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It is generally accepted that grama (indirect causation) is not permitted in performing a forbidden melacha in non-emergency situations. Similarly, while there may be cases of grama in other halachic domains that are not enforceable in the human courts (such as damages and capital crimes), they are still enforced in the heavenly court.

According to the makers of the Kosher Switch who opine that the switch does not even involve grama and therefore is completely permitted on Shabbat even in non-emergency situations, does that also imply that it could be used in non-melacha applications such as murder?

  • Is the standard of Grama the same in these different halachic domains? – Double AA Jun 11 '15 at 21:45
  • @DoubleAA If not, that could be one possible answer (though it would need to be sourced). – Loewian Jun 11 '15 at 21:55
  • @DoubleAA If that is the case, it's still a pretty radical argument since they would still be allowing all 39 melochos l'chatchilla shelo bshaas hadechak as I think was pointed out by Rav Belsky in his joint letter condemning the device. – Loewian Jun 11 '15 at 21:59
  • My Rosh Yeshivah explained how it is gerama, and said that the kosher switch has been around for years; in hospitals. – user613 Aug 23 '15 at 10:56
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It would be at least לא תעמוד על דם רעך. And I would imagine much worse.

1

There's a lot of discussion whether the threshold needed to halachically connect your action to the result is higher vis-a-vis Shabbos than other halachic subjects because of meleches machsheves -- the Torah referred specifically to conscious, creative labor.

Regardless, the Gemara Sanhedrin 76--78 discusses all sorts of cases of "direct" vs "indirect" murder; rerouting a stream of water so that it will drown someone a hundred yards from here is considered sufficiently indirect that it would not be subject to the Torah's death penalty for "direct" murder. (Many have connected this to the Trolley Problem.) Instead, we'd call it "murder in the second degree", and as the Rambam writes, the courts have every right to beat the fellow within an inch of his life and throw him in a dungeon, or else everyone will get away with murder-by-technicality and society will run off the rails (forgive the pun).

(Laws of the Murderer and Preservation of Life 2:5.)

ה הרי שלא הרגם המלך, ולא הייתה השעה צריכה לחזק הדבר--הרי בית דין חייבין מכל מקום להכותם מכה רבה הקרובה למיתה, ולאסור אותן במצור ובמצוק שנים רבות, ולצערן בכל מיני צער: כדי להפחיד ולאיים על שאר הרשעים, שלא יהיה להם הדבר לפוקה ולמכשול לבב, ויאמר הריני מסבב להרוג אויבי כדרך שעשה פלוני, ואיפטר.

You'd have to go through the cases in Sanhedrin carefully, as many push-button situations would be second-degree murder anyhow. But it's theoretically possible there are some where adding in a random delay could take it from first-degree to second-degree murder; but it's still murder. (Please don't do it.)

  • Would rerouting a stream on shabbos so that it accomplishes a melocho (e.g. watering a field) be considered mutar l'chatchila? – Loewian Jun 11 '15 at 23:53
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    If I can get them to make me the Kosher gun, I can't promise anything;) (After all, people don't kill people; [kosher] guns kill people;) – Loewian Jun 11 '15 at 23:56
  • Does this answer the question? It seems to just restate what the OP already knows (that there are gramma applications to murder which do not completely exempt the transgressor) and then wonders aloud if there is such a thing as what the OP is asking. – Y     e     z Jun 12 '15 at 3:14
  • @yEz "do the shabbos definitions of gramma apply to other halachos?" -- it's a machlokes. "Can I make a gramma murder switch?" -- most switches are second-degree murder anyhow, and second-degree murder is still murder. – Shalom Jun 12 '15 at 12:12
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    @yEz the first paragraph answers it. Shabbos has a Hetter of אין מתכוין and a פטור of אינו צריכה לגופה. This is what they are employing (although it is no doubt really hard to agree to). – HaLeiVi Jun 12 '15 at 16:51

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