Saturday, June 18, 2011

Karaite synogague in Albany and how they celebrate the Shabbos. No lights or air conditioning!! Absurd.

There is a synagogue in Albany, NY called  Orah Saddiqim the second Karaite synagogue. Why they can't use normal English spelling is beyond me but whatever.

There site seems to be down as of this moment and was looking at in which they discuss the Shabbos. And they actually don't allow you to have any lights or even air conditioning or heat based on this passage in Exodus 35:3. Which they translate as "You shall not burn fire in any of your dwellings on the Shabbos day" which to be fair to them is I believe what the second word in Hebrew literally means.

Of course what does that mean "you shall not burn a fire"??? How can you burn fire!! Maybe if you are some magician. I don't know. Fire burns wood it doesn't burn itself. Also of course you are not burning the fire if the fire was started on Friday. The fire is burning the wood not you as you started it beforehand.  So clearly it was an expression meaning don't light a fire when it says this. 

If this was what they meant it would make more sense to say don't keep a fire burning or put out a fire before Shabbos.

In addition to this, it was recently read in the bible during the torah reading of a man who gathered wood on the Shabbos Numbers 15:33-35 and they agreed he should be put to death. Why isn't there a case of a man keeping a fire burning. Likely because there is nothing wrong with it but gathering wood to start a fire is wrong.


SouthernBelle Rivky said...

I go away for a few days and Mr. Adam is busy guy with lots of postings!!!!!

I suspect some of the spelling variations might be originally influenced by Arabic since that was the area some Karaites developed. Then whatever spellings just stuck. Kind of like how the leader of Like the leader of Libya's name. I've seen it spelling with a K, G, and way back with a Q. Kind of mysterious I think.

I heard that a major problem with Karaites in the past was that a lot of them died out in the winter getting sick from no heat or hot food on shabbat. I don't know if this is made up by rabbis, but it would make sense someone could get sick or sicker in freezing weather or eating spoiled food.

There is Karaite justification today that they even unplug their fridge. Since using electricity constitutes a business transaction with the electric company on Shabbat. That is dumb idea to me. I don't see how it any different than when I write rent check--payment includes my living in apt on Shabbat as well as rest of month.

I have sort of opposite problem with the idea of electricity on shabbat. Like leaving bathroom light or hot plate on all day really makes me feel guilty wasting energy. Or if the A/C or heat is too high and I want to change the temperature so it is agreeable.

I can't get the arguement that somewhere down the line an electric spark was created and that's the same as fire. Really?? If you ask anyone where electricity comes from, I doubt anyone that's not an engineer comes up with it being from fire. Most people don't really know I think, we just take for granted power comes from electric company when we flick the switch. I know Mr. Adam being the super smart guy he is knows all the fancy rabbinic terms and reasoning for this but I have to say this just bugs me.

Analytical Adam said...

Thanks for commenting. I was wondering how come you had commented for a while.

In some other area's they (the Karaites) have good insight but in this case clearly nothing else would support that this passage that literally means "don't burn a fire" means to keep a fire burning which isn't even doing anything. I guess this why Rabbis focus on this case although in most other cases they understand sometimes you have expressions that are not meant literally. And some Karaites seem to have conceded by today using electricity set before Shabbos although like the Rabbis they can't admit well maybe since they are human they made a mistake in the past.

All I can say about wasting electricity is the fact that back in the day they had to keep a candle burning or fire burning all Shabbos.

Of course today turning on a light is not the kind of work to gather and have a fire burning. I don't know if anyone can consider it "work". Thanks to technology certain things that use to be work are thankfully no longer work.

Analytical Adam said...

In terms of why they become a very small sect I don't know. Not sure if one day a week in the hot or cold month without any relief would kill people.

The bigger reason may be that their logic didn't make sense as I mention above to most people and as a result their movement wasn't successful as most thought this was crazy unless it was a society that had a lot of self suffering. Which maybe in Muslim countries where they fast for 30 straight days (not at night) and had their own version of "self denial" that it appealed to some. I do think that even though they may deny it some Muslim influences are clearly in their ideas.

In addition their trying to prove that they support "equality" between the genders also may have hurt marriage rates as when men and women become competitors and are taught to think they are the same it does lower marriage and birth rates.

Clearly, the Karaites that claim God is not with the Rabbis have to admit in their own case God doesn't seem to be with them either.

SouthernBelle Rivky said...

Awww...Mr. Adam missed me...hehehehe. Kind of like that bad penny not going away...just when you thought I did and I turn back up....hehehe...In terms of wasting candles and fire, one needed light in the evening anyways, especially in the winter months. Kind of hard to eat a big meal or read in the dark amongst other things. And lighting or relighting a fire was probably a bigger deal back then. Bigger deal than taking my big BBQ lighter and click click :) I know really classy but matches give me the creeps. Don't think they had matches back then either, guess they rub sticks together, I don't know.

I could see how not having heat on a very cold night or having food that been out too long could make someone that's weak even sicker, especially a little kid or old person. Kind of like when you are stressed out you are more likely to catch a cold. They didn't have antibiotics or meds back then besides some herbs. Supposedly even today, one would be allowed to break shabbat to boil water for a brit (say to sterilize) or for a very sick person if they needed. Though today ravs would say to get a goy to do it instead but from what I read one could do on own if no one handy was around. Mr. Adam probably knows this better since he knows a lot about this stuff.

I guess the larger issue is that I don't see flicking the light switch as being a reasonable form of work. I mean no one hires people to flick light switch all day long. If someone is hiring for that, I want that job! Nor does it create anything that's lasting. So I find this definition of work to be problematic to me. I go along with it because that is what is expected and really there's no harm in doing so, but like I said I feel kind of guilty about it.

Yet it's totally legit to move your couch or big bookcase for shabbat purpose, say to extend table for guests or make room for folding bed. No one would have a problem with doing that, which I'd consider a lot more work and effort to more big furniture than that light switch.

Mohimba said...

As for some Karaites dying of cold or because of a lack of hot food on Shabbat, That's ridiculous! for centuries, the Inuit (Eskimo) have eaten cold meals, conducted life day-to-day without heat. You would suggest that Karaites as a group have no intelligence! I would rather eat a cold meal and keep God's Law than to follow a manmade 'law', using a blech to keep my food warm, staying within an Eruv line. Preparing is preparing. You either prepare to remember and observe the Shabbat, or you prepare to be comfortable for the weekend.

Analytical Adam said...

Thanks for commenting Mohimba.

In this regard Mohimba I do question the Karaite practice. As I said it literally means do not burn a fire which obviously is impossible. In this Karaite discussion people mentioned the time in Nnumber Chapter 3 it is menionted but there it say that it burned them.

The Jews were allowed to gather Mana before the Sabbath. Gathering is work. God Punished this man who gather wood on Shabboth. Obviously he was doing this to be able to start a fire. And the reason is repeated is to remind the Jewish people not to cook food on Shabboth or prepare food.

It makes no sense to me to suggest you should spend Friday Night in the dark with no light that was prepared before Shabbos because that would be "burning a fire" which the fire is burning something else. You are doing nothing. It just seems to be a reminder to not cook on Shabbos.
That makes the most sense and fits with other passages in the five books of Moses.

In terms of warming up food but not cooking it that isn't creating a fire is it?? I will admit as a guy who doesn't coook me much in this regard I am ignorant.

Liron said...

The passage says:
Exodus 35:3 You are not to let fire burn throughout all your settlements on the Sabbath day.

"let fire burn" is much different than "burn fire". In English, we say "the fire is burning" or "the fire is lit", so even your translation is still legitimate. You are semantically nitpicking like a lawyer and it leads you to a deviant path that undoubtedly would result in the confusion you express.