Something not about the election.
November 3, 2004 11:10 AM   Subscribe

The Geek Guide to Kosher Machines : How the industry makes appliances Shabbat safe.
posted by Karmakaze (16 comments total)
Jews are crazy legalistic when it comes to the biblical requirements (called halacha) that G-d gave to Moses. For example, it's forbidden to touch a blade to the skin, so many Charedim don't shave. However, Modern Orthodox men (and women?) do shave, but with electric razors and this is ok -- because the blades of the shaver don't actually touch the skin. This is the difference between the "letter of the law" and "the spirit of the law."

Here's a quick rationale as to why that's ok, says Shmuel Strauss, a Rabbi involved with the Machon Institue of Halachic Science:

“If the lawmaker is human,” explains Strauss, “sometimes he makes mistakes. If you see a loophole in the law, don’t take it, respect the intent of the lawmaker. But if the Lawmaker never makes a mistake and never overlooks anything, and still there’s a loophole, then what’s it there for?”
The institute has come up with a telephone that can be used on the Sabbath. It's not breaking the sabbath because the numbers are dialed after a random interval after the user presses the keys, thereby shielding the user from having performed the action directly.

Related, there's a bunch of new responsa on Jews in Space. (Note: a responsa is a like a court decision in Jewish law -- they have precedence, jurisdiction, and other features like court cases). This was needed because recently Israel sent its first astronaut into space. He was aboard the Columbia and was killed, but there are many interesting questions about what a Jew is space needs to do and when, sine many Jewish prayers and practices need to be said/performed at certain times of the day and week and year.
posted by zpousman at 11:50 AM on November 3, 2004

[Note: Please excuse my crazy spacing in the above.]
posted by zpousman at 11:51 AM on November 3, 2004

See also shabbos goy.
posted by Nelson at 11:52 AM on November 3, 2004

I read this article the other day and was intrigued. Who knew it would be so hard to "un-engineer" appliances?
posted by briank at 12:06 PM on November 3, 2004

Hey, this is a great post! Really interesting.
posted by SpecialK at 12:11 PM on November 3, 2004

This makes me proud of my Jewish heritage. See how clever we are? We can trick God into thinking we're not breaking his laws. I'm going to write an applescript that allows me to post to MeFi on the Sabbath by introducing a random delay. Now, if we can just somehow weasel our way around Bacon Prohibition...
posted by ba at 12:13 PM on November 3, 2004

Two words: Turkey bacon.
posted by zpousman at 12:17 PM on November 3, 2004

Well, if you could advance genetic engineering to the point where you grow meat in vats, you could have "pork" which never had hooves. Would that cover the loophole?
posted by Karmakaze at 12:18 PM on November 3, 2004

Two very good ideas. Alternately, perhaps an establishment where diners lay on their backs with their mouths open, while waiters fling bacon around the room. Surely I'm not responsible if a tasty morsel happens to fall in my mouth.
posted by ba at 12:24 PM on November 3, 2004

Turkey bacon? It doesn't taste like real bac... shit
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:41 PM on November 3, 2004

Man, that sounds like Homer Simpson's dream restaurant.
posted by tommasz at 3:43 PM on November 3, 2004

ba, I think I read in The White Goddess that Moses Maimonidies held that if you understood the ban on eating pork as a ban on participating in Ishtar (I think) worship (the pig being sacred to her, and the consumption of its flesh being part of her cult), then you could eat pork.

Also, I believe that it's ok to consume treyf foods as long as it constitutes less than some fraction, I think 1/60th, of the whatever dish you're eating (on the assumption that stricter standards would be impossible to achieve). So eat your bacon with lots of eggs.
posted by kenko at 4:22 PM on November 3, 2004

Wonderful proof of how far man will go to cling to superstitions, no matter how absurd or removed from practical sense they may be.
posted by krebby at 5:05 PM on November 3, 2004

I just had a 60-egg omelette with a strip of bacon. I have to go lay down now.
posted by ba at 6:55 PM on November 3, 2004

ba, I wondered when someone was going to make me test the limits of my new keyboard condom, now I know. Good show, sir.
posted by Dreama at 12:52 AM on November 4, 2004

Very interesting article, indeed. krebby, thanks for sharing your profound insight.

Shabbat is filled with limitations and restrictions, which if you observe, require you to be quite innovative. Many Orthodox households even 'pre-rip' toilet paper, because apparently, you are not allowed the action of ripping on Shabbat.

Through many holidays in Israel, I've stumbled across peculiar, crafty ways that Jews deal with getting around the requirements of the sabbath. One particularly interesting adaptation was the discovery of special "shabbat elevators". Basically, they are elevators that run on auto-pilot, and automatically stop on every single floor without the single push of a button. This gets around the provision that you cannot press any buttons on Shabbat or the high holidays.

If you visit the Western (Wailing) Wall during Shabbat, there are groups of insistent Hassidum that run around scolding you if you take a picture of the wall (button pressing, again).
posted by naxosaxur at 9:40 AM on November 4, 2004

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