Roger M. Kaye
Roger M. Kaye
A retired physicist reinvented as thriller novels writer

To milk or not to milk that is today’s question

Long out of the cow (Free for Use Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush from Pexels)

Sitting at the breakfast table this morning, having read the Times of Israel from cover to cover, I turned my attention to the carton of milk.

Clearly stated, the milk was ללא חשש חילול שבת (Without fear of desecrating Shabbat).

It seems that milking a cow by a Jew, on the holy Shabbat, is totally prohibited. But the cow does not know that it is Shabbat, just that she is getting more and more uncomfortable. Fortunately, there is a way to milk a cow on Shabbat; you can get a non-Jew to do the work for you.

But even ultra-orthodox Jews have been known to drink milk on Shabbat. Yes, they are prepared to break Shabbat by doing work.

As any physicist knows, work is the energy transferred to or from an object via the application of force along a displacement. Lifting a glass of milk from the table to your lips most certainly fulfils this definition. Even lifting the milk carton and pouring out the milk is definitely “work”.

If we want to take “work” in the strictest sense, just getting out of bed in the morning is, for all intents and purposes “work”. You are moving a weight, your body, against the force of gravity.

To these rather trivial examples we must add the many technological innovations that can force us, even unknowingly, to break Shabbat. Something as simple as strolling down the street may cause us to inadvertently switch on a light as we walk past a house with a motion sensor.

With our lives more and more managed, if not controlled, by computers equipped with artificial intelligence, we now see Ultra-Orthodox Computers, Conservative Computers and Reform Computers. Some computers have gone so far off the rails to become Hiloni (secular) computers. We could see a day when, Chas V’chalila, perish the thought, Hiloni computers are the norm.

Of course, this problem is not new, and our rabbis are fully aware of the ever-changing difficulty of keeping Shabbat.

Perhaps it is time for a new look at the “work” we must not do on Shabbat.
We certainly do not want to spoil the Shabbat with the daily work we do to earn our living. But a hobby like woodworking in the garden shed, or driving to see the grandchildren, is pleasure, not work.

Operating an electrical appliance is prohibited although some indirect methods are allowed. For example, you can set a timer before Shabbat to turn on a light or appliance. But why can’t I make myself a slice of toast for breakfast; this is not “work”.

This blog was written on Shabbat, but my dog did the typing, I just told it what I wanted to say. Any complaints should be addressed to Dog the dog.

About the Author
The author has been living in Rehovot since making Aliya in 1970. A retired physicist, he divides his time between writing adventure novels, getting his sometimes unorthodox views on the world into print, and working in his garden. An enthusiastic skier and world traveller, the author has visited many countries. His first novels "Snow Job - a Len Palmer Mystery" and "Not My Job – a Second Len Palmer Mystery" are published for Amazon Kindle. The author is currently working on the third Len Palmer Mystery - "Do Your Job".
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