22 June 2009

Operating a cell phone with one's teeth is o.k.

I am recurrently amazed by the logical contortions that are used by people who explain to other people exactly what it is that God thinks and what God wants you to do. A case in point:
JERUSALEM, June 10 (UPI) -- A religious ruling permits ultra-orthodox Jews to operate their mobile phones on the Sabbath and religious holidays with their teeth...

Many of the ultra orthodox volunteers... work on the Sabbath and were confronted with the dilemma of how to activate their mobile phones without violating religious rules...

Rabbi Levy Yitzhak Halperin issued a new set of rules involving the use of a specially designed case that prevents phones from being shut down accidentally. To confirm response to dispatch, workers are permitted to hold a small metal pin between their teeth and press the necessary buttons on the phones...


  1. No offense intended, but this pretty much proves the foolishness of religion.

  2. Turns out, if you read the article, these are EMS workers, so they're giving up their Sabbath--which is very precious to Orthodox Jews--to save lives.

    What I don't get is that although driving is forbidden on the Sabbath, it may be done to save lives (as these EMS workers do). Why isn't the same exception made for calling dispatch, since knowing where the closest workers to an accident are shortens response time (and may therefore help save lives)?

  3. And then there was the Orthodox Jewish couple who sued because the automatic light in the hall of their apartment made them "work" on the Sabbath. This is what happens when you try to apply the rules of a desert herding society of 3,000 years ago to the modern age. Fundamentalists of any religion give all religion a bad name.

  4. Since the purpose is saving life, then they should be allowed to use the phone regardless. And if they're not, then whether using the finger or the teeth shouldn't have any effect. So I asked a co worker, who is an old religious jew, if he has any rationalization for this decision.
    I wasn't very convinced by it, but it turned out that he did. The permission to use the phone is indeed given due to the life saving need. And yes, they should be able to do that by answering the phone normally. The issue with the teeth is possibly because of an idea that if you do something for special reasons, then you do it in a special/uncommon way just to make it clear to yourself (and, possibly, anyone else looking) that it is indeed under special circumstances. Answering the phone with the teeth, rather than a finger, is not usual, so it makes it very clear that the ability to answer the phone on the Sabbath is also due to special circumstances.


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