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New York - Will The Technological Future Be Kosher For Jews?

Published on: December 23, 2008 11:30 AM
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New York -  The Future for orthodox Jews is going to be a lot harder. And not just because the stringent identity card regulations that seem to be in our future have historically been pretty tricky for the Jews.

Orthodox Jews observe a strict Sabbath from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday during which – among other restrictions – they don’t use anything electrical, don’t travel by motorised transport, don’t cook and don’t spend money. From personal experience, this can be a very rewarding way to spend 24 hours; a chance to reconnect with the people and things around you rather than using technology to allow your mind to be somewhere separate to your body.

But how will the technological future treat the observant Jews? I used to fret about this a great deal as a child. What would I do if I were travelling on the Starship Enterprise? All the doors are electric! The food is made by replicators and no one seems to own a fridge. Would replicator food be kosher? Moreover, in the wilds of outer space, how would one even know when “sunset on Friday” was, in order to observe the Sabbath?

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None of my favourite future-based fiction seemed to offer any answers. If I travelled in the Tardis, presumably I could just avoid the problem by skipping over every Saturday, but I couldn’t imagine that a Vogon constructor fleet would be so accommodating.

It’s probably obvious that, even as a child, I had a tendency to overthink. But this is likely to become more of a problem for observant Jews as time goes on and it becomes harder to avoid using electronic devices even for one day. Automatic sensor doors, automated lights and swipe-card entry are already commonplace. There are some enterprising solutions to the problems these pose. But if, for example, e-books take over from paper books, I wonder if the Orthodox Jews will be the last people to own libraries of books whose pages can be turned without the use of electricity? Or the last to have doors that lock using metal keys?

Does this really matter? After all, leading an observant Jewish life is a choice. And if a small group of people find that the modern world has become difficult for them to manage and they end up as isolated as the Amish community, is that a problem for the world? Only in this sense, I think: that however wonderful our technology is, it’s a good idea to switch it off every once in a while, and a good idea to make sure we’re able to.



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Read Comments (45)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Dec 23, 2008 at 11:48 AM avi Says:

Agreed, it is for sure the most relaxing thing to be shut out from the world and reconnect with family and friends

2

 Dec 23, 2008 at 11:48 AM B.E. Says:

a yid get zich shtendig an eitsah. dont get a panic attack. We'll manage just fine. Just like we did till now. and by the way the Amish are also managing just fine in ther sence of the word. so no need to be so overly concerned.

3

 Dec 23, 2008 at 12:06 PM mordy Says:

In general when challenges in Halacha come up we can fret about it or enjoy the new challenges coming our way. The new technology in the passed has lead to many great tshuvot from out Rabbonim and Gedolim. Thanks to new technology we will have more to learn in Halacha “Yagdil Torah”.

4

 Dec 23, 2008 at 12:06 PM erliche yid Says:

Btw the newspaper this article was taken from is the most antisemitic paper in europe, so no wonder they print this. they won't bring us down just the vav.

5

 Dec 23, 2008 at 12:02 PM Dave Says:

It won't be a bad, we will be able to connect to G-D (study, pray, etc)

6

 Dec 23, 2008 at 11:55 AM Techno-Geek Says:

This item seems to be written by someone who has neither a grasp of Halachah nor of Technology.

7

 Dec 23, 2008 at 11:39 AM CRAZY Says:

So your suggesting that since orthodox is by choice, we should drop it???

8

 Dec 23, 2008 at 12:15 PM Anonymous Says:

Hashem created the world....and the enterprise

9

 Dec 23, 2008 at 01:30 PM murray Says:

Reply to #5  
Dave Says:

It won't be a bad, we will be able to connect to G-D (study, pray, etc)

Are you implying that we will really (literally) be able to "connect' to G-D through some kind of electronic device? How would this work?

10

 Dec 23, 2008 at 01:29 PM Anonymous Says:

"After all, leading an observant Jewish life is a choice. "


The above statement which was in the article is really pothetic and on the level of an apikorus. Our religion is NOT a choice. If you have a mother who is jewish and you are frum you can't walk around saying you know nothing and that it's a choice. Your jewish wether you like it or not. The author makes it sound like religion is a game of choices.


11

 Dec 23, 2008 at 01:06 PM Anonymous Says:

Just as a side note: all these "shaylos" in outer space do not apply as the Torah was only commanded on earth.

12

 Dec 23, 2008 at 01:03 PM Askipeh Hanidreses Says:

What is this picture supposed to say, that he just turned on the light on Shabbos? He’s seeing a problem where there isn't one! The real danger that technology has put us in is its instant and constant availability of decadence, which as technology creates smaller, faster and more sophisticated gadgets; wherever we go, and regardless wherever we go, we will be vulnerable. All fences that we had have already been destroyed, and we are only left with the last resort which is to literally close the eyes and keep them shut. A person today can see more shmutz with closed eyes then our ancestors in a shtetel saw their entire lives with open eyes.

13

 Dec 23, 2008 at 01:01 PM Anonymous Says:

If you think we try to avoid technology on Shabbos Koidesh then check out the Amish people. We have alot to learn from them as to living a simple uncomplicated life. They never use electricity for convenience. They still run their towns like a poilisher shtaitel. I was amazed when I saw this.

14

 Dec 23, 2008 at 02:22 PM Anonymous Says:


Why do I smell anti Semitism in this article specifically at its conclusion????

15

 Dec 23, 2008 at 01:55 PM Ray Kaufman Says:

Amish: Hasidim without cell phones

16

 Dec 23, 2008 at 01:52 PM Anonymous Says:

"But if, for example, e-books take over from paper books, I wonder if the Orthodox Jews will be the last people to own libraries of books whose pages can be turned without the use of electricity?" Over the past few years a number of my friendsa have acquired and/or used CDs and on-line programs to access seforim. These are wonderful developments in that they make many more seforim (some very hard to find) easily available -- and search engines can be a great help too. However, I always point out that because of Shabbos and Yom Tov these electronic gadgets can never fully replace our printed seforim, in our homes, our yeshivas and our batei midrashim. We, the Am HaNivchar, will always be the "people of the book".

17

 Dec 23, 2008 at 03:09 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #11  
Anonymous Says:

Just as a side note: all these "shaylos" in outer space do not apply as the Torah was only commanded on earth.

Says who and exactly where?

18

 Dec 23, 2008 at 03:47 PM Anonymous Says:

A bigger concern is technology getting into the wrong hands. In the old days an evil person could kill a handfull of people before he himself get's killed. today with a click a button you one can literlly kill tens of thousands of people. I am more concerned with Pakistan and India being neucler states and Iran being on the brink of having nuke capabilities than what my shabbos will look like in 100 years.

19

 Dec 23, 2008 at 03:44 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
Anonymous Says:

"After all, leading an observant Jewish life is a choice. "


The above statement which was in the article is really pothetic and on the level of an apikorus. Our religion is NOT a choice. If you have a mother who is jewish and you are frum you can't walk around saying you know nothing and that it's a choice. Your jewish wether you like it or not. The author makes it sound like religion is a game of choices.


"After all, leading an observant Jewish life is a choice. "

Another way of saying this is we all have bechira chafshis. is that apikorusus too?

20

 Dec 23, 2008 at 03:21 PM Klotz Kasha Says:

Reply to #11  
Anonymous Says:

Just as a side note: all these "shaylos" in outer space do not apply as the Torah was only commanded on earth.

What about in an airplane? Torah lav b'shamayim!

21

 Dec 23, 2008 at 04:27 PM Anonymous Says:

Worse come to worse Shabbes will be a day of not leaving the home at all.

As for books, unlikely, the book and magazine industry have hardly suffered from the digital age.

22

 Dec 23, 2008 at 04:20 PM Martians, Cameras and Sattelites... Says:

Reply to #17  
Anonymous Says:

Says who and exactly where?

I agree with #17.. what are the sources??... BTWay do Martians have to keep the Torah?? Sheva Mitzvas Bnei' Martians??
Also, here on earth are we even allowed to go outside on Shabbas if a Sattelite is overhead (or may be overhead)... it records our movements ... from what I understand the Wall Cam at the Western Wall is turned off because of (not) recording people on Shabbas/Yom Tov.... what about being recorded by Sattelites, Cameras on the Street and/or Cameras in front of Banks, Federal Buildings, etc., ???

23

 Dec 23, 2008 at 05:14 PM Gadolwannabe Says:

Let's be honest with ourselves. Chazal never knew of or envisioned electricity. All of these electronic gadgets, from hotel door swipe cards to infra-red motion detectors do not fall into the prohibition of "Lo sivaru aish". Rav Baruch Halevi Epstein, zt'l had it right when he paskened in 1903 that electricity was not related to fire and the flicking of a switch was not prohibited on Shabbos. It is our so called "Gedolim" of the 20th Century who have placed one geder in front of another to make life miserable for all of us.

24

 Dec 23, 2008 at 05:49 PM merkin Says:

Reply to #21  
Anonymous Says:

Worse come to worse Shabbes will be a day of not leaving the home at all.

As for books, unlikely, the book and magazine industry have hardly suffered from the digital age.

totally untrue. Books and especially magazines have suffered hugely in the digital age. Magazine sales are down, ad revenue is down, and many have even stopped publishing paper versions and publish only on the web. eXample: U.S. News and World Report. Newsweek, Time, the NY Times, etc all report shrinkage of readership and ad revenue in the digital age.

25

 Dec 23, 2008 at 05:57 PM murray Says:

Reply to #20  
Klotz Kasha Says:

What about in an airplane? Torah lav b'shamayim!

Mitzvahs don't apply in an airplane- is that what you are hoping to hear-why, so you can eat a ham sandwich between JFK and LAX?

26

 Dec 23, 2008 at 08:02 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #23  
Gadolwannabe Says:

Let's be honest with ourselves. Chazal never knew of or envisioned electricity. All of these electronic gadgets, from hotel door swipe cards to infra-red motion detectors do not fall into the prohibition of "Lo sivaru aish". Rav Baruch Halevi Epstein, zt'l had it right when he paskened in 1903 that electricity was not related to fire and the flicking of a switch was not prohibited on Shabbos. It is our so called "Gedolim" of the 20th Century who have placed one geder in front of another to make life miserable for all of us.

The Gedolim of the 19th century also didn't understand electricity or cars at first. Does that mean that the few who made a premature ruling opposing the MAJORITY, who did their research, should be followed? No. Even under the extreme circumstance where you refuse to recognize electricity as being a part of aish, there are other things flipping a light switch/activating circuits clearly goes under, i.e. Boneh, and if you don't see how that is, ask your Rav.

27

 Dec 23, 2008 at 09:01 PM john Says:

what we should talk about is that we as frum jews should not be this close all the time to the internet we are meant to be real social creatures instead of computer readers meet fight love discuss not just read and comment!

28

 Dec 23, 2008 at 10:12 PM bigwheeel Says:

Reply to #22  
Martians, Cameras and Sattelites... Says:

I agree with #17.. what are the sources??... BTWay do Martians have to keep the Torah?? Sheva Mitzvas Bnei' Martians??
Also, here on earth are we even allowed to go outside on Shabbas if a Sattelite is overhead (or may be overhead)... it records our movements ... from what I understand the Wall Cam at the Western Wall is turned off because of (not) recording people on Shabbas/Yom Tov.... what about being recorded by Sattelites, Cameras on the Street and/or Cameras in front of Banks, Federal Buildings, etc., ???

I presume, your questions are Rhetorical. Because there are [serious] answers to some of your more realistic questions. i.e walking by in front of cameras, etc. Some of the Senior Poskim have dealt with these questions and have some practical verdicts, that are published. Interestingly, some Rabbis have dealt with early technological questions in reference to Halacha (approx. 90 years ago, which was then state-of-the-art) For example, the MaharSha"g (acronym for Rabbi Shimon Grunfeld) in his his Sefer, deals --among other questions-- with a primitive timer (time-clock), which at that time consisted of rigging a set of wires to a spring-driven alarm clock. His verdict is, that it's permitted to set up (before Shabbos) such a lighting control!

29

 Dec 23, 2008 at 10:22 PM yankelovich Says:

Reply to #23  
Gadolwannabe Says:

Let's be honest with ourselves. Chazal never knew of or envisioned electricity. All of these electronic gadgets, from hotel door swipe cards to infra-red motion detectors do not fall into the prohibition of "Lo sivaru aish". Rav Baruch Halevi Epstein, zt'l had it right when he paskened in 1903 that electricity was not related to fire and the flicking of a switch was not prohibited on Shabbos. It is our so called "Gedolim" of the 20th Century who have placed one geder in front of another to make life miserable for all of us.

Until tonight I had never heard of Rav Baruch Halevi Epstein, zt'l but have taken some time (via the internet) to learn more about him and his writings. After some initial research I'm convinced he represents a considerably more rational and intelligent derech than these so called "20/21 century gedolim" (or more correctly K'tanim) who have made torah observance so much more difficult. I'm ready to become a chasid of Reb Baruch Halevi and acknowledge that Hashem really never intended that Yidden must suffer on Shabat or otherwise forego the many wonderful opportunities that he offers us through the creative minds he endows.

30

 Dec 23, 2008 at 10:16 PM bigwheeel Says:

Reply to #20  
Klotz Kasha Says:

What about in an airplane? Torah lav b'shamayim!

... But the airplane will, at some point, land, whereas the spaceship, since it never took off, will never land!!!

31

 Dec 23, 2008 at 11:00 PM bigwheeel Says:

Reply to #26  
Anonymous Says:

The Gedolim of the 19th century also didn't understand electricity or cars at first. Does that mean that the few who made a premature ruling opposing the MAJORITY, who did their research, should be followed? No. Even under the extreme circumstance where you refuse to recognize electricity as being a part of aish, there are other things flipping a light switch/activating circuits clearly goes under, i.e. Boneh, and if you don't see how that is, ask your Rav.

Both the Chazon Ish and Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach ztz"l have dealt extensively with the theoretical and practical aspects of electricity, in their publishe Responsa. What's interesting is, that, if you don't become a Rabbinic sholar, after reading those books, at least you become well versed in how electricity works!!!

32

 Dec 23, 2008 at 11:40 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #31  
bigwheeel Says:

Both the Chazon Ish and Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach ztz"l have dealt extensively with the theoretical and practical aspects of electricity, in their publishe Responsa. What's interesting is, that, if you don't become a Rabbinic sholar, after reading those books, at least you become well versed in how electricity works!!!

In 1902, Rav Baruch Epstein published his Torah Temima, which became one of the most popular sefarim of the century. (Baruch’s father, Rabbi Yechiel Michel, was the rabbi of Novorodak and author of the classic Aruch HaShulchon). The object of the Torah Temima is to show the interrelationship between the Torah law and daily life. His method is to quote comments and interpretations from the vast Rabbinical literature on each line of Torah and then to provide his own analysis of how the then contemporay interpretations were deduced. He clearly shows that much of what you say is wrong and use of electricity on shabbos is most likely mutar and not avodah or boneh. However, we have been deceived by statements to the contrary by less erudite rabbonim who followed and didn't understand how electricity works.

33

 Dec 24, 2008 at 01:48 AM Chochom Einer Says:

Reply to #32  
Anonymous Says:

In 1902, Rav Baruch Epstein published his Torah Temima, which became one of the most popular sefarim of the century. (Baruch’s father, Rabbi Yechiel Michel, was the rabbi of Novorodak and author of the classic Aruch HaShulchon). The object of the Torah Temima is to show the interrelationship between the Torah law and daily life. His method is to quote comments and interpretations from the vast Rabbinical literature on each line of Torah and then to provide his own analysis of how the then contemporay interpretations were deduced. He clearly shows that much of what you say is wrong and use of electricity on shabbos is most likely mutar and not avodah or boneh. However, we have been deceived by statements to the contrary by less erudite rabbonim who followed and didn't understand how electricity works.

Wow, in one fell swoop, down goes R' Chaim Ozer, the Chazon Ish, R' Shlomo Zalman, R' Moshe and all the other famous Gedolim of today and yesteryear. You found the guy who understands the Torah and you'll run with him. Well that is not the Torah. You are no different than all the other breakoffs that are not even recognizable anymore as Jewish in origin. Of course you may not realize this now. But, you parted ways. The Chazon Ish understood electricity exremely well and deeply. He also understood the fine definition of Bonah. He Paskened according to this.

By the way, for all the making fun of calling it Eish, you can check out what the Sforno writes by the Issur of Havara. Although you cannot add things to the Torah, but what he says about Havara applies even more so to elecricity.

34

 Dec 24, 2008 at 01:23 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #32  
Anonymous Says:

In 1902, Rav Baruch Epstein published his Torah Temima, which became one of the most popular sefarim of the century. (Baruch’s father, Rabbi Yechiel Michel, was the rabbi of Novorodak and author of the classic Aruch HaShulchon). The object of the Torah Temima is to show the interrelationship between the Torah law and daily life. His method is to quote comments and interpretations from the vast Rabbinical literature on each line of Torah and then to provide his own analysis of how the then contemporay interpretations were deduced. He clearly shows that much of what you say is wrong and use of electricity on shabbos is most likely mutar and not avodah or boneh. However, we have been deceived by statements to the contrary by less erudite rabbonim who followed and didn't understand how electricity works.

You shouldn't celebrate Chanukah - you were on the losing team - you are from the 'zaidim' that lost to 'oskei sorasecha'.

35

 Dec 24, 2008 at 01:19 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #32  
Anonymous Says:

In 1902, Rav Baruch Epstein published his Torah Temima, which became one of the most popular sefarim of the century. (Baruch’s father, Rabbi Yechiel Michel, was the rabbi of Novorodak and author of the classic Aruch HaShulchon). The object of the Torah Temima is to show the interrelationship between the Torah law and daily life. His method is to quote comments and interpretations from the vast Rabbinical literature on each line of Torah and then to provide his own analysis of how the then contemporay interpretations were deduced. He clearly shows that much of what you say is wrong and use of electricity on shabbos is most likely mutar and not avodah or boneh. However, we have been deceived by statements to the contrary by less erudite rabbonim who followed and didn't understand how electricity works.

Are you - little puny twerp - accusing Gedolei Olam like the Chazon Ish of deception?!? You heretic - how dare you. Why don't you join some reform or reconstructionist temple and rationalize all your hedonism there.

36

 Dec 24, 2008 at 01:15 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #29  
yankelovich Says:

Until tonight I had never heard of Rav Baruch Halevi Epstein, zt'l but have taken some time (via the internet) to learn more about him and his writings. After some initial research I'm convinced he represents a considerably more rational and intelligent derech than these so called "20/21 century gedolim" (or more correctly K'tanim) who have made torah observance so much more difficult. I'm ready to become a chasid of Reb Baruch Halevi and acknowledge that Hashem really never intended that Yidden must suffer on Shabat or otherwise forego the many wonderful opportunities that he offers us through the creative minds he endows.

Just remember to say the bracha 'matir ISSURIM' on your way out the door - into the conservative temple.

37

 Dec 24, 2008 at 01:12 AM mashgiach min hachalonos Says:

Reply to #23  
Gadolwannabe Says:

Let's be honest with ourselves. Chazal never knew of or envisioned electricity. All of these electronic gadgets, from hotel door swipe cards to infra-red motion detectors do not fall into the prohibition of "Lo sivaru aish". Rav Baruch Halevi Epstein, zt'l had it right when he paskened in 1903 that electricity was not related to fire and the flicking of a switch was not prohibited on Shabbos. It is our so called "Gedolim" of the 20th Century who have placed one geder in front of another to make life miserable for all of us.

You mean like the Chazon Ish and Reb Moshe Feinstein. You should rename yourself 'godolNOTwannabe - you clearly are not interested in personal growth only in personal comfort and kvetching. Why don't you just give it all up and join the at-risk crowd you apikorais.

38

 Dec 24, 2008 at 01:00 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #13  
Anonymous Says:

If you think we try to avoid technology on Shabbos Koidesh then check out the Amish people. We have alot to learn from them as to living a simple uncomplicated life. They never use electricity for convenience. They still run their towns like a poilisher shtaitel. I was amazed when I saw this.

Totally not true. They are the biggest hipocrites. They don't connect through wires - but they DO use wireless. They power their fridges, HVAC with propane. And they give their teenagers about 5-10 years to party-hearty etc with the choice to opt out - as many indeed do.

39

 Dec 24, 2008 at 08:25 AM Anonymous Says:

Okay, I know you will attack me for what I will write, but it must be said, since other good people have been attacked for it.

I am a Chareidi Frum person, or at least I try my best to be. I would not turn a light on on Shabbos, and make sure to follow all of the chumras given to us by our achronim shel achronim.

To me, as long as the gedolay hador of the past 3 doros said no electricity, I will follow it.

BUT, that does not mean they were not capable of being wrong. Not a single one of them had REAL education in physics. They saw an electrical spark, which appeared to them like aish, and they so paskined.

Once some of them paskined like that, most others simply fell into place behind them.

It is my duty to avoid electicity just because they said so.

But, that does not mean that those who question this are reshuim, apikorsim,or koifrim, or bad in any way.

Many of the chumros we practice today are based upon situations which existed long ago, and do not exist today. Rabbonim, gedolim DO take this into consideration when they paskin. Rav Moshe was talking about the simple inyan of bliyas on day. We all know the halacha is that we paskin that a kali is bolaya all the way through. The halacha in the Shulchan Aruch is clear: Milk touching the outside of a pot is considered to be bolaya all the way into the pot. When them paskin according to amounts and the rest of the halachos. But we assume bliya all the way through. Rav Moshe, Z"L, said one day that he has been told, and he believes that today's stainless steel pots are bolaya not more than maybe 0.001 inches into the thickness of the steel. Therefore, he said there is something to be somayach on not to assur the contents in some cases.
This was not a psak on his part, as far as I know. It was a discussion. But is shows that though the Reshonim paskinned one way, it does not stop the later Achronim from clarifying things based upon new materials, new information, new education.

Before we landed on the Moon, many rabbonim, reliable, intelligent, talmidai chachumim PASKINNED that we would never land on the Moon. That man could never walk on the Moon. They took this from the posuk "Hashomayim shomayim...."

But after it was done, none kept on denying it. All agreed that the posuk must not have meant that it can't be done, and that it did not mean to exclude us from space.

Way back, many rabbonim believed the Sun was in orbit around the Earth. But, all changed their minds in modern times when it became clear that it was not literal.

Is it truly impossible to believe that one day, the gedolim, Chassidish and Yeshivish will get together with a panel of Frum physicists, and agree that electricity is not fire, and that each individual use must be paskinned individually based upon the other miluchois?

If that does not happen, we must all keep the will of those who ruled we must treat it as aish. But we also should not call people names who speak out and voice other views.

I would never intentionally turn a light on until or unless the real gedolay hador matir it, but I do believe one day it will happen. Why? Because electricity may currently we halachakly fire since rabbonim have so paskinned, but in reality, in teva, we now know ELECTRICITY IS REALLY NOT FIRE!

So, TODAY we can't turn a light switch on, nor use those hotel keys on Shabbos, but let us not call people names.

If you learn physics, and I did, you learn that electicity REALLY IS NOT FIRE!
So, we are limiting ourselves due to the words of rabbonim. However, that does not mean that it is halacha. One day, I honestly believe, the gedolai hador will form commitee of chareidi people to study the issue, and will matir electricity on Shabbos.
Oh, for sure, much will still be ossur from other meluchos, boneh, matakain, bishul, etc., But the ikar, of claiming that electricity is fire will eventually be abolished, since it really is not fire!

In the meanwhile, until are gedolay hador tell us to, we must "act as if" electricity is fire. BUT we should certainly not attack those who voice other opinions. It must come from somewhere.

40

 Dec 24, 2008 at 09:36 AM merkin Says:

Reply to #39  
Anonymous Says:

Okay, I know you will attack me for what I will write, but it must be said, since other good people have been attacked for it.

I am a Chareidi Frum person, or at least I try my best to be. I would not turn a light on on Shabbos, and make sure to follow all of the chumras given to us by our achronim shel achronim.

To me, as long as the gedolay hador of the past 3 doros said no electricity, I will follow it.

BUT, that does not mean they were not capable of being wrong. Not a single one of them had REAL education in physics. They saw an electrical spark, which appeared to them like aish, and they so paskined.

Once some of them paskined like that, most others simply fell into place behind them.

It is my duty to avoid electicity just because they said so.

But, that does not mean that those who question this are reshuim, apikorsim,or koifrim, or bad in any way.

Many of the chumros we practice today are based upon situations which existed long ago, and do not exist today. Rabbonim, gedolim DO take this into consideration when they paskin. Rav Moshe was talking about the simple inyan of bliyas on day. We all know the halacha is that we paskin that a kali is bolaya all the way through. The halacha in the Shulchan Aruch is clear: Milk touching the outside of a pot is considered to be bolaya all the way into the pot. When them paskin according to amounts and the rest of the halachos. But we assume bliya all the way through. Rav Moshe, Z"L, said one day that he has been told, and he believes that today's stainless steel pots are bolaya not more than maybe 0.001 inches into the thickness of the steel. Therefore, he said there is something to be somayach on not to assur the contents in some cases.
This was not a psak on his part, as far as I know. It was a discussion. But is shows that though the Reshonim paskinned one way, it does not stop the later Achronim from clarifying things based upon new materials, new information, new education.

Before we landed on the Moon, many rabbonim, reliable, intelligent, talmidai chachumim PASKINNED that we would never land on the Moon. That man could never walk on the Moon. They took this from the posuk "Hashomayim shomayim...."

But after it was done, none kept on denying it. All agreed that the posuk must not have meant that it can't be done, and that it did not mean to exclude us from space.

Way back, many rabbonim believed the Sun was in orbit around the Earth. But, all changed their minds in modern times when it became clear that it was not literal.

Is it truly impossible to believe that one day, the gedolim, Chassidish and Yeshivish will get together with a panel of Frum physicists, and agree that electricity is not fire, and that each individual use must be paskinned individually based upon the other miluchois?

If that does not happen, we must all keep the will of those who ruled we must treat it as aish. But we also should not call people names who speak out and voice other views.

I would never intentionally turn a light on until or unless the real gedolay hador matir it, but I do believe one day it will happen. Why? Because electricity may currently we halachakly fire since rabbonim have so paskinned, but in reality, in teva, we now know ELECTRICITY IS REALLY NOT FIRE!

So, TODAY we can't turn a light switch on, nor use those hotel keys on Shabbos, but let us not call people names.

If you learn physics, and I did, you learn that electicity REALLY IS NOT FIRE!
So, we are limiting ourselves due to the words of rabbonim. However, that does not mean that it is halacha. One day, I honestly believe, the gedolai hador will form commitee of chareidi people to study the issue, and will matir electricity on Shabbos.
Oh, for sure, much will still be ossur from other meluchos, boneh, matakain, bishul, etc., But the ikar, of claiming that electricity is fire will eventually be abolished, since it really is not fire!

In the meanwhile, until are gedolay hador tell us to, we must "act as if" electricity is fire. BUT we should certainly not attack those who voice other opinions. It must come from somewhere.

How will this ever happen as long as secular studies are not respected in the yeshiva world?

41

 Dec 24, 2008 at 11:05 AM #39 is Right Says:

You are correct that electricity is NOT fire and not aish.
But, we are kind of stuck with its being called Aish due to the following:

Rabbonim today are very, and justifiably, afraid to matir ANYTHING which the Conservative movement or the Reform movement, in opposition to us, was matir. Hence, even if each individual Rov, gedolai hador, were to agree individually that Electricity is not Aish, they are stuck with the reality that once it was defined as Aish by past rabbonim, today, not using electricity on Shabbos has turned into one of the defining factors which delineate the Orthodox from the "other."

It would be very difficult today for a rov to pick up a phone and call another rov to bring up this topic, as then HE may become thought of in a negative way.

But, back to the original thesis. We have in our Yiddishkeit of today, minhagim which have become defining factors of what is a frum Jew. We now say that any man who walks in the street without a head covering is not frum. True, we see this in later seforim, but it certainly is not a Torah halacha. I am not 100% sure where and when it started, but today it certainly has become a biggie. No frum Jew will be seen anywhere without a yarmulke and/or hat.

This may wind up being the future of electricity on Shabbos. We may wind up stuck with it.
One of the reasons for possible rabbinic reluctance to tackle this issue and matir electricity on Shabbos would be that it may cause a gross loss of the importance of Shabbos. The very fact that many "Orthodox" Yidden are already falling in to this issue, by going by the letter of the laws they know, and missing the feeling of Shabbos, will be a reason for the reluctance. All too many people, Shomer Shabbos, Orthodox people, have fallen inot the habit of reading the first paragraph and the conclusion of a teshuva or a psak, and not bothering to follow the entire teshuva or what a posek writes. They take the "heter" and generalize it, not realizing it was only intended in a certain "b'dayeved" situation. They then go around saying, "If Rav X says it is mutar, it is mutar." But that was never the intent of Rav X when he wrote it.

How many young frum men will play basketball on Shabbos if they are inside an eiruv or chotzeir, totally not realizing that it is also wrong to take a pisia gasa, and certainly not in the ways of Shabbos to Run, Jump, and play basketball? In fact many have written that basketballs are muktze. But there are so many who jump into heterim.

As long as such a large percentage of Shomer Shabbos Yidden have that attitude of maximizing every heter, rabbonim are very reluctant to matir things. I know I would be. I can't blame them.

Unfortunately, the study by a major university said that in about 50 more years, Orthodox and Chassidim will be the vast majority of Jews, since the Conservative and Reform are being abandoned by intermarriage. Some, to the good, are becoming baalei teshuva and becoming Orthodox.

Hopefully, the Orthodox who have been "heter maximizers" will also stop seeking all those far out heterim (one can pray).
When this happens, then the rabbonim MAY be brave enough to tackle this problem.

The problem will then be that it will be such a long time, so many gerations of non-electric Shabbosim that they still may feel it wrong to change.

This is unfortunate.

Though I do understand the reluctance to deal with the "Electricity on Shabbos" issue, I believe it must be dealt with. As we progress into the future, it will become more and more impossible to exist with this chumra.
It is already a pain to be in a motel on Shabbos, with the key situation.
Eventually, I can foresee electronic doors ALL over.
We now have many blocks which we can't walk down due to motion detectors turning lights on. Since it is a psik raisha, it is ossur (unless there is enough room to get by that it is not a psik raisha)
Eventually, I can foresee motion detectors in the streets, motion activated cameras in the streets and in hallways, and many, many other things we can't even think about today. Failing to deal with the "Electricity on Shabbos" matter may mean Jews returning to tiny, fenced in gettos, built especially for us without any of these things.
I know I would want to go on the real Enterprise one day, if it would to come in my time.
Electronically activated electrically operated doors ... oy!

#39 I hope you are right that rabbonim will tackle this issue. I am afraid that no one will have the courage. You see how anyone is attacked today for differing about anything? And who would have the courage to deal with it when they would fear, "If we are matir the principle of Electricity on Shabbos, people will say 'Anything electric is mutar on Shabbos' which we certainly do not mean." Would being matir electricity be matir electric cars on shabbos ..... golf carts, all elevators, ... Interesting thoughts.

42

 Dec 24, 2008 at 10:51 AM Anonymous Says:

I recently stayed in a hotel in Florence Italy that required the use of an electric key card to leave the hotel room. (I have had to deal with the problem of getting in to a hotel room with an electronic key but getting out is a little trickier in terms of trying to find a non-Jew who can operate the lock for you). Made me think to ask that question of any hotel that I have to stay in over Shabbos. Luckily I was there only on a week day.

43

 Dec 24, 2008 at 10:21 PM bigwheeel Says:

Reply to #32  
Anonymous Says:

In 1902, Rav Baruch Epstein published his Torah Temima, which became one of the most popular sefarim of the century. (Baruch’s father, Rabbi Yechiel Michel, was the rabbi of Novorodak and author of the classic Aruch HaShulchon). The object of the Torah Temima is to show the interrelationship between the Torah law and daily life. His method is to quote comments and interpretations from the vast Rabbinical literature on each line of Torah and then to provide his own analysis of how the then contemporay interpretations were deduced. He clearly shows that much of what you say is wrong and use of electricity on shabbos is most likely mutar and not avodah or boneh. However, we have been deceived by statements to the contrary by less erudite rabbonim who followed and didn't understand how electricity works.

Additionally, (as I've written in post #28), Rabbi Shimon Gunfeld, (MaHaRSha"g) deals with the [theoretical] question of whether the filament in a light bulb (or a heating element in other electrical appliances), is "Mid'Oraysa" considered "Eish" (Fire). He concludes that it is not. That doesn't mean (paraphrasing R. Gunfeld's conclusion), that we are allowed to switch lights [and other appliances] on and off manually on Shabbos and Yom Tov!!! Furthermore, it proves that the aforementioned Rabbi had more than a rudimentary knowledge of the technology of his day. There were some Rabbis, on the other hand, who were, unfortunately, not so well informed about the workings of technology when they wrote their Rabbinic opinions. But the overwhelming majority of the Rabbonim who dealt with Medical or technological questions had extensive knowledge of the subjects at hand. Legend has it that the Chazon Is"h had such vast knowledge about Medicine that a Professor (of Medicine) who had a discussion with him, wondered which Medical school he graduated from!!! And about Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach it is said that before he wrote his opinion on a technological question, he consulted Electrical Engineers, about all the aspects of it!!!

44

 Dec 24, 2008 at 10:48 PM bigwheeel Says:

Reply to #41  
#39 is Right Says:

You are correct that electricity is NOT fire and not aish.
But, we are kind of stuck with its being called Aish due to the following:

Rabbonim today are very, and justifiably, afraid to matir ANYTHING which the Conservative movement or the Reform movement, in opposition to us, was matir. Hence, even if each individual Rov, gedolai hador, were to agree individually that Electricity is not Aish, they are stuck with the reality that once it was defined as Aish by past rabbonim, today, not using electricity on Shabbos has turned into one of the defining factors which delineate the Orthodox from the "other."

It would be very difficult today for a rov to pick up a phone and call another rov to bring up this topic, as then HE may become thought of in a negative way.

But, back to the original thesis. We have in our Yiddishkeit of today, minhagim which have become defining factors of what is a frum Jew. We now say that any man who walks in the street without a head covering is not frum. True, we see this in later seforim, but it certainly is not a Torah halacha. I am not 100% sure where and when it started, but today it certainly has become a biggie. No frum Jew will be seen anywhere without a yarmulke and/or hat.

This may wind up being the future of electricity on Shabbos. We may wind up stuck with it.
One of the reasons for possible rabbinic reluctance to tackle this issue and matir electricity on Shabbos would be that it may cause a gross loss of the importance of Shabbos. The very fact that many "Orthodox" Yidden are already falling in to this issue, by going by the letter of the laws they know, and missing the feeling of Shabbos, will be a reason for the reluctance. All too many people, Shomer Shabbos, Orthodox people, have fallen inot the habit of reading the first paragraph and the conclusion of a teshuva or a psak, and not bothering to follow the entire teshuva or what a posek writes. They take the "heter" and generalize it, not realizing it was only intended in a certain "b'dayeved" situation. They then go around saying, "If Rav X says it is mutar, it is mutar." But that was never the intent of Rav X when he wrote it.

How many young frum men will play basketball on Shabbos if they are inside an eiruv or chotzeir, totally not realizing that it is also wrong to take a pisia gasa, and certainly not in the ways of Shabbos to Run, Jump, and play basketball? In fact many have written that basketballs are muktze. But there are so many who jump into heterim.

As long as such a large percentage of Shomer Shabbos Yidden have that attitude of maximizing every heter, rabbonim are very reluctant to matir things. I know I would be. I can't blame them.

Unfortunately, the study by a major university said that in about 50 more years, Orthodox and Chassidim will be the vast majority of Jews, since the Conservative and Reform are being abandoned by intermarriage. Some, to the good, are becoming baalei teshuva and becoming Orthodox.

Hopefully, the Orthodox who have been "heter maximizers" will also stop seeking all those far out heterim (one can pray).
When this happens, then the rabbonim MAY be brave enough to tackle this problem.

The problem will then be that it will be such a long time, so many gerations of non-electric Shabbosim that they still may feel it wrong to change.

This is unfortunate.

Though I do understand the reluctance to deal with the "Electricity on Shabbos" issue, I believe it must be dealt with. As we progress into the future, it will become more and more impossible to exist with this chumra.
It is already a pain to be in a motel on Shabbos, with the key situation.
Eventually, I can foresee electronic doors ALL over.
We now have many blocks which we can't walk down due to motion detectors turning lights on. Since it is a psik raisha, it is ossur (unless there is enough room to get by that it is not a psik raisha)
Eventually, I can foresee motion detectors in the streets, motion activated cameras in the streets and in hallways, and many, many other things we can't even think about today. Failing to deal with the "Electricity on Shabbos" matter may mean Jews returning to tiny, fenced in gettos, built especially for us without any of these things.
I know I would want to go on the real Enterprise one day, if it would to come in my time.
Electronically activated electrically operated doors ... oy!

#39 I hope you are right that rabbonim will tackle this issue. I am afraid that no one will have the courage. You see how anyone is attacked today for differing about anything? And who would have the courage to deal with it when they would fear, "If we are matir the principle of Electricity on Shabbos, people will say 'Anything electric is mutar on Shabbos' which we certainly do not mean." Would being matir electricity be matir electric cars on shabbos ..... golf carts, all elevators, ... Interesting thoughts.

Most major Poskim (Rabbis whose opinions are universally accepted) hold that walking by a cctv camera or unwittingly activating other sensors, for which we have no use, or knowledge is to be disregarded. In other words, if (theoretically) there are cameras that are active, or will be activated, on my regular path, I don't have to refrain from going there on Shabbos!!! In other cases, where lights are activated by a sensor, they can be disconnected before Shabbos, and when the need arises, can be activated or deactivated by the "Human Touch" i.e. A Shabbos Goy. (which happens to be an honorable job)!!!

45

 Dec 24, 2008 at 10:39 PM bigwheeel Says:

Reply to #33  
Chochom Einer Says:

Wow, in one fell swoop, down goes R' Chaim Ozer, the Chazon Ish, R' Shlomo Zalman, R' Moshe and all the other famous Gedolim of today and yesteryear. You found the guy who understands the Torah and you'll run with him. Well that is not the Torah. You are no different than all the other breakoffs that are not even recognizable anymore as Jewish in origin. Of course you may not realize this now. But, you parted ways. The Chazon Ish understood electricity exremely well and deeply. He also understood the fine definition of Bonah. He Paskened according to this.

By the way, for all the making fun of calling it Eish, you can check out what the Sforno writes by the Issur of Havara. Although you cannot add things to the Torah, but what he says about Havara applies even more so to elecricity.

Without having seen in detail what Reb Boruch Epstein said on the subject of electricity, I can state with certainty that he was a controversial figure, without going into details. As you well pointed out that the Chazon Ish and Reb Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach (I, mistakenly mixed him up w. R. Shmuel Auerbach) were very well versed in the workings of technology. Especially electricity. The intricate details of the distribution network and various components. I've read the Responsa (T'shuvos) of both, on this subject. I was amazed, at the depth of their knowledge (who am I to judge, anyway)! And all the Rabbonim of the generation at the turn of the century concluded that, regardless of the theory, we're not allowed to connect and disconnect electrical appliances and systems manually on Shabbos!!!

46

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