I had no idea. Fascinating article.
Yeah, I’m sure God is fooled.
One of the more ridiculous religious workarounds I’m aware of.
It’s actually really silly some of the hoops some Orthodox Jews jump through to adhere to the letter of the law but throw away the spirit. They make appliances with buttons that technically don’t turn the appliance on but will turn it on at a random time in a few minutes so the person could hit the button but say technically they didn’t turn the device on (and thus break the rule). Similarly there was an elevator in a hospital near me that would have elevators stop on every floor during the Sabbath so the Jewish people could ride them but not do the “work” of hitting a button. I mean at that point, c’mon…
I asked this question a while back. The answer seems to boil down to “God is pleased when his people find ways to outsmart him.”
I didn’t know about the mega eruv, though.
When you’re applying rules from thousands of years ago to elevators, you’re already beyond the letter of the law.
It’s not the elevator, it’s that electricity is considered a form of fire. Operating an electric switch is the same as lighting a fire.
The level of effort in going through workarounds may be sort of seen as a fair trade for absolute literal application, especially if it’s something that if you really tried to observe absolutely unyieldingly you would be unable to function in modern society. You’re not supposed to follow the letter of the Law to the point that you harm yourself needlessly.
I get that. And I think that’s reasonable. My point was that if that interpretation is reasonable, though, then how are the things referred to as loop holes unreasonable when electricity is really only sort of the same as fire?
It always surprises me when Jews choose not to use obvious workarounds on some laws. For example, the meat and dairy law. The Bible says “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” So why don’t Jews say* “This cheeseburger’s fine. It’s made from cows. The cow that produced the milk for the cheese was unrelated to the cow used for the beef. And it’s fried not boiled.”*
Who decided that some laws needed to only be obeyed literally and others had to be obeyed in spirit, even in a way that goes far beyond the literal law?
You might want to look up
“fence around the Torah”
"One of the important principles of midrashic interpretation was the idea of “building a fence around the Torah.” In order to ensure that the Torah would be obeyed, it was necessary to keep behavior at a safe distance so it would not accidentally veer into prohibited territory. For example, the Torah prohibits boiling a calf in its mother’s milk. The halakhic interpretation is that meat and dairy may not be prepared or eaten together. "
The Talmud and two millennia of rabbinic interpretation, which are in turn believed to be based on a tradition as old as the biblical text itself. What you mentioned is not an “obvious workaround”, it’s a negation of all traditional interpretations of that verse.
So what do all the other observant Jews outside NY do?
Either live in a community with an eruv (which most Orthodox communities have), or they don’t carry things outside on Shabbat.
They make eruvin around their own neighborhoods.
I see, thanks. I just checked, and yes, there seems to be one in my hometown too, in an area where lots of orthodox live.
I’m reminded of that joke:
Clearly it would be easier if you just found a co-operative Gentile with a fence around his land, and announced that his fence defined the eruv, with his land being the outside.
But couldn’t a good Rabbi argue that the fire’s already lit at the power station (or not, if it’s nuclear, wind, solar or hydroelectric), and that the electricity is merely a way to get the energy from there to here? I mean, equating electricity with fire is a bit odd.
And yeah, there are eruvin all over the place- there are a couple in Dallas, three in Houston, and one in Austin, just to name the Texas ones. (interestingly, Texas has always been a relatively Judaism-friendly place from what I can tell- among other things, the first Hillel Foundation organization was at Texas A&M)
I’ve been wondering: How are the super-observant Jews generally regarded by the Jewish community as a whole? Are they seen as more morally upstanding than their less committed brethren? Or are they seen as a little nuts? Or is it more like, “Wow, that guy really likes being Jewish.”
A short but interesting article on eruvs in the Seattle area. Note that an eruv doesn’t have have to have wires specifically strung along for that purpose; wires and poles that just happen to create a doorlike shape work also.
I guess that explains all the helicopters falling out out of the sky.