The Atlantic has this piece up this week about Shabbat observance issues surrounding e-readers like the Kindle. The article’s worth reading.
1. Acts of writing should not be at issue here. From the article:
E-readers are problematic not only because they are electronic but also because some rabbis consider turning pages on the device – which causes words to dissolve and then resurface – an act of writing, also forbidden on the Sabbath.
That’s completely absurd. Writing is forbidden because its an act of creation. God’s rest on the first Shabbat was a rest from the work of creating the world. We follow suit, by avoiding acts of creation. The equivalent of turning the page on a Kindle is just that–it’s the equivalent of turning a page! The electronic equivalent of writing is typing.
2. That doesn’t mean Jews who observe a high number of ritual prohibitions on Shabbat are going to start davening from an e-siddur. They’re still electronic!
3. Who cares? Codex technology came into being and we retained the scroll. Now e-readers have been invented and we’ll retain the codex (fancy word for book) too.