(TIMES OF ISRAEL) — One of the hallmarks of Orthodox Jewish Sabbath observance is facing a serious challenge. Creators of a new app claim it will allow observant Jews to use their smartphones to text others on Shabbat. The Shabbos App, said one of its developers, Yossi Goldstein, follows halacha (Jewish law), and is based on principles that are well known to all students of the Talmud and other legal tomes.
“A lot of people are stuck in an old-fashioned mentality, that what was is what will always be,” Goldstein told The Times of Israel in an exclusive interview. “There are plenty of other technology-oriented devices out there that allow users to perform functions that most people think are ‘assur’ — forbidden — but are really ‘mutar’ — permissible.”
Most people — even non-Jews — “know” that Orthodox Jews are forbidden to turn on lights, ride or drive in a car, press an elevator button, or even carry items outdoors in areas where there is no “eruv,” the fictitious neighborhood boundary that has sparked controversy in communities in the US and Israel. But those who really know Jewish law, insisted Goldstein, understand that many of the practices Orthodox Jews follow are not really “core halacha” — the bottom-line must-do-or-don’t laws — but “chumros,” extra practices that perhaps make people feel more “religious,” but Goldstein insists they are actually doing religion — and religious Jews — a disservice.
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