Sunday, December 27, 2009

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Question on Internet Halacha for Shabbos


by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

I was over at Hirhurim and noted an interesting Internet Halacha question in a comment thread (that was unrelated to the article)...

It's Friday and I have question: My Rav has told me not to link to Israeli news sites on Friday when it's Shabbos in Israel because they are updated on Shabbos and I will be deriving benefit from Chilul Shabbos.

Given my Rabbi's concern, does a Frum website have the responsibiliy of not providing links to those websites on Friday or at least warning the Oilam about it?


Internet halacha is a topic we discuss occasionally here, as on our team we have Internet technology experts and rabbis, which allows us to dig into aspects others might miss. Remember, we're just discussing theory, before you make any halachic decision (changing how you do things) consult with YOUR rabbi.

So lets discuss this question.

First, are Israeli news web sites updated on Shabbos? The answer is: some are and some aren't. So this discussion only applies to those that are.

The second question would have to be: are the sites that are being updated on Shabbos having the work done by Jewish employees? This is actually a good question, as Israeli labor law specifies that one may not have Jewish workers working on Shabbos unless the job cannot be done by others. Many companies do use non-Jewish workers (whether Arab or Russian non-Jewish immigrants) to cover Shabbos jobs - such as monitoring at utilities (power company, water company, etc). The answer is: we don't know. Some seem to post only newswire material on Shabbos, the type of job that you'd expect special weekend workers to do. Others seem to be posting more significant material - though no their regular contributors.

The third question has to be: if you link to an article (assuming in a blog post or maybe in emails you send people) are you receiving benefit from someone else's chillul Shabbos? In the case of a blog post, linking to an article usually is NOT to the benefit of the blog, as it takes traffic from the blog and sends it elsewhere. Linking is done to provide an acknowledgement and benefit to the source of the material, a return courtesy for the fair use of a snippet of their content. So the blogger doesn't benefit from the LINK, he benefits from the article content which he clips. (Some might argue it provides the blog post with authority, but few blogs act to be authoritative rather than opinionated.) So the straight answer to the question is, no benefit in links means not benefiting from chillul Shabbos, so linking is ok.

Ah, the follow up question is what about reading the Israeli news site that is updated on Shabbos while it's Friday in the US? If the majority of news workers and/or web workers working on the news sites in Israel are Jews on Shabbos, then indeed by reading the site you're receiving benefit from someone else's chillul Shabbos, and this is prohibited.

If the majority of news and web workers on Shabbos at Israeli news web sites are special non-Jewish workers for Shabbos, then it would be permissible.

2 comments:

josh said...

Solution: avoid Israeli sites that do chillul Shabbat - all week long.

Brit said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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