The New York Times - Sept 1, 2008
Weekend America (audio interview)
The Jewish Independent
HaAretz Online: Kepten Internet
The Canadian Jewish News - May 2008
National Public Radio (audio)
Dallas Morning News
The Jewish Voice and Opinion
Jewish Tribune (Canada)
The Canadian Jewish News
JTO Monthly (Jewish Toronto)
Entrepreneurs Find Ways to Make Technology Work With Jewish Sabbath
by: Dan Levin
published: September 1, 2008
The rabbis, scientists and engineers of the Zomet Institute are trying to solve the problems that arise when technology and the Torah collide. Read more...
or download the PDF here.
Kosher Meets Capitalism
by: Rebecca Sheir
published: December 13, 2008
With the weekend comes Shabbat, or Shabbos: the Jewish day of rest. From sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, Jewish law forbids certain, very specific kinds of "work." That means you can't grab your briefcase and head out to the office. It also means you can't do very simple things we take for granted. Like writing, and erasing. Cutting, and tearing. Even turning the lights on and off.
Thus, Sabbath observers have spent many a Friday afternoon taping down light switches, stashing away pens and pencils - even pre-cutting their fingernails and pre-tearing their toilet paper. Enter opportunity.
In recent years, an industry has emerged which manages to merge modern convenience and this sacred time. Rebecca Sheir has more.
Click to play the Audio Interview (or right-click and save)
Make Shabbat easier
by: Dave Gordon
published: September 26, 2008
A Toronto rabbi has turned halachic loopholes into a way to make life more convenient for Sabbath-observant Jews. With items ranging from lamps to oral hygiene aids to magnetic message centres, Rabbi Shmuel Veffer, Rebbetzin Chana Veffer and Moshe Orzech have designed a line of products that help make the observant Jewish lifestyle easier to keep.
The Veffers have a knack for finding everyday problems with which people put up and creating rabbinically approved solutions. They founded Kosher Innovations, in 2004, out of a desire to help the observant community adapt to the modern world. As well, they work to educate people in Jewish law, giving sources and explanations on their website www.kosherimage.com for how their products meet rabbinical standards
or download the PDF here.
Ritual innovators get lazy for God
by Rachel Brenner
September 24th, 2008
For eons, strictly observant Jews have celebrated Shabbat as a technology-free day.
Although Jews in ancient Greece were viewed as lazy for being the only culture with a weekly holiday, the efforts observant Jews make on the Sabbath are anything but easy.
Kosher Innovations has begun a movement to bring Shabbat to the 21st century. Co-founded in 2004 by Moshe Orzech, Rabbi Shmuel Veffer and Chana Veffer, the new company offers a dozen Shabbat-friendly products on kosherimage.com that used to be thought of as prohibited appliances, including lamps and toothbrushes.
or download the PDF
גאדג'טים שומרי שבת
מאת דן לוין, ניו יורק טיימס
יהודים בישראל והתפוצות ממציאים המצאות כשרות כדי להקל על שומרי שבת, ממכונת קפה ועד קלנועית. יזמים בכל העולם קופצים על הנישה, שעד לאחרונה נשלטה כמעט לגמרי בידי גוף אחד
Read the whole article here
Rabini, naukowcy i inżynierzy z Instytutu Zomet próbują rozwiązać problemy, które pojawiają się na styku technologii i Tory.
reprinted from the New York Times article
Rabin Shmuel Veffer, prezes firmy Kosher Innovations z Toronto, jest jednym z przedsiębiorców, którzy na tym skorzystali. W 2004 roku Veffer stworzył Koszerną Lampę, z abażurem, który można tak przestawić, by blokował światło żarówki, ale który jej nie wyłącza.
Read the full article here.
or download the PDF here.
Kosher Products Keep The Jewish Population At The Pulse of Modern Technology
It has always been assumed that the modern conveniences associated with the tech-revolution are something that everyone can enjoy. However, very rarely are the sacred teachings of some religious groups taken into consideration as technology continues to improve itself.
Often times, people must alter the ways in which they manipulate certain products or refrain from using these products altogether to abide by their religious standards.
by: Dave Gordon
published: Thursday May 8, 2008
Inventions make it easier to live halachically
TORONTO — A Toronto rabbi has turned ingenious halachic loopholes into a way to make life more convenient for Sabbath-observant Jews.
Moshe Orzech and Rabbi Shmuel Veffer have invented a line of “kosher” products.
With items ranging from lamps and oral hygiene aids to magnetic message centres, Rabbi Shmuel Veffer, Rebbetzin Chana Veffer and Moshe Orzech have designed a line of products that help make the observant Jewish lifestyle easier to keep.
The Veffers have a knack for finding everyday problems that people put up with and creating rabbinically approved solutions. They founded Kosher Innovations in 2004, out of a desire to help the observant community find adaptations in the modern world. As well, they work to educate people in Jewish law, and give sources and explanations on their website (www.kosherimage.com) for how their products meet rabbinical standards.
Currently, Kosher Innovations offers 10 products, with three more on the way. “These are items that were created out of problems me and my family found annoying,” Rabbi Veffer said. “I kept thinking that there had to be a better way.
Read the rest of the article here...
or Download the PDF here.
(Téveth 5765 / Décembre 2004)
Une intéressante innovation est proposée au public respectueux du Chabbath, avec cette « KosherLamp ». Il s’agit d’une lampe – d’une présentation très soignée – permettant à qui le désire d’avoir de la lumière en plein Chabbath, ou pas, en faisant pivoter un cache devant la partie éclairée de la lampe en question. Alors, la lumière ne peut plus passer et l’obscurité la plus complète s’installe. On le comprendra : cette idée très innovante apporte un confort que l’on ne pouvait trouver jusqu’à présent, en utilisant des moyens tout à fait simples et totalement cachers sur le plan de la Halakha. Une lampe néon, qui ne chauffe pas, permet ce tour de force, sans que l’ensemble ne devienne dangereux. Distribution en France : BibliEurope.
Hanukkah Gift Ideas
by Michael Kress (streamed audio).
Day to Day, December 7, 2004 · Just in time for Hanukkah, writer Michael Kress shares gift ideas for the "observant Jew who has everything": kosher lamps and snap-together Sukkahs.
New devices help modern Jews observe ancient Sabbath laws
November 27, 2004
For Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, observant Jews might consider giving the gift of light – in the form of a new lamp designed for use on the Sabbath, when Jewish law prohibits turning electrical devices on or off.
Despite the ban, there is nothing unkosher about this invention, dubbed, appropriately enough, the KosherLamp. The lamp's bulb stays on throughout Shabbat – the Sabbath, which runs from sundown Fridays through sundown Saturdays – but a shade around the bulb can be twisted, either allowing the light to shine through or blocking it out.
Jewish observance has always been difficult, but today's Jew can rely on technology and product engineering to make life a little easier. The KosherLamp is one of several new products geared toward easing the rigors of the traditional Jewish lifestyle.
"You are seeing a desire among people to observe the commandments, but perhaps with a minimum of fuss and without spending vast amounts of time, which they don't have," said Jonathan Sarna, a professor at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., and author of American Judaism.
"What's so interesting about these examples is they're ways of being part of and apart from secular society at the same time and harnessing modernity in order to strengthen traditional Jewish religious observances."
And there's nothing wrong with that, said Rabbi Avi Shafran of Agudath Israel of America, an Orthodox organization.
"Shabbat is about pleasure, is about relaxation. That is the spirit of it," he said. Products that make it easier to remain observant "empower the spirit of Shabbat, and not the opposite," he said.
Some high-end ovens come with a "Sabbath mode," which ensures that opening it on Shabbat will not cause any forbidden activities, such as turning on lights, changing digital displays, or triggering the heating mechanism. In Sabbath mode, the oven won't shut off automatically after several hours, like it usually does, so it can be left on throughout the Sabbath. (Cooking is forbidden on Shabbat, but pre-prepared food may be heated.)
For those without a Shabbat-friendly oven, the British company Vikron makes a stand-alone warming device for food that looks like a piece of furniture.
And General Electric and others have recently introduced a device for refrigerators that disables the light and ice maker, ensuring that opening the door will not cause a Sabbath desecration.
Sukkot is the autumn festival during which Jews eat and sometimes sleep in temporary huts. In the past, the huts, called sukkot, had to be built from scratch or from kits that required tools and significant construction time. Today, Jews can buy snap-together sukkot that assemble in minutes, no tools needed. A Greensboro, N.C., company called Shabbat-to-go sells a "Hanukkah-to-go Bag," which contains the essentials for celebrating the festival: a menorah, candles, a card with the blessings, a dreidel (the top-like toy traditionally played on Hanukkah) and holiday chocolates. The company also sells "Seder-in-a-sac," which contains a Seder plate and other items for the Passover ritual.
Many of the inventions were developed in Israel, where rabbis are constantly working to ensure that the country's health and defense systems can function without breaking Shabbat.
One example: the Shabbat pen, which circumvents the rule against writing on the Sabbath by taking advantage of a provision in Jewish law that an action is only prohibited if it is permanent. This pen's ink disappears after a few hours, so observant doctors, soldiers and others on weekend duty can write quick notes, then rewrite them after Shabbat in permanent ink.
If such products seem to take advantage of technicalities and loopholes to skirt the laws on observance – they do. But that's not necessarily a problem, Jewish law experts said.
"One could argue that the very fact that you set guidelines for how you do it is a point in and of itself," said Dr. Chaim Waxman, a Judaic studies scholar at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
The idea of using technicalities to make life easier goes back to Talmudic times. The ancient sage Hillel came up with a type of contract that would circumvent the law abolishing debts during the Sabbatical year, which came every seven years. Hillel's solution ensured that people would not be hesitant to lend money, for fear that the borrower would wait until the Sabbatical year then renege. With modern technology, many new loopholes were born.
Observant Jews have for years set lights, ovens and other devices on timers for the Sabbath. Hotels that cater to Jewish guests sometimes employ "Shabbat elevators," which run continuously and stop at every floor, eliminating the need to push buttons.
On Shabbat, "work" is prohibited, and that's defined in Jewish law as "anything that is creative, that creates a new reality," said Rabbi Shafran of Agudath Israel.
The law, he said, deals with actions, not the effects of those actions: Lighting an oven or flipping a light switch is forbidden, but that doesn't mean the law intends for Jews to sit in darkness or eat cold food on the Sabbath. If there are ways to get light and a hot meal within the boundaries of the law, that's acceptable, he said.
Still, the technological "cheats" make some Jewish scholars uncomfortable.
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, one of the most respected Orthodox authorities before his death in 1986, opposed the use of timers on Shabbat, making an exception only for lights, according to Rabbi Ari Kahn, who teaches at Bar Ilan University in Israel. (Despite Rabbi Feinstein's opposition, timers of several varieties became popular.)
The makers of today's products try to assure customers that a little convenience is OK.
Orthodox Jews "want to be very sure they are observing Jewish law punctiliously, and all of these products come with multiple rabbinic certifications," said Dr. Sarna, the Brandeis professor.
GE's Web page for the refrigerator device prominently promises rabbinic approval. And the KosherLamp Web site features multiple endorsements.
Rabbi Kahn, who served as a consultant to the lamp company, noted that the device used to manipulate the light is entirely nonelectrical. "It's like saying, 'Can I leave a light on in the hall and close my door and open my door?' Of course you can," he said.
Aside from whether a gizmo is technically permissible, observant Jews must grapple with another question, Rabbi Shafran said: "Does this in some sense undermine the spirit of the law?" For example, even many rabbis who are OK with timers disapprove of using them to watch television on the Sabbath.
But most experts see no problem with most of the products.
And their proliferation suggests that most Orthodox Jews are increasingly comfortable with incorporating traditional observance into their modern lives.
"They don't see modernity as necessarily in opposition to their religious observance, and therefore want to make it as comfortable as possible to have, in a sense, both worlds," Dr. Waxman said.
The use of a Sabbath oven or a snap-together sukkot requires something in addition to rabbinic approval: money. Only those who have achieved a certain level of affluence need worry about the Sabbath implications of ovens and refrigerators with digital readouts and automatic settings.
The clientele for GE's Sabbath refrigerator device, which is sold separately from the refrigerators themselves, falls in the "upper 2 to 5 percent of the market," a company spokeswoman said. The device costs about $300. Freestanding GE electrical ovens with a built-in Sabbath mode start around $550 and run to more than $3,000, according to information on the Web site. More low-tech GE ovens can be had for less than $500.
"Many of these products are geared to an upwardly mobile Orthodox community ... that has attained much more wealth, and with it, has much less time to do things," Dr. Sarna said.
It's a big change from the 1960s and '70s, when do-it-yourself Judaism was popular. The mood then was exemplified by The Jewish Catalogs , a series of books on how to make ritual items at home.
Call it the difference between hippie Jews and yuppie Jews, both mirroring the secular trends of their times.
The Jewish Catalogs were modeled after the iconic Whole Earth Catalog, a '60s how-to manual for those seeking a simpler life, closer to nature and less dependent on what many viewed as the crass, materialistic society.
Snap-together sukkot and the KosherLamp, on the other hand, are geared toward a 21st-century world accustomed to time-and effort-saving products, from pre-chopped vegetables and self-adhesive stamps to TiVo and Google.
Many of the Jews who purchase Sabbath-ease products were raised in largely secular homes and became Orthodox as adults, said Shmuel Veffer, the Toronto rabbi who invented KosherLamp.
"People who are working toward becoming more traditional, who are trying to observe Shabbat and want to make Shabbat observance part of their life – they really appreciate the lamp," he said.
"Our society is one that likes to come up with convenient things. And to make things more comfortable and convenient in terms of Jewish observance – why not?"
Von Beni Frenkel
Zwei Erfindungen haben den Schabbat etwas vereinfacht: der Schabbatgürtel und die Schabbatplatte. Mit dem Gürtel darf man einen Schlüssel tragen und mit der Platte Mahlzeiten warm halten.
Eine erst kürzlich vorgestellte Innovation stellt jedoch die beiden erstgenannten buchstäblich in den Schatten. Es handelt sich um die "Kosherlamp"!
Was das Internet für die Menschheit bedeutet, bedeutet die "Kosherlamp" für die Juden: Endlich kann man eine Urne auf den Tisch stellen und mit einer kleinen Schiebewand die Glühbirne je nach Bedarf verdecken.
Was als koscher deklariert wird, bedarf natürlich auch der Approbation wichtiger Rabbiner. Und hier dürfen die Leser beruhigt werden: so ziemlich jeder Rabbiner ist inzwischen ins Entzücken geraten : "Now I can read in bed Friday night", "That's neat. My wife will love it.", "I want one for every room of the house."
Das scheußliche Ding kostet 45 Euro (inkl. Versand) und ist übers Internet (http://www.kosherlamp.com) zu beziehen. Je nach Intensität der Beziehung zu Ihren Schwiegereltern können Sie außerdem noch den Hinweis befolgen: "Don't forget to order Kosherlamp for your parents in-laws".
KosherLamp: Let There Be Light on Shabbat
by Susan Rosenbluth
June 30, 2004
Sometimes little things mean a lot, like a lamp that can be turned off and on Shabbat and holidays. The halachically approved “KosherLamp,” invented by Rabbi Shmuel Veffer of Toronto , is designed to allow light to shine or shut off when the inner shade is rotated. The spiritual leader of the Aish HaTorah Village Shul, Rabbi Veffer came up with the idea for the KosherLamp when his wife, Chana, an avid reader, asked if he could improvise a light so she could read in the bedroom on Shabbat.
A born inventer with degrees from the University of Waterloo in math and computer science, the rabbi set to work.Such an invention would be great, he thought, not only for a wife who likes to read, but also for children who need a bedtime story before dozing off, for Shabbos guests sleeping on the sofa in the den, and for Shomer Shabbos Jews who find themselves stuck in a hotel room for the Sabbath. His first stop was the local hardware store with his son.
“We came home with some hodgepodge parts, and by the end of the day, we had put together the first clunky working model,” he recalls. By the following Sabbath, his children and their friends wanted one.
The next step was finding someone who could help produce the lamp. Fortunately, the perfect match was right at hand. One of the rabbi's congregants, Moshe Orzech, is in the lighting importing business. With a handshake, a partnership was formed to produce and distribute the KosherLamp.
“When Rav Shmuel showed me the prototype, I was amazed at its brilliance. It’s one of those simple ideas that when you hear of it you say, “Why didn’t I think of that?” says Mr. Orzech.
While Mr.Orzech set off for China to arrange for the lamp’s production, Rabbi Veffer hit the books. He checked through seforim and then asked the local rosh kollel and other prominent rabbis in Canada , the US , and Israel , about his invention. When he received the unanimous psak of “Kosher,” he registered the concept with the patent office. In his sefer , Shemirath Shabbath Kehilchathah 13:41b, Rabbi Yehoshua Y.Neuwirth says: “A shade which is made to direct the light or to cover it up all together may be adjusted on Shabbat, even if it is made in such a way that forms part of the lamp.”
Following that guide, Rabbi Veffer designed the simple, but ingenious KosherLamp. It consists of a pair of cylinders, each with its own window, with a fluorescent bulb inside. The bulb is revealed when the knob controlling the inner cylinder is twisted and the two windows align with each other. When the windows are not aligned, the light is blocked inside the lamp. The second necessary component for the lamp was a system to vent the heat generated by the fairly cool fluorescent bulb without letting light escape when the lamp is in the “off ” position.. The patent-pending Fadeshade technology permits the user to direct the light and, with a simple twist, adjust the cylinder to allow partial light.
“You can even ‘turn it off’ in accordance with the laws of Shabbat. When you want to sleep, the fadeshade technology allows heat to escape safely while blocking virtually all the light —without touching a light switch,” says Rabbi Veffer.
Halachically, the lamp uses the same principle that allows a person to open and shut a cupboard with a permanent light on the Sabbath. When the inner shade of the KosherLamp is closed, the light remains on even though it is no longer visible.
At $29.95, including the bulb, the KosherLamp may be the best idea in the Jewish community. It is available in some Judaica stores, or can be ordered by calling 1-866-661-5483.
It can also be ordered online at jewishvoiceandopinion.com. Mr.Orzech, who is now president of Kosherimage.com, the exclusive importers of KosherLamp, is offering a 30-day money back guarantee. “You'll be so happy with your KosherLamp, that soon all your friends and relatives will want one, too, ” he says.
New KosherLamp sheds light
on a familiar Sabbath dilemma
by: Uriel Heilman
published: June 15, 2004
It may not prove as popular as the strobe light or as hip as the lava lamp, but a new kosher product may shed some light on an age-old problem. What do you when you’re lying awake in bed on a Friday night waiting for your Shabbat timer to turn off the light?
If you have a KosherLamp, your tzuris could be over.
Planning ahead long has been a hallmark for Sabbath observers, who don’t use electrical appliances on the Sabbath. That means that before sunset on Friday, observant Jews must decide whether to leave lights, stoves, air conditioners and other appliances on or off for the duration of the Sabbath — or set timers to control them.
But one rabbi-turned-entrepreneur hopes his new invention, a lamp that can be “turned” on and off without violating Sabbath restrictions, will revolutionize Shabbat convenience.
“People are not used to having on-demand lighting on the Sabbath,” says Rabbi Shmuel Veffer, who invented the patent-pending device. “This is a revolutionary product for the Sabbath-observant community.”
The bedside lamp can be turned on and off by twisting a cylinder that functions as a sort of shade, covering the light. The bulb itself actually stays on inside the enclosed lamp, which is made of non-flammable material.
“This is low-tech,” says Veffer, an associate rabbi at the Village Shul/Aish HaTorah Learning Center in Toronto, “but it’s creativity and imaginative thinking.”
The first shipment of the lamps, which were manufactured in China, are going out this week in North America. The product’s Web site already includes raving product testimonials — as well as a detailed halachic explanation of why the lamp does not violate Jewish law.
Rabbi Shlomo Eliyahu Miller, director of the Toronto yeshiva Kollel Avreichim, explains that though the lamp base is “muktza” — an object that may not be moved on the Sabbath — the non-electric cylinder, which functions as the lamp’s shade, is considered a separate object and may be twisted on the Sabbath to eliminate light.
A rabbinic letter of approval is included with the KosherLamp, which retails at $29.95. The package also comes with a refrigerator magnet checklist for pre-Shabbat activities such as shining shoes, ripping toilet paper and setting lights.
“It’s no different than closing the closet door, it’s just better!” one KosherLamp fan, Rabbi Yitzchak Kalsmith, writes on the company’s Web site.
“Incredible! My husband will be so thrilled he can sleep in the dark again,” writes another.
Veffer says his wife was the inspiration for his lamp idea.
“My wife has been asking for something like this for years,” he says. “She wanted to be able to read in bed on a Friday night. So I decided one Sunday afternoon to go with my son to the hardware store to see if we could come up with something.”
The first model took only a few hours to put together, Veffer says. The lamp went through several more incarnations before the final prototype was ready to market.
The lamp is more utilitarian than slick, with a dark bronze, six-sided frame and a distinctly old-world look. Veffer says he sought to create something that would “match with the more traditional bedroom decor that our customers would have.”
Based on the interest the lamp has generated, Veffer, who has worked in computer hardware, says he hopes to roll out more Sabbath-friendly products in the coming years.
“I was trained as a problem-solver,” he said. “That’s why I became a rabbi.”
A new invention allows you to turn the light "on and off" on Shabbat.
No timers, no switches.
by Rabbi Shraga Simmons
June 7, 2004
Shabbat candles are perhaps the most familiar symbol of the Jewish home. Yet few may have stopped to consider the origin of this important tradition.
The Talmud defines Oneg Shabbat (lit: enjoyment of Shabbat) as having lights burning on Shabbat, as a way to bring more peace into the home. (Not so peaceful if people are bumping into each other!) As the theory goes, the more light, the more peace.
But for the Shabbat-observant family, switching on and off lights is not an option. Jewish law prohibits completing a circuit on Shabbat, as well as lighting a fire (in this case, the incandescent bulb's glowing filament). So aside from the Shabbat candles, which illuminate but a small area, how does one guarantee "peace in the home" -- for example, on Friday night, when a sleep-over guest wants to get organized before going to bed? Or when one sibling wants to read in bed, while the other is trying to fall asleep? Or when the baby gets up at 3 a.m. for a feeding?
Trying to get by with a nightlight, or with the light filtering in from a hallway or closet, often fails to do the trick.
A common remedy is to use "timers" to control the lights. For example, lights in the dining room may be set to shut off at 9 p.m. on Friday night, and lights in the bedrooms at 11 p.m. But that method had great limitations: If dinner went longer than usual, a family might wind up eating dessert in the dark. Or someone reading in bed might find the timer flicking off the lights just at the best part of the book.
Which brings us to KosherLampTM. Invented and produced by a rabbi-and-businessman duo in Toronto, KosherLampTM resembles any regular table lamp -- but with one key difference: It is constructed of two independent cylinders, one inserted into the other. Each cylinder has its own "window"; when the inner cylinder is twisted, the "windows" are aligned and light comes out. When they are not aligned, the light is completely blocked.
With KosherLampTM, the bulb stays burning throughout the duration of Shabbat, enabling a person -- with a simple twist of the shade -- to freely turn the light "on and off." No timers, no switches.
"We see this as a small revolution in the observance of Shabbat," says Rabbi Shmuel Veffer, Associate Rabbi of the Aish Village Shul in Toronto and inventor of KosherLampTM. "It's one of those things that after using the lamp, you wonder how you ever got along without it."
Breaking the Rules?
But, you may ask, isn't this all a bit of cheating? Isn't KosherLampTM -- or even setting a timer -- just a loophole to get around the prohibition of using electricity?
Veffer explains: "The only reason why someone would think this is 'cheating' is based on a misperception that Shabbat is all about suffering and denial. Actually, God wants us to enjoy life, so he gave us certain guidelines, to ensure that we 'spend one day with the family and don't run off in a million directions.' Resting on Shabbos is not about "restrictions"; it's about bringing one to a higher recognition of God."
Veffer explains that it's like a basketball star whose greatness is defined by what he can do within the rules. And it is within that structure that the player finds his greatest personal expression. To extend the metaphor, nobody claims that a slam dunk is cheating on the grounds that basketball was meant to be a game of shooting.
So what are the "rules" of Shabbat?
During the six days of the week, we work to improve the world, mirroring God's six days of creation. But in order to remember that we're not God -- i.e. that the world has a Creator and Sustainer -- on Shabbat, we refrain from acts of creative activity. These are defined by the Talmud as the 39 actions used to build the Tabernacle in the desert. (See: "Laws of Shabbat for Beginners")
"KosherLampTM is very much in the spirit of Shabbat," says Veffer. "Every time I twist the KosherLampTM shade, it's a way to think about God in a way that I wouldn't during the week when flicking the switch on and off."
Okay, so if it is permitted to use such methods, what's to stop a person from programming a computer to perform a whole series of Shabbat activities -- like automatically turning on the TV Saturday afternoon to watch a football game?
The litmus test: Is this in the spirit of Shabbat?
It's clearly not in the spirit of Shabbat to gather around the TV and watch a football game. In our case, however, additional light actually enhances the spirit of Shabbat, as the Talmud says, "in bringing more peace into the home."
The spark for Veffer's invention came from something he had seen nearly two decades earlier when his wife gave birth at Shaarey Zedek hospital in Jerusalem. Shaarey Zedek is officially a "Shabbat-observant" hospital, where "light-boxes" are installed over the patients' beds. On Shabbat, the light source can be covered by sliding a metal plate, thus darkening the room without turning off the light.
"For many years," says Veffer, "my wife had been asking me to find something similar so she could read on Shabbat with adequate light."
So one Sunday afternoon, Veffer and his son visited their local Home Depot store, where they picked up an eclectic assorTMent of raw materials. They started with a simple lamp base, and then attached a louver -- similar to the one that controls the air conditioning in your car -- which served to let the light in and out. They then rigged it all together with styrofoam, electrical tape and... voila!
A few days later, Veffer mentioned his idea to Moshe (Lou) Orzech, a member of his congregation with 10 years of experience designing and producing lamps. "I saw the prototype lamp and was amazed at its simple brilliance," says Orzech. "It's one of those ideas that when you hear it, you say, 'Now why didn't I think of that?!'"
The two shook hands and a company was born -- to produce and market KosherLampTM.
"Typically, if a rabbi would come up with an idea like this in his garage, he would never be able to carry it through to reality," says Orzech. "There are complex issues of patents, design, engineering, materials, production, import licensing, etc. But in this case, I could provide all that expertise. It was a match made in heaven."
Veffer's prototype was, by his own admission, "clunky, ugly and impractical." But of more immediate concern were two technical hurdles: 1) the lamp wasn't sealed fully (light still escaped when the louver was in the "closed" position), and 2) the lamp was not venting the heat from the bulb, thus presenting a potential fire hazard.
They solved the first issue by designing the special "cylinder-with-a-cylinder" system. And for ventilation, they developed a type of zig-zag tunnel inside the lamp, taking advantage of a law of physics whereby heat and air can travel around corners, while light cannot.
Further, KosherLampTM was designed to use compact fluorescent light bulbs, which generate less watts, and hence less heat. So instead of a traditional 40-watt incandescent bulb, KosherLampTM uses a 10-watt fluorescent bulb -- producing the same amount of light, with only one-quarter the heat.
And at an average energy cost of 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, KosherLamp uses about two cents worth of electricity throughout the duration of Shabbat.
The final hurdle -- gaining rabbinic approval for the lamp -- turned out to be easy. Jewish law states:
A shade which is made to direct the light or to cover it up altogether may be adjusted on Shabbat, even if it is made in such a way that it [is all one piece and the shade] forms part of the lamp. (Rabbi Yehoshua Y. Neuwirth - Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchatha 13:41b)
Actually, with KosherLamp the question doesn't even get started, since the shade and the lamp are two separate pieces. Indeed, KosherLamp was inspected and approved by top rabbinic scholars including Rabbi Yosef Sholom Eliashiv of Jerusalem, Rabbi Shlomo Miller of Toronto, and Rabbi Dovid Cohen of New York.
In May 2004, KosherLamp began rolling off the assembly line in China, and is now available in Jewish bookstores and online at www.kosherlamp.com ($29.95 US, bulb included). Inquiries have come to the website from people in 42 countries -- from Kuwait to Finland to Australia.
And what's the reaction of Veffer's wife, Chana, the inspiration behind this small revolution? She says with a smile: "Shabbat has always been perfect. But now it's even better."
Kosherlamp changes Shabbat
By CYNTHIA GASNER
Special to The CJN
May 13, 2004
22 Iyar, 5764
A revolutionary invention now enables observant Jews to dim a light, or turn it on or off on the Sabbath or yom tov.
The halachically approved Kosher-Lamp invented by Rabbi Shmuel Veffer, gives off light or shuts off the light when you rotate an inner shade.
Rabbi Veffer of Aish HaTorah Village Shul, says the idea for the lamp originated when his wife Chana, who is an avid reader, asked if he could improvise a light so she could read in the bedroom on the Sabbath.
"After a visit to the local hardware store with my son," he says, "we came home with some hodgepodge parts, and by the end of the day we had put together the first clunky working model. By the following Sabbath, our children and friends wanted one."
Soon after, the rabbi approached Moshe Orzech, one of his congregants who is in the lighting importing business, and with a handshake, a partnership was formed to produce and distribute the KosherLamp.
"After seeing the working model," says Orzech, "I immediately understood the potential. A lamp you can turn on and off on Shabbat - the possibilities were endless."
Orzech set off for China to build a prototype, and Rabbi Veffer continued to refine the KosherLamp design.
The rabbi, who has a degree from the University of Waterloo in mathematics and computer sciences, designed a website.
As well, he approached a number of rabbis in Canada, the United States and Israel and received halachic approval, and then registered the concept with the patent office.
He says that the lamp has many uses, not only for observant Jews but for anyone who wants to read but does not want to disturb another person in the room.
The design is simple but ingenious, he says.
There are two independent cylinders, each with its own window. The inner cylinder can be rotated with a simple twist. When the two windows are aligned, the light comes out. When they are not aligned, the light is blocked and stays inside the lamp. You can adjust the cylinder to allow partial light.
Rabbi Veffer says that halachically, you can open and close a cupboard that has a light on inside on the Sabbath.
That principal applies with the KosherLamp. When you open the inner shade, the light remains on and when it is closed, the light is not visible.
The cost of the KosherLamp is $39.95 in Canada and includes the bulb. The lamp can be shipped anywhere in North America.
For more information on the KosherLamp or to order, call 416-487-5483 or 1-866-661-5483, or online www.kosherlamp.com
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
Let there be light
Thanks to our friends over at the Protocols blog for bringing this to, um, light. The new KosherLamp is on the market. The device, which allows you to turn off and on an electric light on Shabbat, comes complete with rabbinic approval. All for the low cost of $24.95. Truth is, it's actually not such a bad idea.
SJ Super 7 The seven most amazing things you will discover in Jewish life and culture.
This week: Ben Stiller takes on Starsky, Malcolm Rifkind makes his political comeback, welcome to the Kosherlamp and Hebrew National enter the Mezuzah market.
by: Leslie Bunder and Caroline Westbrook
Let there be light: a new invention in the US is set to end the problem of not being able to turn the lights on and off on Shabbat. Kosherlamp consists of a pair of cylinders with a fluorescent lamp inside, which is revealed when the outer cylinder is twisted. The device has already received full rabbinic approval and, according to its website, means you can "finally read in bed on Shabbat." Find out more at: www.kosherlamp.com
Mishpacha Magazine -- Issue 161
Click the image to read the PDF article.
From the makers of Kosher Lamp & Kosher Clock, comes the next great thing you sorta but not really need but is cool cause it's shticky:
The BUG CHECKER
Portable Light Board.
Orthodox Jews can eat fresh vegetables again - our children don't have to look aneimic to show that they are frum anymore! Say goodbye to wet sleeves and the trouble of searching for bugs on lettuce now you can search each individual leaf and be done with it!
Some quotes from their release:
HEALTHIER FOOD AND MORE VARIETY
You don't have to avoid the fresh vegetable section of your supermarket any longer.
Now you can have really great salads, prepare more interesting dishes and up your vitamin intake. Think of the health benefits of eating dark leafy greens rich in antioxidants. What a gift to yourself and your family!
Gotta love this!!!! WHAT A GIFT!
by: Adrienne Gold
published: November/December 2007
I received a most wonderful gift..."
Click to read the article by Adrienne Gold.
Shabbos Message Board™
T-Sweater: original Tefillin Sweater™
Shabbos Bathroom Tissue
I have long enjoyed some of your previous products. May H"B"H continue to inspire you to new innovations
Elkins Park, PA
By the way, I would really like to thank you for all that you have done for the frum Jews with all of your innovations.
Yay! I love this site because I can get a KosherLamp!
You folks are geniuses! You never cease to amaze me with your inventions. I love them!!! Whenever I see that I've received an e-mail from you about a new product, I am sure that it's going to be something really "neat" (figuratively and literally)—and so far it always has been.
Thanks for your efforts…and for making Torah-observance easier.
Thank you... Your service is as good as your products -- and I love my KosherLamp.
I have it on a zeiger on Shabbos and Yom Tov in our bedroom
Thank you for the [Rosh Chodesh] reminder- I really think it helped!
Thank you for inventing so many great and useful inventions.
Nice, easy-to-navigate site. Great, useful products!
-the J Family
You gotta love these ads (especially the slogans!)
I think Kosher Innovations is GREAT! I look forward to hearing about new products.
I love all of your products. Thank you!
Yaashar Koach for all of your innovations!
You should know that the Kosher Lamp is my gift of choice to Kallas and new moms! They are so appreciative. It brings real oneg to our Shabbat! shanna tova umtuka.
I really like those KosherLamps! We have one and will hopefully get another sometime. I have used it in the kids' room to allow bedtime stories and whaterver else we need, and for reading in my room, when we have guests, etc...They are very low watt energy saver bulbs, and so convenient!
[the KosherLamp] doesn't overheat. It doesn't add a significant amount to your electric bill if you keep it on. Once you use a KosherLamp, it's hard to ever go back.
Having a KosherLamp is definitely a lot more convenient than having a lamp in the bedroom with a timer. I thought it was a silly invention until I got a KosherLamp for a wedding gift. Now we have two in the bedroom and I'm lost when we forget to turn it on before Shabbos.
I think the Kosher Lamp is the world's greatest invention!
I L-O-V-E my kosher lamp!!
"Dear Kosher Lamp, We love your lamp because it gives us light on Shabbos. Thank you for making it. We used to have it in our old house in Yerushalayim and we loved it so much! Our grandparents have it also in every guest room."
Zehava and Tova G.
Night lights have always been a problem - very scary for my three year old. We found the solution with the Teddy Lamp. It doesn't make scary shadows. My child loves it!
You've really made Shalom Bayis. My boys always fought when going to sleep. One likes it dark to sleep and the other likes to read. The KosherLamp solved the problem. Who would have thought something I bought for Shabbos would be so useful during the week too. Thank you for a wonderful invention.
I don't know where you get such innovative and practical ideas, but keep up the great product development. Your products enhance our enjoyment of Shabbos and Yom Tov! Your lamps, clock, and other items address real needs in a simple, yet halachically appropriate way. Thank you so much!
Malka L. Caplan,
A real Jewish Mom named Roza asks the following question at imamother.com :
KosherLamp - do you have it and/or find it useful?
Read these amazing comments at imamother.com
(and find out what Roza actually decides to do about it)
Rabbi Veffer with his Kosherlamp is providing a great service by making Shabbos
observance easier for the Jewish People.
Rabbi Ari Kahn, Givat Zeev, Israel
That’s neat. My wife will love it.
Rabbi Yitzchok Lowenbrau, Baltimore
Shabbos never looked brighter!
Rabbi Shraga Simmons, Jerusalem
It’s no different than closing the closet door, it’s just better!
Rabbi Yitzchak Kalsmith, New York
Now I can read in bed Friday night.
Rabbi Mitch Mandel, Thornhill
I think it’s great. Simple, elegant and revolutionary for the Shomer Shabbos family.
Rabbi Yitzchak Coopersmith, Jerusalem
Rabbi Naftali Schiff, London
The Almighty gives us Shabbos for “Oneg” (pleasure). The Rambam says this is light.
Rabbi Yonah Yaffe, Jerusalem
I want one!
Rabbi Stephen Baars, Washington DC
A brillaint idea.
Rabbi Chaim Feld, Cleveland
Perfect to put one in each room when kids have different bed times.
My daughter will be thrilled.
Rebbetzen Judy Katsof, Monsey
I want one for every room of the house.
Rebbetzen Naomi Kahn, Givat Zeev, Israel
Now I can send the kids to bed Friday night!
Rebbetzen Chana Appel, Cleveland
I’m delighted with Kosherlamp!
Rebbetzen Ahuva Zauderer, Toronto
My husband will so love this!
Rebbetzen Techiya Levine, Seattle
Incredible! My husband will be so thrilled he can sleep in the dark again.
Suzanne Rotter, Toronto
Mimi Jankovits, Hollywood FL
Been looking for something like this for years. I can’t wait to read with full light
before a nice Shabbos schluff.
Boruch Rabinowitz, Passaic
I am the first generation in my family who can read the newspaper in bed on erev Shabbos! Before the KosherLamp, I had to sit at the dining room table to read, then schlep upstairs when I was tired. Now I just put the paper down and adjust the light. Thank you so much!
Fabulous idea! I love to read late.
Frumie Silver, Toronto
Mark Halpern, Toronto
Loved using it. Very practical.
Sheila Hecker, Toronto
Excellent idea for Shabbos or during the week to replace closet and bathroom lights as nightlights.
Laura Biren, Thornhill
Now I can sleep while my wife reads.
Kurt Stein, Philadelphia
Alan Cohen, Los Angeles
Every family needs Kosherlamp for shalom bayis
Chaya Krohn, Monsey
The KosherClock has brought such Shalom Bayis to my home! I wanted an alarm to wake me up on Shabbos morning and tried using my cell phone, but it wouldn't shut off! I asked my Rav for an alarm clock for Shabbos and he told me to try the KosherClock. It's a perfect fit for my house because I like to wake up at a different time than my husband. I have my own alarm, he has his own alarm and both alarms turn off after a minute!
"I'm an only son and when I was saying Kaddish, I couldn't sleep well Friday nights, worrying about missing minyan. That's when I purchased a KosherClock and began to sleep well on Shabbos again."
I bought my husband the shabbos clock--he doesn't go to sleep shabbos afternoon if he forgets to set it!
Finally, someone came up with the idea of a Shabbos alarm clock!. I've always had trouble waking up on Shabbos till now! And the fact that it stores up to five alarms is great! Thanks for a great product!
My kids love playing with the voice recording feature! They take turns recording their voices and playing it back, making a big game out of the whole thing. Who would have thought a little clock would be so much fun!
Hi! This Bug Checker light is WONDERFUL!! It makes the task of checking greens & herbs so much easier. Thank you for developing & marketing this innovation!
" [The Bug Checker] is good for commercial use for
the same reason it works in a private kitchen.
It's small, light, portable and easy to use."
-E Prizont, mashgiach
"I tried out the recipe you gave me – it was delicious, and the bug checker too, its fabulous!!
Waiting to try out more of your recipes.
"Now that I have the Kosher Innovations Bugchecker and I can see what I couldn't
see before; I have to go and do Teshuva for all the bugs I've missed in the past!"
"The lightboard is a fabulous tool for the Kashrus observer. It is a practical, convenient, and useful way to assist in inspecting produce and preventing us from violating the very serious prohibitions of eating insects. The lightweight and compact design make it very easy to keep in the kitchen, thus making it a kitchen gadget that should be found in every Kosher kitchen."
-Rabbi Benzion Twerski
"I have been thrilled with your Kosher Lamp products, so I was very excited to purchase your Bug Checker Portable Light Board as soon as I heard about it. I have purchased two light boards, in fact - one for me, one as a gift!"
Yasher koach! I love this idea and hope it really cleans teeth!!
-Rabbi Mendel Bluming
Kids fight the whole week not to brush but on Shabbos, they can't wait to brush!
Just to let you know about an idea I just had. Your magnets can come in handy for all those going away to hotels for Pesach. Most of these doors are magnetic. If families go away together, these can be used to let people know when they are sleeping, at a shiur, etc. Bought it for myself for just that reason.
Your magnetic board looks wonderful, and I've been planning to write out notes to leave messages with for Shabbos - I just never did...now I probably won't need them as long as I can train everyone to look at the fridge! Y'yasher kochachem!
"Avid KosherLamp Devotee"
"I really like the happy face with the bright red bows."
Toronto, ON. Canada
My three sons wouldn't even look at sweaters, because putting on Teffillin while wearing
them was so uncomfortable. You must have been reading my mind! Thank you for a great idea.
-Sarah Ahuva S.
This is the greatest idea. I hope you do well…..Have a great day.
Unbelievable! Kol hakavod!
Mazal Tov for coming up with these wonderful ideas !!!
Panama, Republic of Panama
"This [Shabbos Bathroom Tissue] is a good product because previous to using it I had to call my plumber every six weeks to unclog the toilet from the regular tissues I used."
"The Shabbos Bathroom Tissue is so accessible!"
"I love it. It's amazing"
Wow! Once again you've come up with a fabulous idea. Yasher Koach!
-Susan R. (Englewood, NJ)
BRILLIANT! Much success!!
I LOVE THIS !!!
-Steve Greenberg, Gadget Nation
“As an engineer involved in wastewater processing, I approve of something that'll have more people in the frum community using toilet tissue instead of facial tissue in their toilets on Shabbos.”
-concerned engineer and survey respondent
“This product is neede because there should be no chilul Shabbos by anyone.”
“I like putting items in our home that remind us that we are Jewish and that it is Shabbos”
“sometimes we have kleenex or better quality tissues and they are more likely to stuff the toilet and it's also a waste of money”
“Tissues are expensive and I dislike wasting them for the bathroom. If this product was similar in price to regular, good quality toilet paper, I would buy it.”
”I always aggravate my back when twisting to reach the tissue box behind me on the tank. Hanging the [Shabbos Bathroom Tissue] box on the roll holder makes so much sense! Great idea!