That this has become an issue that Jews are concerned about in New York City and not some remote Taliban-like rugged turf should get our liberals to raise eyebrows. But, will they? I doubt it.
The report in the NYT has a deadpan tone. Almost as though it is perfectly acceptable:
But last week, newly added to the tenant issues facing building managers like Harold M Jacob, who runs a co-op where Orthodox Jews inhabit a substantial portion of the 2,500 apartments, was this almost ontological question: Does that elevator “know” how many people are on it?
Ontological? Is this anywhere close to the metaphysical study of the nature of being and existence?
Ever since elevators became the norm with the construction of high-rise buildings, concessions were made for the 39 activities prohibited during the Sabbath. Use of electrical devices is one of them. Pressing buttons constitutes such activity.This had got the Knesset involved and made it mandatory in Israel to designate one lift in a building as ‘Shabbos’, the good one that automatically stopped on every floor so that Orthodox Jews did not have to press any buttons and could spend their Sabbath within the accepted religious realm.
After a meeting with technicians, it was recently discovered that even Shabbos elevators have devices that automatically measure the weight of the lift car and adjust the power. It has resulted in seeking to ban them.
In a world that is sitting in judgement about other faiths and their strict adherence to them and making it out to be as though they are backward and not moving with the times, this sort of observance will not be questioned with much harshness.
Why? Because these people are educated? They have made money and can live in the heart of New York? They have a strong lobby within America? An apartment block that has 2500 residents and several other issues now being forced to think about pressing buttons in lifts is ridiculous.
How many of you have heard about Jews being made fun of because of their obsession with the kosher? They don’t eat pork. They are circumcised. The orthodox among them wear clothes as per the Talmudic laws wherever they are or go. Does it not strike anyone as unusual that rabbis are having meetings about this and how the community follows the belief?
Oh, so you will turn around and say, they don’t have suicide bombers. They don’t do this and they don’t do that. Kindly visit Gaza. If you can get there. An educated community that stops essential provisions from reaching people who belong to the land is hardly educated.
Incidentally, Palestinians are among the most educated people in the world. But a boy in Gaza has to ride a donkey painted with stripes to mimic a zebra because he has never seen a zebra in his life. His world, though, is black and white. And if he grows up, unless he gets killed, he will see the world as a monochrome reality.
The Jews in the world outside can continue to think of important issues about where the lift stops. The buck will never stop at their door.