Page 32 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 27

Basic HTML Version

e w i s h
o o k
n n u a l
given a complete discussion. After dealing with the problem in
various ways and making various suggestions, he speaks of the
solution used by some pious people in America. Before the Sab­
bath they insert a piece of cardboard between the door and the
frame, so that the box is never completely closed. It remains fairly
cold all the day and the machine would not necessarily start
when the door is opened, or else it would run continuously all
day, to which there is no objection. However, the subject of the
refrigerator will be discussed for some time because many analo­
gous modern devices are involved. If, for example, it was pro­
hibited to open the refrigerator door because it starts the elec­
tricity, it should be prohibited to open the door of an apartment
whose heat is controlled by thermostat, since the change of tem­
perature would activate the furnace. We might say it is the tend­
ency of the law to grant permission for the use of the icebox on
Sabbath, but that the permission has not yet been quite clarified.
There is some discussion about the use of the electric razor.
A razor is forbidden but not a scissors. Does the to-and-fro motion
of the knives behind the shield in the electric razor constitute
knife-action or is it the permitted scissors action? This question
is discussed fully by Jacob Weiss of Manchester in his Minhat
Yitzhak, IV, 113. For the purpose of this particular responsum,
he carefully examined several brands of razor which he mentions
by name. For the present he recommends that the pious person
should use a razor with as thick a shield as possible.
The New Social Conditions
Many of the modern questions confronted in the responsa have
little or nothing to do with either medical problems or modern
material inventions. They are the outcome of new social condi­
tions arising through changes in social behaviour and social mood.
Perhaps the general relaxation of sexual morals is responsible
in recent years for a number of children born of unmarried moth­
ers. The availability of these children has greatly increased the
number of adoptions by childless Jewish parents. In earlier gen­
erations adopting a child, giving it the family name and con­
sidering it a member of the family was rare, although the Talmud
says that whoever raises an orphan may be considered the child's
natural father (Megillah 13a). This is borne out by the fact
that there is no section of Jewish law devoted to adoption, even
though the Romans regularly practiced it. Now that it has greatly
increased, there are difficult problems because very little prece­
dent for it exists in Jewish law. A number of scholars have con­
sidered the problem in recent years. Almost no scholar objects
to adoption as such; their exclusive concern is with the identity