The “Shabbos App” is a Farce

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32 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    Armed with this fine critique, scammers can do a more effective job next time. I hope they don’t read this blog. If there is some potential group of users, young or old, we should be thinking of ways to connect with them to convey the true meaning of Shabbos.

  2. Reb Chaim HaQoton says:

    According to a WHOIS lookup, the website of the Shabbos App is registered to:
    Registrant Name: Yitz Appel
    Registrant Organization: YidTech, Inc.
    Registrant Street: 3422 Old Capitol Trail
    Registrant City: Wilmington
    Registrant State/Province: Delaware
    Registrant Postal Code: 19808
    Registrant Country: United States
    Registrant Phone: +1.3025046050

    • Yaakov Menken says:

      R Chaim,

      Thank you, that’s another proof… between the registration of the domain on Sept. 21 and the filing of incorporation paperwork a short time later, the owner changed the name of the company by dropping the ‘h’. Oh, and the DNS servers are wix.com, which implies they auto-built the website.

      As I said, that address belongs to Delaware Business Incorporators. The phone number belongs to the Wicked Arts Clothing Company.

      Since “Yossi Goldstein” posted the same to Facebook minus his name, I will enclose my reply posted on Facebook:

      Since you, the investors, the rabbis and everyone else involved (minus Yitz Appel) all seem to be embarrassed to use their names, I’m only going to respond briefly to a few points. Your whois registration uses a different name for the company (dropping a final “h”) and the phone number of an entirely different Wilmington-based business.

      The site does not actually “speak” the language of any frum Jew. The false accents and blatant (and inconsistent) mispronunciations are more indicative of mockery than a genuine public service. The same is true of the presentation of false interviews invented in-house — which the video then claims are not the views of those who wrote them.

      The only way to ensure that use of a device does not increase heat generation is to already have the CPU at maximum capacity. Maxing out the heat generation of any device will shorten its life span and especially that of its battery, if it does not cause more immediate and catastrophic damage to the CPU. As that is obviously outside the design parameters, it is quite possible the manufacturer / carrier will not replace a device misused that way. See http://gadgetstouse.com/gadget-tech/avoid-overheating-problems-smartphone/18946 for more information.

      I did an additional bit of research. The USPTO, after receiving a filing, first reviews it to determine it meets the minimum requirements. A serial number is assigned only after this process is complete; if the minimum requirements are not met, the paperwork and filing fee are returned, and no filing date or serial number is set. Currently, filing receipts are being issued approximately two months after a filing is received.

      The chances that they filed for trademarks on Oct. 6 and received serial numbers the same day is approximately 0. There’s simply not a grain of truth in any of this.

  3. Yossi Goldstein says:

    Rabbi Menken,

    I am with the Shabbos App team, so want to clear up a few misconceptions you have. I’ll answer them point by point:

    RYM: They claim they’ll release it in February. If it takes that long to build this (which it shouldn’t), there’s no need to start marketing it so far in advance.

    SA:The Kickstarter campaign ends Dec 6. We wont start working on getting all the bugs and glitches out of the app until we see that we have a market. As the app does a lot of manipulations there is extensive programming and testing.

    RYM: The promised final version will cost $49.95, which is extraordinarily high for an app, much less one purporting to be a public service (compare to the various apps for prayers, prayer times (which track the changing times for sunrise and sunset in each location), Jewish texts, and even finding a minyan).

    SA: This app requires a massive amount of code and programmers, as well as constant updates with a limited market.

    RYM: Its tag line is “Nisht shver tzu zein a Yid,” (it’s not difficult to be a Jew) which, of course, doesn’t speak to the Modern Orthodox teen observing “Half Shabbat” — who doesn’t understand Yiddish and has likely never heard the old saying on which this plays.

    SA: Our product should appeal to all people. After Yom Kipur we got an investor who wants to invest a substantial amount of funds in creating new innovative ways to make Judaism easier to keep, and this is the tagline he though of.

    RYM: The site claims the above tag line is its registered mark, ®. It’s hard to imagine registering a Yiddish phrase as distinctly “yours” with the US Patent and Trademark Office, as required by law to use the ® symbol, nor does a trademark search turn up any results.

    SA: It was filed with the USTPO on Oct 6, but can take time to update on their website, I suggest you search again in few days. The serial number for Shabbos App is 86414975 and Nisht shver tzu zein a Yid is 86415024

    RYM:The site is not only peppered with Yiddish, foreign to most of those afflicted with “Half Shabbat,” but refers to “Toirah,” a spelling that is the exclusive province of those intending to mock or belittle Torah observance and/or observant Jews. [Don’t take my word for it.]
    Ditto: Reboin’eh Shel Oi’lem, Koisaiv, Moichek, Poiskim.

    SA: The language was chosen to “speak to” a lot of people who “speak that way”

    RYM: “Who We Are” says they are “a team of ehrlich’e yidden” [straight, honest Jews]. I’ve said this before: observant Jews don’t call themselves good Jews, or ehrlich’e, or what-have-you that implies we’re doing what we should. We’ll call someone else ehrlich, but we’re not going to be Azei Panim [brazen] and say Tzadikim Anachnu v’lo Chatanu [we are righteous and have not sinned] (cf. Yom Kippur prayers).
    Then, of course, there’s what the website doesn’t have. While the website claims their app provides “solutions” to the “Halachic issues,” there is no reference whatsoever to consultation with any Halachic [Jewish legal] authority from any circle. There are no approbations. There is no Rav anywhere who claims to have been consulted about this purported “solution” for observant Jews, much less to having agreed with any of its claims.

    SA: We are working with many Rabonim, yet at this point all are reluctant to have their name associated with the project for fear of backlash.

    RYM:YidTec is supposed to be a frum (Orthodox) outfit in Wilmington, DE. Anyone heard of them? Right.
    That’s because in actuality, YidTec isn’t in Wilmington at all. In articles it claims the firm is in California. But it was incorporated by The Company Corporation in Delaware, yesterday, October 6.

    SA: We only incorporated as YidTec because an investor reached out to us who is willing to put substantial funds behind this and other innovative ideas. So, he wanted it to be a Delaware corp and felt that we should register our marks.

    RYM: The Facebook page for the Shabbos App (which has been around since September 22, several weeks longer than YidTec has been a company), as well as the Google Play page, both claim that the physical address of YidTec is that of Delaware Business Incorporators, a competitor of the Company Corporation also located in Wilmington.

    SA: We update the address to comply with our new corporation address.

    RYM: The Facebook page “Ban the Shabbos App” was created on October 1, to claim the Shabbos App is “worse than 1000 Holocausts” [sic]. It uses similar Hebrew spellings (“oi”) to those I pointed out on shabbosapp.com, criticizes the Gedolim for not banning the app (yet), and refers to Rav Adlerstein’s post on Cross-Currents of yesterday as a “softie half-hearted ban-free screed about the Destroy-Shabbos App.”

    SA: This is some bored moron,we have nothing to do with it.

    RYM:The Kickstarter Facebook link doesn’t go to the page of YidTec or the Shabbos App, but of Yitz Appel, who doesn’t look overtly frum and has a very sparse presence, especially for someone claiming to be an app developer.

    SA: You can not link a company Facebook profile in that area only a personal profile, you can check this with Kickstarter, obviously, linking it to our FB page would have been better.

    RYM: Oh, and last but not least, the app claims it will avoid problems of heating the phone due to overuse, by constantly consuming power, causing the battery to constantly be hot. In other words, the app offers to deliberately roast your phone.

    SA: No it will not “roast” your phone any more than using it to watch movies, browse the net or play games

  4. ESZ says:

    I think this is not such a nefarious endeavor as much as it is a project for a guy who wants to get publicity for his app creation and PR skills.

    Selfishness and money are the strongest motivators.

  5. Bob Miller says:

    “SA: We are working with many Rabonim, yet at this point all are reluctant to have their name associated with the project for fear of backlash.”

    How convenient! That fear will not go away any time soon, assuming they even exist. Thus, this selling point is rather weak.

    If they do exist, they need to occupy themselves more with promoting a traditional Shabbos, free of electronic devices that tug us back into weekday thinking.

  6. Avraham Marks says:

    So far nothing I’ve seen has changed my original (admittedly cynical) theory: that they’re trying to convince askanim to pay them not to make it.

  7. Isaac Moses says:

    > It is called the “Shabbos App.” “Half Shabbat” seems to be more common than “Half Shabbos,” v’hamayvin yavin. Even if you disagree, stay with me.

    Call me a non-maven.

    I searched Google for “Half Shabbat” and got 696 results and “Did you mean: ‘Half Shabbos’“. Clicking on the corrected version yielded 2910 results.

    Internet usage seems to indicate decidedly that “Half Shabbos” is the more common term. In what way does “Half Shabbat” seem to be more common, to mevinim like yourself? Alternatively, what statement were you trying to make?

    • Yaakov Menken says:

      Isaac, The Jewish Week, for reasons known only to them, chose to use “Half Shabbos” in their title, although the article emphasized that this phenomenon is especially prevalent among Modern Orthodox teenagers who call it Shabbat. According to the article, as many as 50% of MO teens text on Shabbos. That’s a sociological reality, not a Google ranking. The fact that this is more commonly a Modern Orthodox phenomenon is relevant not for some sort of snide comparison between Charedi and MO teens, but specifically because of the over-the-top Yiddishized spellings (and Charedi people) used on the Shabbos App’s web page and video.

      David, call 1-800-786-9199. Press 1 for trademark information, 1 for pre-recorded messages, 2 for pending applications, and 3 for application filing receipts. That is the information I used in assessing their claim that they received a serial number already. See also their FAQ which says as follows: “It is difficult to predict exactly how long it will take an application to mature into a registration, because there are so many factors that can affect the process. Generally, an applicant will receive a filing receipt approximately three weeks after filing, which will include the serial number of the application. All future correspondence with the USPTO must include this serial number.”

      I found some clarity on their tutorial page, which states: “Please be aware that once you file your application, we do not cancel the filing or refund the fee, unless the application fails to satisfy minimum filing requirements.” I do, however, accept your correction that if filed electronically, they appear to issue a serial number immediately, which is the substance of “Yossi’s” claim.

      This is interesting, but “Yossi” is investing far too much time and effort trying to prove they filed these forms, rather than explaining why their video and home page are quite so laughable, or sending me an evaluation apk of the app. I also explained earlier that their method for avoiding the user heating the device would cause permanent damage. [This is besides the fact that heating the device is neither a Psik Reisha nor desireable — so according to them it should need no remediation.]

      If he was going to unveil a real, working app, why would he be making such an effort to prove it’s real during this stage? Wouldn’t the festering controversy just build interest?

  8. Yossi Goldstein says:

    Rabbi Menken,

    You are mistaken, time will show that we are legit, however, I am attaching a link to the USTP0 filing so you can see the paperwork for yourself with the payment made, and serial number. It will probably be visible on their website in about a week or so. http://www.shabbosapp.com/#!USTPO/c1b91, unless of course you want to claim that we are manufacturing these document as well 🙂

  9. Josh says:

    Another proof this is a farce: the fact that Yossi has taken so much time to respond to your article. Your article is a threat to their scam, so they have to respond in detail.

  10. David Ohsie says:

    Rabbi Menken, while I also doubt that this app is going anywhere, the information above in incorrect about the process of obtaining a serial number for an application as well as about refundability of the fees. The following are quotations directly from the uspto website:

    http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/tm_fee_info.jsp:

    Many trademark documents, including an application, require payment of a filing fee. These fees are generally not refundable even if the USPTO does not ultimately register your mark.

    http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/process/NB_Validation_Page_Transcript_.doc:

    Once you have paid the required fee, you will have officially submitted your trademark application. You will see a “SUCCESS” page that provides you with your assigned serial number. Be sure to print the screen and/or save it as a PDF for your records. You will also receive an e-mail receipt that includes your application serial number, your application data, and important information about the next steps in the process. Please read all of the information carefully.

    We’ll soon be able to assess the truthfulness of their claim to made an application by checking this site: http://tsdr.uspto.gov/

  11. Yossi Goldstein says:

    Rabbi Menken,

    Two additional points. We were only assigned the number 302-504-6050 a few days ago, so it’s possible that it’s still listed as the previous owner of the number. However, if you call the number you will see it rings to our office.

    With regard to our legal address, while we used The Company Corporation to form the entity, and be the registered agent, we are legally leasing office space from Delaware Business Incorporators. This is our legal address and does not mean that is where our team is located, in fact we are spread out over many states and Countries.

    Initially, our plan was to incorporate as YidTech, Inc in Delaware and operate from California as a foreign corporation, however, at the last minute we changed it to operate from Delaware for tax and other strategic reasons. That is why you will notice that onr trademark has a CA address, and the other our DE address. When we noticed that YidTech.com was taken, we switched the filing to YidTec (without the H) and purchased that domain. As it stands we are legally a Delaware corporation, operating from Delaware.

  12. Shira Levenson says:

    Rabbi Menken:

    I cannot believe that you are writing a serious article against this. Its clearly satire. I recall someone writing a few months ago about frum people lacking a sense of humor…

  13. micha says:

    I know the girls Lipman interviewed (“Julia” and her cousin), and they never implied that “Half Shobbos” was a thing. They described kids with one foot out the door; texting and social media as a “gateway sin” to full chilul Shabbos. But no one, until we grown-ups ran with it, ever thought there was some kind of subculture of people who keep “Half Shabbos” for months. Statistics for teens is that 15% go off the derekh. NCSY cites the same percentage as does R’ Wallerstein as does Areivim. There is no basis for implying that use of cell phones on Shabbos is more common among children of one community over another. The kids on Ocean Parkway, those roaming Lakewood, Central Ave, or in the park in Passaic, every sub-community of Monsey…. they come in all stripes. We’re all failing to pass the mesorah to 1 out of 6 of our children. If we admit it about our own community’s children, we might change that.

    A gaffe on the Kickstarter page (under “Risks and challenges”) I find laughable…. “We are working with a team of highly skilled programmers for both android and Apple (this project is not for iOS) phones.” So it will run on all Apple non-iOS smartphones. But there aren’t any, and someone developing software would presumably know that, since many shoppers would.

    Other issues: the Android API doesn’t give programmers control over when the battery charges. So there is no Android way to do that bit about cycling when one can plug it in. There is no way to control clock speed, and you’re presumably leaving the antenna and backlight on for 25 hours. So you can’t do much to control battery load; if the phone does more, it will drain more. And, as RYM pointed out already, running the backlighting full-time for 25 hours is bound to heat up the battery badly; and again, without being able to control how you’re draining it, you can’t control the temperature either. I would not be surprised if you end up in Li-Ion thermal runaway, melting nearby chips if not the battery itself.

    But again, a search of the API offers no hooks for doing what they’re setting out to do. (See http://developer.android.com/reference/packages.html for yourself.) So it’s all a non-issue.

  14. Yehoshua Mandelcorn says:

    Please don’t use this to take swings at the Modern Orthodox. It is very unlikely that those behind this “Shabbos App” are MO. They know too much Yiddish.
    What about the existing Shabbos alarm clocks?
    I am not an expert on the Kedusha (holiness) of Shabbos, but any alarm would surely disturb my Menucha (rest).
    When I was in Yeshiva, one of the pleasures of Shabbos was the absence of Alarm Bells for Shacharit.

  15. Yossi Goldstein says:

    Rabbi Menken,

    You accused us of lying about the filing of the trademarks, exclaiming how we helped you “put the nail in the coffin” Given that we are legit, we responded the evidence backing up what we stated is true.

    As far as the video, this is a presentation we made that we feel accurately represents how some people feel, though largely stereotypical and not completely accurate. It was designed to be light and amusing.

    Vis-a-vis the language that we use on the site, we changed it after we got an investor who is working with us and felt that we should change the tone as well as add our slogan to be more reachable to a wider frum audience. He felt that the language style we used did not resonate with a lot of frum people.

    The app that is on Google Play does work in limited capacity, it keeps the screen on at all times and kills all the sound. The addition of the keypad and charging are still very much in production and full of bugs. A lot of the program manipulates the system and there are a lot of issues that will take substantial work to get right. This will only happen once we see that there is enough interest on Kickstarter to warrant such a massive effort and deliver a final working product. The main reason it is on Google Play is to give us a placeholder and to show that the TM is in use on an app.

    I hope that I have clarified some issues for you and wish everyone a chag someach.

  16. dr. bill says:

    Issues raised by this device and other recent controversies on other Sabbath adapted devices are not encouraging. The grama issues including defining an acceptable delay element, creating probabilistic uncertainty, or delimiting what constitutes done differently normally require detailed written opinions whose positions can be evaluated and debated. These are often non-existent. For a variety of reasons, defining what parameters quantify levels of need or the spirit of Shabbat is often harder and is more often argued without adequate written analysis.

    Besides this device, the recent debates about the permissibility of security cameras or the attempt at a permissible light switch, have generated well documented, valuable written opinions and pronouncements / pashkevaim (real and not) of significantly lesser value. In this case, real or not, there has yet to emerge a cogent halakhic opinion covering even some of the basic issues. If a device of this sort has any chance of acceptance, such an opinion needs to be presented.

    Even a farce deserves better.

  17. Chochom b'mah nishtanah says:

    I think it is clear that the App is a farce even with out all the insightful analysis AND even if it actually produced.

  18. Yaakov Menken says:

    Shira Levinson, besides the fact that it’s not funny, people are taking this app seriously. Rav Adlerstein’s article is hardly the only one. Look in the Forward, look online — and look on their kickstarter page, where people have apparently pledged over $2000 to this nonsense. And look at “Yossi Goldstein’s” posts — he’s desperate for us to take it seriously, and yes, they may even have paid for a pair of trademarks!

    Micha (and Yehoshua), what you say about OTD youth is true, but we’re not necessarily talking about those truly OTD. There are lots of ways to leave or diminish observance, and they are not equal across all subgroups. For example, Meir Goldberg and others claim that more than 25% of students who dorm at secular colleges leave observance, and it is obvious that not all communities are afflicted equally by this.

    Here as well, “half Shabbos” is when a teen is observing the Sabbath except where his or her phone is concerned, which is not what we describe as OTD. Was the Shabbaton described in the article davka for teens at risk? Baltimore’s charedi schools serve a broader spectrum than many in NY/NJ, and the community certainly is not immune to the OTD phenomenon. Yet my 10th-grade daughter doesn’t know what “half Shabbos” is (or didn’t, until I asked her last night), and is unaware of anyone in her circles who texts on Shabbos. If there were no such subculture, as you imply, then no one would have conceived of this app idea, much less made ripples across the Orthodox world with it.

    With that said, all communities have their problems, and this isn’t at all the point when it comes to the Shabbos App. my emphasis on MO was purely because it makes the use of such Yiddishized terms on the Shabbos app quite so off-putting. The website attempts to appear “ultra-charedi” — Yiddishized terms, a Chossid on his way to tisch, a Litvak with a broad-brimmed Fedora texting his chavrusa. It makes the satirical nature of the operation more obvious.

    Oh, and Yehoshua, as far as Shabbos alarm clocks, people used to keep chickens. Shabbos is also about davening!

    “Yossi” — Based upon the information from David I have deleted my update claiming that it was obvious you hadn’t really filed. I suppose we will see.

    The video is neither light nor amusing. Besides its generally poor execution, it ridicules rabbinic authority in the midst of promoting an app which purportedly enables observance of Halacha. It is done in such a way that no one who takes Halacha seriously will take the app seriously. And those who don’t take Halacha seriously are extremely unlikely to pay $50 to make texting “less assur.”

    Micha added another obvious technological problem: you can’t stop the phone from taking a charge when it’s plugged in. The popular Battery Doctor app warns you to unplug the phone to prevent overcharging — were it possible to turn off charging, Battery Doctor would do so! Anyone with relevant knowledge already knows that you provided me with a nonanswer: it is simply untrue that browsing the net or watching movies maximizes CPU utilization, and maxing it out for a long period is indeed quite likely to do permanent damage to the hardware.

    Technologically, the “Shabbos App” as described cannot be built, as per Micha and myself. Halachically, the App is untenable, as described by Rabbi Adlerstein and many others. That is why, in the end, “Chochom” is right.

  19. Yehoshua Mandelcorn says:

    The Minhag of later davening on Shabbos & Yom Tov is at least hundreds of years old, and the loudest rooster becomes next Friday night’s dinner. Overall Shabbos & Yom Tov have more overall davening and learning (for most), but it is done in a more relaxed mode than during the week.

  20. Yaakov Menken says:

    Let the record show that I was wrong: they have indeed registered both Shabbos App and Nisht Shver Tzu Zein A Yid, and acquired a phone number in Wilmington as well (why they needed a phone number in Delaware, I couldn’t tell you).

    Does this change things? Not really.

    First of all, their use of the ® symbol remains a false claim (not to mention unlawful) until the USPTO actually registers their mark, which, especially in the latter case, may never happen. [To claim a common Yiddish saying, even with a twist, is dubious at best. R’ Moshe zt”l said it’s “nisht shver” long before there were apps.] So I was correct to include it in my tower of evidence.

    I’m not a lawyer — I can’t tell if their submission meets the minimum standards, or if they’re going to get their check back. They could even have intentionally failed to meet the minimum criteria, so as to show us that they have filed while not, in the end, losing any money doing so.

    But the larger issue remains that the “Shabbos App” is neither technologically nor halachically feasible. If they actually did invest that money, the question will be if the joke is on us, or on them.

    Chag Sameach!

  21. Barry jay says:

    Assuming all the halachic aspects of the shabbos app is correct, there is a much a bigger problem that may arise, bigger than the problem of teenagers can’t control their texting on shabbos.

    First of all, not using a phone on shabbos plays a big role in making a clear difference between weekday and shabbos. Just try one weekday with following the same routine without a phone, you’ll see and feel a huge difference. But one may argue and say that phones nowadays is just a much of a necessity as food or using the bathroom (which is not necessarily true because the human is capable of avoiding the phone for a day and clearly proven when plenty of people do it every shabbos).

    However, a more possible argument is that if there is a legitimate halachic basis to allow phones and especially there is an enhancement of shabbos spirit with the phone, then what’s the reason not to allow it and therefore how can one say that phones is not a shabbos thing to do. (This logic would also apply to television on a timer on shabbos and sports.)

    However, to knock off this argument I would like to first make clear that people associate “phones on shabbos” as electricity and therefore forbidden on shabbos. So if we allow phones on shabbos, even with only the shabbos app, people will become desensitized to electricity on shabbos altogether because they’ll say “oh, shabbos which my phone is allowed so why not other electrical appliances, such as switching on and off the light switch and television and radio and my computer.” And we all know that once we allow all electrical appliance all of shabbos spirit will be lost and people will forget or assume that other biblical prohibitions are also ok, such as, driving a car or writing or cooking, etc. Not only will the people which had the texting problem would say this but also the people which no problem in the first place as well. This is why allowing phones, even with just the shabbos app will just cause bigger problems.

  22. Steve Brizel says:

    Someone from the Shabbos App “team” wrote in part:
    “After Yom Kipur we got an investor who wants to invest a substantial amount of funds in creating new innovative ways to make Judaism easier to keep”

    This is the key-throughout Jewish history, one can claim that the opponents of Halacha and TSBP are gudided by a simple rule-ignore the importance of knowing and sweating the details of what it means to be a 24-7 cradle to grave Halachically committed Jew, and instead offer a watered down alternatice. The rationale of the “Shabbos App” team reveals its contempt for Halacha and TSBP in such comments.

  23. Steve Brizel says:

    Barry Jay wrote in relevant part:

    “However, a more possible argument is that if there is a legitimate halachic basis to allow phones and especially there is an enhancement of shabbos spirit with the phone, then what’s the reason not to allow it and therefore how can one say that phones is not a shabbos thing to do. (This logic would also apply to television on a timer on shabbos and sports”

    This seems like just an updated version of CJ”s long discredited( and a self destructive) thesis that driving to shul on Shabbos enhances Shemiras Shabbos.

  24. Yair Spitz says:

    A comprehensive rabbinic response to the Shabbos App concept (regardless of the question whether it is real or not) can be found by Googling “shabbos app spitz is smartphone kosher”

    [YA – Of all the treatments I have seen so far, Rabbi Spitz’s is the best, most constructive, and most insightful]

    [YM – No need to Google, here’s the direct link.]

  25. Reb Chaim HaQoton says:

    And by the way, their story about changing the language they use on the site checks out because a quick search on https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.shabbosapp.com reveals that on Sep. 30 their website did not used “yeshivishe shprach”, while on October 6 it did.

  26. Chochom b'mah nishtanah says:

    This app will come in handy one of the girls wants to tell another that her של ראש is not straight and does want to be מפסיק in the middle of א-ל אדון. The Shabbos texting feature will come in handy and it לצורך, לצורך מצוה.

  27. Yehuda Levi | Shabbos App Team says:

    HaRav Menken,

    We at the Shabbos App team have taken some on your comments and other very seriously. We are going to make some substantial changes to the app that will make it much less expensive to build and maintain. The biggest change we are making is to cancel the charging and battery load features. These features are extremely complicated to build and causes the phone phone to crash, etc. We needed it because we were going on the premise that we needed to keep a load on the battery for the heat problem, as when one uses the phone it causes the battery to get hot.

    In one of your posts you mentioned that this is not a problem at all as it is a psik raiash d’anino necha lay. We discusses this with our rabbinical advisers who said that it is 100% ok- according to all shitos, as it is a safaik psik raiash d’anino necha lay, as we re-explained the issue any single use can not cause the battery to for sure heat up.

    This also helps as we are no longer building an app that will require constant charging and entering the Chazon Ish’s issue of boneh and soser. According to the vast research you can not create boneh and soser in a circuit board as there is no physical switch ever being acted on.

    While you may have written to bash us, calling us a farce and everything else. We want to thank you actually helping us to bring the app to fruition for a much less expensive price and drastically quicker deployment.

    Yasher Koach!

  28. Yaakov Menken says:

    So far, the only developer with a unique and recognizable name is Yitz Appel, whom, as I said, is only listed on-line connected to non-technical activities. Common names like Yossi Goldstein and Yehuda Levi (presumably neither Professor Yehudah Levi of the Jerusalem College of Technology, author of The Science in Torah, nor Yehuda Levi the Israeli actor and model) beg for greater specificity. Otherwise the developers, like their “rabbinical advisers,” remain hidden.

    What is now entirely revealed, on the other hand, is an absence of knowledge of Halacha and engineering that renders this a meaningless exercise.

    I referred above to the fact that any heating of the phone is neither a psik reisha nor desirable — while the list of Halachic problems with smartphone use on Shabbos is extensive, heat isn’t on it. So we are to believe that they now “discussed this with [their] rabbinical advisers” — none of whom had mentioned this obvious fact to them before — and the problem of “fire” has changed from a Halachic problem remediated by the app to a “misconception.”

    This isn’t a problem, they [now] write, because it’s a safeik pesik resha delo nichah lei — a non-existent Halachic construct. The only time you have a safeik (doubt) about a psik reisha is concerning the metziyus, e.g. is there a creature in the box you are about to close, such that closing the box will trap it. A psik reisha itself must be, by definition, an absolute consequence. If there’s a safeik about the consequence (as in this case, where it’s a safeik whether the battery temperature will rise due to typing), then it’s not a psik reisha.

    And even better, Yehuda informs us that this is true “according to all shitos!” So which “shitos” were they addressing when, in their first draft, they claimed the Shabbos App would solve this non-existent problem? How much more evidence do we need that they made no similar consultations with “rabbinical advisers” before and during work on this project, upon which they claim to have worked for a full year?

    And in addition, thanks to my offhand remark, the “developers” now assert, they are making an array of “substantial changes to the app” that will reduce its price from $50 to $18 and bring it to market on Dec. 1 rather than next February.

    Writing a routine that taxes the CPU is so simple that it is often done unintentionally. You simply program the computer to repeat a task until X is true, and neglect to provide a circumstance in which X ever actually becomes true. Presto: the computer will dutifully repeat the task until you halt the program, keeping it quite busy.

    Turning charging on and off with an Android phone, on the other hand, simply cannot be done — as first pointed out and documented by Micha above.

    So we are to believe that (a) writing a trivial bit of code and (b) solving an insoluble problem would have taken them two additional months — and change the cost structure to the point that the price would have been $32 higher. Now the app will be “much less expensive to build and maintain,” since “all” they will have to deal with are such proletarian items as their own revolutionary, custom keyboard, custom messaging app, and ebooks (the video, now gone from the web site, promised that a Chossid on his way to tisch would be able to look up a good Dvar Torah on the web) … seriously? What do they take us for? Oh, right… that was my point from the beginning.

    Given the trademark filings and the fact that their phone number actually works, I am not as certain as I was previously that this “app” is nothing more than a prank of some kind. But whether it is the entire thing or just the engineering and Halachic justifications for it that are farcical, a farce it remains.

  29. Pinchas says:

    WARNING: I went on google play to check out the app there (not that I’d ever consider using it) and it says there it won’t be ready till the end of 2015 not 2014 as claimed on their website… yet they want the money now! This sounds like a real scam no different than the notorious Nigerian 419 scams… and people not paying attention maybe scammed out of their money! They certainly don’t appear to be acting l’shem shamayim!

    This is what it says on google play:
    “NOTICE: The current version does not function. You are buying and downloading a pre-version that will be updated to the full working version on Dec 1, 2015.”

    Draw your own conclusion.

    [I think they merely neglected to change the year when they changed their target from February 2015 to December 2014. From their website: “Shabbos App is a very serious project that has been worked on for over a year. The app will be released with all the features on Dec 1, 2014.” But I wouldn’t pay for any app without a “try before you buy” or lite option — all the more so when the app would be valueless even if, from a technical perspective, it did everything they claim. — YM]

  30. Bob Miller says:

    Note to Pinchas:

    Customers would be getting scammed (spiritually!) even if this app was delivered early.

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