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More Thoughts on the Kosher Switch

May 1, 2015

8. I can not comment on how this device actually works, but checking out the video created by the manufacturer is certainly informative, and it gives the halachic basis for his claim. Rabbi Fink has a nice, honest and objective evaluation. One of the main objections to using the Kosher Switch on the Sabbath is the fact that the mechanism involved might not circumvent the Sabbath prohibitions according “to all the opinions.” This is a line of halachic reasoning that has taken hold of the yeshiva world in the last few centuries. We have written about this before, and mentioned that this post-modern approach is not the one that used to be used; Maimonides wrote about how decisors are supposed to evaluate the primary sources and reject those opinions that do not fit or that are based on error, whether with regard to physical realities, historical circumstances, or a received text. More so, many latter-era opinions need to be discounted because they themselves are based on opinions that should have been dismissed long ago.

But I have a question to all of those who are ready to denounce this device that if halachically acceptable, does much good for the Jewish people by making the Sabbath more enjoyable and preventing people from desecrating the Sabbath: Do you honestly apply this standard of satisfying all the opinions when you consider other possible Torah prohibitions? It is an open secret that the very foundations of Haredite sectarianism in Israel may have had its great advocators, but those foundations still do not fit with clear opinions expressed by our sages and codified by Rishonim like Maimonides! Our community synagogues are befouled every week with the flyers from the various idolatrous organizations promising yeshu’ois and segulois in exchange for cash, and promising to beseech all sorts of deceased rabbis to use their Jebus-like powers to our advantage. Has anybody considered that perhaps those do not fit with all the opinions? It seems that there is some sort of selective use of this halachic standard, mostly stemming from reflexive conservatism than from rigorous intellectual honesty. I am sure that my readers could come up with many more examples of how our society does much that does not satisfy all the opinions, and often to the ultimate detriment of our society.

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One Comment
  1. Excellent article Avi, although I’m curious as to why you stop short of declaring that you intend to use this device on Shabbat.

    I think you hit the nail on the head with the idea that such technologies could make Shabbat observance easier and facilitate kiruv by making Shabbat more accessible to the masses.

    My one hope, B”H, is that the Shabbat switch succeeds and does what the rabbinut fears most — disrupt the trend toward radicalized right wing Judaism and bring Judaism to a new era of tolerance, acceptance, and chesed, rather than wrote observance of doctrine.

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