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Friday, March 04, 2011

UPDATED A New Discussion about Computers and Shabbos

I found some interesting sources during the week of Parshas Beshalach in ayin gimmel, and I posted the information there, but I'm putting it here at the end of the post as well.

Last week, in Parshas Vayakhel, in passuk 35:33, the words מלאכת מחשבת, Me'leches Machashaves appeared.  These words are understood by Chazal as the fundamental definition of what sort of work is prohibited on Shabbos.  Mesorah's translation is "craft of design."  Most often, the way Chazal interpret this phrase is to limit the legal definition of 'work,' in Hilchos Shabbos, to cases of specific intent.

The next section is divided into two parts.  Option One is for people without experience in Hilchos Shabbos.  Option Two is for people who prefer straight yeshivishe talk.

Option One
In tort law, Specific Intent is defined as follows:
The mental purpose, aim, or design to accomplish a specific harm or result by acting in a manner prohibited by law.  Specific intent requires that the defendant intended to achieve some result additional to the criminal act in order to prove all the elements needed to be found guilty of the crime. It differs from general intent, which only requires proof that the defendant intended to do the prohibited act. For example, the crime of larceny requires not only the general intent to take property, but also the specific intent to permanently deprive another of the property.

Thus, in Hilchos Shabbos,  מלאכת מחשבת means that two elements must be present for a finding of  transgression of Shabbos: intention to do the specific prohibited act, and intention for a particular result.  If a person intended to do one prohibited melacha but did another, he didn't have intention to do that act, and it's not מלאכת מחשבת.  If a person intended to do a prohibited act, but was doing it for a purpose other than the usual purpose of the melacha, then he lacks the intent to achieve the prohibited result, and it's not מלאכת מחשבת. In both cases, מלאכת מחשבת teaches us that this person is not legally culpable for the what he did.

Option Two
In Yeshivish, we would say that Chillul Shabbos requires two things:
כוונה for a  מעשה  and   כוונה  for a תוצאה :  intent to do a specific act, and intent to generate a specific result.  The תוצאה has to be the purpose for which the Melacha was done in the building of the Mishkan.  Classic application: if a person digs a hole, he can be said to be creating a pit, or building a pit.  If he is digging because he wants sand, then even if he digs a perfect hole, it is not Meleches Machsheves.  He is lacking the specific intent required for a melacha of building.

Generally, מלאכת מחשבת narrows the cases that are called Melacha of chillul Shabbos.  But מלאכת מחשבת can also be used to include cases that would otherwise be excluded.  For example: If a person throws wheat and chaff up into the air, and the wind blows away the chaff and allows the wheat to fall to the ground, it is considered his act, because he is intentionally using existing forces to complete the act that he began and he intended (Aruch Hashulchan 242:24.  I don't know why the Aruch Hashulachan says it as if it were a chidush. It is an open Rashi in Bava Kamma 60a. and the Rosh there and the Rach in Shabbos 120b argue and say the svara is because that is the classic definition of the melacha, so the concept is limited to Zoreh.  Similarly, the Gemara says that nursing a child is technically a melacha, but of course it is muttar.  But why is it a melacha?  The woman is just putting the child to her breast, and the child nurses!  The child is doing the melacha, not the woman.  The answer is that because children naturally nurse, if you put a child to a breast with the intention that the child nurse, then the result is called your מלאכת מחשבת.  The same ought to be true by putting a leech on someone's skin, and just like Zoreh is a machlokes Rashi and the Rosh/Rach, this too is a machlokes between the Magen Avraham, who holds it's a grama even when you put grain into an active mill and certainly when you put a leech on skin, against the Even Ha'Ozer who holds it's a perfect melacha gmura, at the end of 328. Another example of this is in Tosfos Shabbos 73b.  For further discussion, see Totzos Chaim 8:3)

So now, here is a new question.

There is a nascent technology called BCI, Brain Computer Interface.  This enables a person to control a computer via his thoughts, or, more correctly, it trains a person to generate brain activity that controls a computer.  The computer doesn't read your mind.  As with Voice Recognition software, the computer and the person work together to create a lexicon of commands.  Brain activity A (visualize Netanyahu) means that the cursor moves the right, Brain activity B (visualize Shulamit Aloni) means left, and Brain activity C (think of smelling a bowl of hot cholent) means stop, and so forth.  See, for example, here.  (This is not what Stephen Hawking uses.  His devices respond to small muscle movements.)

At the moment, this infant technology is barely crawling.  It will soon become enormously efficient and popular.  One can easily imagine an earphone that functions as an inductive coil- or a yarmulkeh with a sensor- sensitive enough to distinguish between various brain activities, which could be used to control a computer.  One could do anything, from turning on a light to starting a war, by means of his brain activity.   All it will take is an Israeli with some spare time and a soldering gun.

Would this be called melacha on Shabbos?  You are not lifting a finger.  You are not moving or even talking.   You are not "doing" any act at all.

My opinion is that the centrality of kavana in the din of מלאכת מחשבת would make this a melacha de'oraysa.  Both the melacha and the result are intended.  The result is proximate and definite and immediate.  This is a melacha gemura.

It goes without saying that Reb Moshe, who prohibited the use of Shabbos clocks for anything but heat and light, would prohibit this at least on a Derabanan level.  But I'm not talking about Derabanans and Kavod Shabbos here, I'm talking about a De'oraysa.

This is not at all related to issues of voice controlled computers or microphones or hearing aids.  In all of those cases, the problem is the sound wave you generated impinging upon the receiver.  And please do not confuse this with infrared motion detectors, or computer controlled motion detectors.  In those cases, your action results in melacha being done, no less than if there were a string attached to you that pulled a switch when you moved.  You are basically pulling the switch.  In our case, you are doing absolutely no physical act.
This is not at all related to issues of whether the use of electrical mechanisms is assur or why it is assur.  I'm talking about a one hundred percent melacha de'oraysa- igniting a fire that cooks a pot of meat- that was done by sending a signal via my brain activity to a computer to do it.

Over the last two days, I spoke about this to several Talmidei Chachamim.
  • One said that it is not a melacha at all and muttar mid'oraysa.  Melacha requires a physical act on my part.  This person is a highly respected posek.  He also holds that Rav Elyashiv's issur to walk where motion activated cameras will turn on is completely wrong, as does Rav Wosner.
  • One said that it is melacha gemura and assur mid'oraysa.  Interesting svara offered by the second person:  He said, a melacha was done.  The question is, to whom to be meyacheis the melacha.  So, if a person tells a goy to do a melacha, the melacha is mis'yacheis to the goy.  But if I make the computer do the melacha, it's mis'yacheis to me.  great unknown says that this svara is contradicted by Reb Akiva Eiger in the Teshuvos #8 where he argues on the Nesivos regarding mis'asek.
  • Another talmid chacham said that it is no different than the brain telling the hand to light a fire.  The hand's action is my action.  The computer here becomes my hand, and the melacha is a ma'aseh be'yadayim.

An excellent and helpful comment posted by the antipodean bar nash pc directs us to the Gemara in Sanhedrin 101a.  The Gemara says that it is muttar to 'paralyze' an animal via a lechisha/incantation, even though it essentially traps the animal, and trapping is an Av Melacha.  He said that the reason for this hetter is the absence of an act of Tzeidah.  This is highly debatable, as will soon discuss.  But Reb Chaim Kanievsky assumes that is the pshat in Rashi in the following paragraph.  (And the tzushtell is notable for another reason, as well- he wants to be machria the issue of whether מלאכת מחשב is called מלאכת מחשבת from a case of מלאכת מכשף.)
(I do not have a copy of the sefer.  I copied this from an online citation, and made several minor changes. It  is not complete, as indicated by the ellipses, and I cannot vouch for its accuracy.)

בספר דרך אמונה על הלכות שמיטה ויובל להגאון ר"ח קנייבסקי שליט'א, הקשה: “ויל"ע דבסנהדרין ק"א א' אמרי
לוחשין לחישת נחשים ועקרבים בשבת ואין בכך משום צידה [...] אע"ג דע"י הלחש אינו יכול לזוז ממקומו
עד שנוכל לתופסו מ"מ...מותר דאין זה צידה טבעית ויל"ע מ"ש גבי שביעית דאסור גם פעולה שאינה
טבעית ומ"ש שבת דמותר" (דרך אמונה, שמיטה ויובל, פרק א, הלכה ז, ביאור הלכה ד"ה סוקרין). לאחר
מכן הוא מביא שני תירוצים, בתירוצו הראשון הוא עומד על ההבחנה המהותית שבין שביתת הארץ מעבר
לשביתת האדם ממלאכה, ובין שבת שבו רק האדם שובת, משכך, היות ולחישה אינה פוגעת בשביתת
האדם מותר ללחוש בשבת, אולם בשביעית “האיסור הוא שהארץ לא תיעבד ולכן גם ע"י סגולה הרי הארץ
נעבדה על ידו" (שם). עוד תירץ הרב קנייבסקי, על פי ההבחנה שבין דיבור ומעשה: “דבאמת אין חילוק
בין שבת לשביעית רק החילוק הוא אם עושה איזה מעשה או שאין עושה כלום רק לוחש דכשעושה מעשה
באמת גם בשבת יהיה אסור אבל בלחישה בעלמא גם בשביעית יהיה מותר".

According to his first teretz, there is a difference between the concept of the issurim of Shabbos and the issurim of the rest of the Torah.  He says that Shabbos prohibits the human act, while other dinim prohibit causing a result.  On Shabbos, we don't care that fires are set, as long as you didn't do the act of setting them.  Magical incantations are not included in the legal definition of Melacha, simply because they are supernatural.  Therefore, no melacha has been done and no issur transgressed.  During the year of Shvi'is, we care very much that the land should not be worked, irrespective of who works it, so even a supernatural method that causes land to be worked would be assur on Shvi'is.  According to this, Rashi is dealing with an entirely different issue, that of  " אין זה צידה טבעית" , and this has nothing to do with BCI. 

According to his second teretz, Shabbos and the whole Torah are the same, and l'chisha would be muttar in all cases because it does not involve a human action.  The Torah only prohibits a human action, not thoughts that result in action.  If so, a BCI ma'aseh would be muttar in kol hatorah kulah.

Let me point out that Reb Chaim Kanievsky's point that speech is neither action nor legally actionable is not contrary to the generally accepted issur on talking into a microphone or using voice recognition software to write or control a computer on Shabbos.  The difference is as follows:
In talking into a microphone, the issur is the impingement of the voice/pressure wave/air movement upon the microphone, because that impact directly causes electrical changes, and directly generating electrical changes on Shabbos is assur.  Here, by the Lechisha, there's no issur on Lechisha on Shabbos.  The issur is the trapping.  The man is not trapping, he is talking.  His voice is not doing a melacha; the effect of his voice is causing a melacha to happen.


Tosfos in Gittin 31a DH B'machshava says that a melacha that is done with intent alone (Tosfos is talking about being mafrish Truma with machshava and the issur of mesakein) is assur on Shabbos.  The Chida in his Pnei David on Beshalach 16:23 brings a raya from Tosfos to the Maharsh Primo who said that since the Mahn that fell in the Midbar could be changed into whatever form you desired by intent alone- you could make it into baked, or cooked, or broiled simply by desiring that it be so- it was assur to make this change on Shabbos.  The Teshuvos Har Tzvi (OC I 174) says that this really is clear in the passuk אֵת אֲשֶׁר תֹּאפוּ אֵפוּ וְאֵת אֲשֶׁר תְּבַשְּׁלוּ בַּשֵּׁלוּ , because the Mechilta says it means that the Mahn actually cooked/baked/broiled itself according to the owner's intent, and it's clear in the passuk that this change had to be done before Shabbos began. (It's not clear to me, though, because according to Reb Akiva Eiger's pshat in the Rambam 9 Shabbos 3 onהמבשל על האור ... דבר שאינו צריך בישול כלל פטורbishul of the Mahn could not be de'oraysa.  It's a great kashe on the Rambam, but irrelevant to the halacha.)

However, the Chida, in his sefer Yosef Ometz (92:2) brings that Tosfos in Menachos 55 says the opposite, that if the hafrasha is done with thought alone, it is muttar on Shabbos.  The Chida's resolution of this stira, and a discussion on the topic as a whole, can be found in the Sefer Sdei Tzofim on Menachos, page 402 (page 408 on , or if that doesn't work, then go here and then go to page 408).

I know that some people are going to point out Reb Akiva Eiger's Teshuva in 159 about making a kinyan before Shabbos that will be chall on Shabbos.  I say it's irrelevant. I'm too lazy to discuss it, and just wrote this so nobody should say "Ha!  You forgot Reb Akiva Eiger's teshuva!"  I didn't.

Lastly, let me point out that the Rashi in Sanhedrin 101 is not at all clear as to why it is muttar, as indicated in Reb Chaim's two teirutzim.  Concordant with Reb Chaim's first pshat, the Levush and the Mishna Berura (328 SK 143) learn that Rashi was mattir either because it's not the normal derech or because it's supernatural.  According to both the Levush and the MB, we have no proof that Rashi would be mattir machshava.  In fact, it is very likely that if Rashi held that machshava is bichlal not a ma'aseh melacha, he (or the people who read into him) wouldn't have to come up with other hetteirim like shinui or not derech hateva.  Since he (they) did, it proves that machshava can be considered melacha.  Therefore, according to these pshatim in Rashi, our case, which is natural and will soon be common, might be assur gamur:

According to the Rambam who holds that the lachash is a meaningless superstition, the Gemara is no raya at all, since he holds it’s muttar because the lachash doesn't work.


What we end up having is the following:
  • A stirah in Tosfos, Gittin 31 (Assur) and Menachos 55 (Muttar).  UPDATE:  This is not correct.  Both are mattir.
  • An ambiguous Rashi (that Rav Kanievsky in his second pshat reads to mean Muttar for sure on Shabbos, and possibly in all isurim; but according to his first pshat, and according to the Levush (OC 328) that Rashi was mattir because it's not the normal derech of Tzeidah, and the Mishna Berura in 328 SK 143 that Rashi was mattir because it's not derech hateva, we have no proof that Rashi would be mattir machshava, and most likely a proof that Rashi would asser. 
  • The shittos of the Maharash Primo and Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank (Assur). 
  • The Magen Avraham that holds that putting wheat into a mill that is already turning is called a grama, despite the intent and immediate result.  It’s possible that according to the Magen Avraham, machshava cannot make something that is not called your ma’aseh into your ma’aseh.
Bottom line:
  • Assur: Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank.
  • Muttar: Rav Kanievsky in his second pshat in Rashi. 
  • Most likely Assur in Rashi and L'halacha: Levush, Mishna Berurah, and Reb Chaim Kanievsky in his first pshat in Rashi.
  • Probably Muttar: the Magen Avraham.
So the surprising result is that for chillul Shabbos, the preponderance of shittos is that no physical act is necessary.  Chillul Shabbos can be the result of pure machshava IF the machshava causes the melacha directly and immediately and definitely, and it is commonly done in this way.  And it goes without saying that every normal posseik would agree that it would be a zilzul Shabbos to do melacha with machshava.

It could be that Shabbos is unique, that Meleches Machseves results in a chumra that makes it assur, as the Aruch Hashulchan (quoted above) says.  In fact, while not very much like the mleches hamishkan, this would be a nice match with the type of melacha involved in the creation of the world.  What the halacha would be in other issurim besides Shabbos remains unanswered, outside of the universal hetter of Reb Chaim Kanievsky's second pshat in Rashi, which, we have seen, is contrary to the Levush and the Mishna Berura.

I posted on this again in 2013, in Parshas Beshalach, here.  I'm also pasting the newer post here.  I normally would just erase both and make a new one, but I hate to eliminate the comments, and I don't have the time to put them into the post.

A double portion of the Mahn came down on Friday, because people would not be allowed to carry it to their houses on Shabbos.  This way, they had their Shabbos food in their houses before Shabbos.  They were also told be sure to cook or bake the Mahn before Shabbos began.  
את אשר תאפו אפו ואת אשר תבשלו בשלו

There is a discussion in the Mechilta here about exactly how the Mahn was prepared.  Rebbi Yehoshua holds that the mere thought of baking would miraculously transform the Mahn into a baked preparation, and the thought of cooking would render the Mahn cooked.  Rebbi Elazar HaModa'i says that it would taste as if it were prepared the way you wanted, but there was no physical change.  (I suppose this is what underlies the machlokes Reb Ami and Reb Asi in Yoma 74b whether the tribulation of the Mahn was not having food in the pantry or not seeing the food you're tasting.)

יאמר אליהם הוא אשר דבר ה', אמרו לו אימתי אמר להם מחר: את אשר תאפו אפו, ר' יהושע אומר מי שהוא רוצה אפוי היה מתאפה לו והרוצה מבושל היה מתבשל לו. ר' אלעזר המודעי אומר הרוצה לאכול דבר אפוי היה טועם בו כל אפויים שבעולם והרוצה לאכול דבר מבושל היה טועם בו כל בשולים שבעולם ר' אליעזר אומר על אפוי אפו ועל מבושל בשלו הא כיצד יום טוב שחל להיות ערב שבת מנין שאין רשאין לא לאפות ולא לבשל אלא אם כן עירבו ת"ל את אשר תאפו אפו אפו על אפוי ובשלו על מבושל:

Two years ago, I posted a discussion about BCI technology, with which a person can control a computer via thought patterns.  Absolutely no movement is involved; sensors detect and analyze variations in brain wave activity and the program responds to this variation.  Once you can move and click a cursor with brain activity, you can do every single one of the thirty nine melachos of Shabbos without lifting a finger.  

BCI stands for brain–computer interface (BCI).  Other terms used are mind-machine interface (MMI), and direct neural interface, and brain–machine interface (BMI),  For the latest on BCI, go here.

Having seen this Mechilta, and some other sources, it is time for an update.  Some of this material was briefly mentioned in the original post, but most of it is new, like the Mechilta.

Harav Tzvi Pesach Frank, in his pirush on Chumash here and in a teshuva, and the Mirkeves Hamishna and the Netziv in their peirushim on the Mechilta, note that our Mechilta shows that according to Rebbi Yehoshua, this form of melacha is assur on Shabbos; that it needed to be done before Shabbos, even though the cooking and baking would be effected by thought alone.

(Please note that this Mechilta is completely incomprehensible- to me- if we're going to read it literally from a halachic standpoint.  Even if thought would make it cooked, the thought did not cook it.  I'm not talking about the Bishul b'chama/Bishul b'eish issue, I'm talking about no bishul at all happening.  It turned it into a food that was identical with something that had been cooked.  It was נתהפך to become a thing that is Mevushal, but there is no event of בישול taking place.  What we have here is like a thought that takes an object that was in a Reshus Hayachid and makes it re-appear in a Reshus Harabbim.  There was no akira, there was no ha'avara, there was no hanacha.  Before it was there, now it's here.  We have the shiur of a melacha, and we have the effect of a melacha, but the melacha wasn't done.  There's a consequence without a sequence.  Bishlema by netilas neshama, causing death is the melacha, and however you do it it's assur.  Here, it's the act of bishul that is assur and the fact that the food gets cooked is for the chiyuv on a shiur of the melacha.  It's like Zorei'ah, planting: the issur is the planting, and the fact that the seed sprouts is just a test of whether your act of planting was a melacha.  Here, it's impossible that such a thing would be bishul.  Maybe it would be makeh b'patish, but that doesn't make sense either, since it was perfectly good even without the machshava.  But I don't care that this is shver.  The Achronim see the Mechilta as a raya to this question, so I'm going with that.  I guess the problem is not bishul, but Mesaken Manna, like the next source says.)

The Moshav Zkeinim in Bamidbar (11:8) says the following:

 אמרינן בסיפרי ועשו אותו עוגות וכוי, ותימה הא כתיב (שמות ט״ז כ״ג) את אשר תאפו אפו ואת אשר תבשלו בשלו ואת כל העודף אלמא היה נאפה ומתבשל ואין לומר לאו דווקא אפו אלא תחשבו עליו, ולדבר[יו] (ה)מתבשל למה היה אסור בשבת לחשוב עליו שיש בו טעם תבשיל, וי״ל [דכיון] דלא היה מתהפך אלא על פי דבורו לתבשיל חשוב תקון דהא אפילו הפרת נדרים לצורך שבת איבעיא לן בנדרים (ע״ז אי) ובסוף שבת (קנ׳׳ז אי) אי שרי בשבת, ואע״ג דהתם שרי הכא חשיב תקון
which means that he holds it is assur, although he says דבורו.

On the other hand, Tosfos in several places indicates that it would be muttar; Fact 1.Designating Truma on Shabbos is assur under Mesaken Manna, a toldah of Makkeh Be'Patish.  Fact 2. Although lechatchila one should not designate Truma with thought alone, if one does so it is effective.  Combining Fact 1 and 2, Tosfos in Gittin 31a DH Bemachshava, and in Chulin 7a DH Vedilma and Bechoros 59a DH Bemachshava says that to do so on Shabbos with thought alone would be muttar.  Also, the Shittah in Beitza 34b says this.  (It's easy to mis-read Tosfos, but what he's saying is that even though machshava would be effective and muttar as far as hilchos Shabbos are concerned, the possibility of doing it with machshava is not sufficient to be mattir a physical hafrasha.)

The Achiezer in 2:49:4 talks about our Tosfos, and mentions that he has several problems with Tosfos' Shittah which he does not answer.  But he says that even according to Tosfos, that it's muttar to be mafrish on Shabbos with thought alone, that's only because Tevel has inherent Truma potential, so you're only designating which part is Truma.  But by Hekdesh, where you're creating an entirely new status, and this status causes a transfer of ownership, such a machshava is like a maaseh and would be assur on Shabbos.  But he says that this is only because ownership transfers generate a concern that you might write, and so are assur miderabanan.  The implication is that a real melacha, if done with Machshava, would be muttar.

Along the same lines, see Reb Akiva Eiger brought in the Shaar Tziyun in 633 sk 14, regarding a too-tall sukkah that has a pile of dirt in middle, and before yomtov you weren't mevateil the dirt, that he is not sure if if it is muttar to be mentally mevateil the dirt to the ground, because it would make the Sukka kasher and therefore be mesaken manna/makeh b'patish.  I cannot find this RAE anywhere except this Shaar Tziyun.  Anyway, from this RAE is appears that he's mesupak regarding the issue of mesaken manna with machshava.

And the best part- Reb Meir Don Plotzki (Kli Chemda) in Beshalach proposes that there is a difference between Shabbos and Yomtov.  On Shabbos, which is an eternal and immutable commemoration of Hashem's Shvisa creating the world through His Machshava, the issur includes melacha that is done with machshava.  But Yomtov, whose kedusha is created by Beis Din, by humans, the issur is only on melacha that is done with an act, the human sort of melacha.  Wouldn't that be interesting, to be mattir BCI melacha on Yomtov but not on Shabbos?

I found a nice article on this topic.  He cites most, if not all, of my references, here.  Here's his summation:

סקירת השיטות שראינו, מהן ניתן להפיק שיטה הלכתית בנוגע ל-BCI:
א.    הגרשז"א – המחשבה כמעשה (בהלכות מסוימות) לענין שבת.
ב.    הרב רוזן – בדיקת התוצאות הסופיות של תהליכים (גם פנימיים) וקישורם למקורם.
ג.    עמדת ה'חומרא' של הכלי-חמדה – כשעשיית המלאכה נעשית כרגיל על ידי המחשבה, אזי זו איננה מנגנון של כ'לאחר-יד' גרידא.
ד.    עמדת ה'קולא' של הכלי-חמדה – פעולה המתבצעת על ידי מחשבה אינה מלאכה גמורה בגידרה, אלא 'רק' איסורא.
ה.    הקהילות יעקב – מעמד של 'עדיף מכלאחר-יד' לפעולה סגולית בהלכות שבת, שלא כדרכה.
ו.     הקהילות יעקב – דרכה של פעולה כזו היא תמיד ה'לא טבעית', לא גזרו חכמים בה.
ז.     הרב זאב לב (והגרשז"א) – החילוק בין החפצא לגברא באדם ובפעולותיו בעולם. זהו היחס המפורש ביותר לנושא, ובשילוב עם חילוק החפצא/גברא זהו פיתוח של מערך מחשבתי עם השלכות הלכתיות קונקרטיות.


      great unknown said...

      Being subtly meramez to a goy is not even assur under amira l'akum. Why should a machshava expressed through indirect speech or body motion have less import than CBI?

      In any case, with current technology this is koach kocho to an n-th degree, even if you start counting levels from the moment the EM waves resulting from a given thought pattern are detected outside the body.

      This comment, btw, was written without much machshava, so I suspect it will, and should, be subject to massive counter-argument.

      b said...

      First of all, you still have the problem of a melacha that was done on your behalf. Second, a human being that does what you want is not a direct result of your request/will. A machine's reaction, in this case, is.

      Anonymous said...

      Interesting analysis
      The goy has the option to follow or disregard the remez the machine lacks that capacity making it kocho
      How about if the thought is made before Shabbos setting in motion an action which will take place on Shabbos would R Moshe have gone so far as to assur that as well?

      great unknown said...

      this gets into the discussion of amira l'akum to a goy katan, which I have to investigate over shabbos.

      Consider also, in the extreme case, a direct neuro-machine interface, i.e., a control system receiving impulses directly from the nerves [this is an actual, current scenario]. How is this fundamentally different than one's own musculature receiving impulses from the nerves?

      Anonymous said...

      I think a better example from Rav Moshe was how he held on bishul. Microwave cooking is nothing like what chazal would have called bishul.Yet sinc eit has become a common way of cooking he held that it was bishul. Thinking something and causing it to be done may not be melacha now but if it becomes widespread then I suggest he would hold that it is melacha.

      Anonymous said...

      as the world progresses the halacha of electricity and Shabbos will also
      be applied according to the Poskim of the for your assumption of D'oraita or deRabbanan check out the following article which summarises the major opinions in the matter and you will see things are not so straightforward afterall and like usual require an accomplished Rav to decide...

      b said...

      To anonymous March 4 2:23 pm: I agree absolutely that IF we decide that a brain controlled computer melacha is a melacha, then we would say it was a shinui and pattur, and then when it became common, it would no longer be a shinui, and would become assur. But we first have to decide that it is called my act at all.

      To Anonymous March 5 3:38 pm: what did you see in the teshuva that addresses anything we talked about here? Please allow me to make myself more clear.

      I'm talking about using a BCI switch to turn on a fire on the stove and cook raw meat in a pot over the fire. Most poskim agree that a cooking meat in a pot on a fire on the stove is a melacha de'oraysa. The question I am addressing is whether YOU did the melacha. Since you did no physical act, perhaps you cannot say that YOU did the melacha.

      Secondly, I don't like the article's attitude that Reb Moshe's chumra about shabbos clocks is generally disregarded. First, Reb Moshe was mattir for lights and heat. Second, I think it's simply not true, and many people are machmir. But that doesn't matter. The article is irrelevant to this discussion.

      great unknown said...

      "Most poskim agree that a [sic] cooking meat in a pot on a fire on the stove is a melacha de'oraysa."

      And who disagrees? I want to join his [her?] yeshiva.

      b said...

      gu- I was responding to the comment that encouraged me to consult a qualified rabbi for advice on the issue of whether the use of electrical implements on Shabbos is de'oraysa. So I had to think of a hypothetical that would be de'oraysa according to everyone.

      I heard a marvelous thing this morning. During the shiur, we someone mentioned that his mother had spoken to a Reform Rabbi who was a woman whose mother was not Jewish. The Reform accept patrilineal descent, so she thought of herself as Jewish. Sad. We see a woman rabbi, we say ach, what a pirtzah in Yiddishkeit, a woman rabbi. We don't even realize that she might not be Jewish bichlal.

      And here's the great chap. Someone else said, but before Matan Torah, we also accepted patrilineal descent, so they're not completely wrong. I said that he's more right than he realizes. Since the Reform doesn't believe in Torah Min Hashamayim, for them it's still kodem matan Torah, and the halacha is that you go after the father!

      great unknown said...

      brilliant chap.

      In the ba'al teshuva mileau, there were fewer problems with those from a reform background than those from conservative. In the former, the only issue was geirus; in the latter, unfortunately, there was also the specter of mamzairus, which was obviously much much difficult to resolve, if resolution was at all possible.

      great unknown said...

      getting back to achar matan torah: the second argument that without someone to meyaches the melocho to it automatically devolves on the instigator - conflicts somewhat with the standard pshat in R' Akiva Eiger on misasek: the melacha is done, an issur is done, but it is not nisyaches to anyone

      On the other hand, this opens up the avenue of shlichus by me'ilah

      pc said...

      If you do tzeida through kishuf, e.g. snake charming, this is mutar lechatchiloh becuase you did not to a maaseh. This seems to be the same thing

      b said...

      pc, thank you. Excellent tzushtell. I put it into the post, and I'm not done with it, because you have to deal with חתמה בקול. among other things.

      tzvee said...

      Is zilzul shabbos a halakhic category or a rhetorical opinion?

      b said...

      Absolutely. What constitutes "uvda d'chol" and "zilusa d'Shabbos" seems to be applied capriciously. But I recently saw two interesting paragraphs on the topic, the first from Reb Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, and the second from Rav Waldenberg.

      לדעת הרא"ש שמתיר גרמא בשבת אפי' שלא במקום פסידא צריכים לומר שיפרש דטעמא דאסור הוא משום עובדין דחול כמו"ש התוס' שבת בסי' שכ"ד סעיף א' עיי"ש, משא"כ בשאר מיני גרמות שפיר שרי ואין לדמות גזירות חכמים זו לזו וכ"ש בהנו דלא אסירי אלא משום עובדין דחול (מנחת שלמה תנינא (ב - ג) לא).

      ואין לזה שייכות לכלל המקובל שאין לנו לגזור גזירות מדעתנו, ואין מוסיפין על הגזירה, כי בכגון דא מצינו הרבה בדברי הפוסקים שגזרו משום זילותא דשבתא ועובדין דחול בגוונים שונים, וכל בכגון זה תלוי הדבר במה שבגלוי ובמציאות, ומשום כך מה שמצינו בחז"ל שאסרו במיחזי כעובדין דחול, מצינו גם בדברי הפוסקים שדימו מתוך כך לאסור כמה דברים אע"פ שאינם נוגעים בעסק מלאכה כלל, עיין במחזיק ברכה או"ח (סימן תקכ"ב), וכן בשו"ת שאילת יעב"ץ ח"א (סימן מ"א) באריכות מזה, ועוד (ציץ אליעזר ג ,טז)

      I think this goes under the rubric of "עשה לך רב", that everyone needs someone to whom to defer in subjective matters such as this. One of the pitfalls of being a Talmid Chacham is not delegating the decision to someone else.

      I remember one Summer, Rav Rudderman came to Camp Staten Island to visit Reb Moshe. At that time, Rav Rudderman was being taken care of by a gentile woman who cooked and cleaned for him. He asked Reb Moshe whether it would be muttar to have her re-warm cooked food for him on Shabbos. Reb Moshe said, "better not." Rav Rudderman said, "but (several reasons to be mattir)", and Reb Moshe said, "better not." Now, Rav Rudderman knew kol hatorah kulah baal peh by the time he was eighteen. My own personal experience with him demonstrated his encyclopedic and deep knowledge of even the most obscure rishonim and baalei machshava. But he came to ask Reb Moshe what to me seemed like a trivial shaila, and once Reb Moshe paskened, done.