Monday, September 26, 2011

Shabbat Shalom

I was at Cedar Sinai hospital the other day visiting my uncle after his hip replacement surgery. Before boarding the elevator I noticed this little gem.

For those who don't know, this stems from a rather arcane adherence to the ancient Sabbath laws which prohibit all manner of work including, apparently, the pushing of an elevator button.

I'm not religious in any sense of the word but I appreciate the sentiment behind mandatory rest. We all work too hard and get caught up in our responsibilities. And it is a good idea to take a day to slow down and retreat from our labor. But in whose crazy book is it written that the pushing of a button amounts to work?

The truth is while you're reading this on Monday, I'm writing this on Saturday. Of course, I don't view this type of writing as work, so I'm not in any violation. But if I were to mention that right now you can lease a Lexus RX 350 with All Wheel Drive and available Blind Spot Detection Display for $429 a month, well that would be work.

Do you see how thin the line is?

How difficult it must have been 5000 years ago for those old Talmudic rabbis to decide the proper code of conduct on the Sabbath.

As Rabbi Eliazar saith: ...and so it is agreed that the 5th rib of the sacrificial goat shall be eaten only on Wednesday and only during a Harvest Moon. And only by members of the Levite tribe. Rabbi Gamiel I believe you have something to say.

Rabbi Gamiel: We are but poor men but wealthy in the wisdom of the Torah. We are not soothsayers. But what if in the future, the Lord, blessed be he, were to construct a large edifice. And in that edifice doctors and caregivers would nurse our ill and elderly.

Rabbi Josiah: Yes, that would be wonderful.

Rabbi Gamiel: And what if in that edifice there were a magic box that would transport visitors to the any level of that edifice.

Rabbi Akeebah: Oh the Lord doth bless the children of Israel.

Rabbi Gamliel: Yes, but to make the magic box work one might have to hit a tiny button.

Rabbi Eliazar: I see no problem with a button.

Rabbi Gamliel: But what if one were to push that button on a Saturday?

Rabbi Akeebah: On the Sabbath?

Rabbi Gamliel: Yes, but it was to visit a sickly loved one.

Rabbi Josiah: On the Sabbath!!! The Holy Sabbath?

Rabbi Gamliel: Yes. But did I mention they were sick?

And with that the other rabbis smote Rabbi Gamliel to death with their kiddush cups. Because he was contrarian, even for a Jew, and because he chewed his food with his mouth open.


Jeff said...

Jews don't push elevator buttons on any day of the week. We have people for that.

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