Thursday, September 13, 2007

shabbat elevator

Peleg and I stayed ten days in Tel Aviv at the end of August for the first part of our honeymoon. We had a lovely hotel on the 16th floor of the Sheraton Moriah overlooking the beach.

We were there on two shabbats (Saturdays) which meant we had the occassion to experience the shabbat elevator. Because observant Jews are not aloud to work on Shabbat, and work is defined to include any time an electric current would be opened (if closed) or closed (if opened) Jews are not allowed to push an elevator button. However if the elevator is already running there's nothing sinful with riding in it. So the hotel simply reserves two of the elevators as shabbat elevators that constantly run automatically stopping on every floor.

It's not part of my spiritual understanding that God would count as holy riding in an elevator that stops at every floor, but would count as a sin pushing an elevator button. If the point is to give priority to God's law, than attempts to invent creative ways to get around clear meanings seem to be just as sinful as breaking them out right. If it is in fact our human needs that take precendence, than why attempt to why bother to find a way to hoor God's law?

Peleg told me that his dad once pointed out that in a modern hotel like this one with key cards, that once a person has taken the shabbat elevator to their floor that they then open their door with a magnetic strip that opens an electric current. I don't think God really cares.

1 comment:

Earthbound Spirit said...

Interesting. This reminded me of a time several years ago when our neighbor, an observant Orthodox Jew and physician, knocked on our door one Friday evening and asked if I could turn off the headlights on his car. He'd accidentally left them on, and it was after sunset so he couldn't do it. On the other hand, as a physician he had approval to save someone's life on the Sabbath. I guess I see the distinction, but I'm also of the mindset of "why should God care?"