Jerusalem - Israeli Science Institute Announces Shabbos Phone For Use In Critical Situations
Jerusalem - A new device that makes use of the halachic concept of “gramma” would enable those in life or death situations to use their smart phones on Shabbos and yomim tovim.
Developed by the Zomet Institute in Israel, the Telegramma was designed to minimize the possibility of chilul Shabbos by those who must use their phones on Shabbos, including physicians and security personnel.
In an Arutz Sheva interview, Dan Marentz, director of the Alon Shevut based Zomet, explained that the Telegramma works by syncing a bluetooth device to a smartphone app. When the user presses the gramma button on the bluetooth device, actions are performed indirectly, by gramma, on the phone, something that is far less problematic from a halachic standpoint.
While the bluetooth device sends a signal to the smartphone that performs the action with a minimal delay, a special red button on the app enables users to engage the phone immediately without any delay in cases of extreme urgency.
The device is not intended for use only in life-saving situations and is not meant for the general public.
Marentz said that Zomet is extremely enthusiastic about the Telegramma which is already being used by Orthodox Jewish medical staff at Hadassah Medical Center.
“We have been working for years to help doctors first of all do things in a different way but more importantly, in a halachic way which is going to limit the amount of chilul Shabbat while enabling them to do all of their jobs and save people’s lives on the Shabbat,” said Marentz.
According to contemporary Halchic expert Rabbi Yair Hoffman, gramma phones were first created by Machon Madai Technology Al Pi Halacha in Israel many years ago under the guidance of Rabbi Eliezer Halperin. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach deemed them halachically acceptable for security personnel, doctors and high ranking politicians and then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin used one of their gramma phone on Shabbos.
“The amount of people who were allowed to use one was very limited and Reb Shlomo Zalman told Machon L’Technologia that they could only be sold to individuals who were permitted to use them,” said Rabbi Hoffman.
Because of the high cost of silicon chips at the time for an item that wasn’t going to be massed produced was so expensive, the initial gramma phones were actually made using hardware produced by Russian engineers who were still creating chip-less technology.
Zomet is confident that, today, the Telegramma will make its way beyond Israel to shomer Shabbos individuals who deal with life and death situations all around the globe.
“Before you know it this will be all around the world and changing the way doctors and security people can make the Shabbat even holier,” said Marentz.
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