Holy apps

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Does the iPad Torah App Make Your Device Sacred?

Barry Schwartz at Rusty Brick Inc. alerted us to his new and incredible iPad Torah App today. So now we have it on our iPad.

It is indeed a scrolling replica of an actual Torah scroll – a great asset for Torah readers who wish to practice on the go! A neat concept and nicely executed with a little “yad” pointer icon that you can activate and use while you read from your iPad Torah.

But on further analysis we started to ponder some Talmudic questions. Now that we have an actual Torah on our iPad, can we take it into, ahem, the lavatory? Does this app make our iPad into a holy book?

After due consideration, we have made our initial ruling on this matter.  As long as you do not open the app in a place that is not dignified for sacred books, there is no problem. From the perspective of Jewish law, a closed app is nothing more than an cartoon icon. Yes, you heard it here first.

Source: Tzvee’s Talmudic Blog


iPhone With Jewish Apps Allowed In The Bathroom?

Jewish Life, or more specifically, life in accordance with Jewish Law in today’s technologically advanced era, has never been more exciting. Questions like: When does a Jewish astronaut observe the Sabbath in outer space where there are no days of the week? Or, during the High Holy Day of Yom Kippur, is one allowed to be administered nourishment via an IV tube when he’s fasting? Or even more bizarre, can a genetically cloned human count as a tenth man for a Minyan or Jewish Prayer quorum?

So when the following question came in to the RustyBrick office, I jumped on the opportunity to do some research in our 3000+ year old library of Jewish wisdom. The question was sent in by someone who has our most popular Jewish iPhone app, the Siddur. He wrote as follows:

Someone saw me using your Siddur at Mincha today and asked whether I can take my iPhone into the toilet even if the iPhone is switched off or is on without activating the Siddur. Do you have a halachic ruling on this issue? If so, please refer me to the sources.

Let me briefly elaborate on the Halachic (Jewish Law) issue. Holy Scriptures, such as a Torah scroll, Book of Prophets, and other holy writings have implicit holiness. This is primarily because these writings contain the name of  G-d, and also because of other factors. Since this is so, there are many laws that pertain to how one must treat these books, one of which is, that it may not be brought into an unclean place, such as a bathroom. A Jewish Prayer Book, although not considered on the same level as a Torah Scroll, also contains the name of G-d, and therefore must not be brought into a restroom.

The question in our case involves determining the Halachic status of an electronic version of that book. There are many implications that are discussed in contemporary Halachic responsa. For our purposes I will focus on 2 main points:

(1) What is the Halachic status of the Siddur when the device is not displaying the text?
(2) Even when the text is visible, is that different than a printed text in a book?

To answer the 2nd question first: Although a text displayed on a LED screen is not considered a Halachic text (i.e. one may not use such a text for a mezuzah –  sorry  iPad Torah) – it is not appropriate for one to have the text displayed in a restroom,  for it may cause him to think about or say what he is reading, which is also prohibited in an unclean place.

Concerning the 1st issue, since the text on the iPhone is stored internally on flash memory drive, it’s not considered a Halachic writing at all. At best, is electronically charged ones and zeros which has no sacred status whatsoever. So, to answer our original question – You may bring your iPhone/iPod touch into a restroom, just be careful not to read any of the content while there.

Source: RustyBrick’s blog


With new technology comes new halachic questions

With recent advances in technology there are bound to be a whole bunch of halachic issues that arise. In order to preempt these issues I have thought about the following issues that may be debated amongst the great rabbis of our time, even if they happen to be in jail.

Technology related halachic issues:

  • If they were to genetically modify a pig to chew its cud, would it be kosher?
  • Can ten people in different places daven in video conference mode?
  • Can one tweet their prayers?
  • Does yichud count when it comes to your smart phone?
  • Can one lain from their  iPad Torah?
  • If your iPhone drops while you are using the siddur app, do you have to kiss it?
  • Will the siyyum hashas committee accept people who completed shas on an electronic device?
  • Is it assur to drive a non-hybrid vehicle if you can afford one?
  • Do you have to put your iPhone in shaimos if it dies?
  • Can you use a smart phone application to check lettuce for bugs?
  • Would milk be considered cholov yisroel if someone was watching via webcam?
  • If they can create leather in a lab, can you use it for tefillin?
  • If there’s a webcam in your room, is it still yichud?
  • Can someone be yozte from a blessing done online?
  • Do you have to close your blog on shabbos?
  • Is auto-tweeting assur since it may tweet on shabbos?
  • Do you have to check yes on a school application where it asks if you have a TV, if you watch TV on your computer?
  • If you and your wife have a joint facebook account do you have to separate it it during niddah?

Source: Frum Satire

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