Shabbat and Digital Technology

You are here:
< Back

Dear Rabbi Simon
I was wondering if one is allowed to wear a digital watch on Shabbat?  If so is one also allowed to wear a Fitbit or similar?
Best wishes
Dalia

Dear Dalia
Thank you for your question.
Digital watches are permitted on Shabbat, particularly if they have an aesthetic component, ie as an item of jewelry. This heter [permission] relates to the prohibition of carrying, which in any case is not an issue if one lives in an area with an eruv. However manipulating the watch through pressing buttons or similar is assur, due to the use of electrical current involved. There may also be an issue of “writing”.
Self-winding watches are also allowed, as the effect of the wearer’s moving his or her arm is imperceptible (in halakhic terms).
Fitbit, on the other hand (excuse the pun), is problematic, as the wearer is almost inevitably conscious of the fact that his or her motion and activity is meticulously (if invisibly and electronically) recorded by the device. Moreover, the user wears it so that his steps will be measured and in fact s/he may take additional steps partly in order to reach a goal of 10,000 steps for the day (or similar). After all, that is part of the effectiveness of these devices. Unlike the self-winding watch, this is not merely incidental to the functioning of the Fitbit. There is also the temptation/risk of tapping or otherwise manipulating the device during Shabbat, which may well make it muktzeh altogether. (This consideration may seem applicable to a simple digital watch too, but the primary function of a watch is simply to display the time. If one’s digital watch does this continually without the need for electronic intervention, the likelihood/temptation of pressing buttons is minimal. This is not the same with a Fitbit.)
In summary, like so many things, Fitbit is a six-days-a-week feature of modern life. Shabbat is for rest. TGIF.
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Rashi Simon

Questions & Answers
this week

Questions and Answers

Ask the Rabbi: Easy as א-ב-ג?
Dear Rabbi Simon,
I hope you fasted well yesterday.
Thank you for the insights into the Kinnot, making them easier to understand.
In the afternoon, I was listening to a shiur on Eichah on Torahanytime.  As an aside, the speaker mentioned that the 1st perek of Eichah is the source for the order of the alef bet as we know it.  Other chapters also follow the alef bet chronology but with ayin en peh interchanged.
He quoted Rabbi Shimon Schwab as his source.
Although he did not elaborate on this, surely Sefer Tehillim predates Megillat Eichah by centuries.  Several psalms are written in the alef bet order (e.g.
psalm 119).
Can you please clarify?
Thank you & best wishes.
PhilippeHi Philippe
***
TY for your sophisticated Q.
I have also heard that the question of the sequence of samekh and 'ayin is subject to dispute. It seems that there are indications that in Paleo-Hebrew the order is reversed from what we know. It is alleged that chapters 2, 3 and 4 of Eichah (chapter 5 is not alphabetical) reflect the original order. Of course, as you say, ch 1 conforms to the order with which we are family.
You are right that Tehillim predates Eichah, however a critic can claim that the order was redacted to bring it in line with the accepted/preferred sequence. This is particularly true for ch. 119, where each of the 8 vv per letter are their own group, and each set of 8 vv. can easily be repositioned. The question is in Ps. 34 or 145, if the internal logic of the passage sheds light on the correct sequence. In Ps. 34, some claim that the v. starting with the letter peh makes more sense to follow the verse starting with samekh (due to the common appearance of the word ra'). I am not convinced that this argument is compelling.
I will stick with the mesorah, that 'ayin belongs before peh. Best to look before speaking.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
Events / Calendar