Questions about how Judaism interacts with technological innovations.

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41
votes
7answers
2k views

May I use my neighbor's Wi-Fi without asking permission?

My neighbor has never set up password protection on his wireless router. If I wanted, I could wirelessly connect to his high-speed Internet service. May I use his Internet service without asking him ...
34
votes
7answers
2k views

Is it permissible to erase the name of G-d from an E-reader?

Most people seem to be lenient about shemos on digital screens in general (though Bar-Ilan does avoid displaying the Tetragrammaton.) The letters on the screen are just light, there is nothing really ...
29
votes
3answers
1k views

May one use a computer script or robot to do something specifically on Shabbos/Yom Tov?

May one run a program or machine that will operate on Shabbos, either by setting a timer to activate once Shabbos has started, or by leaving it running continually? What if the action is one that is ...
28
votes
4answers
3k views

bicycle on Shabbat?

Is riding a bicycle on Shabbat permitted within an eiruv, being ridden only on pavement (so no unintended plowing), for transportation and not exercise, and with the understanding that repairs aren't ...
26
votes
3answers
1k views

While playing a computer game, may I “worship” one of the game's “gods” to help me win?

I sometimes play a certain computer role-playing game (RPG). In this game, my character (whom I might name after myself but who does not otherwise resemble me) fights mythological creatures and ...
23
votes
4answers
1k views

Does artificial meat grown in a petri dish have the halachic status of meat?

Scientists are developing means of growing artificial meat in a petri dish. Does such 'meat' have the halachic status of meat? Source: ...
21
votes
3answers
680 views

Is ad-blocker software permissible?

Kalashnikover_Rebbe at hashkafah.com asks: Isn't blocking ads stealing??? The people put them on the sites for a reason.... He elaborates: On one hand the argument can be made that [forum ...
20
votes
1answer
302 views

a wheelchair user's taking “steps” before sh'mone esre

The Shulchan Aruch, OC 94:5, writes: Suppose someone is sitting on a boat or wagon [and saying sh'mone esre (amida)]. If he can stand up when he reaches the point of bowing, he should stand, so as ...
19
votes
6answers
3k views

Is using a Kindle on Shabbat permitted?

A Kindle is an e-book reader that uses "e-ink" rather than an LCD screen. It has physical controls to turn pages. (This question is not about the newer ones with touch screens.) If left unused it ...
19
votes
3answers
694 views

Can I cause a Melacha to happen in a place where Shabbat has already started?

Can I cause a Melacha to happen in a place where Shabbat has already started? For example, if I live in New York, could I send a fax (causing the machine to print a document) to Israel on Friday ...
19
votes
3answers
1k views

What halachic issues are involved in turning off a mobile phone while praying the quiet Amidah?

A person realises during his quiet Amidah, that he has not turned off his mobile phone. He is worried lest it ring while he is praying. On the other hand, turning it off will interfere with his ...
17
votes
4answers
660 views

Is it permissible to use an escalator on Shabbos?

Escalators: Are they allowed to be used on Shabbos or not? (and the reasons behind it)
17
votes
5answers
632 views

Why do music tapes and CDs warn about playing on Shabbos?

I have seen written on almost every music CD and Cassette Tape that I have in my house the line: Please do not play on Shabbos and Yom Tov I've always wondered if this is really necessary. Does ...
16
votes
6answers
2k views

If a pig was genetically modified to chew its cud, would it be kosher?

If they were to genetically modify a pig to chew its cud, would it be kosher?
16
votes
1answer
231 views

Attending a Siyum virtually

If one attends a Siyum virtually, whether by phone, Skype, or some other means of mass communication, can one partake of the Se'udath Mitzvah (relevant to allow eating meat during the 9 Days for ...
15
votes
1answer
573 views

Can I make a mikvah using artificial rain?

If I have a mikva which needs filling, and there is no rain, can I use the following mechanism - I have a Mikva in a closed room. On top of this Mikva, there is a cooling system (let's say that this ...
15
votes
5answers
429 views

Overhead projector on Shabbos?

A discussion came up with some guests over shabbos. One asked if one could use an overhead projector on Shabbos if it was turned on from before, i.e. could one put a new plastic sheet on it or not? In ...
14
votes
5answers
711 views

“Silk-Screened” Sifrei Torah

What are the halachic issues with Silk-screened sifrei torah? I am interested in a summary of concise halakhic rulings of multiple authorities on the prohibition or permissibility of HaRav Yitzchak ...
14
votes
7answers
245 views

Zmanim accuracy before digital clocks?

How was time measured for the purpose of Zmanim before we had accurate clocks like we do today? Was it possible to accurately determine Chatzos (at night) or the different watches of the night? I know ...
13
votes
3answers
758 views

Brewing fresh coffee for Shabbos with a time clock

May one prepare coffee ingredients in a brewer such as this one on Friday and set the timer to brew the coffee for 8:00 Shabbos morning?
13
votes
4answers
685 views

Typing on Chol Hamoed

Is typing allowed on Chol Hamoed? Does it make a difference if whatever is typed will be printed afterwards?
13
votes
2answers
1k views

Pirating software that has already been bought

Say, for instance, that I've previously bought a set of DVDs (for example, the workout program P90x, which contains several DVDs in a set), and that I am currently in a different country and have not ...
13
votes
1answer
219 views

Milk-free cheese: Is it kosher? Parve?

So according to this article, scientists have created cheese by inserting DNA blueprints into a yeast. Essentially, the milk proteins are being created outside of any animal, through genetic ...
13
votes
1answer
124 views

Can an ultrasound be relied upon?

I have read reports of the accuracy of gender prediction from an ultrasound with numbers ranging from 90-98%. There is a halacha (Y.D. 194:11) that if a fetus sticks its hand [or possibly any limb] ...
12
votes
1answer
521 views

Is programming against Judaism?

I just recently learned about this site when I saw Judaism was one of the stack overflow topics. I have been Jewish all my life and two years ago I started programming. I was wondering if there ...
12
votes
2answers
909 views

Why is it ok to use tap water/toilets on Shabbos? Considering the source of the water pressure

Why is it ok to use tap water/toilets on Shabbos? Considering the source of the water pressure. The water pressure that enables the water to flow out of the tap has to come from somewhere. It is ...
12
votes
3answers
539 views

Glow sticks on Shabbos

May one activate a glow stick on Shabbos? (In other words, is there a prohibition on activating the chemical reaction which produces the light in a glow stick?)
12
votes
1answer
533 views

Could stones cut with a high powered laser be used to build the Beit Hamikdash?

If Solomon's builders had access to lasers powerful enough to cut through stone, could he have used that instead of the Shamir? Stones for an altar or for the Beit Hamikdash were not allowed to be ...
12
votes
1answer
865 views

Can a live video feed remove the prohibition of Yichud?

I was wondering if and how a public videostream could affect a potential yichud situation. For example, may a single guy and girl be secluded if they set up a continuously broadcasting camera and ...
12
votes
1answer
960 views

Food in bathroom

Is one allowed to take food into the bathroom? I heard that the prohibiton is only on the type of bathroom used years ago.
12
votes
2answers
148 views

Netilas Yadayim with automatic sinks

It seems there is precedent to allow for netilas yadayim when you don't have a cup, by turning the sink on and off for each rivi'is per hand. By employing this method you satisfy the requirement of ...
12
votes
3answers
791 views

Am I allowed to view a Kotel Cam on Shabbos?

If there is a camera in Israel that is operating on Shabbos, am I (a person living in America, where Shabbos only starts 6 or 7 hours later) allowed to view such a camera? I suppose the same could be ...
12
votes
2answers
216 views

Rabbinic Responses to Landline Telephones

Recently the use of cellphones and smartphones has met with a lot of criticism in some communities. I'd be interested to see if landline telephones encountered any similar opposition when they were ...
11
votes
2answers
367 views

Cryonics in Judaism

I was recently reading an article about cryogenics, there are around 200 bodies frozen in cryogenics labs around the world, and in the article they said that in the near future they may be able to ...
11
votes
2answers
282 views

How do soldiers in the IDF obey Deuteronomy 23:13?

The mitvah talks about ensuring every soldiers have a spade to cover their excrement. The mitvah seems to be pretty obsolete because by now we have toilets all over the place. So, how it's done? Do ...
11
votes
5answers
388 views

Is Listening to a Torah Tape considered Talmud Torah?

It says in the Baal HaTanya's Hilchos Talmud Torah that one fulfills his obligation to learn Torah only if he says the words. Moreover, a Chavrusa fulfills his obligation only because Shomeya Keoneh. ...
11
votes
2answers
691 views

Is there any issue with using aerosols on Shabbos?

I've heard from many people that you shouldn't use aerosols (such as air fresheners, disinfectants or deodorants) on shabbos, usually citing some vague reason of changing the form from liquid to gas, ...
11
votes
4answers
569 views

DNA and Jewish Law

Why isn't DNA seen as a valid source of Halachic decision making? Is it because it's too small for the naked eye? A margin of error problem? What? Normally, physical evidence is plenty of information ...
11
votes
2answers
208 views

Binding answers for Halachic questions

I recall learning that one is not allowed to "venue shop" by asking a series of rabbis for a practical halachic ruling and following the opinion you like. I was taught that one should ask and be bound ...
11
votes
2answers
345 views

Smart thermostat on Shabbos - what should one do?

I read an article recently regarding a person who went to a hotel and realized after Shabbos began that all the rooms were controlled by smart thermostats. A smart thermostat detects when one is in ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

Who determines the kosher status of “new” foods?

Who determines the kosher status for "new" processed foods (e.g. Jell-O)? A few orthodox rabbis' approval? General consensus by the Jewish religious community? Certain kosher standards organizations? ...
10
votes
6answers
308 views

Technological innovations and halacha

A generally accepted halachic principle is that the Torah was not given to angels. As such, halacha is only applied within normal human capabilities. A classic example is that one is not required to ...
10
votes
4answers
801 views

How to learn Amidah, Shma and others?

I live 3000km from shul and take conversion classes remotely. I am learning from Koren Siddur. Because I do not ever hear how the words should be spoken, I sometimes wonder if it is a waste of time. I ...
10
votes
1answer
291 views

Electronic communication immediately before wedding

Is it permissible to chat with your future spouse during the week before the wedding when you are not supposed to see each other face to face? Are any, all, or none of the following permissible: ...
10
votes
4answers
239 views

Online tool for minyan management?

If I'm running a small minyan that sometimes has a quorum and sometimes doesn't, and I'd like to only hold the minyan when I know we'll have ten, is there an online tool to help me manage this?
10
votes
1answer
211 views

Would a metallic prosthetic hand require immersion?

Normally, a metal utensil used to eat with, such as a fork, requires immersion before its first use if it had been owned by a gentile. If a person has a metallic prosthetic hand which he uses to eat, ...
10
votes
1answer
273 views

Opening an umbrella indoors

Is there anything wrong with opening up an umbrella indoors according to Jewish tradition? I have met many people who view it as bad luck or possibly rude. On the other hand we are commanded not to ...
10
votes
1answer
167 views

Cell Phone Jammers in Halacha

I could not imagine cell phone jammers would be מותר, but perhaps my gut-feeling is wrong... Either way, I would be interested in knowing how they fit into halacha, and what the reasons behind ...
10
votes
1answer
259 views

May one reheat food on top of a crock-pot or urn on Shabbos?

According to my understanding cooked or baked food that is currently cold, may be placed on top of a pot that is on a blech on Shabbos to warm up. What about putting cooked or baked foods on top of ...
10
votes
2answers
178 views

If three men pre-arranged to sit down and eat together over a video-chat, is there any reason they shouldn't have a zimun?

I learned that if two groups were eating in two different rooms but even one person could see someone in the other room, then they could have one zimun (I thought this was in Masechet Brachot, but I ...