Let there be no light

I am overawed by the predictive power of Leviticus, if I’m right in thinking that that’s the book that set the rules for orthodox jews.

As far as I can make out, from this BBC story, (Light sensors cause religious row) orthodox jews aren’t allowed to see by electric light on holy days.

A couple have taken legal action after claiming motion sensors installed at their holiday flat in Dorset breached their rights as Orthodox Jews.
Gordon and Dena Coleman said they cannot leave or enter their Bournemouth flat on the Sabbath because the hallway sensors automatically switch on lights.
The couple’s religious code bans lights and other electrical equipment being switched on during Jewish holidays.

I can’t understand the problem, here. If the hallway sensors detect that it’s dark – the outside world will have street lighting, surely.

So the litigious couple can’t go in the street anyway, as far as I can see. Because then they would be in non-kosher electric light anyway….

Unless street-lighting doesn’t count because those lights are already on when the couple leave their home. In which case, I suggest that they trick the sensors and just switch the lights on permanently in advance of any jewish holiday… Lateral thinking, hey?.

Did Leviticus ban all electric light? Or just proscribe electric light switches and motion sensors but say some lights were acceptably kosher?

As I said at the beginning – this rulebook seems so amazingly farsighted. There must have been real prophets at work, if they foresaw electric lighting a few thousand years ago. Is there anything in there about when we get the jetpacks?

10 thoughts on “Let there be no light

  1. In fact why do they want to leave their flat in the dark anyway? Shouldn’t they be staying in and resting?

  2. T_W
    Yes. The whole story is a baffler. It’s got to be one of the silliest religious compensation claims… well, since the last one I’ve read about.

  3. I think the orthodox Jewish proscription is against lighting a fire(or spark) on the sabbath. That is why they can’t turn on lights(because there is a spark that occurs when the switch is flipped). They may be trying to argue that motion sensors are turning on the lights when they are in the hall, but they are the ones causing it…so therefore they are being made to turn on lights against their will. I don’t mind people working things out amongst themselves to accommodate stuff like this, as long as the state doesn’t get involved in enforcing their beliefs. Maybe the landlord could replace the lights with LED bulbs which they could argue (still might be unsuccessful) that they are not lighting with a fire like incandescent bulbs or a spark like fluorescent bulbs. The sensor doesn’t cause a spark, it does starts and stops the flow of electrons. Some interpretation might be that any light is like a fire, then nothing will accommodate them.

  4. Another possibility is the (ageing) use of “work” as a measure of energy – they may be objecting to the “work” involved in powering up the circuit 🙂

    Still, its all an alien mindset to me so it could be anything…

  5. Work isn’t defined as a measure of energy, it’s a measure of energy over time (1W = 1J/s). If they choose not to consider “work” as a vector, then they could feasibly go out and come back to the same location (e.g. their favourite chair) without any “work” being done. 😉

    But they’re batshit insane, so who knows what “reason” they’d actually have. I suspect it’s something along the lines of “my god says making fires is Teh Evulâ„¢” but I’m happy to be proven wrong.

  6. nullifidian, I think you may be getting work confused with a watt. One watt is a joule per second (1W = 1 J/s). However, this W doesn’t stand for work.

    Work (done) is a scalar quantity, not a vector, and has the units of joules (the SI unit of energy). An example of this would be a constant force acting over a distance d. Work done = force x distance, and hence has units of N m, or kg m^2 s^-2, which is by definition the same as the unit of the joule.

    Going back to an older telegraph article from 2006, what happens if they’re using non-kosher electricity in Dorset? . Are they objecting on the same grounds, or is it the act of switching the light on that they object to?

  7. James, you’re absolutely right. I should have said work done not as a scalar, not the other way around, and I was thinking of power (hence the watts). And I took physics at Heriot-Watt too…

    I think that’s what comes of not sleeping for three days… time to take a couple of diazepam I think…

    Feel free to wake me up when these eejits are laughed out of court.

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