Sunday, July 14, 2013

Can you use an ereader on shabbat?

Rabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz, also a member of the CJLS. (Conservative Rabbis committee Jewish law and standards)

In his twenty-seven-page response Rabbi Spitz said this: (minority view)
Reading is among the joys of Shabbat. The resources for reading have changed slowly over time but are now morphing quickly. We, Jews, are the last group to actively commission hand-written scrolls on parchment.  Scrolls replaced writing on shards or chiseling on hard objects-such as those famous two stone tablets. The printing press in the 15th century was a revolution that enhanced the availability, accuracy, and cost of the written word. Electronic reading devices are now swiftly replacing printed books.
He further states, "In my own congregation, I held a public conversation on the use of electricity and electronic devices during a Shabbat morning after the CJLS vote on the Nevins teshuvah. There were over one hundred and fifty people present. No one supported the majority vote banning the use of electronic devices on Shabbat. They spoke about how Judaism has evolved and how the question of what is shabbasdik is different than what is halakhically permitted. It made me pause and appreciate that CJLS teshuvot are written precisely for these Jews."
He then concludes,
In sum, reading, warming [food], and conversing add to the joy of Shabbat. As with the use of electricity, electronic devices may enable us to both have greater comfort and knowledge and enhanced connection to loved ones. In sum on Shabbat it is halakhically permissible to read from an electronic device... It is permitted to read on Shabbat from an e-reader. It is forbidden to make purchases or to write with the intention of permanent recording on these devices, including the composing and sending of e-mails.

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