A spokesman for Sacks has followed up with a clarification to note that the rabbi meant no criticism toward Steve Jobs or Apple as a company. Instead, he said it's the "potential dangers of consumerism" which can be taken too far by some individuals.
Sacks made the comments in the presence of the Queen at an interfaith reception last week, reinterpreted the "i" in Apple's popular naming scheme as an indication of an increasingly selfish society, as noted by The Telegraph.
âThe 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," he said. âWhen youâre an individualist, egocentric culture and you only care about 'iâ, you donât do terribly well.â
The rabbi went on to say that the consumer ethic fosters ingratitude because it makes people unhappy with what they have. People should instead spend their time thanking God for things they do have, Sacks said.
"The consumer society is in fact the most efficient mechanism ever devised for the creation and distribution of unhappiness,â he added, singling out consumer desire for new iPhone models as an example.
Sacks called on the devout to observe the traditional Jewish day of rest, the Shabbat, in order to avoid the trap of materialism. "Therefore the answer to the consumer society is the world of faith, which the Jews call the world of Shabbat, where you canât shop and you canât spend and you spend your time with things that matter, with family," he said.
At least one of the audience members present at the meeting was an iDevice owner, as reports revealed earlier this year that Queen Elizabeth II was so impressed with her grandsons' iPads that she ordered one for herself. The Queen is said to be a "big fan" of Apple's products and reportedly owns two iPods, including one given to her as a gift by U.S. President Barack Obama in 2009.
For his part, Jobs was considered for knighthood in the U.K. 2009, but the plans were said to have been scrapped because he declined an invitation to speak at a political conference. However, Apple's lead designer and U.K. citizen, Jonathan Ive, has received the title of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, one step below knighthood.