Friday, November 21, 2014

Audio Shiur: Parshat Toldot- Our Response to the Har Nof Murders - The Persistence of Yitzchak

Audio Shiur:
Audio Shiur: Parshat Toldot- Our Response to the Har Nof Murders - The Persistence of Yitzchak

The single chapter that describes the life of Yitzchak highlights the strong influence and presence of Avraham in his son's life. We discuss the theme of strength through persistence, and how Yitzchak's gevurah entrenched the spirituality of Avraham, and gave us the strength to overcome terrible challenges such as the one Klal Yisrael faced this week.

Click here to navigate to the shiur on YUTorah.org.

Click to play the Shiur (or right-click to download)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Persistence

Each of us, in our own way, suffered – and continues to suffer – as the slow passage of time edges us away from the horrible murders in Har Nof. In an age of instantaneous media, the images are now firmly etched into our psyches: of blood stained tallitot and siddurim; a lifeless hand still wrapped in Tefillin. I haven’t tried to make sense of the events in my own mind because I know that any such attempt would represent an exercise in futility. There is no sense to be made in abject hatred. There’s no logical explanation, no legitimacy possible for the murder of Talmidei Chachamim as they pray Shemeh Esreh. But there is a response; not a military or police response. Those tasks are left to others. Rather, our response must follow the response of the residents of Har Nof, who undoubtedly did what those four scholars would have insisted they do; what they would have done themselves; what we all did:
They got up in the quiet of the morning and went to daven. In shul.
Daily minyan isn’t one of the more glamourous aspects of Jewish life, but it might very well be its anchor. A shul – any shul – no matter how many members it may boast, no matter how many outside scholars it welcomes, no matter how lavish its kiddushim may be – is only as strong as the daily minyan. The act of rising, each and every day, to try and commune with God before (and after) the day begins together with the larger communit, represents both an individual dedication and desire to live a pious life, together with a recognition that we find our great religious meaning not in the bombastic moments of exciting ritual; not in the Bar Mitzvah or wedding, and not even only in the passion of the Yamim Noraim; but in the rigor of repetition of ritual, day in and day out. It is the daily davening and the daf yomi that makes us who we are. Without them, we lack the bedrock foundation that gives us both strength and a true, deep-rooted connection to God.
This week, terrorists, knowingly or not, attacked this bedrock of Jewish living. They were probably looking for the easiest target available, but in that effort focused on people who dedicated their very existence to maintaining this anchor of the Jewish condition, not only through prayer, but through their ongoing, ceaseless devotion to Talmud Torah, built over uncountable hours of study in the Beit Midrash, again invested without pomp or fanfare or nary a Facebook post or Tweet. It was these attributes of Judaism that were attacked in that quiet shul in Jerusalem: a dogged persistence to prayer, a steadfast devotion to Torah study, and an untiring dedication to religious ritual that has sustained the Jewish nation through two millennia of exile.
Thus, the most fitting response – the only response – is exactly how the people of Har Nof, of Jerusalem – of Jews throughout the world – did indeed respond. We went back to shul that night, and the very next morning. We maintained our vigil. We make it clear, each and every day, that no matter how many of our enemies rejoice and celebrate at the sight of murdered Jews, no matter how many candies they distribute or garish cartoon they publish, we will continue to rise early each morning to reestablish our relationship with God.
This vigil – the persistence – represents the strongest reason why those Jews are now living in Jerusalem, in Har Nof today. For thousands of years, Jews have risen each and every morning to pray to God: ולירושלים עירך ברחמים תשוב – “return us to Jerusalem, Your city, in compassion.” ותחזינה עיננו בשובך לציון ברחמים – “May our eyes witness Your return to Zion with compassion.” After so many centuries of heartfelt prayer, someone, armed with the divine blessing of God, decided that it was time to transform those prayers into reality. God returned, and so did we.
It was that persistence that brought us here, and it’s that very same persistence that will keep us here. So, the morning after the murders, Jews across Jerusalem, and around the world, rose early in the morning once again for daily prayers. We were all a little heartbroken, a little at a loss for words. But we went to shul, because that’s what we do. We didn’t do it to tell our enemies anything. We didn’t do it to send a message. But, in our daily acts of devotion, we do indeed broadcast to the world in a loud, clear voice: We aren’t going anywhere.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Audio Shiur: Parshat Vayera - the Mystic Mount Moriyah

Audio Shiur:
Audio Shiur: Parshat Noach - Unraveling the Mystery of Avram's Origin

Why is the mountain called Mount Moriyah? We give you seven - and maybe eight - different reasons. Also, did Avraham fulfill the commandment to sacrifice Yitzchak with alacrity, or did he drag his feet? Evidence is mixed.

Click here to navigate to the shiur on YUTorah.org.

Click to play the Shiur (or right-click to download)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Drashah for Lech Lecha 5775 – Eli Klausner’s Bar Mitzvah - Unlocking the Greatness Within

I spent Shabbat as a Scholar in Residence at my old shul, the Young Israel of Oak Park. Here's the drashah that I gave.

Eli, imagine that archaeologists in Iran somehow discovered to old report cards of Avraham Avinu – his mother saved everything in earthenware jars. Except back then he wasn’t Avraham Avinu; he was just plain Avram. What would his teachers have written on his report card? You might think that he would have gotten all A’s. After all, he’s one of the greatest leaders and teachers in our national history. And, as we all know, the Midrash teaches us that even from a very young age, he sensed the presence of God. But you’d be wrong. He didn’t get all A’s. The comments would have looked something like this:
“Avram is very disruptive in class. He doesn’t pay attention, especially during idolatry.” (that’s from his Zoroastrianism teacher). And his homeroom teacher would have written: “Avram refuses to pray to the idols like the rest of the class, and instead fidgets uncontrollably during idol worship.” And of course there would be the mark about his suspension from school for damaging school property.
You see, Avram, even from a very young age was different. But that difference wasn’t easy, far from it. It must have been very, very hard to be different than everyone around him. But that struggle, perhaps more than anything else, is what made Avram into Avraham Avinu. By facing difficult challenges, and overcoming those challenges, Avram became Avraham, and unlocked the potential hidden inside him that would ultimately change the world.
In fact Eli, the entire Parshah that you read today is a chronicle of Avram’s lifelong experience of being different. The very first commandment God gives Avram – לך לך מארצך וממולדתך ומבית אביך – “Go forth from your land, your birthplace, and your father’s home” – that command, in the language of the Mishnah in Pirkei Avot, represents the first of a series of tests that Avram must pass on his journey to greatness.
עשרה ניסיונות נתנסה אברהם אבינו עליו השלום ועמד בכולם, להודיע כמה [גדולה] חיבתו של אברהם אבינו עליו השלום [על הקדוש ברוך הוא[
Our forefather Avraham was tested with ten tests, and he passed them all, to teach us how great was God’s love for Avraham Avinu.
The first test? Leave your homeland. Leave your comfort zone. Go away, where no one knows you, where your reputation won’t help you, and begin life anew. Avram followed this commandment precisely. For the rest of his life he was known as אברהם העברי – which some think means, “Avraham the Hebrew” – but that’s not accurate. עברי refers to עבר הנהר – from the “other side of the river.” He’s Avraham from “over there” – he’s not from “here” – wherever “here” happens to be. It’s hard to always live life as a stranger. But that’s what he does, always moving from place to place to place.
The entire story of Avram is a series of tests: he leaves his home in חרן and travels to כנען. Almost as soon as he gets there there’s a famine, and he must leave once again. And then his wife is commandeered by the Pharaoh of Egypt. And then he must fight a war to free Lot. The list goes on, one test after another.
Why? Why all these tests? Because, as the Mishnah says, to teach us how must God loved him.
We might have thought the opposite: My grandfather, עליו השלום, used to take us fishing in the canal behind his house in Miami. We never caught a single fish. Not one. But he used to ask us: Do you know what the fish say? They say: "If you like me, leave me alone."
Don’t you think that at some point Avram would have had the same feeling? "God, enough with the tests!" If you really love me, leave me alone and let me spread Your Name in peace." And yet, that’s not what happened. Challenge after challenge, test after test. Why so many tests? Why so many challenges?
Ramban suggests an answer that carries an important message for us all. Introducing the final test of עקידת יצחק, we read:  - ויהי אחר הדברים האלה והאלקים נסה את אברהם -"And it was after these events, and God tested Avraham."
Again with the tests. Why so many tests? Why such a difficult one as asking him to sacrifice his beloved son? Ramban explains:
“The actions of man are of his own free choice whether he chooses to act or not; but the “tester” – God – commands him, in order to bring out from his potential into actuality, so that he will have the reward of a good action, and not just the reward of a good heart.
Yesterday I was in a shul in Cleveland, and the rabbi asked an interesting question. Last week, when the Torah introduced Noach, we read that נח איש צדיק, תמים היה בדורותיו – “Noach was a righteous man – a tsaddik, pure in his generation.” Why is there no such verse about Avraham, who must have been far greater?
The answer, I believe, is that Avraham wasn’t born אברהם אבינו. He had the potential for greatness; it was inside him, hidden in his heart. But only through challenge; by passing tests, and overcoming obstacles, did Avram release his hidden potential, and transform himself אברהם אבינו  - into the person that changed human history.
***************
People have been asking me about how things are in Israel. Thank God, for us personally – for me and Rena and the children, things are really great, thank God. Busy, but great.
But, as you know, it was a very, very challenging summer. Yad Binyamin, where we live, is 37 kilometers from the Gaza border, and we had about a rocket siren per day. That means dropping whatever you're doing, and running to the protected room in the house. Thank God, they usually fired at us during the day, so it wasn't so bad. But for people living in Ashkelon or Ashdod, it was far worse. The country spent the entire summer on pins and needles – defiant, strong. But the war, which followed the terrible murder of those three boys took a toll, and by the end of the summer the entire country was on edge. It was a very hard summer.
Then again, at the same time, it was perhaps the greatest summer for the Jewish people in decades. On the evening before the discovery of the bodies of those three boys, tens of thousands of Israelis from all walks of life - secular and religious - gathered in Rabin Square for an evening of prayer, and song, and unity. Those mothers – they were the embodiment of the Imahot; giving strength and inspiration to a nation. And then, during the war, people just gave; women made challot and cookies. People made hundreds of sandwiches, and just drove them down to the makeshift army camp outside Sderot. Barbers came down and gave free haircuts to soldiers. It got so crazy that the army simply had to close the area to civilians and say, “Thanks. We know that you love us, but we’ve got a war to fight.” People who had lived in Israel for decades said that they couldn’t remember the country being so united since the Yom Kippur War.
We were tested. And that test, and the painful sacrifices we made during those months brought out something that’s usually hidden and that we forget as we’re fighting the usual fights over budgets, and religious issues, and politics: We are one nation, and when pushed together, our power to love each other gave us a strength we didn’t remember that we have.
What was true for Israel this summer, is true for each of us as well. Most of us don’t enjoy struggle, and trial. We like things quiet. But that’s now how life is – life is about meeting the tests that we face head-on, and using those tests to become better people; better communities; and a stronger nation.
Eli, today might have been one of the hardest things that you’ve ever had to do, and we’re all – your parents, and teachers, and friends – so proud of you for the work that you put in for your Bar Mitzvah. And I’ve got good news, and better news. The good news is that for this week, the hard work is over, and now you can enjoy the Bar Mitzvah. But the better news is that for you, this is only the first test of many that you’ll face in life. And those tests, like the one that you had today, will challenge you – to become better, and different, and stronger, and make you the person that you have the potential to be.
Eli, anyone who meets you can sense your warmth and caring; your sensitivity to others, and your desire to help. In that sense, you’re following in your parents’ footsteps, who spend so much of their lives helping others: both in their professional lives and in the chesed that they do. When your mom isn’t helping the poor with legal aid, she’s working in the community, on shul committees, and with community institutions. And, aside from literally saving lives during his day job, your dad serves the country to ensure national emergency preparedness; he went to New York after 9-11, and spent weeks somewhere in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. So, if you’re wondering where you get that sensitivity and caring from, you don’t need to look that far.

Eli, as we celebrate your Bar Mitzvah together with you, the greatest brachah we can hope for you is that, as you grow, you continue to face your tests head-on; and, like Avraham, each success will make you a greater, more complete person. We will watch with excitement as you unlock and discover the greatness inside you, and become the person you are meant to be. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Audio Shiur: Parshat Noach - Unraveling the Mystery of Avram's Origin

Audio Shiur:
Audio Shiur: Parshat Noach - Unraveling the Mystery of Avram's Origin

The Torah gives conflicting evidence about the origins of Avram, our first Patriarch. What happened at the beginning of his life? Where was he born? Why did he leave? Was he really thrown into a fiery furnace? A careful study of the text reveals that there's a lot more to the story than what we all learned in nursery school.

Click here to navigate to the shiur on YUTorah.org.

Click to play the Shiur (or right-click to download)

Monday, October 20, 2014

On the Convert's Bill of Rights

Bethany Mandel has written a fascinating piece demanding a convert's Bill of Rights in which she lists ten points that she feels converts deserve as they undergo the process of conversion. Generally, her article is courageous and important, if only to give "outsiders" (non-converts) perspective into the ordeal and challenge of conversion. I agree with almost all of her points, but have a few caveats.

She writes:
1. Converts are in a state of persistent limbo. During the process we are never told how long it can or should take. We cannot get married if we are dating, we cannot date if we are single. We lose control over the most important choices in our lives and hand them over to men with whom we are unfamiliar for an indeterminate amount of time. I was unable to give a new job a start date, to give my former job proper notice, sign a lease on a new apartment or set a wedding date because I was kept in the dark about how much longer my conversion could possibly take. Days? Weeks? Months? A year? Several? This is psychological torture. A rough estimate and a clear plan for how to move forward to get to the finish line, the mikvah, is the least that a convert deserves.
While this point seems to make sense, it doesn't really address the process of conversion. Conversion is not a course that one takes and then passes the test in a linear fashion (although in Israel it is precisely that, which is one of the primary criticisms about the process of conversion here). Rather, conversion represents a a process of spiritual growth and change that is not linear, but dependent totally upon the progression of the candidate. How is it possible to know when the candidate is "ready"? True conversion represents the inculcation of values, spirituality, passion and commitment. How do you demonstrate those in a written exam? How much time does that take? For some it can be weeks. For others, much, much longer. Imagine being given a clear timeline, and the rabbi feels that the person just isn't ready. Should he convert her anyways, because he needs to adhere to the schedule he gave her? And if he ignored the schedule, wouldn't that be worse? The limbo must indeed be painful, but I imagine that the entire process is painful as well, and sometimes that pain is a sign of growth.
3. The reasonable costs associated with conversion should be clearly laid out from the outset.
Right on. I have heard too many horror stories about people undergoing private conversions and being told, late in the process, about unexpected costs that they'd have to pay to "finish".
4. Communities have welcoming committees for Jews who move to the area but nothing in place for converts in the process.
5. Converts are constantly asked to discuss extremely personal questions by strangers in social settings.
6. Help us with matters of Jewish ritual. This falls on rabbis and community members alike.
These are, to my mind, common sense. Sadly, there's often not enough common sense in our communities.
7. If converts are expected to provide their “papers” proving their Jewishness for a school, synagogue, or wedding ask born Jews for the same.
This already happens in Israel to anyone wishing to get married. It probably also happens in many Diaspora schools and shuls.
8. The conversion process for those of Jewish heritage should be accelerated and unique.
This is a subject of great debate among contemporary poskim and one of the primary reasons for the ongoing debate about the proposed conversion law in Israel. While the concept of zera yisrael can be justified halachically, it's far from agreed upon by the vast majority of poskim. This isn't a common sense issue or a mentchlechkeit issue, but a halachic one that doesn't belong in this article.
9. Converts deserve to be treated with the same love and care as Jewish orphans from the moment we become Jewish.
10. We should not have to live in fear about the status of our conversions in perpetuity.
Also both true, and should be obvious.

Ironically, I believe that the effort to unify conversion standards was all about alleviating that fear: if rabbis adhered to a standard, then no one could come afterwards and question whether they were properly converted or not. This effort stemmed from decades of shady practices of rabbis from Orthodox communities who converted too many converts without requiring proper kabalat hamitzvot. Rather than blaming the rabbis who worked (and continue to work) tirelessly to uphold the honor of geirim, we need to point that finger at rabbis who perform personal conversions knowing all the while that they're following a da'at yachid not accepted by the broader community. When this type of conversion is called into question (and it will be), people will write angry editorials at the Times of Israel blaming the RCA and the Beth Din of America, when they should really blame the rabbi who converted them in a questionable manner.

While I can try and appreciate the anxiety of converts who now fear that their conversions will somehow be questioned due to the troubling allegations about Rabbi Freundel, in truth, the thought never entered my mind. It's good, I guess, that the RCA just issued a statement affirming the validity of past conversions, but I doubt that the issue was ever in doubt. (This was probably one of the easier statements for the RCA to publish in recent memory).
Rabbi Barry Freundel was the head of the Conversion Committee. But there was an entire committee committed to ensuring that each and every Beit Din adhered to the mutually agreed standards. The whole idea of the GPS is to take the individual rav (and his reputation - for better or for worse) out of the equation, so that we would never question the validity of the giyyur. Had Rabbi Freundel performed the conversions alone with a Beit Din of his own construction, people might be doing just that. But because he acted within the framework of a unified system, anyone who questions the validity of the conversions is doing so either to stir the pot, or to promote their own personal agenda.
I don't think that we could ever have imagined these circumstances, but to my mind, the GPS worked exactly as it was designed, protecting the Jewish status of converts even when a major representative from within the GPS is called into question.

It's now clear that opponents of universal standards will use the recent news as proof that unifying standards is a bad idea. Tragically, if they get their way, they will ultimately be harming the very converts they claim to defend.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Audio Shiur: An Overview of Tefillat Yom Kippur

Audio Shiur:
Audio Shiur: An Overview of Tefillat Yom Kippur

General themes built into the Tefillah of Yom Kippur.

Click here to navigate to the shiur on YUTorah.org.

Click to play the Shiur (or right-click to download)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Sukkot 5775: Modern Day Clouds of Glory

For those of us living in the South (I live in Yad Binyamin, almost 40km from Gaza. Ashdod, Ashkelon and Be'er Sheva had it much worse, to say nothing of Otef Aza), this summer was the summer without a vacation. Everyone I know entered into the school year feeling that now that the summer had ended they need a vacation – and rightfully so. In fact, many schools in the south have given the students off during the "gesher" – the bridge days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot, in order to give them a little time to breathe after such a trying summer.

Yet, the past summer's experience enriches and deepens our understanding for and appreciation of the mitzvah of ישיבה בסוכה – dwelling in a Sukkah.

The Gemara (Sukkah 11b) famously offers two explanations for the commandment to dwell in the Sukkah.

תניא כי בסכות הושבתי את בני ישראל: ענני כבוד היו דברי רבי אליעזר, רבי עקיבא אומר סוכות ממש עשו להם
It was taught, “That I settled the Jews in booths.” Rabbi Eliezer said that this refers to the Clouds of Glory. Rabbi Akiva said the Jews made actual booths for themselves.
While we can readily understand Rabbi Eliezer's position, and the need to commemorate and celebrate the miraculous Clouds of Glory that protected the nation in the desert, Rabbi Akiva's position seems curious. Why would we commemorate the fact that the people lived in booths that they themselves had built?

Rabbeinu Bachya explains that according to Rabbi Akiva we commemorate the fact that the Children of Israel dwelled in man-made booths to remind us that despite their efforts, their survival nonetheless required supernatural protection.

דעת האומר סכות ממש עשו להם, מפני זה נצטוינו לעשות סכות דוגמתן כדי שיתגלה ויתפרסם מתוך מצות הסכות גודל מעלתן של ישראל במדבר שהיו הולכים עם כובד האנשים והנשים והטף במקום ההוא אשר אין בטבע האדם לחיות בו...כי שם באותו מקום הכנתי להם כל צרכם ולא חסרו דבר
According to the opinion that says that the Jews made actual booths for themselves, we are commanded to make booths like those, to publicize the greatly elevated state of existence which the Jews enjoyed in the desert. They traveled in the desert with masses of men, women, and children in a place where it is not the nature of man to live … Even in that place, God prepared for them all of their needs and they lacked nothing.
The houses they built for themselves were not enough. They still needed God's help and protection to survive and thrive in the dangerous desert habitat. This lesson is especially relevant for the residents of the Jewish State, following the challenging, but miraculous summer we recently endured.

This summer, we discovered yet again that the homes we normally associate with safety and protection do not suffice. We required – and continue to require – an added level of protection, and I refer even to those of us who have a Safe Room that we ran to at the sound of the siren. This year, when we sit in the Sukkah under the open sky, we will not only immediately recognize our frailty and fragility. Rather, we'll also think back to the summer and remember how, even when sitting in our regular homes, we recognized that we were not in fact safe. We needed more protection – and thankfully, received it as well, as the Jewish people benefited from miraculous (from the root word "miracle") divine protection over the course of the summer. Nothing less than miraculous.

The same can be said of our own "Clouds of Glory".

Over the course of the summer, I tried to maintain my regular routine, including my regular runs around Yad Binyamin. Sometimes I run on the path that circles the yishuv, while usually I enjoy running along roads and paths through the local community and the local fields. Looking back, perhaps this wasn't such a good idea.

On one particularly clear Sunday evening, I found myself running along the road near Chafetz Chaim when a siren sounded. I watched as the Iron Dome rockets fired to intercept the unseen rockets rushing towards us suddenly took a turn – directly towards me. That's when I figured it might be a good idea to quickly seek additional shelter, and I spent the next few moments in a concrete drainage pipe.

Watching those rockets rise into the air, it was impossible not to marvel not only at the technological prowess that built the system, but also again at the Divine Hand guiding those rockets to their targets, and also directing the Hamas rockets the Iron Dome missed away from civilian areas. While Hamas fired literally thousands of rockets towards us, the vast, vast majority missed Israeli civilian areas, landing either in Gaza, in the sea, or in open areas, away from the populace.

Those misses represented nothing less than our own, national ענני הכבוד.

This coming week, as we sit in the Sukkah, we can and must celebrate, and give thanks for the additional protection we received, even while sitting in the booths that we have built, and also for the Clouds of Glory that protected the People of Israel who continue to thrive in the most dangerous neighborhood in the world.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Audio Shiur: Parshat Netzavim-Vayelech: The Connection Between Hakhel and Shemittah

Audio Shiur:
Parshat Netzavim-Vayelech: The Connection Between Hakhel and Shemittah

We here in Israel will spend a great deal of energy on one tiny aspect of Shemittah: What can and should we eat during the coming years? But, in doing so, we'll also be ignoring many essential aspects of Shemittah, that we can discover by examining the connection in the Torah between Shemittah and the mitzvah of Hakhel.

Click here to navigate to the shiur on YUTorah.org.

Click to play the Shiur (or right-click to download)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Apple Partners with Machon Zomet of Alon Shvut, Israel, to Create ShabbatModeAppleWatch

September 15, 2014

Cupertino (JTI) - With great fanfare, Apple, the worldwide leader in portable technology, recently introduced the AppleWatch, a smart-phone connected smart-watch which monitors health, relays messages, tells time, and performs hundreds of other currently unknown functions, which will only become known when they are actually developed. Yet, this new device will present a challenge to Sabbath observant Jews, who cannot text, email, watch movies on their wrists, or send playful pings to their spouses sitting on the other side of the mechitzah.

Solving a Dilemma
To alleviate the Shabbat concerns of the AppleWatch, and to encourage the large market of religious Jews who will rush to buy Apple's latest offering, Apple reached out to the Zomet Institute in Alon Shvut outside Jerusalem, which has developed numerous technological innovations that allow Jews to live fully technological lives, without technically violating the Shabbat, according to some opinions.
"We were excited to work with Apple," said Rabbi Israel Rosenberg of Zomet. "The AppleWatch will undoubtedly become the must-have item of 5775, and we wanted to ensure that religious Jews weren't left out."
Asked about the modifications necessary to turn on the AppleWatch SabbathMode, Rosenberg beamed. "You don't have to do anything at all. The SabbathModeAppleWatch comes pre-programmed to sense your exact location, down to plus or minus two centimeters, so that the watch can turn on the Sabbath mode setting automatically for the next eleven thousand years, based on your location, the time, the day of the year, and whether you hold of Magen Avraham or Rabbeinu Tam." Asked how a watch could possibly identify an individual's halachic propensity, Rosenberg simply said, "Siri knows."

What Does it Do?
What does the AppleWatch do in SabbathMode?
"Actually," said Rosenberg, "this presented both halachic and technological challenges." As the AppleWatch is a health-monitoring device, Zomet felt reluctant to limit the blood-pressure monitoring software in the case of a health-related need. Thus, the watch will, based on an individual's health status, decide whether to (a) shut down health monitoring, (2) monitor blood pressure regularly or (3) call Hatzolah, if necessary. Zomet programmed the watch to call the appropriate phone number, again based on location.

What does the device do on Shabbat for a healthy wearer?
Rosenberg explains that the patented technology, sensing the arrival of Shabbat, deactivates all sensors and wireless communication, and places the AppleWatch in a time-only mode for the duration of the day of rest. The software also deactivates the alarm, and any buttons, so that a Sabbath observant wearer does not accidentally press a button, forcing him to wear the watch in StopWatch mode for 24 hours.

But if all the SabbathModeAppleWatch can do is tell you the time, how then is the SabbathModeAppleWatch different than any other watch?
Rosenberg smiled broadly.
"Ahhh, but it is different. Very much so. It's a ShabbatModeAppleWatch."