Electronic water meter: Can you turn on the faucet on Shabbos?
In an interesting letter in yesterday's Yated Neeman a writer brought up this issue. He claimed that in some places in Israel they have installed electronic water meters and therefore you can't use the water on Shabbos. He wanted to warn people who are planning a vacation to keep this in mind when picking a destination.
It would seem that the letter writer is right about the problems of using water on Shabbos if you have an electronic water meter. Every time you turn on the water you are directly causing the electronic water meter to record your use which falls under the general rubric of electricity.
There is no question that in the near future electronic water meters will be everywhere. What will the religious community do? Not use water? There is little to no chance chance of convincing the water company to not switch to electronic meters. As I have posted before (Using electronic devices on Shabbos), it will soon reach a point that we will not be able to do anything without causing some reaction in some sensor. We have already reached that point with hotels:
Motion sensors which shut off the lights and air conditioning if there is no movement
Faucets that go on and off based on motion sensors
Toilets with sensors
I for one don’t see how a frum person can stay in many (if not most) hotels in the US on Shabbos based on this.
If we just continue saying that electricity/electronics is assur we will either not be able to do anything on Shabbos or have to become Amish.
The question is what will the reaction from the poskim be? RSZA opinion that there really is no issur seems to be very well reasoned and I believe is generally accepted. The question is will anyone have the courage to run with it and say that in the modern world where circumstances have changed we need to allow certain things (like electronic locks, refrigerator sensors etc.) The fact is that in the next 10 years the incandescent light bulb will go the way of the dodo which will remove the only issur doraysa related to electricity (except for the Chazon Ish which does not seem to be accepted). I know that there is a very fine line, it is clear that we don't want people using computers, tv's, mp3 players, cell phones, etc. on shabbos, on the other hand we are rapidly reaching a point where we will be unable to do anything on Shabbos in a modern home. The poskim need to come up with some kind of balance, given what is going on in the Jewish world I am not optimistic.