Hell Avoidance 2.0

God may be all-seeing, all-knowing, and carry a temper which is more than a tad tempestuous at times – but any child intent on enjoying life will find a way around a parent’s rules, no matter how strict.  And Orthodox Jews are no exception.

Those of you who have watched the masterpiece that is Bill Maher’s Religulous will already be aware of Rabbi Shmuel Strauss, an Orthodox Jew whose company – the Institute for Science and Halacha – he describes as:

A unique research and development institution interfacing between Halacha modern technology and science

(Read: Exploiting loopholes in scripture and hoping God doesn’t notice)

The Institute’s ingenious gadgets play a crucial role in accomodating those who wish to live in the 21st Century while still being constrained by ancient Jewish law.  Need to make a phonecall on Shabbat, but don’t fancy the eternity of damnation and hellfire* which normally ensues?  Then invest in a $300 Shabbat Phone: instead of buttons, it has twelve holes with a black rod sticking out of one.  The phone is designed so that the circuits are constantly attempting to dial each number, but there is a mechanism in place which interferes with those circuits.  When you stick the black rod in the number you want to dial, it

interferes with the interference and you actually dial that number without transgression

In other words, instead of dialling a number, you rescue an oppressed number using a stick and it thanks you by dialling itself.  Take that, God!

Now, this is all great news for Jews who aren’t quite ready to cast off their shackles and sexy hats, but have started to have an inkling that maybe it would be nice to live their own lives occasionally.  But it left one glaring question unanswered: “What if I want to use this new-fangled interweb thing?” Browsing the web is all but forbidden to Orthodox Jews, who may not use search engines due to the risk of being exposed to a breast or two – not to mention far greater evils like sites advertising televisions or pork sausages.

Well their days of dilemma are now over thanks to the newest name in overbearing internet censorship: Koogle, the kosher search engine.

As the Telegraph reported, Koogle

…omits religiously objectionable material, and has gained approval from Orthodox Rabbis.  The search engine links to Israeli news and shopping sites but the results are filtered to exclude items deemed unsuitable.

My searches for ‘MediaWatchWatch’, ‘Atheism’ and ‘pork’ all came up empty, but there are some good links to hats.  Just don’t use it on Saturday as the site will crash, although I’m sure Rabbi Shmuel Strauss is already designing a workaround.

(On a related note, if you’d like to peruse the catalogue of ‘Contraptions That Let You Do Naughty Deeds Without An Omnipresent And Omniscient Deity Noticing’, email halacha@isdn.net.il – I’ve already sent in my request for a Shabbatmobile. ^^, )

At the time of writing God has not interjected in the production or use of the aforementioned devices, so presumably He either hasn’t noticed or doesn’t exist.

* – I have been informed that Jews do not believe in Hellfire and Damnation, and that their motive for engaging in such strange behaviour is actually to detach themselves from reality until they are so far from it that they are on an equal plane of rationality as their God.  As it has been suggested I did not show adequate respect to the Jewish faith, I hereby apologise and wish to take this opportunity to thank Judaism for its crucial rule in fighting Swine Flu.  ((Please click on the link, it’s hilarious! deeply moving))

8 Responses to “Hell Avoidance 2.0”

  1. Monitor says:

    “Koogle”? Hmm. Presumably they considered, and rejected, “Joogle.”

  2. Ashley Frieze says:

    I’m not in favour of censorship for all. I’m not a believer in ancient laws. However, I think your article was needlessly provocative, given what these guys have done. Here are a few things I’d point out.

    1. Jews don’t believe in hellfire and damnation, the reason they follow laws is to get closer to their god.
    2. Finding an “ingenious workaround” to a religious law is a very Jewish thing to do, though in this case I think they’ve actually missed the point – if you care enough about a religious way of conducting yourself, then surely you don’t work around it.
    3. If you think of censorship as a way to stop people talking, then it’s bad. However, people do have the right to choose what sort of material they are exposed to, and if “Koogle” is a material filter for people to use so they don’t offend their sensibilities, then is it bad?
    4. Kugel is a jewish foodstuff, so Koogle probably got its name as a joke.

    A bit of perspective and respect doesn’t cost too much. Even if a 6000 year old religion is, well, a bit made up.

    • Angela_K says:

      None of the world’s religions show much respect for each other, none for non-believers and outright hatred of gays, so why should any reasonable person have respect for religionists? The “Hell Avoidance” article illustrates quite clearly the hypocrisy of Jews and other sky fairy followers.

  3. Stonyground says:

    Any individual who indulged in such pointless obsessive behaviour would be diagnosed as being mentally ill. Just because these people have an ancient tradition to point to when justifying their irrational behaviour does not, in my opinion, make them any different.

    As for respect, if anyone wants my respect they have to earn it. I’m afraid that these people have not done so.

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  5. Ashley Frieze says:

    The difference between an individual’s obsessive behaviour and that of a whole religion comes down to conditioning. Religions are, as a whole, conditioned into the offspring from birth. This makes matters a bit more complex.

    Even if you disagree with someone’s beliefs and the way they lead their lives, I think it’s worth doing things like getting your facts straight and taking an objective stance with perspective. It’s easy to spout polemic and ridicule – in fact, that’s how some religious leaders function. Surely the role of the non-religious is to be grounded in logic and perspective?

    • Ashley,

      I fully agree. However there are times when, after what can feel like a lifetime of trying to objectively and diplomatically reason with the religious to absolutely no avail, you just have to scream and vent a little bit to save you from going insane. This is my outlet.

      “You cannot reason a person out of a position he did not reason himself into in the first place.” Jonathan Swift

  6. Stonyground says:

    Ashley, after reading your post and giving it some thought I think that you are correct. Obsessive compulsive disorder is a mental condition that affects some individuals for reasons that are not fully understood and certainly not understood by me. The compulsive behaviour involved in religions is, as you correctly point out, a different thing altogether and a result of indoctrination.