and subtly seductive approaches to it, you’ve got an iPhone but you haven’t got a fourth generation one, the consumer society is in fact the most efficient mechanism ever devised for the creation and distribution of unhappiness.”

Although religious leaders have in recent years used increasingly strong language to condemn banks and politicians over the financial crisis and the gap between rich and poor, few have directly criticised ordinary people for their materialism.

In an attempt to highlight the link between faith and happiness, Lord Sacks pointed out that on the Jewish day of rest, the Shabbat, the devout spend time with their families rather than spending money in shops.

The Chief Rabbi, who has represented Britain’s 300,000 Jews since 1991 and is due to step down in 2013, said: “Therefore the answer to the consumer society is the world of faith, which the Jews call the world of Shabbat, where you can’t shop and you can’t spend and you spend your time with things that matter, with family.

“Unless we get back to these values we will succeed in making our children and grandchildren ever unhappier.”

He concluded by telling the 70th anniversary meeting of the Council of Christians and Jews, held at Crosby Hall, the residence of businessman Christopher Moran, the organisation’s vice-chair: “I think this is a great opportunity for faith and a great moment for Jews and Christians to come together and leading from the front embrace those other faiths.

“Without friendship between faiths we will drown.”

{The Telegraph/ Newscenter}


  1. You cannot blame yourselves if they the children and the childish are being influenced by our culture. Chief Rabbi Saks is correct in his assessment of society with or without including Steve Jobs.

  2. Rabbi Sacks makes a good point about the problems of rampant individualism and materialism. The point about Shabbat is also correct, in that it is a time to switch off, trust G-d and be with family and friends. However I believe Steve Jobs is the wrong target. The Apple devices he helped create have brought a great deal of freedom and joy to hundreds of millions of people. The “I-phone/pad” etc. label I think was also a clever marketing strategy in the KISS mould. I don’t think Steve Jobs wanted to be the High Priest of the Cult of Individualism.

  3. The title of the article is misleading. Rabbi Sacks does not “blame” Apple. All he is saying is that Steve Jobs and Apple characterize our consumer society.


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