Halachic Institute Invents Shabbat-Friendly Technologies

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My favorite part of any James Bond movie has always been the bit when the suave spy saunters over to meet Q, his gadget guy, and is equipped with a battery of thingamajigies that shoot, explode, and otherwise come in handy when being chased by baddies down the side of a mountain, say, or atop a nuclear submarine. But while Q’s toys are nice, they do little to help anyone observe the Sabbath; for that, there’s Zomet, the Israeli-based institute for Halacha and Technology.

Recently, Zomet, a non-profit organization which specializes in coming up with ultra-modern solutions to very ancient restrictions, announced some of its new products. What, for example, might you do if you had to operate a keyboard during Shabbat? Writing, clearly, does not meet the standards of pikuach nefesh, or mortal danger in light of which an observant Jew is allowed to work on the Sabbath. But sometimes using a keyboard is difficult to avoid: Think, for example, of a doctor filing a prescription, or a security guard needing to operate a computerized system. To address this problem, the folks at Zomet came up with the Shabbat Keyboard: This invention, the institute’s site explains, “operates on the principle of gramma (indirect action), so that it can be used on Shabbat. The buttons on the keyboard are on-off switches. A special mechanism cycles through all the buttons every few seconds. If it “discovers” that the status of one of the buttons has changed (such as a function key) the desired action will occur.”

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