Times: Kosher Shabbat Elevators

One facet of Orthodox Judaism is observing a set of Sabbath taboos - categories that quantify what is "rest" and what is "work."

This is part of the meditative mindfulness that is built into rabbinic life. Instead of observing a subjective day of "rest" Orthodox Jews have to mind many everyday activities to insure that they are observing an objective day of "rest."

That mindfulness can get tricky at times as the Times' writer points out in this story on Shabbat elevators, "Another Landlord Worry: Is the Elevator Kosher?" by PAUL VITELLO.
...Does that elevator “know” how many people are on it?

The question is at the core of a ruling issued by a group of prominent rabbis in Israel on Sept. 29 that seems to ban the use of many so-called Shabbos elevators: elevators fixed to stop on every floor from Friday evening until Saturday evening so that observant Jews do not have to press any buttons.

Since the 1960s, when high-rise apartment buildings became ubiquitous, the Orthodox rabbinate has made such elevators one of the few exceptions to Talmudic rules prohibiting 39 categories of activity on the Sabbath, including manual labor or the use of electrical devices. Like flipping a light switch, pressing an elevator button is considered the use of an electrical device....more...

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