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    Risky posting this on lobsters…

    you know…because shellfish.

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      One of my favorite edge cases of this type is how holidays and observances keyed to sunrise or sunset work in places where the sun does not rise/set once per 24-hour period and may not rise/set for months at a time (authorities differ on how to handle that!).

      Another is the question of how one would face Mecca to pray while in orbit around the Earth.

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        The latter was publicly discussed a while ago: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qibla#Outer_space.

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          I love how ultimately, these rules devolve into “whatever, do the best you can under the circumstances”, which I wish was a maxime more people followed.

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        Man, that reminds me of my first job out of college. I was an assistant at a legal technology company. One of the owners was an Israeli-American man and he asked me to pick up a sandwich from the Subway downstairs. He kept kosher and he specifically asked for no cheese. I asked him what bread he wanted and he said “whatever you are getting.” So I went downstairs and solemnly ordered the sandwich with an extra note that there should be no cheese on it since it was for a person who kept kosher. They asked what bread and I told them “the same as me: Italian Herbs and Cheese.”

        As soon as he looked at the sandwich he had a huge grin, ripped off the side of the bread with the cheese and ate the sandwich open faced. I felt like a huge dummy, but he told me not to worry. He was a pretty good guy.

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          I have a fun story about this. One of the criteria to determine the kosherness of food baked in an oven outside of your own home is that the oven should be lit by a Rabbi, so for food coming out of a processing plant to be kosher there has to be a Rabbi touring all the industrial ovens and lighting them up. With the coming of COVID and increased safety regulations a client reached out to develop a system that would allow them to perform this process remotely, and finding a solution that works for both the company and the OU has been very hard… We had to come up with a lot of ideas and developed and released an app with a process that we thought was gonna work, but of course you can’t tell people anything and after seeing the full version there were concerns raised on both sides and the whole thing ended up getting scrapped in favor of just having the plant operator and the Rabbi videocall each other.

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            @hwayne, “Sup nerds” is my opening, dammit.

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              Clearly, ‘sup nerds’ is not meant here in its commonplace profane meaning: it is intended as a opening invocation akin to the Homeric ‘Muse, sing me’, and in this modern, altered, form calls down the blessing of 2500 years of dieting scholars (‘sup nerds’).

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                Are you anna kendrick’s character from pitch perfect?

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                So that’s the first time I’ve ever read that the prohibition on mixing milk and meat might have been a mistranslation/interpretation, and I read a lot.

                So that was an interesting little bonus, thank you.

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                  www.thetorah.com is a wonderful place where you get to watch Rabbis team up with biblical scholars and historians to vivisect the holiest of holy books.

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                  I need to learn to read the actual article before freaking out over the title.

                  EDIT: @hwayne would recommend editing the title slightly to prevent misunderstandings, as apparently I’m not the only one. Maybe something like “Design with Judaism in mind”.

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                    EDIT: @hwayne would recommend editing the title slightly to prevent misunderstandings, as apparently I’m not the only one. Maybe something like “Design with Judaism in mind”.

                    I think it’s a great title exactly because of this. Far too many people comment without actually reading the damn article. I’ve been (re)watching Babylon 5 and I’m reminded by this scene. “I always leave a little room for someone to disappoint me”.

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                      Obvious trolling is obvious, and frankly a pleasant surprise in the current climate. I appreciate it. Not jewish myself, but Grandma’s name was Solomon and I’ve got some uncles who look like cartoon propaganda art.

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                        I think that’s a better title. “Jewmain” is a novel coinage, and while it’s easy enough to figure out that this article is about Jews, it took me a second reading to realize the pun on “domain-driven”, which is a bit of a stretch.

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                          Yes I was confused at first sight as well, but reading the article brought up some points I didn’t know about, like with the oven or how in Israel, Passover is 7 days as opposed to 8. I guess it’s a good thought exercise in how you add logic to your programming to support cases like these.

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                            The oven isn’t the only appliance with Sabbath mode. I believe there are also elevators that stop at every floor so you don’t have to operate the elevator.

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                              There’s a Sabbath elevator at Johns Hopkins. I would expect them in any major US city with a large Jewish population.

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                                I’ve only ever seen them at Johns Hopkins hospital and in New York City personally. I’m sure there are more of them, but I’ve never seen one in Chicago, for instance. Nor in Atlanta. Nor in DC, Nor in Miami. Nor in Los Angeles. Nor in San Francisco. Nor in Boston. Nor in Minneapolis. Those are just the specific major US where I’ve spent more than a few weeks without observing one. What other locations do you see them in?

                                Also, is there any reason (other than familiarity) that you confined your expectation to US cities? I’ve never seen one in Paris or London, for instance, but I’d have had no specific reason to expect (or not expect) to.

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                                  The number of Jews living in the US is vastly higher than abroad, by orders of magnitude. Accommodations I’m used to here are literally unheard of in Europe, even in the big cities. I’d guess that where @carlmjohnson was coming from.

                                  Edit: and it hits me that things like the French concept of laïcité actively work to discourage accommodations.

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                                    To buttress this point with some data, over half of all living Jews today live in America. Another 30% live in Israel. The next highest country by population, France, accounts for a mere 3% of the world’s Jewish population — where they make up 0.7% of the country’s population; less than half of their prevalence in America, which is 1.5%, and so not explainable simply by virtue of France being a smaller country than America.

                                    And it’s even more concentrated than that data might appear to show: 1.5 million of America’s 7.6 million Jews live in the NYC metro area, which is greater than the Jewish population of Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and D.C. combined. To put that in perspective, over 10% of all Jews alive today live specifically in the NYC metro area — and even in NYC they are nonetheless a small minority of city residents. There just aren’t that many Jews living in the world. Most places have almost none.

                                    And not to put too fine a point on it, but that isn’t by accident. Europe, including France when it was under German occupation, genocided nearly all of its Jews: successfully murdering two out of every three European Jews, and most of the one-third remaining survivors fled to America, where they arrived at Ellis Island in the NYC area. The Middle East and North Africa unsuccessfully tried to do the same, albeit in a less organized fashion: those native Middle Eastern and North African Jews were largely saved by fleeing to Israel, where they make up 61% of the Israeli Jewish population, contrary to many Americans’ assumptions that Israeli Jews are mainly white descendants of Europeans.

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                                      In my experience, synagogues in Europe always have guys with machine guns standing around out front. It is very different than the US.

                                      I wouldn’t say though that the US as a whole has very high numbers of Jewish people. NYC specifically and then a few other Northeast cities do. Baltimore, for instance, has a large number of Orthodox Jews who caught measles pre-pandemic. I’m not as familiar with the rest of the country but I think there are a couple of enclaves in various cities throughout the midwest and whatnot.

                                      An interesting comparison is the number of Native Americans, which IIRC is approximately same at a national level (around 1% of US population), but the distribution is completely different, so there are very few Native Americans in NYC, Baltimore, etc. and a lot in the West, Southwest, etc.

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                                      Oh, there’s at least one in LA (Cedars-Sinai). Placards on the door too.

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                                        Plenty of them in Toronto hospitals.

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                                          It makes perfect sense that they’d be more common at hospitals. I was scratching my head at how I’d not noticed them most places, even ones I’d visited quite a lot. Especially since it’s the kind of thing I find interesting and would take notice of.

                                          I (thankfully!) rarely visit the hospital.

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                                            You’ll only find Shabbat elevators in places Jews would conceivably be on Shabbat. So, no office buildings or the like; just apartments and doctors’ offices. (And a few other things I’m glossing for expediency.)

                                            You’d also have to know to look for them. In one of my NYC apartments, a freight elevator was a Shabbos elevator, but, since tenants wouldn’t normally be using the freight elevator, most didn’t know about it.

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                                              Both my daughters were born at Mount Sinai, which, I guess it shouldn’t be remarkable lol

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                                        Don’t forget the Sabbath light switch!

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                                      I’m curious, what was your initial response?

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                                        Mine was “Oh fsck me, how did antisemitism make it this high on Lobste.rs!”

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                                          That was also my instant reaction, which lasted until I noticed the author’s name in the URL.

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                                      Huh, good read. Could apply to Muslim Driven Design too! Islam has a pretty similar system: the Qur’an, which is the unchanging literal Word of God, and the Hadith (sayings), which are collected religious instructions or examples over the centuries.

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                                        They’re nothing alike. Muslim scholars until today are willing to go back to the source materials (Quran and Hadith) and revisit decisions that were previously made one way or the other in the centuries since.

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                                          Maybe that is not the same. But I strongly disagree at the “they’re nothing alike” statement.

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                                            That actually makes the domain even more complex.

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                                              Orthodox Judaism is much less interested in “playing the game” of halacha than Conservative and Reform Judaism, but despite the name, Orthodox Judaism is A) younger than Reform and B) much smaller. But because it is the strictest, it gets most of the attention, because if they’re satisfied everyone else is too. For the most part.

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                                                Rereading my other comment below I think I may have forgotten to make my point, which is that at the 30,000 foot view, Judaism and Islam are doing something similar with sharia and halacha. As you get down into the details of specific movements or branches the analogy might break down.

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                                                Holidays which are free floating around the gregorian calendar…

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                                                  Like the Christian Easter?

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                                                    Easter is always in March/April/May. The Muslim calendar doesn’t have leap years, and is lunar. Ramadaan moves quite dramatically through the seasons.

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                                                      It’s all a question of perspective.

                                                      The start of the month of Ramadan is between 10 and 12 days before the date of the previous year.

                                                      The date of Easter Sunday varies wildly from year to year:

                                                      Date		DoY	Diff
                                                      2010-04-04	94	
                                                      2011-04-24	114	 20
                                                      2012-04-08	99	-15
                                                      2013-03-31	90	 -9
                                                      2014-04-20	110	 20
                                                      2015-04-05	95	-15
                                                      2016-03-27	87	 -8
                                                      2017-04-16	106	 19
                                                      2018-04-01	91	-15
                                                      2019-04-21	111	 20
                                                      2020-04-12	103	 -8
                                                      2021-04-04	94	 -9
                                                      

                                                      (not surprising since the formula for Easter (Gauss’ formulation of the ancient Computus) has mods all over the place: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Date_of_Easter#Gauss's_Easter_algorithm)

                                                      It’s true that under most jurisdictions, one cannot predict the start of the month of Ramadan in advance - it has to be observed directly. But from a year to year planning, it’s quite predictable.

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                                                        It’s true that under most jurisdictions, one cannot predict the start of the month of Ramadan in advance - it has to be observed directly.

                                                        as a (kind-of, not really) Muslim this also opens up an interesting can of worms, since we have the technology/math to predict the moon’s location:

                                                        • if a new moon is predicted to be on date X, does that mean Ramadan should start on that day?
                                                        • if my neighbours the next town over see the moon but I can’t because of clouds, should I follow their mosque’s proclamation or mine?
                                                        • does the sighting have to be with the naked eye? are telescopes okay? what about sightings in really dark places, where the moon is more visible?
                                                        • multiply all of the above by Should you follow proclamations by mosques in Mecca, or follow your local mosque instead? What if my local mosque uses telescopes but sightings in Mecca were done by the naked eye? etc…

                                                        It’s not uncommon (at least in my circle) for families to start Ramadan on different days depending on who they follow.

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                                                Why would it be cultural appropriation to train yourself to write code that respects somebody’s religious convictions?

                                                It isn’t cultural appropriation if it isn’t a cultural act.

                                                (Not that there’s anything wrong with cultural appropriation to begin with, but that’s a different debate.)

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                                                  Now that I think about it, Halakhic Judaism as a domain of business logic has some similarities to airline fare rules: extremely complex, defined by example, and everyone does it slightly differently.

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                                                    Do they charge you an extra $50 for checked baggage if you weren’t Jewish before you got to the promised land?

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                                                    We need to pick “looser” groups which aren’t so tied to people’s identity. So maybe:

                                                    • Left-handed people

                                                    Am left handed. Read a book about lefties once. I think lefties are indeed among the loosest group you’ll find. With the exception of Ned Flanders, nobody’s really proud or ashamed of being a lefty. It’s just a thing, and not a really important one. (Speaking from a Central European perspective. I’m not surprised if there are still regions that „has bo lefties“ :/)

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                                                      I’m fairly tall (~1.95m, or about 6’4”) and there are all sorts of things that clearly aren’t designed for people of my size. I’ve been in buses where my legs just don’t fit, there have been hotel room beds that are just too small (camping tents that are not tall enough are double fun), buying clothes can be a challenge (a lot of “large” clothing is designed for people who are large in multiple dimensions, and doesn’t look too great on someone who is large only in the vertical sense), all sorts of things are too low for me (kitchen tables/sinks, desks), etc.

                                                      Many women seem to like it so that’s nice I guess 🤷 But other than that it’s just downsides really.

                                                      It’s basically impossible to design around all these things really, but it’s still frustrating at times.

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                                                        At 1.93m height, I feel ya. Pants usually work, because e.g., jeans come in waist/length sizes and I have two nice tents from Exped and Hilleberg, that are OK for my height/length. :) For the rest, I can only say “yup. sucks”

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                                                        Except, that is, Orthodox Jewish lefties, who are considered better qualified to work as scribes. (The reason for that is left as an exercise for the reader.)

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                                                          not fair. it takes a fair bit of knowledge to understand that one.

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                                                            Is it referring to anything more than the fact that hebrew is a right to left language?

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                                                              Nope. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure why I wrote that. I guess I just wanted to comment… 😀

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                                                        Before I got to the part where you said

                                                        I’m guessing that many of you are really fucking uncomfortable with this. This is deeply-held beliefs of millions of people. Turning that into “a programming exercise” is a pretty egregious case of cultural appropriation.

                                                        my finger was twitching over the back button to make a comment expressing that very sentiment. And I say that as someone who deeply cherishes sacrilege. (I forget who said it, but I like the quip that the very best burgers are made from sacred cows.)

                                                        That acknowledgement in the piece flipped me, coupled with the fact that it really wasn’t making light of said deeply-held beliefs. Much. Even with that, the title still made it feel like a terribly risky click, though, and if you didn’t want it to feel that way it might be worth making that a subtitle and giving a tamer headline first billing.

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                                                          on the point from the article:

                                                          I still like the idea of extracting complex edge cases from idiosyncratic cultural groups. Something where everybody needs one thing, but that group needs something else

                                                          I actually tend to ‘test out’ complex ideas in knowledge organization, through the prism of historically well preserved (and, living, I might say) system of knowledge management – a.k.a. Talmud (there are actually 2 of them + plus all the other books, but will not go into more details for the moment )

                                                          You basically get there: ‘axioms’ (the oral Torah, the written Torah), the prophesies, the treatise on the subjects, and then the discussion by different experts (sages) through out generations of how those axioms apply.

                                                          The purpose of the system, I think, was to make sure different opinions and interpretation, are still organized in the systemic fashion, ‘single authoritative database’, with extensive commentary, and the actual pro-cons arguments. This way the subsequent generations of readers, can figure out the reasoning, and differences of opinion by different contributors.

                                                          And also, I think, the interpretations are meant to be adjusted with times – and not set in stone (only the axioms are set in stone, literally :-)). Meaning that they have their own life-cycle/versioning model.

                                                          I am not arguing about the meaning/validity of actual text (these, after all religious texts ) but wanted to mention how it relates to computing (in my view):


                                                          In a modern enterprise, we like to build a ‘data lake’ or a ‘data warehouse’ to be the ‘data authority’ for reference data, for transactional data for the rest of the enterprise (so that all systems downsteram, use same customer id, same reference to trade/transaction version and so on).

                                                          But if that ‘data lake’ is not built with the ability to add additional data (eg ‘commentary’, ‘interpretations’, domain-specific-corrections, etc) – then very quickly, different teams in the enterprise start building their own ‘partial’ copies of the ‘source’ of truth – and add their own ‘extra fields’. That creates huge expenses, fragmentation, and eventual dilution of where the ‘authoritive data is’.

                                                          So designing a system from the ground up, that can keep original data lifecycle, plus a system of reference links and additional knowledge evolution through time – results in a overall, much better architecture.


                                                          That’s the kind of system that’s built Talmud. If folks are more interested in the ‘digital underpinnings’ for system of original books, cross references, commentaries, there is an open source project:

                                                          https://github.com/Sefaria/Sefaria-Project and same-named website for the study/research of that knowledge base.

                                                          I do not, necessarily think, that their technical implementation is a ‘reference implementation’ – but the subject-area they are tackling has lots of complexity, and, in a way, representative of a sophisticated knowledge management system (that was originally done by hand).


                                                          Another small comment I will make about why a system like Sefaria programmers have built is valuable for end users.

                                                          There are easily more than 63 books (depending on what’s included) in the whole system. So that’s thousands and thousands of pages. In Hebrew/Aramaic and Arabic (some books, for example, by Rambam), some with English translation and some still without.

                                                          Most people do not have a way to remember the whole thing, and cannot quickly cite (with a citation) for discussions or interpretation for a particular piece of an ‘axiom’.

                                                          So long searches for analysis/discussion is norm. A, basically, never ending study of the texts, is a norm…

                                                          Once in a while (once in a couple of generation, or even less often), a person with a phenomenal memory and a good cognitive skills (and interest in the subject) comes along, and then studies all these books.

                                                          Those people can recite commentaries &references a specific topic – all in their heads – within a couple of seconds. It is quite a amazing to think about, and there is at least one person like that in our generation – so watching that on youtube is quite an experience. Historically, if people like that, also were great scholars/teachers of Torah and Talmud – they were called Gaon (although very few of them actually contributed commentaries to Talmud).

                                                          For us, the folks without that special ability – the searchable digital library like Sefaria – is like a GPS for tourist on a rented moped driving in a large busy metropolis. :-)

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                                                            How’d you come to drop the sefer torah?

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                                                              We’d always go to the 8 AM Shabbos minyan because it was faster and people shmoozed less. I was always sleep deprived and struggled to focus. One time I was asked to put the Torah back in the ark after the parsha reading, didn’t align it properly, and it fell right out.

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                                                                Got it. So it’s not like it was too heavy, or something. But yeah, that’s why the aron in my shul has a chain in front of each Sefer Torah. Also, I went to Ner Yisroel for high school, and they started at 7:45am during the week (emphasis on “they”, not “we” 🤫️)

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                                                              Oh my god, you dropped a Torah?? Isn’t that $10k irrecoverable right there?

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                                                                Not necessarily. If the letters get damaged - which is not a given - then it’s unusable. Regardless of the state of the Torah, the commonly accepted practice is that the one who dropped it would fast for a day, out of reverence. Also, according to the prices online, it’s upwards of $30k.

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                                                                Scriptural Context

                                                                Let’s look more closely. They were given two, simple goals: love God and put Him first; love your neighbor as yourself. The Torah says God was pleased with His faithful, loving servants (eg Enoch, Abraham) before the Law of Moses existed. Being about a relationship, He looked at their hearts more than anything. He describes His commitment to Israel like a faithful marriage to an unfaithful partner He keeps salvaging per their Psalms and historical Scriptures. The Jews might have easily fulfilled their requirements by just focusing on the actual goals: faithfulness to God, love for others. What happened?

                                                                Two things: rebellion and ego. Like everyone, their Scripture says all people rebel against God and good to varying degrees. Israel’s rebellion was constant. They’d also get technical with or corrupt His Law to try to skirt, not follow, moral responsibility. If you doubt that, note the people God had just miraculously saved in Egypt were building a false god while Moses was talking to the real one on their behalf. Shows both their loyalty and mentality.

                                                                On ego, their leaders later ignored the lens of “How to love God and others in humane way?” to pile on endless technicalities that were totally inhumane and which God never commanded. Their elites lorded it over others in a self-righteous way. Jesus repeatedly called out the Pharisees as fake people with no love in their hearts who laid impossible burdens on people they were supposed to care for. Then, delivered His Gospel, much simpler, that they were supposed to have been looking for per their own prophecies.

                                                                Worldly Context: Lessons Learned

                                                                Let’s look at it from a secular, technological lens. The above differences argue strongly for goal-based, not rule-driven, development. You start with the hopefully-clear goals. If hard rules exist, you follow those since you have to. Where there’s not a rule, you pause to look at the goal, come up with potential responses, and consider the human cost. That the Law was meant for their own good means what you add should be necessary and good. One cost is people just can’t track so many rules in their head. Only add what you have to. Also, don’t equate people’s slip-ups on rules for edge cases with willful disobedience of clear orders. Also, patiently, kindly disciple your students regardless of their background. These are practical lessons from Jesus’ goal-focused ministry that contrast nicely with the rule-heavy regime of His opponents.

                                                                “Turning that into “a programming exercise” is a pretty egregious case of cultural appropriation.”

                                                                Well, they were told to be inclusive and impartial to foreigners. That’s how foreigners in enemy lands were saved. Then, their Messiah that their Scriptures told them to watch for (example) said it’s all over with (fulfilled). He’d take that heavy burden (yoke) off of them so they could just walk with their God as they were meant to. He ordered His servants to share the old and new stuff with the Gentiles (non-Jews). The Jewish God intended to include the world in His salvation out of incredible love for every, lost child.

                                                                At this point, it’s something that was more God’s than theirs, got corrupted as they missed the point, became the human-made mess you described, and even the correct stuff they were supposed to let go of to obtain what they were promised which is now available. Feel free to talk about it. In the USA at least.