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Topic: This peulah deals with the meeting of Halacha – received from Hashem thousands of years ago at Har Sinai – with the ever-changing, always advancing technology of the soon to be 21st century. Some people would like to say that Halacha is outdated, it doesn’t apply anymore or holds us back from being part of modern society. We know better. The rabbis of every generation have the ability to apply the principles of Halacha to any possibility that you can imagine. Their amazing knowledge of the Torah ensures that for every new product that technology can create, there is a halacha to go with it, telling us how to use it.
Goal: To show that Halacha\Torah is not old and inapplicable but contains information to cover all situations that futuristic technology can conceive.
This peulah aims to instill in all of us a certain appreciation for the adaptability of Halacha and how it can help to live our lives properly.
Peulah: Halacha and technology can be a difficult concept to grasp and has the potential to be incredibly boring. To avoid that, this peulah moves to the extreme, using wacky cases to prove the point.
It’s not very active, but it should be fun and get the kids involved. The basic format will be to present the chanichim\ot with a halachic problem, set in a strange scenario. The weirdness of the case should help get them interested, but to answer the question they’ll need to use some sort of Torah knowledge. Let the kids try to answer the question and if they get stuck, give them some of the information provided right after the question.
1A) You are travelling through space to visit some distant relatives. On the way, you stop overnight at a planet inhabited by Zyberkloids. As you finish Shacharit and are wrapping up your tefillin, a curious Zyberkloid asks you what they are. When you tell him, he becomes very interested and wants to put them on. As you look at the Zyberkloid you realize that there might be a problem: It has 14 arms and 6 heads. How many pairs of tefillin does it need to wear?
this question is dependent on what is the nature of the obligation to wear
tefillin. If the obligation falls on each arm, the Zyberkloid might need 14
pairs. But if the obligation is on the person, he’d only need one pair. The
obligation is on the person, to remember that Hashem took us out of
1B) Which arm should the tefillin go on?
Answering this question should be easy. It is based on the same principle that tells us to put it on our weak arm, generally being the left. We learn this from the spelling of the word “Yadcha – your hand” in the Torah, which has an extra “Hey” at the end. (We explain the word to be “Yad Keha – your weak hand”.) So the Zyberkloid should put the tefillin on its weakest arm, or one of its weakest if some of them are equal.
2) You’re vacationing on a strange planet known for its beautiful night skies, lit up with exciting colors and star formations that you never see from earth. One Motzei Shabbat, you go outside to say Kiddush Levana and discover a drawback to such a peculiar sky. One of the nice things about it was that it had four moons. Do you have to say Kiddush Levana* for each moon?
Your initial response might be that you have to say Kiddush Levana over each moon as it begins its new cycle, even if that means having to do it four times a month. However, is the Mitzva to bless any new moon or just the one that the calendar is based on? This would mean that you would only say Kiddush Levana over one moon. These are some of the principles which would have to be used to answer this question. Something to think about: If none of the moons there followed the cycle of the one that we use to set up our calendar, would say Kiddush Levana at all?
3) You are travelling from one galaxy to another. It’s a long distance but your spaceship is equipped with warp speed. Using it allows you to arrive at your destination in several minutes. Should you say Tefillat Haderech?
There are different opinions regarding the saying of Tefillat Haderech. One opinion is that it is dependant on a minimum distance that you travel, the other opinion says that it is based on a minimum time spent travelling. According to the first opinion, you’d still have to say Tefillat Haderech but not according to the second one.
4) You are being transported from a spaceship to a planet. Baruch Hashem, you arrive safely. The next day is a Monday. Do say a Birchat HaGomel at Shacharit when they lein from the Torah?
Birkat Hagomel is dependent on whether or not your trip was dangerous. For example, while most of us say a Birkat HaGomel after flying over an ocean, some people say that flying is so statistically safe that it does not merit a Bracha. The same would be true for transporting. While being broken down into atoms, sent across space and reassemble later sounds dangerous to us, it may be a foolproof technique at some point. (Hurray for all you Trekkies). Saying Birkat Hagomel will probably be dependent on whether or not transporting is considered safe.
5) After transporting, do you say Modeh Ani?
We say Modeh Ani in the morning to thank Hashem for returning our Neshama to our bodies. The question is, when your body gets split up into individual atoms and then put back together, does your Neshama leave your body or not?
6) There is a woman married to a man…and then he gets cloned. Is the woman now married to both of them? Can she be?
As scientists start talking seriously about cloning people, this question becomes more interesting. Basically, the halacha is that no person can have more than one spouse. It used to be that a man could have more than one wife but a few centuries ago, Rabbeinu Gershom made a Takana that they couldn’t do that anymore. So it doesn’t matter if it is the woman or man being cloned, nobody can be married to two people. You can only be married to someone if you do a certain process called Eirusin and then Kiddushin. So the woman would not be married to the clone…unless the clone is considered to be halachically the same person as the original. Then it would get interesting.
Important: The purpose of this sicha is to show that halachic principle that we use nowadays can be applied to any situation. The examples used are not supposed to be real halachot. Psak Halacha for a new situation can only be decided by a Rabbi who knows all the relevant material. Don’t confuse this sicha with reality.
The idea is the important part. Halacha is applicable to all situations and should always be looked at in order so that we know what to do. A lot of times, halacha combines with technology to provide us with benefits. For example, years ago, people would have no light on Shabbat. Now, with Shabbat clocks\timers, we wouldn’t think about spending Shabbat in the dark.
CONTEST!!!! PRIZES FOR ANSWERS!!!
Send your most creative answers to the above questions to:
Bnei Akiva-National Lishka
* Kiddush Levana is a special blessing and prayer said one night (usually motzie Shabbat) between the new moon (Earliest time is either the third or seventh day of the month) and the full moon (15th of the month).