Next week I'm teaching in our synagogue Ritual Committee about issues relating to the use of electronics on Shabbat, particularly in connection with conducting services. Since I'm gathering source material I thought I would post for everyone the raw material from the Conservative movement.
There are certain basic concepts of halacha (Jewish law) that are important backdrop:
- m'lacha -- usually understood as creative, durable labor forbidden on Shabbat by the Torah
- avot m'lacha -- overarcing categories of m'lacha, of which there are 39
- tol'dot m'lacha -- derivative types of m'lacha, subsets of analogies to the 39 avot m'lacha
- ha-koteiv -- the one who writes (one of the 39)
- mi-d'oraita/d'oraita -- a law derived directly from the Torah (oraita is Aramaic for Torah)
- mi'drabbanan/d'rabbanan -- a law enacted by the rabbis of the Mishnah, often to keep people away from violating a Torah law
- sh'vut -- activities other than m'lacha that detract from the restfulness of Shabbat
- uv'din d'chol -- actions/activities associated with weekday time
- p'sik reishei v'lo... -- "he cut off its head; wouldn't...." a (colorful) metaphor for the concept of "double effect", actions that are done with one intention but have a likely second result
- muk'tzeh -- set off or set aside; objects that one should not touch because their major use is for m'lacha
- sh'at had'chak -- a pressing time or emergency/exigent situation
Some sources: RabbI Nevins, Rabbi Heller, and Rabbi Reisner are the most contemporary papers in terms of the technology they reference, though some of the older analysis is applicable still.
- Rabbi Daniel Nevins, "The Use of Electrical and Electronic Devices on Shabbat." (2012). This is a long survey with a good table of contents about conceptual and then specific issues. Electronics specifically are discussed in the ha-koteiv section starting on p. 30.
- Rabbi Gordon Tucker, "The Use of a Remote Audio/Video Monitor on Shabbat and Yom Tov" (1989)
- Rabbis Elliot Dorff and Gordon Tucker, "On Recording Shabbat and Yom Tov Services" (1989)
- Rabbi Joshua Heller, "Streaming Services on Shabbat and Yom Tov" (2020)
- Rabbi Avram Israel Reisner, "Zoom is Not the Way: A Dissent to 'Streaming Services on Shabbat and Yom Tov'" (2020)
Though not on the specific issue of Shabbat, essential reading about what does or does not make an electronic minyan is Rabbi Avram Israel Reisner, "Wired to the Kadosh Barukh Hu: Minyan via Internet" (2001).