Will The Kosher Switch Bring Mashiach?

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As technology changes, the proper application of halakhah may require changing practice to remain in step with the new reality. However, when evaluating new technology we have to look at reality and not hype. The new “Kosher Switch” (link) is billed as a game-changer that will radically redefine the practice of Shabbos. In truth, it is a next-generation “Gerama Switch” that seems to this writer to fall short of the requirements of many major authorities. To fully understand the product and why its halakhic implications are probably minimal, we have to wade through some background.

I. Gerama

Over a century ago, halakhic authorities debated the status of a standard light switch. R. Yechiel Mikhel Epstein, author of the highly influential Arukh Ha-Shulchan, published an article in a 1903 Torah journal arguing that lights may be turned on and off on Yom Tov. Part of his calculations was the incorrect scientific understanding (as pointed out by R. Yehudah Borenstein in a rebuttal in that journal) that electric current is fire running through the wires. Another of his arguments was that flipping a switch is considered gerama, indirect action. While gerama is generally forbidden, it is allowed when extinguishing a fire on Yom Tov. In a similar fashion, R. Tzvi Pesach Frank, the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, published an article in a 1934 Torah journal arguing that flipping an electrical switch is gerama.

However, the overwhelming consensus of subsequent authorities rejected this approach. In 1935, the young Jerusalem scholar R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach dared to disagree with the two aforementioned scholars and devoted chapter three of his monumental study, Me’orei Eish, to this issue. He argued at length that flipping a switch is considered direct action, rather than gerama. He obtained for his book a glowing approbation from the eminent authority, R. Chaim Ozer Grodzinski of Vilna. R. Grodzinski also penned a responsum arguing the same, later published as Achiezer vol. 3 no. 60. R. Eliezer Waldenberg, also a young scholar in Jerusalem, after studying R. Auerbach’s book and a copy of R. Grodzinski’s responsum (which he obtained from R. Auerbach), wrote a responsum of his own disagreeing with details of argumentation but agreeing with the conclusion (Tzitz Eliezer vol. 1 no. 8). Others, both before and after, have concurred that flipping a switch is direct action. The reasons offered why impact greatly both the Gerama Switch and the Kosher Switch.

II. Ungerama

Halakhic engineers attempt to avoid issues like gerama through creativity. Examining their proposals and the objections they face will offer us insight into potential objections to the Kosher Switch. The Zomet Institute bases its solutions on the concept of modulating currents. This interesting but controversial approach is irrelevant to our current discussion. The Institute for Halacha and Science developed a Gerama Switch based on the concept of obstruction removal (meni’as meni’a) that serves as a basis of the Kosher Switch. There is a certain amount of rivalry between the institutions which I do not fully understand. I suspect that I may be oversimplifying the distinctions between their approaches but this should suffice for our purposes. However, both work with the assumption that turning electricity on and off is forbidden on Shabbos. Their goal is to find workable solutions by avoiding the user’s closing and opening circuits.

The Gerama Switch is poorly named because it is designed to avoid gerama. The switch contains an optical signal that closes or opens a circuit through an impulse light sent at random intervals. If the light is received, the circuit closes and if not it is opened. The switch, in the off position, blocks the impulse light and prevents the circuit from closing. By moving the switch to the on position, you merely stop preventing the circuit from closing. You are neither directly nor indirectly closing the circuit, just removing the obstruction. Because this is not even gerama, moving the switch should be permissible on Shabbos even to perform an act indisputably prohibited.

Why isn’t this gerama? Conflicting passages in the Talmud describe gerama as either permitted or forbidden. Placing bottles of water to break when hit by fire, thereby extinguishing the fire, is permitted. Tossing grain into the air so the wind separates the wheat from the chaff is prohibited. Some early authorities forbid all gerama except where explicitly permitted and others permit it except where explicitly forbidden. The Rema codifies what is essentially a compromise position: we forbid gerama on Shabbos except in cases of great need (Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 334:22). However, he does not define the boundaries of gerama, leaving the task for later authorities.

There are four main theories explaining the difference between permitted and forbidden indirect actions (R. Dovid Miller explains these views nicely in a lecture: link).

  1. A time delay between a person’s action and the subsequent action makes the first permissible
  2. If the second action will not definitely occur then the first is allowed
  3. If this is not the normal way of performing the act then it is permitted
  4. If the second action is not already in motion then the first is allowed

The Gerama Switch does not rely on the rejected views of R. Epstein and R. Frank, because its user only removes an obstruction. It also entails a time delay, until the next light impulse. However, this is only permissible according to the first approach to gerama. According to the other three, it is still forbidden. For another important reason, which we will discuss later, the designers of the Gerama Switch only allow it in exigent circumstances — for the needs of the infirm and security reasons — when the Rema would allow gerama.

III. Kosher Ungerama

The Kosher Switch adds uncertainty to the Gerama Switch. Every time the device is supposed to send a light impulse, it calculates a random number below 100 and only sends the impulse if the number passes a threshold (usually over 50). The receiver also calculates a similar random number and only receives the light impulse if the number passes a threshold. These two levels of uncertainty separate the action of moving the switch to the on (or off) position from the closing (or opening) of the circuit. The first impulse may not change the circuit, and the second and third may not as well. There is a statistical possibility, albeit remote, that the person may have to wait days or even months until the light impulse is sent and received.

This improvement to the Gerama switch is an important step forward. It renders the device permissible also according to those authorities who follow the second approach above. However, those who follow the third and fourth still do not allow it. This is particularly significant because those authorities are highly influential.

IV. Not So Kosher

R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, as reported by R. Hershel Schachter (Nefesh Ha-Rav, p. 169), follows the fourth approach. See also R. Schachter’s Be-Ikvei Ha-Tzon, ch. 7 (“Ma’aseh U-Gerama Bi-Melekhes Shabbos“). Because the Kosher Switch functions constantly, waiting for the switch to be moved so it can close the circuit, R. Soloveitchik would presumably forbid its use.

R. Chaim Ozer Grodzinski (ibid.) follows the third approach, as does the Tzitz Eliezer (ibid.) based on the Eglei Tal (zoreh n. 4). So do R. Yechezkel Abramsky (Chazon Yechezkel, Shabbos 120b) and R. Nachum Rabinovich (Si’ach Nachum, no. 25). R. Yosef Shalom Elyashiv also reportedly follows this approach (Shevus Yitzchak, p. 138; Orechos Shabbos, vol. 3 ch. 29 n. 52). See also R. Nissim Karelitz, Chut Shani, vol. 1 p. 206.

Because flipping a switch is the normal way of closing a circuit (e.g. turning on a light), these authorities would not allow any type of Gerama or Kosher Switch. If this switch becomes widely adopted, as its designers hope, then it will be the standard way of closing and opening circuits, turning lights on and off. This is precisely the situation that R. Grodzinski and the others forbade.

R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach clearly followed this third approach in his Me’orei Eish, quoting R. Isser Zalman Meltzer on the matter (Me’orei Eish Ha-Shalem, p. 217). He restated it in an early responsum on milking cows on Shabbos (ibid., p. 612ff.) and a later responsum on telephones (Minchas Shlomo, no. 9; Me’orei Eish Ha-Shalem, p. 576). A manuscript was posthumously published in a memorial book for R. Auerbach, Kovetz Ateres Shlomo, which seems to contradict this approach but his son, R. Shmuel Auerbach, insists that his father maintained his original attitude (Orechos Shabbos vol. 3 ch. 29 n. 52).

However, Prof. Zev Lev (Ma’arkhei Lev, p. 241) reports an important ruling from R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. R. Auerbach ruled that if an action is performed in a specific way only on Shabbos, that does not constitute the normal way the action is done. The Kosher Switch has a weekday mode and a Shabbos mode, which function differently. According to this ruling of R. Auerbach, turning lights on with the switch in Shabbos mode is not the normal way of turning on the lights and is therefore permissible.

I find this difficult to understand. This is a switch that is designed to work this way, functions the same way as other switches (from the user’s perspective), and performs in the same way once a week plus holidays. I make no claim to expertise but that seems to me to be the normal way the action is done. From what I have seen in the name of R. Elyashiv, he disagrees with R. Auerbach’s ruling and forbids all types of Gerama (or Ungerama) devices. I think this aspect of the issue requires further elaboration and evaluation by halakhic decisors.

V. Publicity and Endorsements

The Kosher Switch has reportedly received numerous rabbinic endorsements (link), including from R. Yehoshua Neuwirth, R. Nachum Rabinovich, R. Moshe Sternbuch and R. Yisroel Belsky. It is not clear, however, whether those endorsement are for use in exigent circumstances or in every home. I suspect it is the former, particularly given R. Rabinovich’s strict ruling on electric switches (Si’ach Nachum, no. 25).

However, the device’s promoters claim that it is appropriate for every home. Indeed, in their halakhic defense of the innovation (link – PDF, sec. 12), they claim that the device will eventually become standard in all homes, thereby enabling universal Shabbos observance and the arrival of the messianic redemption. Are the endorsements also exaggerated PR? I am in the process of checking on some of the endorsements, many of which seem to be just a well-wish rather than explicit approval.

VI. Confusion

The Institute for Science and Halacha, the designers of the Gerama Switch only allow its use in exigent circumstances for the following reason (R. Levi Yitzchak Halperin and R. Dovid Oratz, Shabbat and Electricity, pp. 32-33):

The difference between a gerama switch and a standard switch is not readily discernible to a layman. A person seeing someone using a gerama switch might conclude that the action is permissible with any switch. As a result, people could mistakenly permit many prohibited Shabbat actions, resulting in mass desecration of Shabbat. Under such circumstances, it is appropriate not to permit actions that should otherwise be permitted.

To prevent such misunderstanding, the use of the gerama switch is limited to uses where an ordinary gerama would be permitted, hence the name gerama switch and not meni’at hameni’ah switch… Accordingly, the Institute uses the gerama switch only under those conditions in which ordinary gerama can be permitted.

The designers of Kosher Switch, in their halakhic defense (sec. 7), argue that this is unnecessary for a number of unconvincing reasons. Among them is that the Kosher Switch looks very different from regular switches. I cannot speak for the situation in Israel, but in the US switches come in very different shapes and sizes. I show below five pictures of switches. Four are from my house and one is the Kosher Switch. Can you tell which one is the Kosher Switch? It doesn’t look particularly different to me. There are many different types of switches and the Kosher Switch looks to me like just another one. While it carries a Kosher Switch logo, that is hardly sufficient, as the designers of the Gerama Switch acknowledged.

In addition to the issue of confusion, there are other issues that enter this discussion, such as zilusa de-Shabbos, diminishing the Shabbos experience, and shevisah ha-nikeres, resting in a manner different from the rest of the week. I leave that for another time but wish to emphasize that they are also significant Shabbos values.

The Kosher Switch is an important step forward in Shabbos technology and will improve the devices designed for security and health situations. However, I struggle to see how it satisfies the requirements of many important authorities and how it could possibly become a standard feature in Shabbos observant homes.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Torah Musings.

167 comments

  1. “Part of his calculations was the incorrect scientific understanding (as pointed out by R. Yehudah Borenstein in a rebuttal in that journal) that electric current is fire running through the wires. ”

    Since when did halacha require the science to be accurate?

  2. I don’t understand why this money and energy is being expended to workaround something that is claimed to be a huge positive of halachic Shabbat observance?

    [Ref: the several threads in the past few months on the use of electricity on Shabbat and, most recently, the discussion of Sen. Lieberman’s book]

  3. Shulchan Aruch 252:5 doesnt mention Grama. That halacha refers to starting an action on Friday which will continue into Shabbat. Perhaps you mean 334:22 in which case it is important to mention that Grama according to Sephardim is mutar. (Note the Beur Halacha there who explains that the SA is not limited this psak to Kibui.)

  4. I think Gil should have held off on this post until he put the same work and thought into his comments on the endorsements as he apparently did in his halachic analysis. (Whether his analysis is right or not I leave to those expert in the field which does not include me.) He writes: “However, I struggle to see how it satisfies the requirements of many important authorities.” Well, instead of “struggling” why don’t you do some legwork and find out about the endorsements. The site lists 42 endorsers and with many includes a link to their written endorsements. Read them; make some telephone calls. And if you do read them (as I did with a select few), it appears that some are a wish of “hatzlacha,” some an outright endorsement and others somewhere in the middle. Well, get the facts. And until you do, you should delete the wishy-washy exceptionally uninformative and misleading section on endorsements.

  5. Come on. Electricity is not havarat eish, nor is “building” a circuit boneh. Use of electricity was made assur on Shabbat because 19th C. poskim were not comfortable with it. This “kosher” switch will suffer the same fate.

  6. Bring Mashiach? Please. The people who don’t worry about flipping switches won’t install this one in the first place.

    By the way, just so you know, switches in Israel come in all sorts of forms as well.

  7. Great post. I just hope that the section about “Shabbat values” wasnt motivating the previous sections.

  8. I did not understand this sequence:
    “According to this ruling of R. Auerbach, turning lights on with the switch in Shabbos mode is not the normal way of turning on the lights and is therefore permissible.
    I find this difficult to understand. From what I have seen in the name of R. Elyashiv, he disagrees with this ruling and forbids all types of Gerama (or Ungerama) devices. I think this aspect of the issue requires further elaboration and evaluation by halakhic decisors.”
    Can you clarify what is difficult to understand in R. Auerbach’s ruling? (It was not clear to me how to understand your reference to the opinion of R. Elyashiv. Is that the source of the difficulty? If so, can’t they just disagree?)

  9. there is much to comment on in this post. let me start with “they claim that the device will eventually become standard in all homes, thereby enabling universal Shabbos observance and the arrival of the messianic redemption. ” imho this ties back to an earlier thread where we discussed whether exigencies will require a halachic reevaluation (manhatten project?) to the whole electricity/fire etc. issue. I wonder in such a self aware period of history, will such change still be viewed as purely internal to the system.
    KT

  10. IH: Stop thinking light bulb and start thinking infusion pump for an NG tube, or some similar medical device and you’ll get the point.

  11. Shachar Ha'amim

    IIRC the “confusion” arguments were also made when timers were introduced – i.e. people would see lights in a house going or see the air conditioner turn on and would think that one can activate such devices on shabbat (possibly RMF who argued this??).
    So if this is the reason given for not approving widespread use of these switches, and history of the aceptance and use of shabbat clocks is any indication, then it is only a matter of time before the use of these switches becomes widespread in Orthodox homes, shuls, school, etc.

  12. Shachar Ha'amim

    “Come on. Electricity is not havarat eish, nor is “building” a circuit boneh. Use of electricity was made assur on Shabbat because 19th C. poskim were not comfortable with it. This “kosher” switch will suffer the same fate.”

    as I noted above this was largely circumvented by the advent of the automated timer. with the timer – and now the gerama switch – everyone can give a wink, wink, nudge, nudge, to the poskim who held the eletricity was fire or construction and still have electric devices in use on shabbat.

  13. Gil, Keep on trucking. Thanks for a wonderful synopsis of the issue. Please ignore those who complain that you didn’t do this or that.

  14. There’s no problem with having a fire on Shabbat. That’s anti-Karaism.

  15. There is a statistical possibility, albeit remote, that the person may have to wait days or even months until the light impulse is sent and received.
    ===========================
    There’s a statistical probability that you can stick a finger on your left hand through the palm of your right. IIRC we have discussed the 1/1000 rule (3 days of the condor oops, I mean 3 days to be sure one is dead) what is the statistical probability in this case?
    KT

  16. Last comment for now – we have 2 issues grama which has been around since the time of adam and electricity which is a few hundrred years old. The halachic definition/categories on each are very wide ranging so that taking the possible combination of opinions gives you a possible resultant space wide enough to drive a oil tanker through sideways. Oy Galus!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    KT

  17. Jacob: Thank you for correcting my mistake. I was thinking of the Magen Avraham which I decided to leave out of the post.

    The Dude: Agreed that electricity is not fire. I’m not sure it isn’t boneh but that’s beside the point. An incandescent light *is* fire.

    Jon_Brooklyn: I just hope that the section about “Shabbat values” wasnt motivating the previous sections

    No. But as someone who studied under R. Soloveitchik’s, I would never use the switch unless they can find a way to satisfy R. Schachter’s objections.

    Zalman: You are right. That paragraph required more explanation. Give me a moment and I will expand on it.

    Shacha Ha’amim: IIRC the “confusion” arguments were also made when timers were introduced

    Totally different argument. R. Moshe Feinstein was a da’as yachid who was worried about maris ayin, confusion by onlookers. Here the argument is confusion by the users. Once you start turning switches on, it’s easy to get confused and turn on the wrong switches. Especially when, from the perspective of the user, they function the same way — just flip the switch on or off.

  18. big problem with the moshiach statement, is that turning on light switches is already just an issue of halacha d’rabanan. However, driving, is a straight issue D’orayta. And this doesn’t stop people from driving!

    For that we will need non-grama vehicles 🙂

    However, this might be a needed installment in all windowless bathrooms, for health reasons.

  19. “Stop thinking light bulb and start thinking infusion pump for an NG tube, or some similar medical device and you’ll get the point.”

    Mike S. — please see their website and you’ll get their explicit point: ” It allows you to turn your lights on/off when and where needed, in a way that’s permitted by Halacha (Jewish law).” and “It provides unsurpassed enjoyment during Shabbat and Jewish holidays, without complicated timer programming, or having to anticipate your usage schedule in advance. Shabbat observance becomes easier, more enjoyable, and more accessible to the masses. It provides significant energy savings, while helping us be “greener” and environmentally friendly.”

    I again ask: why is this money and energy being expended to workaround something that is claimed to be a huge positive of halachic Shabbat observance as per previous discussion threads on the use of electricity on Shabbat?

  20. Revised paragraph at end of sec. IV: I find this difficult to understand. This is a switch that is designed to work this way, functions the same way as other switches (from the user’s perspective), and performs in the same way once a week plus holidays. I make no claim to expertise but that seems to me to be the normal way the action is done. From what I have seen in the name of R. Elyashiv, he disagrees with R. Auerbach’s ruling and forbids all types of Gerama (or Ungerama) devices. I think this aspect of the issue requires further elaboration and evaluation by halakhic decisors.

  21. IH: Because overall it is a huge positive but there are some negatives as well. When solving for the small negatives, you risk losing the positives to everyone’s detriment.

  22. Regarding “Ungerama” — amusingly, Unger, of course, means Hungarian 🙂

  23. avi: How is turning on a light switch only derabanan? To my knowledge, most poskim hold it’s de’oraisa.

  24. “I again ask: why is this money and energy being expended to workaround something that is claimed to be a huge positive of halachic Shabbat observance as per previous discussion threads on the use of electricity on Shabbat?”

    Not everyone agrees with that, obviously. Perhaps they’d say that you had to look for a positive angle, making lemons out of lemonade. But in reality if there is a halachic way to use lights that would enhance shabbat. Or maybe not and it’s just a disagreement. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. You can’t ask questions on what those guys are doing based on what some other guys opined over here.

  25. Rav Sternbuch definitely does not approve of this switch. Rav Sternbuch holds that it is not only Chilul Shabbos, but “akiras shaboss” to use this switch, the Rav asked for his opinion to be publicized since he has been asked recently about this
    from numerous sources.

  26. Raphael Kaufman

    Poster #1, Halacha requires the science to be accurate because psak is dependent on a metzius. One cannot pasken on a metzius because the psak cannot change it. For instance, you cannot pasken that the sun should in the west. Whether or not the “halachic” light switch is muttar depends on the the metzius of how the switch works and the metzius of what electricity is.

  27. Part of his calculations was the incorrect scientific understanding (as pointed out by R. Yehudah Borenstein in a rebuttal in that journal) that electric current is fire running through the wires.
    =================================================
    So is one to understand that he thought there was a mini fire running through the wires that then came out to the filament and burned there without consumingg the filament
    KT

  28. I was just with Rav Rabinovitz. He gave no endorsement to the kosher switch.He has no knowledge of the details of this particular device , and would only approve of one for special emergency [ medical or security ] situations .
    The kosher switch web site shows Rav Rabinovitz’s signature on a general ” bracha v’hatzlacha”, no endorsement of any kind .
    As Rav Rabinovitz has taught and published ; if that’s the way the switch works normally , then it’s not a permitted type indirect action.

  29. I got a tweet from someone who spoke with Rav Nebenzahl’s son. He said his father’s endorsement says only what it says, that the switch can prevent Chillul Shabbos among our fellow Jews.

  30. “avi: How is turning on a light switch only derabanan? To my knowledge, most poskim hold it’s de’oraisa.”
    Even for an LED?

    Regardless, any interpretation of a light switch is an interpretation. Cars straight out build fires, which the Torah says directly you can’t do.

  31. Yawn.
    All this shows is that Rabbis are not correctly incentivized to issue correct pesakim. The situation of having a core group of “real jews” to preach to obviates the need to cut the crap and find solutions for modern life. The normative tradeoff goes something like this: Its better for the smaller group to do a full high quality shabbos than to extend a half shabbos over a larger group. Oh well.

  32. avi: No, I meant an incandescent lightbulb. Yes, a switch is an interpretation but that debate occurred 70+ years ago and everyone today agrees that flipping a switch is a direct action.

    Chakira: Yawn. Post-modern sociological analysis of halakhah rather than taking it as a serious discipline.

  33. Correction of typo in Section IV.: “So do R. Yechezkel AbraMsky..”

  34. Whats postmodern about it? I’m talking about incentives and very basic sociological ideas. And a serious discipline doesn’t have to be a completely autonomous one. That situation is historical and deserves addressing.

  35. The source in the Rama is still incorrectly cited. It isnt 334:2 (That deals with muktzeh). It’s 334:22.

  36. Yawn. All this yawning is making me yawn.

  37. “Chakira: Yawn. Post-modern sociological analysis of halakhah rather than taking it as a serious discipline.”

    He’s right. Would you agree with the following? “Most Jews cannot and will never live halachic lives of the kind required by the mainstream in Orthodoxy today.” So instead of telling the rest of the Jews in the world, “You know, it’s not such a big deal to keep Pesach” – for example – we argue over whether you’re allowed to use the first and last sheet of paper towel, and we clean for a month, saying “Women will be women,” and we ban peanuts. This is a Pesach disconnected from the reality of most Jews, who may well be willing to keep Pesach if they knew that it really wasn’t so hard.

  38. “Would you agree with the following? “Most Jews cannot and will never live halachic lives of the kind required by the mainstream in Orthodoxy today.”

    Most Jews in the US don’t know and don’t care about “halachic lives”, be it Orthodox or Conservative or even Reform versions.

  39. Anonymous: Would you agree with the following? “Most Jews cannot and will never live halachic lives of the kind required by the mainstream in Orthodoxy today.” So instead of telling the rest of the Jews in the world, “You know, it’s not such a big deal to keep Pesach” – for example – we argue over whether you’re allowed to use the first and last sheet of paper towel, and we clean for a month

    Nothing we do will move the dial significantly, but there are plenty of people — particularly those who frequently encounter non-religious Jews — who take the “it’s not such a big deal” approach.

  40. How about the people on the margins who would be happy to use a kosher switch? Do you think their numbers are too small vis a vis the committed Halacha folks and the don’t care at all folks to justify a pesak that works for them?

  41. Those are one-offs you have to do locally.

  42. “This is a switch that is designed to work this way, functions the same way as other switches (from the user’s perspective), and performs in the same way once a week plus holidays”

    how is the third part relevant?

  43. Under the Web Sites FAQ section they make the cynical statement (Q Do all Rabbis endorse kosher switch) “since when do all rabbis agree on the same thing?”
    Combining that with what I read from R Eidensohn re R Shternbuch and another poster regarding R Nebbenzahl gives me a bad feeling about this

  44. “Nothing we do will move the dial significantly, but there are plenty of people — particularly those who frequently encounter non-religious Jews — who take the “it’s not such a big deal” approach.”

    The question is not whether we as Orthodox Jews perceive our lives as a big inconvenience (most of us do not) but whether, by other standards, it is. Is Judaism actually a bit more accessible than we Orthodox Jews are making it? It just well might be.

  45. From http://www.kosherswitch.com/live/halacha/endorse:

    “Notes: Endorsements/approbations may refer to varying degrees of permissibility, and in varying contexts ranging from l’chatchila (“a priori”) use at home to limited use within healthcare settings. Verbal snippets are provided as a synopsis of in-person meetings and are not intended, and should not be considered, as a substitute for a formal written endorsement.”

    R’ Gil, was this statement there at the time you wrote section V.?

  46. Why don’t they jsut design the switch to switch left to right instead of up and down. A large vertical left-right switch is one that I have never seen and so one would instantly know if it was a kosher switch or not.

  47. I don’t understand why this money and energy is being expended to workaround something that is claimed to be a huge positive of halachic Shabbat observance?

    It’s a spiritual, not a material, positive. KosherSwitch caters to the huge market which is willing to keep the basic requirements of halacha but which has little appreciation for spiritual positives.

  48. They also take some “cheap shots” at Star K by referring to the “ban” on Sabbath mode In fact the issue relates to adjusting the temp on shabbos and is not a ” ban” as usually constued

  49. chakira: Because otherwise it will impact the mainstream core who should not be using such questionable leniencies.

    source: Meaning — it’s the normal way we do it fairly frequently.

    Anonymous: The question is not whether we as Orthodox Jews perceive our lives as a big inconvenience (most of us do not) but whether, by other standards, it is.

    I think that observing the commandments should take extra effort.

    Shimon S: Yes, but that is totally uninformative.

    Reuven Meir: I was thinking of a switch that goes in a dial/windshield wiper direction rather than up-down or side-to-side.

  50. “I think that observing the commandments should take extra effort.”

    Gil — I would be interested in a post in which you articulate this hashkafa in more detail. E.g. Is suffering good, too?

  51. “I think that observing the commandments should take extra effort.”

    At the cost of most Jews being non-observant? Certainly 200 years ago the rabbis felt that all Jews are supposed to be observant and were shocked when they stopped. Perhaps you’ve gotten too uses to a different reality.

  52. ““I think that observing the commandments should take extra effort.”” Not that I agree or disagree, but “Darchai Noam”?

  53. “I got a tweet from someone who spoke with Rav Nebenzahl’s son. He said his father’s endorsement says only what it says, that the switch can prevent Chillul Shabbos among our fellow Jews.”

    And what is that supposed to mean? He writes this to someone who invented something and has come to the rav asking for a haskamah. The rav tells him that the switch can prevent chillul shabbat. How is this not to be regarded as a haskamah and a go-ahead to the inventor?

    Here is is

    http://www.kosherswitch.com/live/?wpfb_dl=18

    this is an enthusiastic endorsement of the invention and they are justified in citing it.

    Could it be that some of the matirim are now going to be backtracking because they are afraid of being attacked?

  54. Also, a more relaxed observance also “takes extra effort.” It is laughable to suggest that even the most minimal kind of techically halachic observance takes no extra effort. Abstaining from chametz takes extra effort. But to do so kehilchasa may be the kind of effort which is plausible for most Jews. It also takes extra effort to move to New Square, speak only Yiddish and wear a shtreimel in July, but most Orthodox Jews correctly don’t see that as the baseline.

  55. Anonymous: “I think that observing the commandments should take extra effort.”

    At the cost of most Jews being non-observant?

    It isn’t a matter of cost. This is not an issue of choice. I’m saying that observing commandments requires taking time out of your day and living in a different way. It shouldn’t be onerous but it should take time and effort.

    avi: Not that I agree or disagree, but “Darchai Noam”?

    I don’t think that concept conflicts with a 2-hour prayer service rather than a quickie 10-minute webcast.

    Anonymous: And what is that supposed to mean? He writes this to someone who invented something and has come to the rav asking for a haskamah. The rav tells him that the switch can prevent chillul shabbat. How is this not to be regarded as a haskamah and a go-ahead to the inventor?

    Read it. Nowhere does Rav Nebenzahl say that it is mutar to use.

  56. Anonymous: Also, a more relaxed observance also “takes extra effort.”

    If it does, then we are in agreement. There are plenty of rabbis who promote a relaxed observance to the non-observant. It’s a beautiful thing.

  57. Tosfos in RH ( around 16 or 17, IIRC), states that we blow many Tekios on RH, even though the same are unnecessary, because we want to show our Ahavas HaShem by going above and beyond the minimum required in the same fashion that we try to Yotzie Lchol Deos, as much as possible, as a means of showing Ahavas HaShem.

  58. “If it does, then we are in agreement. There are plenty of rabbis who promote a relaxed observance to the non-observant. It’s a beautiful thing.”

    It sounds like we are, yet somehow I think we are not.

  59. Look, as long as you are honest about what the tradeoff is, I have no issue with banning all the kosherswitches you want. I just think people should realize what they commit themselves to when they say certain things.

  60. “Read it. Nowhere does Rav Nebenzahl say that it is mutar to use.”

    Wrong. He blesses the inventor, and says that by spreading the invention he will decrease chilul shabbat. No one in the world can read this and not see it as a haskamah. So how could the son now say it is not a haskamah? Let him be honest and say he is retracting his permission.

  61. chakira: On Kosher Switches, it’s not a matter of tradeoff or choice. It’s a matter of truth — complex, esoteric and disputed but you still have to follow where the sources lead.

  62. Anonymous: Absolutely incorrect. No one in the world can read it as you suggest. He said it will minimize Chillul Shabbos among Acheinu Bnei Yisrael. He did not say it is mutar lechatchilah for Jews who are not Mechallelei Shabbos.

    There is no backtracking and no retraction. His words have only been misinterpreted by uncareful reading.

  63. Only problem is that the sources do not incontrovertibly lead to what is considered normative practice today. As Rabbis Broyde & Jachter state: “The variety of positions taken by the decisors is broad, and these differences are extremely relevant to the conduct of observant Jews. It is the near unanimous opinion that the use of incandescent lights on Shabbat is biblically prohibited. Beyond that, there is little agreement. Some authorities maintain that any time a circuit is opened or closed a biblical violation occurs. Other authorities insist that the use of electricity absent lights is only a rabbinic prohibition. Still other authorities accept that in theory the use of electricity without the production of light or heat is permitted – although even those authorities admit that such conduct is prohibited, absent great need, because of tradition.”

  64. IH: You’re talking too abstract for me. I don’t understand your point.

  65. I think you have a willful blindness to how all the parameters and tradeoffs we are discussing impact the final “truth” that comes out of the black box of “halacha”

  66. I don’t understand how Rav Nebenzahl could have written what he did if he did not intend for the public to understand it as a heter. Now I am making certain (reasonable) assumptions: it was not accompanied by some limiting oral instruction; there is not some custom in the haskamah world that requires very particular language for a letter to be understood as a heter; Rav Nebenzahl was not subjected to undue force.

  67. “He said it will minimize Chillul Shabbos among Acheinu Bnei Yisrael. He did not say it is mutar lechatchilah for Jews who are not Mechallelei Shabbos.”

    That’s correct. But he said one other thing that Gil does not quote: the inventor “should merit to distribute his invention….” Isn’t that encouraging the distribution of the switch? And isn’t that problematic if it shouldn’t be used by already shomrei Shabbat Jews? Won’t this result in a lifnei evair situation? Or, perhaps, should Judaica stores put up a sign saying that the switch is “to be purchased only by those who are currently mechallel Shabbat”? If he meant what his son (and Gil) now say he meant, then ISTM that he wasn’t particularly careful in his choice of language or particularly thoughtful about what his endorsement meant.

  68. It isn’t a matter of cost. This is not an issue of choice. I’m saying that observing commandments requires taking time out of your day and living in a different way. It shouldn’t be onerous but it should take time and effort.

    Gil seriously what are you talking about? True story: One time many moons ago I was interested in dating a girl who fate had brought together with I. Now she was not and never had been Orthodox and I was exploring with her the possibility of whether she could see the possibility of one day being kosher in the home and keeping Shabbat. Anyway, turns out she’d tried once for a number of weeks to be Shomeret Shabbat and Kashrut. And when she couldn’t stand being Shomeret Shabbat the breaking point was her turning on and off the switch again and again and again. And again. So no, she couldn’t (or wouldn’t) keep Shabbat and I therefore couldn’t (or wouldn’t) date her. Which wasn’t so bad for her, since she married about a year later (not Shomeret Shabbat or Kashrut to my knowledge) but a bit less as good for me.

    So I was born frum and am used to it. Not so big a deal for me. Just like kashrut. And perhaps these were not so big for you in your own life, even if different then mine.

    But if you are telling me that its fine that people suffer some for their faith you are going to ignore a heter so that us pure ones can keep a full Shabbat not hindered by a left-right switch (Reuven Meir I agree with you) then I have a few choice words for you.

    And I have gone and read what R’ Nebenzahl wrote and it sounds like a heter, i.e. using it is not mechalel Shabbat. So if that is fine then those who think so should spread the word. Maybe a few won’t be driven away from Shabbat as a result.

  69. I think it would be much easier for people to pick out the kosher switch if you hadn’t cropped out the bottom half of it. I’m not sure why you would do something that seems so tricky. It’s not like you.

  70. zalman, Joseph, HAGTBG: I did my homework and was told what I reported. If you find it somehow disingenuous, I suggest you similarly do your homework and ask Rav Nebenazahl.

    HAGTBG: But if you are telling me that its fine that people suffer some for their faith you are going to ignore a heter so that us pure ones can keep a full Shabbat not hindered by a left-right switch (Reuven Meir I agree with you) then I have a few choice words for you.

    The main issue is whether this is permissible. If it isn’t and nothing permissible can be devised (which I don’t think it can but this isn’t my call), then there’s nothing to talk about. Do you think this girl you dated would have been OK with not being able to drive? Not being able to eat filet mignon? Not being able to sleep with her husband for almost two weeks a month? Etc. No matter how many contraptions we devise, there’s no way around the fact that the Torah demands sacrifice and restrictions in daily life.

    Lisa: The issue is not what sign or logo is placed below the switch but whether the switch looks and functions (from the user’s perspective) like other switches. It does.

  71. Actually, the Star K Sabbath mode operates on a simple random time delay- which would only satisfy theory 1 (and possibly 3)in the original post. (Of course, the Star K only allows one to change the temperature on Yom Tov, not Shabbos.)

  72. Anonymous: Absolutely incorrect. No one in the world can read it as you suggest. He said it will minimize Chillul Shabbos among Acheinu Bnei Yisrael. He did not say it is mutar lechatchilah for Jews who are not Mechallelei Shabbos.

    Huh? What do you think he meant by שיזכה להפיץ את המצאתו? Who does he imagine will buy it? Mechalelei Shabbos?! Why would they want it? It’s obvious that the only possible market for this is shomrei shabbos, and if it’s not muttar lechatchila then why would we want it either? And if nobody could possibly want it, then how will he spread it?

  73. Milhouse: Presumably baalei teshuvah who are moving toward observance and Masorati Jews who only keep Shabbos a little.

  74. “Anonymous: Absolutely incorrect. No one in the world can read it as you suggest. He said it will minimize Chillul Shabbos among Acheinu Bnei Yisrael. He did not say it is mutar lechatchilah for Jews who are not Mechallelei Shabbos.

    There is no backtracking and no retraction. His words have only been misinterpreted by uncareful reading.”

    This is the most Clintonian doublespeak I have ever seen you resort to. With your way of reading, next time a posek says “This is muttar” you can come and say, he only meant it was muttar for the non-frum, but not for the frum. Or if he says, “this is assur”, you can give a perush, that it is only assur if you are standing on one foot, but normally it is muttar.

    I repeat, the inventor came to R. Nebenzahl, explained what the invention is, and he wrote a haskamah. He never wrote in the letter that it is only designed for the non-religious. If that is what he meant, then he needs to write a new letter to clarify.

    When R. Chaim Ozer mattired gelatin, was he only mattiring for the non-religious? When R. Moshe matired mechitzot that don’t go to the ceiling, was he only matiring for the non-religious?

  75. “The main issue is whether this is permissible”

    Being more direct (and less abstract) the issue I have with the switch is that it is an attempt to work around a questionable 20th century psak through money that could be better spent on more important priorities for the halachic Jewish community (e.g. education). As discussed in other threads, modern Orthodoxy will re-address the use of electricity on Shabbat during the 21st century out of necessity.

    Investing significant sums of money in implementing unnecessary legal fictions, be it Tzomet’s technology or “patentim” like this, is just relieving poskim of their responsibility to the amcha. This is one of a handful of issues which will mark the coming of a Gadol for the 21st century: to be machmir doesn’t take a talmid chacham…

  76. Why don’t we have the inventor explain exactly the circumstances of how he received this, and the other haskamot.

    I expect that soon we will see a retraction from R. Neuwirth.

  77. I suppose (its been a long time) the light switching was symbolic to her more then the sole issue, but the point is that its clearly a burden for some people. Why add to the burden needlessly?

    But just because there are certain burdens that can’t be worked around doesn’t change the fact that if there are burdens that can be worked around or lessened then so much the better.

    There is this trend that you have and others that just because our ancestors took upon themselves burdensome stringencies or lost knowledge that has now been returned (e.g. filet mignon for Ashkanezim) then there is some virtue in fidelity to their burdens.

    I see it as just making the community suffer. Putting standard tradition to be found in any culture over any kind of actual halachic process.

    Gil, Rabbi Nebenazahl thanks the creator of the switch for saving Jews from violating Shabbat; if the switch violates Shabbat there is no saving anyone from anything. When you challenged people earlier how they can see a heter in that, I think, you and I are not reading the same document. So I don’t feel I need to do homework on what is clear as day from reading a letter you appear to acknowledge is genuine. Why his son said what he said to you I don’t know (since it seems the letter amounts to a heter) but since I’m not planning on installing the switch tomorrow I’m willing to let the question last. Because it sounds to me like you didn’t speak to R’Nebenazahl either. You didn’t even speak to his son. You got a tweet from someone who did. I’ll chose the letter over your tweet.

  78. Gil — if R Nebenzahl told me not to understand the letter as a heter, I would not understand the letter as a heter. But your (strong) statement, “No one in the world can read it as you suggest” would still be wrong.

  79. I am surprised that noone has noted the following on the Kosher Switch website:

    ” Endorsements/approbations may refer to varying degrees of permissibility, and in varying contexts ranging from l’chatchila (“a priori”) use at home to limited use within healthcare settings. Verbal snippets are provided as a synopsis of in-person meetings and are not intended, and should not be considered, as a substitute for a formal written endorsement”

    It would strike me IMO as very important to know how the halachic inquiry was phrased in the first place, for whom and where, as opposed to assuming that the Psak across the board in all circumstances was Heter Gamur in all circumstances, as opposed to the circumstance of Pikuach Nefesh.

  80. Since this is not a verbal snippet we need only concern ourself with the first sentence. As to that, if you refer other letters they indicate that other rabbis hold the switch is permissible in the house of a sick person only. This specific letter had no qualifications.

  81. “The main issue is whether this is permissible. If it isn’t and nothing permissible can be devised (which I don’t think it can but this isn’t my call), then there’s nothing to talk about. Do you think this girl you dated would have been OK with not being able to drive? Not being able to eat filet mignon? Not being able to sleep with her husband for almost two weeks a month? Etc. No matter how many contraptions we devise, there’s no way around the fact that the Torah demands sacrifice and restrictions in daily life.”

    Yes, Gil, we know that nebech it’s very shver to be a Yid. Oy.

    At the same time, there are easier and more difficult ways of being an Orthodox Jew. There’s a way to be an Orthodox Jew that involves being told to install filters because even the water isn’t kosher, and there’s a way to be an Orthodox Jew without having to deal with whether the water from the tap is kosher. For all your spiel about how halacha is ultimately harder and more austere, we both know that there are more relaxed versions of halacha, and often mainstream Orthodoxy follows a more rigid version as the baseline and, worse, gives the impression that this is the baseline.

    So yes, two weeks apart is the baseline and it’s hard, but that doesn’t mean that therefore there is no good reason to try to make any observances easier and more reasonable for most Jews who are alive who have no idea that being an observant Jew doesn’t have to be so hard. Hard, yes. But not so hard.

    I don’t understand why none of this should be a concern at all. As I indicated, there is an interpretation of halachic Judaism which seems to require wearing a fur hat in July, but it doesn’t then follow that this is what Orthodoxy must be.

  82. IH wrote:

    “Investing significant sums of money in implementing unnecessary legal fictions, be it Tzomet’s technology or “patentim” like this, is just relieving poskim of their responsibility to the amcha. This is one of a handful of issues which will mark the coming of a Gadol for the 21st century: to be machmir doesn’t take a talmid chacham”

    IH-you may consider compliance with Hilcos Shabbos the “implementing unnecessary fictions”, but then again all of Hilcos Shabbos is predicated on the structure of Melacha, Gzeros, Muktzeh as well as related concepts such as Meleches Machsheves, Shevisah HaNikeres, Zilusa DShabbos, Shabbason, etc. The real issue is how Poskim can work with technology within these concepts, as opposed to merely evaporating the concepts simply because you and others view the same as fictions.

  83. Anonymous wrote in part:

    “For all your spiel about how halacha is ultimately harder and more austere, we both know that there are more relaxed versions of halacha, and often mainstream Orthodoxy follows a more rigid version as the baseline and, worse, gives the impression that this is the baseline.”

    WADR, see RYBS’s shiur on Korach, where he rejects just such a notion and many other drashos where he points out that Mesiras Nefesh,in many contexts other than Shabbos, even in the modern world, is an important part of how a Torah observant Jew lives his or her life.

  84. Steve — fortunately RSZA left a base upon which a future Posek can remedy the situation. The amcha just need a 21st century Posek in his league, with similar midot. Ani ma’amin…

  85. HAGTBG wrote:

    “Since this is not a verbal snippet we need only concern ourself with the first sentence. As to that, if you refer other letters they indicate that other rabbis hold the switch is permissible in the house of a sick person only. This specific letter had no qualifications”

    How about the considerations of that in cases of Pikuach Nefesh of a Choleh, that already results in a Psak Lkulah. Since when and why would someone who is not a Choleh or doctor be entitled to rely on such a Psak?

  86. IH wrote:

    “Steve — fortunately RSZA left a base upon which a future Posek can remedy the situation. The amcha just need a 21st century Posek in his league, with similar midot. Ani ma’amin”

    We have been thru this- as per the linked Teshuvah that you pointed out on numerous occasions, RSZA was very careful in viewing any such heter as very limited in nature.

  87. Steve — it is the whole corpus of his work on the subject that will be the basis, not the reading of one summary sentence to which you refer.

    In any case, neither you nor I will be that 21st century Posek 🙂

  88. HAGTBG wrote:

    “As to that, if you refer other letters they indicate that other rabbis hold the switch is permissible in the house of a sick person only. This specific letter had no qualifications”

    How about considerations of Halacha K”Rabim? Would you rely on such Psak if all of the other Poskim issued no such heter?

  89. How about considerations of Halacha K”Rabim? Would you rely on such Psak if all of the other Poskim issued no such heter?

    I do not understand your question. If he is your posek you can rely on him. If he is not your posek, you’d have to find his view utterly compelling I suppose. Anyway he is not my posek.

    What I object to is reading in things which are clearly not there and pretending things don’t say things they say. This letter says what it says (that the switch stops the violation of Shabbat) and the only person who can modify it is Rabbi Nebenazahl.

  90. IH wrote:

    “Steve — it is the whole corpus of his work on the subject that will be the basis, not the reading of one summary sentence to which you refer”

    WADR, I doubt that anyone who is familiar with RSZA’s corpus and aware of his positions will assert such a claim unless the purpose of the same is essentially that which can only be caused revisionism ala “We really know what RSZA meant…”

  91. Steve

    “WADR, see RYBS’s shiur on Korach, where he rejects just such a notion and many other drashos where he points out that Mesiras Nefesh,in many contexts other than Shabbos, even in the modern world, is an important part of how a Torah observant Jew lives his or her life.”

    So what? We already agreed that observance requires some amount of discipline, time, sacrifice, etc. The difference here is in the details. Who says that being observant has to be so onerous? Or that balancing it against the fact that most Jews don’t believe that they have any chelek in the Torah and God of Israel, according to the tradition, is worth banning water from the tap? (Which I use as a symbolic, example, in case you didn’t realize.)

    And I’m not impressed with invoking the “K” word. Frankly, RYBS did realize that a somewhat more relaxed form of Orthodoxy was appropriate. This in fact is what his entire life’s story was all about.

  92. Anonymous: This is the most Clintonian doublespeak I have ever seen you resort to.

    I was facetiously responding to your ridiculously strongly worded language (“wrong”) with equally strongly worded language. No, your phrasing is the most Clintonian doublespeak I have ever seen you resort to.

    With your way of reading, next time a posek says “This is muttar” you can come and say, he only meant it was muttar for the non-frum, but not for the frum.

    Since Rav Nebenzahl didn’t say that it is mutar, I’m not sure why you would make this extrapolation.

    I repeat, the inventor came to R. Nebenzahl, explained what the invention is, and he wrote a haskamah. He never wrote in the letter that it is only designed for the non-religious.

    Again, he wrote that it will prevent Chillul Shabbos among Jews. Is that something you say about a product being marketed to the Charedi community? I have an idea: ask Rav Nebenzahl what he meant.

    HAGBTG: But just because there are certain burdens that can’t be worked around doesn’t change the fact that if there are burdens that can be worked around or lessened then so much the better.

    I can’t argue with vague statements. I believe in continuity within limits.

    Gil, Rabbi Nebenazahl thanks the creator of the switch for saving Jews from violating Shabbat; if the switch violates Shabbat there is no saving anyone from anything.

    And if it’s assur miderabanan, then it saves people from violating issurim de’oraisa. And if it’s only mutar when there’s a tzorekh gadol, then it’s also saving people from issurim.

    So I don’t feel I need to do homework on what is clear as day from reading a letter you appear to acknowledge is genuine.

    I can’t argue with that. I was challenged by a commenter to do my homework and when I did, commenters are saying that they don’t need the extra information.

    You didn’t even speak to his son. You got a tweet from someone who did.

    Not a random person. I’ve know who this guy is for a few years.

    As to that, if you refer other letters they indicate that other rabbis hold the switch is permissible in the house of a sick person only.

    Are you suggesting that Rav Nebenzahl saw the other letters and intentionally deviated from their style? I find that highly implausible.

    zalman: But your (strong) statement, “No one in the world can read it as you suggest” would still be wrong.

    See above. You have to understand that statement in the context of to what it is responding.

    Anonymous: Yes, Gil, we know that nebech it’s very shver to be a Yid. Oy.

    I never said that. And I have no idea what the rest of your comment means. Are you suggesting that we are obligated to embrace every heter to make life as easy as possible? I reject that attitude as dishonest.

    IH: You keep talking about RSZA’s legacy on electricity but I don’t think you’re very familiar with it. He did not allow for many leniencies.

  93. Frankly, RYBS did realize that a somewhat more relaxed form of Orthodoxy was appropriate. This in fact is what his entire life’s story was all about.

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

  94. Gil — On RSZA, you are equally unfamiliar given our previous discussion on the meaning of some of the Hebrew text. But, regardless, the point I was making here is simply that RSZA’s detailed and idiosyncratic analysis will serve as the basis for a future Posek. This is hardly an original thought or big gamble on my part.

  95. I was challenged by a commenter to do my homework

    I won’t argue with you as to what constitutes “homework” here or what obligations of investigation you owe. Yiu are satisfied with what you received. Fine. But getting a tweet from someone who spoke to Rav Nebenzahl’s son is patently not the same thing as speaking to him directly.

    If you said you spoke to him and he only meant houses of the sick etc., I’d trust you. When we have the tangential connection to him demonstrated here then that hardly counts as having added insight into his views on the matter.

    Are you suggesting that Rav Nebenzahl saw the other letters and intentionally deviated from their style? I find that highly implausible.</i?

    Agreed. That was not suggested. I am suggesting that Rav Nebenzahl said what he meant and meant what he said, until there is evidence otherwise. And a tweet by someone who spoke to a relative of Rav Nebenzahl shows nothing.

    And if it’s assur miderabanan, then it saves people from violating issurim de’oraisa. And if it’s only mutar when there’s a tzorekh gadol, then it’s also saving people from issurim.

    I agree. And had he said anything demonstrating any of that then I’d say you had a point. You thereafter noted to me a comment I posted above in this comment about Rav Nebenzahl that its unlikely he saw the other letters. I agree. I therefore find it odd that you then continue to throw concepts into what he said that simply aren’t there but that flow better with other letters.

    If he corrects himself fine. I’m sure you don’t need to do corrections for him.

  96. “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.”

    I see. So in reality he did not see America, second half of the 20th century, as essentially different from Brisk, first half. And he did not, on that basis, lead and serve a community according to its needs and realities, nor did he tolerate any deviations from Brisk circa 1910. Nope. He was Reb Velvel, only he was the Av Bes Din in Boston, not Jerusalem.

    I know you are a YU product, so this reality may make you laugh or cry, but that doesn’t make it not true – or dishonorable on his part. The contrary. He did what the Conservative Movement claimed it would and could do, only didn’t. The fact that he also had a strict halachic interpretation which was faithful to Brisk doesn’t change where he did deviate or that he did raise up and support an Orthodoxy which was and is more doable for more Jews.

  97. Machon Tzomet developed a whole scale of technologies based on Grama. I personally think a “ShabbosPhone” (KosherPhone?)would be even less problematic. Anyone wants to copyright it before it’s too late? Extra cookies for getting the verbal haskamos by this phone on shabbos.

  98. Steve b. – “How about considerations of Halacha K”Rabim? Would you rely on such Psak if all of the other Poskim issued no such heter?”

    Steve do you follow halacha k’rabim yourself on all issues? And why do you think we have to?

  99. ” I did my homework and was told what I reported. If you find it somehow disingenuous, I suggest you similarly do your homework and ask Rav Nebenazahl.”

    I also did my homework; I read what R. Nebenazahl WROTE. If he didn’t mean what he wrote let him withdraw it — in writing. It should not be necessary to ask someone what they meant when the langauyge is clear. So, since you “did your homework,” what did he mean when he wrote the inventor “should merit to distribute his invention….” Only distribute it in stores that only allow mechalleley Shabbat to purchase goods. And if it’s not to be used used lechatchilah, how is that distribution to be done? And why isn’t it lifney iveir?

  100. A Kosher phone has already been made, and given out to the cabinet of the Israeli government.

    As a person who knows some people on the cusp of Torah Observance. I think I can safely say that most people who don’t know the ins and outs of halacha, will think that this light switch is a fraud. It would be seen as more rabbinic loopholing and not a genuine difference.

    However, I’d have to see some real usage of the lightswitch. I’m assuming that most users would want to immediately turn off the ‘shabbat mode’ of the light switch as soon as shabbas is over. If that’s not the case, then I don’t see how people could use it. But personally I think the argument is moot. People who this light switch would be ideal for, would just see it as a scam and assume that really they can use any lightswitch.

  101. Meanwhile, turning on and off wall-plugged devices has become a small part of what it means to ban electricity on Shabbos. No one would type slow enough for an un-gerama keyboard, even if the halachic basis were solid. Our day-to-day activity is at least as touched by electronic devices as by electrical ones.

  102. Joseph: I’ve asked a major Talmid Chacham to go directly to Rav Nebenzahl and ask him specifically what he meant. This could take a few days.

  103. I would suggest that if R. Nebenzhal did not mean what I and others read in his written comment, he should withdraw it and submit a new one that clearly states what he thinks about the switch and who may use it. Then it will be clear and we can argue about other things! 🙂

  104. It seems that several of the “endorsers” never approved of this for general use, only for sick people in health care facilities. In fact, some of the had been assured that would would never be offered to the public!

    And if you read Rav Zalman Nechemiah’s “teshuvah” it is far from clear that he allows this.

    This leads me to question the authenticity and reliability of all their alleged endorsements.

  105. “It seems that several of the “endorsers” never approved of this for general use, only for sick people in health care facilities. In fact, some of the had been assured that would would never be offered to the public!

    And if you read Rav Zalman Nechemiah’s “teshuvah” it is far from clear that he allows this.

    This leads me to question the authenticity and reliability of all their alleged endorsements.”

    And the site expressly tells you this when it says, in the endorsements section, “Notes: Endorsements/approbations may refer to varying degrees of permissibility, and in varying contexts ranging from l’chatchila (“a priori”) use at home to limited use within healthcare settings.” So, considering how up front they are about this (halevai others would be so open and clear), I don’t understand why you question the “authenticity and reliability” of the endoresements.

  106. mordechai cohen

    see http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2011/09/kosherswitchfalsely-indicating-that-rav.html

    I received the following letter from Rav Sternbuch’s gabbai

    I asked the Rav about this, he told me that he was asked about it, he wrote a letter via Rabbi Sigler on the issue, the Rav holds that it is not only chilul shaboss, but “akiras shaboss” to use this switch, the rav asked for his opinion to be publicized since he has been asked recently about this from numerous sources.

  107. Is Rav Sternbuch’s gabbai reliable, or another one of these handlers we’ve come to know and love so well?

  108. Reliable. And he knows personally Dr. Eidensohn, who davens in R. Sternbuch’s shul, and knows that he will certainly speak with R. Sternbuch about this when he gets the chance.

  109. Mr. Kaplan:

    Several of teh “endorsers” absolutely PROHIBIT the use of this switch in non-medical settings, among them Rabbi Belsky, Rabbi S. B. Cohen, and Rabbi Harfenes.

    Additonally, the marketeres extracted letters of endorsement form some of the rabbanim with teh reassurance that this would never be proffered to the public.

    THAT IS MISREPRESENTING, MISLEADING, AND LYING, “disclaimers: notwithstanding.

    They are wrapping themselves in the flag of “Shemiras Shabbos” while lying and misleading the public.

    If they wanted to promote shemiras Shabbos, they should be honest and straightforward.

  110. “Additonally, the marketeres extracted letters of endorsement form some of the rabbanim with teh reassurance that this would never be proffered to the public.”

    How do you know this?

    As for your other comments, the disclaimer is in bold at the very beginning of the endorsements page. To say that lied is a serious charge that you have not substantiated in any way. BTW, usinbg capital letters is neither an argument or support for an argument.

  111. Anonymous wrote:

    “So what? We already agreed that observance requires some amount of discipline, time, sacrifice, etc. The difference here is in the details. Who says that being observant has to be so onerous? Or that balancing it against the fact that most Jews don’t believe that they have any chelek in the Torah and God of Israel, according to the tradition, is worth banning water from the tap? (Which I use as a symbolic, example, in case you didn’t realize.)”

    Yes-the key to proper observance of halacha is as in any other aspect of life -sweating the details.

  112. Anonymous wrote:

    “And I’m not impressed with invoking the “K” word. Frankly, RYBS did realize that a somewhat more relaxed form of Orthodoxy was appropriate. This in fact is what his entire life’s story was all about”

    Plese provide proof from any of RYBS’s shiurim and drashos, that are easily accessible. Merely because RYBS had a PhD did not mean that he believed “that a somewhat more relaxed form of Orthodoxy was appropriate.”

  113. Ruvie wrote:

    “Steve do you follow halacha k’rabim yourself on all issues? And why do you think we have to”

    If one follows a Daas Yachid or similar view on all issues because that person is your rebbe or rav, that is wonderful. If one merely adopts such a view as a matter of convenience, then the question becomes why one is not following the majority view, especially in the absence of any compelling reason to the contrary. Whenever I am confronted with a halachic issue, I either seek Halachic guidance or based on my learning, ask myself what would my RY tell me in such a situation.

  114. To say that lied is a serious charge that you have not substantiated in any way.

    Unless the letter attributed to Rav Sternbuch was fraudulent – which still no one has alleged – or someone can point to a follow up letter retracting this the company knew of when they posted it, the company can not be accused of lying.

    Additonally, the marketeres extracted letters of endorsement form some of the rabbanim with teh reassurance that this would never be proffered to the public.

    What is the purpose of a letter of endorsement never shown to the public? And how do you know the facts are as you allege for multiple rabbis?

  115. I don’t like to make unsubstantiated allegations, so I’d ask Mr. Kaplan to make clear his relationship with the company producing/marketing this product.

    I spoke with two of the Rabbanim directly, one of who told me about the reassurance of not publicizing it, and I had a very reliable talmid of a third Rav speak with his Rebbi this morning.

    Not one allows this in a non-healthcare setting.

    As for the disclaimer, this is being marketed for home use, and the marketers are well aware that people will simply not read most of the material, nor do most people care about the distinctions so important in halachah.

    If the manufacturers were concerned about Shemiras Shabbos — as they assert they are — they would honestly convey the psakim.

    That is what leads me to say they are lying, distorting and misrepresenting.

  116. Anonymous was kind enough to contact me offline and give me his real name and the following. He sent me a teshuvah on R. Yisrael Harfenes’ stationery stating that he only approves the Kosher Switch for use in hospitals and rehab centers but — explicitly and emphatically — not for any other use. In handwriting is added that it is a terrible sin to use his name as an endorser without including this additional information. He has told them repeatedly for two years that he does not approve of the device for anyone other than the infirm.

    Anonymous says that he also spoke with R. Simcha Bunim Cohen who only approves the device for use in hospitals. The letter placed on the website includes this qualification but he still insists that his name be removed from the website. He had been assured that his name would not be publicized and spoke with the website owner yesterday to have his name removed (it’s still there).

    Anonymous says a relative spoke with Rav Belsky who said that this device is just as valid as the other Gerama products. He never permitted its use.

  117. I spoke with a major posek this morning who also disapproves of the device. He has a relationship with R. Yehoshua Neuwirth and offered to call him and ask his opinion on this matter. I faxed him R. Zavihi’s teshuvah and R. Neuwirth’s handwritten addition so he can ask about it.

  118. HAGTBG: What is the purpose of a letter of endorsement never shown to the public?

    This is not a product approved (at least by these poskim) for the general public so their letters should not be made available. It’s for hospitals and the like.

  119. As R Gil’s latest posts illustrate, limited heterim in the case of Pikuach Nefesh cannot be the basis for constructint the halachic basis of a Heter Lchatchilah in a non-Pikuach Nefesh situation.

  120. Will you allow the company to post their side of the story regarding the haskamos?

  121. Joseph Kaplan is on the mark. The disclaimer went out of its way to state in very clear English that the device in question was by no means Mutar LGamri, and subject to differing rabbinical views. While R Gil waits for clarification, it would behoove all of us who have not done so to compare the contents of the Endorsements/Blessings page with the various responsa on the Responsa page of the Kosher Switch website. A detailed study of the same,both in their present composition, as well as any further additional views, would IMO be a nice subject for an RJJ Journal article, a YU Torah article or shiur or a chaburah in any Kollel engaged in indepth of Hilcos Shabbos.

  122. “so I’d ask Mr. Kaplan to make clear his relationship with the company producing/marketing this product.”

    Be happy to. I have absolutely no relationship whatsoever with the company producing/marketing this product. Indeed, forget about “relationship”; AFAIK, I don’t even know anybody who is connected to this company. Clear enough for you?

    “I spoke with two of the Rabbanim directly, one of who told me about the reassurance of not publicizing it, and I had a very reliable talmid of a third Rav speak with his Rebbi this morning.”

    Since I don’t know who you are and since you haven’t told us who the rabbis are to whom you supposedly spoke, your mere anonymous say-so is, IMO, on the lower end (very low) of a 1-10 scale of support for your, again IMO, still completely unsupported, allegation of “lying” (although at least now you’ve reduced your claim to lower case letters.

  123. Gil, I hope that when the “major posek” gets back to you and you report to us, you’ll give us his name. There’s been tto much anonymity about this so far.

    The mmore I think about this, the more I am dismayed at the lack of diligence or care used by those giving, or perhaps not giving, an endorsement. We’re talking about chilul Shabbat here so it’s a serious issue. Would it really be so difficult to take seriously the responsibility of being a person upon whose halachic expertise many rely and write something like this: I think this is a terrific device for use in a hospital or other health related situation but it should not be used lechatchilah in regualr Shabbat circumstances. Wouldn’t that solve this whole issue? Why must everything require a reading bteween the lines, which, of course, ersults in understandable misunderstandings?

  124. MB: I have already told them that I will allow them to defend themselves but whatever they write will first be reviewed by me and my posek.

  125. I have in my possession a letter by R. Yisrael Rosen on Zomet stationery. He personally asked R. Yehoshua Neuwirth and R. Avigdor Nebanzahl about the Kosher Switch. Rav Neuwirth put in writing that he only approved it for health and security situations. Rav Nebenzahl doesn’t remember this at all, thinks there is no room for such a device, and is puzzled by the whole situation.

    I will b”n write a follow-up post after some more inquiries.

  126. Shachar Ha'amim

    Shacha Ha’amim: IIRC the “confusion” arguments were also made when timers were introduced

    Totally different argument. R. Moshe Feinstein was a da’as yachid who was worried about maris ayin, confusion by onlookers. Here the argument is confusion by the users. Once you start turning switches on, it’s easy to get confused and turn on the wrong switches. Especially when, from the perspective of the user, they function the same way — just flip the switch on or off.

    You can make the same argument about shabbat switches/settings for fridges. once you have a shabbat setting in a fridge peopel will used to opening fridges on shabbat and start opening every fridge. But you’ll say, people only have one fridge? answer, make all the swicthes in the house shabbat switches. end of story

  127. Rav Nebenzahl doesn’t remember this at all, thinks there is no room for such a device, and is puzzled by the whole situation.

    They have a picture with him and the device and something they claim is in his writing. If he did not write it, well then the company as a whole may have have been tricked or are lying. If he did write it and can’t remember doing so … that may lead to other conclusions.

  128. If the picture was taken two years ago, I can understand why he wouldn’t remember it. On hearing the description yesterday, he said that he doesn’t approve it.

  129. On hearing the description yesterday, he said that he doesn’t approve it.

    Lets put aside that he doesn’t remember … so someone two years ago got answer A out of him in writing and someone today gets negative-A.

    He may remember everything he ever learned but this raises the same concerns that are raised by R’ Elyashav (who is a generation older) and everyone else who can’t do their own investigations/inquiries.

  130. “Rav Nebenzahl doesn’t remember this at all, thinks there is no room for such a device, and is puzzled by the whole situation.”

    But he wrote a letter saying that he did see it and he was amazed by it (niflati I think was the Hebrew; hard to make out). So did something happen to make him change his mind? Did he really sign the letter? What was he amazed then but now thinks differently? If he’s puzzled, he’s not the only one; I’m puzzled too but he’s part of that puzzle. So, if you’re going to make further inquiries, please try to straighten out what happened with Rav Nebenzahl. It goes to the credibility of both the company and the rabbanim whose names were used. Neither are looking particularly great right now.

  131. A student in Yeshiva Netiv Aryeh asked Rav Nebenzahl’s son who said he will get him an answer tomorrow.

  132. I have to say that I am most disturbed by these poskim who are giving letters saying one thing, and then saying that the letters don’t mean what they appear to say.

  133. Just curious-R Nevenzal has two sefarim of his own on Hilcos Shabbos which quote many of RSZA’s Piskei Halacha as well as various other Halachic inquiries, together with other subjects. Has anyone looked therein for any possible Psak by R Nevenzal?

  134. The bigger story here may be how these authorities wrote letters that were so contrary to their own positions.

    What could be the purpose of writing an approving letter with the intent that it be kept private? And if there is any sense to that (maybe it was to be shown only to the inventor’s mother), why not just put “Confidential” on top?

  135. In fact, the letters by Rabbi Cohen (on the site) and Rabbi Harfenes (which, according to the Rav, the site owners have but chose not to post, and which they substituted with a lengthy teshuva of his to whixxh they added a misleading note) say exactly what they hold. If someone actually reads them.

    The others may have been told (as others seem to have been) that this was for use in medical facilities.

    I see that the site has modified the disclaimer and finally removed Rabbi Cohen’s name.

  136. “Plese provide proof from any of RYBS’s shiurim and drashos, that are easily accessible. Merely because RYBS had a PhD did not mean that he believed “that a somewhat more relaxed form of Orthodoxy was appropriate.””

    The PhD has nothing to do with it. What’s relaxed about earning a PhD?

  137. Rav Nebenzahl, in his letter, seems to endorse it for those who would be turning on lights anyway. The site, however, is promoting its use for one and all.

  138. I think this whole episode points out the problem with today’s orthodoxy, where intellegent learned people care more about who said something than the argument for the position.

  139. Two lessons I would learn from this episode is, one, to go to one or two authorities (rather than everyone and his cousin) and get a clearly written, specific and detailed letter from the authority, and, two, the authorities should take the request seriously and either give the type of letter in lesson one or not participate. The company, the consumers and, indeed, the authorities would be better served is these lessons were followed.

  140. RJK: What I see from this story is another reason to appreciate the wisdom of classical Yahadus. A person is supposed to get their pesaqim from a rav with whom they have a relationship. And they may have to ask their poseqim, and perhaps the question would reach “a gadol”. But this whole notion of relying on word of mouth from “the gedolei haposeqim” is a new invention only enabled by modern communications — and isn’t the way halakhah is supposed to work. Its falsifiability gives another reason to avoid this innovation.

    -micha

  141. Micha: Except that the old way doesn’t work in this case. The company can’t go into business and make the necessary investment without getting someone’s approval up-front that they think will be widely accepted. And I agree that word-of-mouth isn’t the way to go, but the clearly written, specific and detailed letters I proposed is not WOM. My point was that getting such an endorsement, or endorsement, is not like getting a blurb for a book; it’s a serious matter that should be treated seriously. ISTM that neither the company nor the rabbonim gave it the serious thought and treatment it deserved.

  142. The old way had a forum for this too… when a qehillah needs a common answer, they would send a formal she’eilah. Compare Igeros Moshe to pashkevilin (“pashke villain”?) and haskamos.

  143. R. Nachum Rabinovich’s chavrusa confirmed again with R. Rabinovich that he has no recollection of the Kosher Switch and would not permit it if it fits the parameters of his teshuvah (mentioned in this post — i.e. that’s the normal way to do it).

  144. There is a concept of “l’halachah velo lemaaseh” that seems to be beyond the grasp of some individuals. Saying that something would be permitted hypothetically — even if they are shown the device as a science experiment — is very different from allowing it to be done.

    This is not a new concept, but one that goes back to times of the Talmud.

    Additionally, allowing a device to be used in b’dieved situations has no bearing whatsoever on allowing it’s use otherwise.

    The manufacturer has sought to mislead the public and cover himself by a nearly-meaningless disclaimer.

    Now that his fraud was discovered he removed some of the names, and finally posted Rabbi Harfenes’s original letter, which he had in his possession all along but refused to post because of its harshness.

    Don’t blame the Rabbanim, blame the misrepresenters.

  145. And I’m not impressed with invoking the “K” word. Frankly, RYBS did realize that a somewhat more relaxed form of Orthodoxy was appropriate. This in fact is what his entire life’s story was all about.

    I have trouble thinking of a statement more opposite to the truth about RYBS than this one. Try googling “soloveitchik tension”. Is not tension the opposite of relaxation?

  146. “Fraud”?!? You don’t seem to understand the concept.

    As for Micha’s comment: “The old way had a forum for this too… when a qehillah needs a common answer, they would send a formal she’eilah. Compare Igeros Moshe to pashkevilin (“pashke villain”?) and haskamos.” We agree. That’s what they should have done; ask one (or maybe, because of the world we live in, two) eminent rabbanim for their opinion, telling them they were going to publicize the response(s), and having those rabbanim giving a serious, specific answer (if it’s bedieved, say bedieved; if only for health facilities, say that; if for everyone, say that; if only lehalacha velo lema’aseh, say that). Neither side, it seems, took this seriously enough, so instead of real guidance we ended up with book blurbs and ended up in a mess that could have, and should have, been avoided.

  147. Webster’s definition of fraud is: a: deceit, trickery; specifically: intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right b: an act of deceiving or misrepresenting : trick.

    What the marketers here did qualifies by every standard. And I find some people’s continuing defense of these people incredible.

    I don’t know – and please tell me if you do – that any Rav was ambiguious about his position. Have you seen one clearly worded written psak that was backed down from? I haven’t.

    What I can tell, from speaking to some Rabbanim directly or through a single intermediary, is:

    1. In the case of Rabbi Simchah Bunim Cohen, it seems that they misrepresented their plan to him to induce him to write a letter. Furthermore, his name remained on the site for nearly a day after he was told it was already removed.

    2. In the case of Rabbi Harfenes, the marketers posted a generic teshuvah of his with an annotion implying that the Rabbi approved this product fully, while they had in their possesion (but witheld from visitors to their site) his letter specifically forbidding it’s general use. Yes, that letter was now posted, after their deciet was outed.

    3. Rabbi Belsky denies ever indicating approval of this product. Being somewhat acquainted with his approach in psak, it would be totally out of character for him to be mattir its general use. He opened his Bassar B’Chalav shiur in Torah Vodaath Wednesday morning with a lengthy attack against this device and its use under any circumstances — at home or for cholim.

    4. I never made a printout of all the names they had listed, but as the heat was rising, one noticed many names quietly disappearing, among them Rabbi Aharon Schechter and Rabbi Dovid Cohen. I assume that the marketers are really tzaddikim who had the wholehearted support of these Rabbanim – as they had represented – but removed their names because they were taking up too much space.

    So, of 4 rabbanim I directly consulted/had consulted, only 2 had approved this, and even then only for hospital use. Of those two, one’s name was associated with this in violation of an assurance. The position of the second rav was intentionally distorted by the site owners.

    The other two Rabbanim had never allowed this under any circumstances.

    That having been said, I reiterate (in lower case letters): fraud, deciet, and lies.

    And some people still insist on drinking the kool-aid.

  148. “A person is supposed to get their pesaqim from a rav with whom they have a relationship. And they may have to ask their poseqim, and perhaps the question would reach “a gadol”. But this whole notion of relying on word of mouth from “the gedolei haposeqim” is a new invention only enabled by modern communications — and isn’t the way halakhah is supposed to work”

    Essentially agree

  149. “I have trouble thinking of a statement more opposite to the truth about RYBS than this one. Try googling “soloveitchik tension”. Is not tension the opposite of relaxation?”

    The Rav and tension is a metaphysical not a personal one. Same misinterpretation as calling the Rav Lonely.

  150. Gil – I suppose the most important points here are not about what the technicalities of this or that switch (although, these are, of course, important), but what the way this discussion and others like it are being conducted says about contemporary Orthodoxy.

    Firstly, I know this is inevitable – but there is something a bit distasteful about all this ‘he said, he signed’ business. I’m not just talking about this case, but think of so many others, where more effort is put into trying to find out what letter Rav Elyashiv exactly signed that what the contents of his arguments are. Have you seen a long detailed teshuva on anything from Rav Elyashiv in the last 20 years? I haven’t. So why should his opinions automatically be accepted? Old men can deteriorate mentally pretty quickly – do we really think it is in his minders’ interests to publicize exactly when Rav Elyashiv is not fully capable of answering complex shailos? I think people in America are often a bit naive as to how ‘Rav Elyashiv’ is the symbolic head of an entire bureaucracy whose interests are, to put it mildly, often not in finding out the most consistent pshat in grama.

    Orthodoxy (at least in its institutionalized charedi version) seems on the verge of becoming a false gerontocracy – false in the sense that it is not even the rabbis, who, as we witness here, cannot even always remember what they said about a particular topic, but rather their minders and others, whose motivations are often far from either transparent or benevolent.

    Secondly, not that I’ve studied this inyan enough to have an opinion on it one way or the other, but I’m honestly struggling to think of examples in the past few years where great poskim have successfully stood up and been mattir something for the general tzibbur in the face of opposition from other same level poskim. Do rabbanim with such tendencies make it through ‘posek school’ nowadays? In Israel, we’ve already began to hear about ‘kulos she’ein hatzibbur yecholim la’amod bahem’. Why are the vast majority of hora’os lerabbim coming to ‘asser’ things?

    I’m beginning to feel that the top level of the Orthodox rabbinate mainly sees its job as very vigorously defending an extremely conservative status quo and not to come up with solutions. One positive counter-example is Rav Willig’s forceful avocation of pre-nups – but look how far that got in the charedi world.

    Luckily for them, the charedi rabbinate have an (almost literally) captive audience, who are not going to leave Orthodoxy even if (or perhaps when) they forbid absolutely everything, but it doesn’t mean that the rest of us can’t get annoyed about it. Put simply, what’s a typical posek’s first reaction when he sees something ‘new’ that will make life easier for lot’s of people but force him to ‘take a stand’? From personal experience, and to anyone with ‘eynayim liros’, it’s clear that it’s not ‘I’m going to go with wherever the wellbeing of the tzibbur and the halachic emes takes me’. I just had a distinguished rav tell me that he was not willing to pasken on a particular topic one way or the other, not due to the fact that he couldn’t decide what was the correct psak (indeed he told me that whatever arguments I or others could muster would only ever be ‘le’halacha ve’lo le’maaseh’), despite the fact that it affects his community it a big way – for the simple reason that he was afraid of the political repercussions of making a psak one way or the other. It’s always easier to not take a stand/forbid something due to lack of precedent/only allow something be’makom tzorech gadol (I’m not saying that this is the case here)/ maintain that it will lead to ‘pritzas geder’ etc. etc. – but it seems to me that there are plenty of cases where rabbanim fool themselves into thinking that their self-serving conservativism is actually due to a religious imperative. The situation is frankly depressing.

  151. J: I share your concerns but on this specific issue, do not think they are relevant. This is an issue that has been discussed for some 30+ years, which is why R. Yisrael Rozen was so shocked by the apparent endorsements. While I always appreciate the insights and positions of any talmid chakham, I don’t think I ever follow Rav Elyashiv’s rulings. However, I’m not comfortable with Gerama devices because both Rav Hershel Schachter and Rav Mordechai Willig — my rabbe’im — reject them (for what I believe are sound halakhic reasons).

    Some rabbis today are courageous. That’s one of the reasons I like R. Michael Broyde so much. And he’s not alone. If some rabbis aren’t, that could be due to their specific communal concerns or simply a lack of desire to be involved in controversy.

    Many — not all — of the issues about which people complain of false conservatisim are areas where I believe conservatism is warranted. So this doesn’t bother me that much. I do hear about ridiculous chumros — I live in Brooklyn, after all — but I ignore them because I see so many people living their lives normally and ignoring the controversies in the newspapers.

  152. I’m not sure why they posted a rough translation when Zomet sent out an official English letter.

  153. It’s good that this is being clarified. I am disturbed a bit, though, by R. Brody’s implication that the confusion was all the fault of the company and that the rabbis were blameless. ISTM that mistakes — not fraud or deceit but mistakes — were made on all sides. I would suggest (i) to the company that they restart from step one any endorsement page with more attention being paid to ensuring that the endorsements or responses are clear and all caveats etc. are listed and (ii) to the rabbis that if they are going to give any type of endorsement — full, limited, whatever — they take greater care in what they say and write so it will be crystal clear to all without the need of going back to them to resolve ambiguities.

  154. What part of misattribution to Rabbi Belsky, withholding Rabbi Harfenes’s letter, or breaking their commitment to Rabbbi S. B. Cohen was not decietful?

    A mistake can happen, but their was a pattern of deciet here that goes far beyond “mistake.” This was clearly intentional and premeditated.

    As for the Rabbanim not being clear, it is becoming apparent (at least to some of us) that this was being presented as a device for use in health-care facilities and for emergency/security situations. Some of the respondents made that clear in their letters of endorsement, the others likely thoughout it unneccesary, assuming that this would never be offered to the public.

    You’re right, they should start from scratch. You seem to have some affinity for them,. however. In my opinion they need to earn the trust of a public that has an obligation to suspect them of any ruse possible.

  155. The Rav and tension is a metaphysical not a personal one.

    And metaphysical tension is wholly irrelevant to personal tension? All of existential philosophy indicates quite the opposite.

    Same misinterpretation as calling the Rav Lonely.

    Interesting argument, given how the second sentence of the first chapter of Lonely Man of Faith is “I am lonely.”

    Contrary to popular impression, none of us are required to follow RYBS. But if we disagree, we should say so openly rather than twisting his thought to match ours.

  156. lawrence kaplan

    Anonymous 4:41 am. mycroft obviously meant that the Rav is speaking about being lonely was referring to metaphysical, not personal loneliness. Why don’t you read the third and fourth sentences of the first chapter?

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