As we go into the first Shabbat in the Holy month of Nissan, the chief Rabbi of Israel has closed all of the synagogues of Israel. The fear of spreading the virus has made what has happened for the first time an upside-down world. Normally for all of the past 3000 years, when people are challenged, the Rabbis call for more communal prayer from the people in the synagogues. Now to avoid spreading germs, we are supposed to all pray, but at home. The trouble is that prayer at home or by yourself, if one follows Orthodox Judaism, many things can not be done. Reading from the Torah (requires a Minion) or saying Kaddish (requires a minion).
What is still allowed is outdoor minions where both of these things can be accomplished. The idea is that outside one will be less likely to pass germs. Since I am a person that believes in the importance of saying Kaddish for the six million holy murdered Jews of the Holocaust, I am continuing going to Minion. For those not going to shul, this Shabbat for whatever reason, if you need me to say Kaddish for you, please email me at YehudaLave@gmail.com as soon as possible.
Now very little in Orthodox Judaism is without controversy because we are forced to take a modern world and force it into a box of what our traditions teach us are allowed or not allowed.
We have a three thousand years of tradition (actually 3312 years since the Torah was given on Mount Sinai.) To say at the minimum life was a little different 3312 years is, of course, an understatement. Airplanes, cars, cell phones, and computers are of course not mentioned in the Written Torah. So Orthodox Tradition has developed an entire industry of interpreting modern events to fix into the box of Jewish Halacha. Reform and some Conservative and other alternative movements in Judaism don’t care about this box called Halacha. Orthodox Jews, however, would give up their lives to interpret it as that to them is what spirituality is all about and actually interprets when you should give up your life or not!!
Keeping Shabbat or Passover, only means something in the Orthodox world, if Halacha is followed. If you don’t follow Halacha (and of course you have to study for about 30 years like I have to figure out what this) you are not Shomer Shabbat, and hence you deserve the death penalty for your actions.
So as soon as an idea of spirituality comes up, it has to fit into the Orthodox Box or there will be controversy as there is now about the Idea of using Zoom for the Passover holiday.
Zoom and Skype before it, has changed the world. Dick Tracey’s two-way picture telephone watch of 1931 has become a reality. We are in a Pandemic, that has turned the family life upside down. Passover for those that don’t understand it is Christmas times 10 (forgive the comparison). Even those Jews that don’t ever attend a synagogue go home to Grandma and Grandpa with the kiddies to celebrate the creation of the Jewish People going out in the Exodus from Egypt. The Biblical story comes to life, in the creation of all family members getting together. Not this year, however. Naphtali Bennett made a video that tells us if you go to see Grandma and Grandpa you are KILLING THEM–DON’T GO.
Hence, the idea of Zoom or Skype for the Seder. Join the Passover Seders of Granpa and Grandma and the kids over Zoom. Sounds like a good idea right? However, it has to fit into the Halacha of Passover and Shabbat to be able to use it. The rules of the Jewish holidays, are generally the same as the Shabbat rules, however, more relaxed because cooking is allowed and it is automatically less rigid than the Shabbat when cooking is not. A Barbecue can be had if the fire is started before the holiday, because cooking is allowed. Unheard of on the Shabbat. And on the Shabbat, no electricity can be turned on and off, because the Rabbis have decided that electricity is like fire and can’t be used on Shabbat. On holidays–not so clear.
Orthodox Rabbis forbade the use of turning on and off electricity on Shabbat when it began to become commonplace, and this has become standard practice throughout the Orthodox world. Electricity can be used but you can’t touch it. Technically you can watch TV and listen to the radio, but it was forbidden because it wasn’t on the concept of the Shabbat and didn’t distinguish between the regular workday and the Holy Shabbat and holidays (Passover). Because it is not technically forbidden, the Rabbis can allow it for emergencies like wartime when you need to get the news, or whether the hospital is calling you to tell you have the Virus or not like the last Shabbat. Hence the idea of using Zoom on the Passover.
Here we have one of the differences as to which Orthodox Rabbis you follow. Some Sephardic and North African Rabbis had permitted the use of electricity (turning it on and off) on Jewish Holidays (not Shabbat) including the first Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Ben-Zion Meir Hai Uzel. Of course, that was in 1940.
The Rabbis who allowed this interpretation (Sephardic themselves) gave the creative interpretation that the concern that someone would turn off the device or adjust it during the holiday, which is not permitted or using something associated with the regular days of the week, such as the use of electronic devices, could also be dismissed since the use of the Zoom video conference was being done for the sake of a religious commandment of performing the Passover Seder.
As you can see, there are arguments on the side of leniency, however even though the Headline of the Jerusalem post today reads Orthodox Rabbis allow Zoom for Passover Seder, the reality most Orthodox Rabbis do not, therefore no matter how large the headline, it is fake news..
Shabbat peace and blessings
With the Craziness going in the Knesset with the idea of putting the Arabs in Power, this joke seems tame.
A Crazy Knesset
Israel’s economy is in a bad way, inflation is getting higher and immigrants are flooding in from all over the world. Problems, problems, problems, but what should they do? So the Knesset holds a special session to come up with a solution.
After several hours of talk without progress one member, Yitzhak, stands up and says “Quiet everyone, I’ve got it, I’ve got the solution to all our problems. We’ll declare war on the United States.”
Everyone starts shouting at once. “You’re nuts! That’s crazy!”
“Hear me out!” says Yitzhak. “We declare war. We lose. The United States does what she always does when she defeats a country. She rebuilds everything; our highways, airports, shipping ports, schools, hospitals, factories, and loans us money, and sends us food aid. Our problems would be over.
“Sure,” says Benny, another minister, “And what if we win?”