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Unstructured synagogue: Synagogue without walls, Virtual Synagogue, Web-based Synagogue

Using the Internet on Shabbat

 The nature of the internet clearly affords many technical halachic (Jewish Law) ways to address and even circumvent the prohibitions of working on the Sabbath. However, one must always keep in mind the spirit of the law and when one owns 100% of a business, like a web developer or technology driven person, I think there is tremendous merit in staying closed on shabbat.

For Biblical Judaism is not, so I myself use it as long as I keep it ‘kosher’.

Jewish believers have to be careful when using terms as ‘Melacha”. Melacha means that it is *Biblically* prohibited. There are 39 categories of Melachot, based on the actions used to construct the Tabernacle. The details are extremely complicated.

I you read Exodus  35:3

Using electricity is actually not a Melacha. It’s *Rabbinically* prohibited, worst it can lead one to do an actual Biblically-prohibited Melacha. Nevertheless, the prohibition is just as stringent and severe as a regular Melacha, and should not be taken lightly.

Summary: Yes, “rabbinically” it is prohibited and  is a violation of Shabbat in orthodox Judaism, but it is technically *not* a Melacha if you read Torah.


Religious ones who are already getting the bad reputation of being extremists and bullies in Israel and other places, who force their opinions on a public that doesn’t share them.” for example when prohibiting  using the internet on shabbat these is really what they are doing:

  •  Limiting of ones virtual freedom of movement.
  •  Promoting people without tolerance:

There are two sides in Israel that do not believe in the same things, each thinking it possesses the truth. Ultimately, we will have to live together, with religious people being married by rabbis and not using the Internet on Shabbat, and atheists like myself marrying however they wish and using the Internet whenever they choose. I don’t see how one has to come on the expense of the other.

Of course it is not hard also to guess where this prohibition will lead:  If in Israel you can’t make transactions on Shabbat, in the future they won’t be able to surf the Internet on Yom Kippur or enter Facebook on Shabbat – which means not services and network to those in isolated places: people in hospitals, seniors, stay-at-home moms, chair-bound, challanged persons, scarce or tiny jewish communities–

We know secular Israelis, feeling that Shabbat is often their only real day off, may prefer to spend the day on picnics and family trips, or at the beach, when weather permits. Debates over what public services should or should not be open on Shabbat—especially those involving transportation, culture and entertainment—have occasionally become the focal points for vociferous and even, unfortunately, violent struggles in Israeli public life.

Some religiously observant Jews, encountering difficulties in their rigorous observance of the minutiae of Jewish law, might even turn to a “goy shel Shabbat.” This is a traditional term for a non-Jew who, not obligated in the strict laws of the Sabbath, may help a Jewish neighbor by, for example, turning the electric lights on and off, as needed. Many Jews, however, do not want to make their observance dependent on someone else working, so they try to find other solutions—for example, the use of a pre-set electronic timer. Pioneers in this type of problem-solving have been the religious kibbutzim (many located in the Bet She’an Valley or the Gilboa area), which, for example, have developed pre-timed milking machines to help with the issue of milking cows on Shabbat.

But, apart from the strict laws of what Jews are not supposed to do on Shabbat according to “traditions” or (defined in the Talmud in ways that far exceed what we today might perceive as work—any kind of creative intervention in the natural world.)  not the Torah itsel; there are all the positive commandments and practices. First, there is the matter of preparing for the special day. Most Jewish families, even the less religious ones, clean their homes, shop and prepare the meals, bathe and put on special clothes. Many attend synagogue services at sunset, then come home to a festive family meal. The synagogue service on Friday evening is especially festive, often with much singing of psalms and liturgical poems. The most famous of these is “L’cha Dodi,” a 16th century work which personifies the Sabbath as a Bride.

For some families in Israel or abroad, this may be the only night of the week when the entire family sits down to a meal together. The Shabbat is inaugurated in the home with candle lighting, and special blessings are said over the wine (Kiddush) and bread, or challot (HaMotzi.). Traditionally Jews bless two loaves of bread at each of the Shabbat meals, as a remembrance of the two portions of manna that fell on the sixth day, in preparation for resting on the Sabbath (see Exodus 16:22). Often, special Shabbat songs (Z’mirot) are sung around the table, and the meal may end with singing a festive Grace After Meals. This type of ritual may be repeated the following day at lunch, and, in some cases, also at a third festive meal Shabbat afternoon (Seudah Shlishit.)

Every Jewish community—the askenazies or centro-Eastern Europeans, the Sephardic or Jewish North Africans, the Yemenites, etc.—has its own Shabbat meals. But one type of food is common to all: the cholent or hamin, a delicious stew that cooks in its own juices overnight. Because of the prohibition against cooking on Shabbat, Jewish communities throughout the world used to put all sorts of ingredients in a pot on Friday and leave it to cook in the oven until it would be taken out the following day for the noon meal.

We lead hectic lives where there is little time to clear your mind and spend time with your family. Shabbat affords us that respite and clearing your head from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday from the frenetic pace of the internet is a tremendous gift to us and our families. Use internet accordingly I guess if you read Torah and not ‘traditions”….you should know better !!

Simply… say  NO, to stupidity and nonsense when it comes to have a nice and enrich  Shabbat.


About Orekh Schriftsteller

Orekh Schriftsteller. It is the online pen-name of author and Managing Director of DM Enterprises.


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