Jewish Law (Halacha) forbids 39 specific actions on Shabbat. See my http://learnemunah.com/holidays/shabbat2.html for more on these laws. In this modern internet age opinions vary about the 39 prohibitions and their observances.
Among these prohibitions is the proper observance of number 36 and 37, Extinguishing a fire and Kindling a fire. Two others are also at question, 32 and 33, Writing two letters and Erasing two letters.
Among the questions these four prohibitions raise today is the use of the internet on Shabbat and the yamin tovim (holy days). Does turning on or off a computer amount to extinguishing or kindling a fire, an electric "spark"? Most current Orthodox opinion is that it either does or that it creates the appearance of a violation. Therefore such things should not be done.
There is also debate about online keyboard typing since the letters and words created with a computer keyboard do not constitute the creation of physical letters and words. Again, standard Orthodox halacha rules that such should not be done, whether viewed as an actual violation or as a compromise on the protective "hedge" around Shabbat observances.
Based on these points we typically avoid using the internet on Holy Days.
While agreeing with this protective principle, we at the House of Seven Beggars, the Keruv Media Network and LearnEmunah.com note that many people around the world have no access to a shul or other established Jewish community to properly observe these divine appointments. In non-Orthodox communities driving to services is generally permitted as they conclude that attending services is more important than not driving. Orthodoxy generally rejects this compromise and so many religious Jews have no way to get to even local shuls for services. This is a serious problem with no realistic halachic solution other than ours. For this reason many elderly Jews sit alone at home of in nursing homes on the holy days rather than joining their fellows at shul as they would prefer. Likewise many Jews for whom a proper shuls is miles away likewise have no place to attend services nor to establish meaningful relationships with other Jews. We offer a solution.
Many years ago our Rebbe, Rabbi Aryel Nachman Ben Chaim, created the first, and to my knowledge still only complete online Synagogue, the House of Seven Beggars. The name is based on an inspiring story by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.
It is my honor to be an associate rabbi of this shul and community and to assist Rabbi Aryel Nachman in his ongoing services to those who have no other means of attending services, whether because of age, disability, hospitalization, lack of local Jewish communities, or other reasons. We at the House of Seven Beggars are blessed by this wonderful opportunity to assist those in need with our services, classes and genuine friendships.
How We Do It:
In order to comply with established Shabbat halacha and opinion:Our computers, routers, etc. are turned on well before the beginning of Shabbat and/or other holy days. They remain turned on until well after the conclusion of the day(s).
The broadcasts are set up with timers. If you go to our Keruv Media Network at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSlLblEhlQ1ZQqb_XKEM5jA and click an upcoming program you will see a timer counting down to the broadcast. The services begin according to this pre-set timer. An easier to remember URL will be available soon, please subscribe our You Tube site.
In this way we are in complete halachic compliance as utilized with such well established items as Shabbat elevators, Shabbat "stoves" (blech), Shabbat lighting and heating, and so on.
How You Can Do It:
If you wish to honor Shabbat and the holidays with us properly:Turn on your computer before Shabbat and leave it on until after Havdalah.
Open your browser to https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSlLblEhlQ1ZQqb_XKEM5jA
Open the service/broadcast you wish to join when the time comes.
Disable your auto-sleep mode.
When the broadcast(s) auto-begins you will find yourself "seated" in our congregation.
We recommend participating fully as if you were physically present in a shul. These are not shows, they are sacred services.
In order to attend both services, simply open a second browser window and do the same thing before Shabbat. Changing to the second browser window for the next broadcast posses no halachic issues.
WHOEVER you are, regardless of your Jewish movement, regardless of your Jewish status, even if you are not Jewish, YOU are welcome at the House of Seven Beggars. Noahides are specifically welcome at the House of Seven Beggars.
The House of Seven Beggars is a "Traditional" Jewish shul that welcomes all people of good will. To us a Jew is a Jew as Rebbe Rabbi Aryel Nachman Ben Chaim explains here: http://learnemunah.com/ranbach/jewisjew.html.
If you have questions about our services, about how this process works, etc. just let me know.
See you in shul!
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