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Chabad Rabbi: New Bedikah App Should Be Shut Down

In response to CrownHeights.info’s report today of the release of a new iPhone app for Bedikah Shaalos, Tahor, Rabbi Sholom Dovber Shuchat, a member of Agudas Horabbonim of the U.S. and of the Crown Heights Chabad community, released a statement that in his opinion the app should not be used, and that its creators should shut it down because it will lead to more harm than good.

The following is the full statement released today by Rabbi Shuchat:

Click on image below to enlarge

 

After obtaining this letter, CrownHeights.info reached out to Rabbi Shuchat and pointed out that these concerns may apply to a regular camera, but this app was designed to control for lighting and contrast.

The following is a rough transcript of his response:

When a Rov gets a Mar’eh, there are various things you look at.

1) The color of the front,
2) The color of the back,
3) The thickness of the stain,
4) The width of the stain,
5) The edges compared to the rest of the color
6) The location of the stain,
7) The kind of material (some make it spread differently)

This is first seen indoors under regular lighting, and then by a window or outside, when the day is bright, but the sun is not shining on you.

If it was only color, and I was a Rov, and I get a picture, I see it on my phone, which has it’s own contrast, it’s own screen resolution, and I am looking at it in my house, and the lighting in my house interacts with the glass on the screen, and what if the screen is 25% dimmed? And what if my screen is AMOLED and not regular?

He then demonstrated his point by creating a wine stain on a cloth, and used the app to take several photos of it in different shades of lighting.

 

All four photos are of the same stain of Cabernet Sauvignon.

All four are screenshots from the app.

In all four cases the app said it was good lighting.

Do you think all four stains are the same color?

They are not the same. Even tough the variation between each one is not much, in one photo the stain looks clearly like a Tamei color, while some of the other pictures are not clearly Tamei.

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62 Comments

  • 1. best mashpia wrote:

    control again by these rabbonim!!!
    they treat us like garbage when we show up..
    like second class humans

    Reply
    • 2. Not about control wrote:

      This is not about control, its about right and wrong. This app is treif.
      Having said that, find a Rov who doesn’t treat you like your second class garbage, there are plenty of decent Rabboinm around. May your husband should go to the Rov instead of you.

  • 3. Someone wrote:

    People are so hasty to shut things down without looking at the amazing positive things this can accomplish. You know how many people don’t even do a bedika because of the self consciousness associated with it? Now so many more women will feel confident with the process who may previously chosen not to partake in it!

    Reply
    • 4. Not this Rov wrote:

      Sholom Ber Shuchat, is the last Rov t shut innovations down arbitrarily. He has a modern approach to paskaing, but wrong is wrong. This app is wrong.

    • 5. Anon wrote:

      You’re so quick to dismiss their conclusion without considering how much research they did do

    • 9. Not exactly wrote:

      He did not say the current eruv at that time was kosher. He suggested a way to do it in an acceptable manner.

  • 10. Doesn't it require sunlight? wrote:

    Please clarify- The above pictures were taken in various lights but doesnt the app specify that it has to be taken in sunlight?

    Reply
  • 11. Enabling So Much Good wrote:

    I think we have to all get away from the fear and rejection of new things and realize that Chabad rabbis and other rabbis tested this and said it is ok. This has the potential for so much good, and like so many other things, it’s becoming politicized instead of utilized.

    Reply
  • 14. hock in tchainik wrote:

    Who is this rav?
    And since when does a stain become “passul” was that his choice of words if so it obviously shows that he knwos nothing of halacha.

    Reply
    • 15. WHAT?! wrote:

      Have you never heard of Rabbi S”B Shuchat?! Not only do you not know halacha and rabbonim you also don’t follow the news! and btw, he is an incredible talmid chacham and literally one of the biggest bekiim in halacha.

    • 16. Meir wrote:

      He didn’t use the word “passul” or any variation of it at all. So are you seriously trying to put words in his mouth and then claim on that basis that he’s wrong? #FakeNews

    • 17. It was changed! wrote:

      Just shows you that he is watching this site for his “ratings” LOL

  • 18. Hopeful app user wrote:

    Being someone that both lived out of town and is too humiliated to bring my undergarment to a rabbi, I don’t do a bedika. This app is the first time that I thought I would start doing this mitzvah. I would want to ask this rabbi if shutting the app down is really the answer.

    Reply
    • 19. Same thing wrote:

      If you use this app its the same as not going to a Rov.

    • 22. Boruch wrote:

      Same thing,

      Stupid. Actually it has the hechsher of Rabbis just not this one. So it like going to Rabbi Jacobs instead of Rabbi Shuchat.

    • 23. Dina wrote:

      A bedika shouldn’t be done on your undergarment. I would suggest you relearn the Halachos before starting to do bedikas

  • 24. Someone Else wrote:

    Actually it specifically says to take in sunlight. Of course you can game the system and “cheat”…. but you could also just do that with your own Rabbi, or not even take it to a Rabbi.

    If you’re going to prevent anyone from taking advantage of new technology and tools because it could be “gamed” then we may as well shut the whole internet down, including this site and your smartphone that you are using to take those pictures… because hey, those could all be abused as well.

    Reply
  • 25. Mendy wrote:

    Rabbi Shochet you disgust me to my core. You make me want to puke the whole system. how can you determine so quickly if light/color will work better than the eye of a rabbi looking a piece of fabric ? do you know that the technology provides the ability to keep the light exactly the way you see it? Id think this is probably why the creator did not come out yet with samsung app that doest allow this feature , do you know how many time I didnt go the rabbi because I was not in the mood to walk in the snow in the street of CH to show my wife’s underwear to a Rabbi because by the time I went back home I wouldn’t be in the mood? Why are you so quick to judge something that probably took many months to create?I am sure that this has been shown to rabbis and we will quickly find out that this is not based on any facts but just pure fear of letting things evolve a bit. and yes control. so to that I say to everyone with a brain PLEASE USE IT and take your dignity back in control for once. I make a deal with you ” I will go to hell for you if you ever have to go for this”.

    Reply
    • 27. Read! wrote:

      Before you go puke, did you read his letter where he states explicitly that he has tried different cameras etc?

    • 28. Citizen Berel wrote:

      By far the trashiest post that ever made it up here.

      A stain on our comment section.

      I’m not in the mood to elaborate.

  • 29. Rabbi Shuchat should be ashamed wrote:

    The pictures above were taken to discredit this app yet they neglect to follow the app’s clear instructions that state the pictures should be taken under direct sunlight. This is ridiculous and the Rabbi issuing this ban should be ashamed as he has made it clear that he has an agenda to invalidate this app without legitimate grounds. What is he afraid of??

    Reply
  • 30. Mendy wrote:

    cabernet sauvignon? if the mistake is the size than that rabbi who gave the answer would have made the same mistake on the size if he had the cloth in front of him.

    Reply
    • 31. ad hominem attack wrote:

      Why are you attacking Rabbi Shuchat personally? argue on the merits of the Psak.

  • 33. Disheartening wrote:

    As a woman who struggles regarding matter of b’dika and has unfortunately been lax on it many times because of my discomfort regarding it, I was so excited to read about the new Tahor app. I saw this as an opportunity to improve and adhere to this mitzva in a way that allowed me to feel comfortable and dignified. Seeing this ban from Rabbi Shuchat is so upsetting since women such as myself and many others who are trying to improve in this area would benefit greatly from this app.

    Reply
    • 34. Be honest wrote:

      Are you truly interested in doing the mitzvah though it is uncomfortable or do you want to practice “feel good” Judaism?

    • 35. stooge wrote:

      how much are the Tahor companys guys paying you to comment here?

  • 36. Rabbis Deception To Keep Control Is Wrong wrote:

    Despite being approved and rigorously tested by Chabad and other orthodox rabbis, there are rabbis out there deliberately not following the app’s instructions and seeking to invalidate it by posting deceptive results.

    Reply
    • 37. Anonymous wrote:

      So far we’ve only heard the name of one Chabad rabbi who tested it, and he’s not someone who’s known as one of the bigger Lubavitcher poskim. If others want to use it that’s fine, but until legitimate Lubavitcher poskim pasken that it’s ok to use I don’t understand why this is being marketed to Lubavitchers.

    • 38. Which Rabbis wrote:

      I only see one chabad Rabbi on their website, and he is not a Posak. The other 2 are YU Rabbis, nothing against YU but their standers are not Lubavitch standards .

  • 39. Wine Doesn't Make You A Nidda wrote:

    As a side note, cabernet savignon would never make a woman a nidda.

    Just saying.

    As a result, I’d conclude that an app may be more accurate than some in-person rabbinic halachic rulings.

    Reply
  • 40. Barry wrote:

    I heard that Rabbi Shuchat told the members of his shul that the app is permissible for those who hold by the eruv.

    Reply
  • 41. Sociological Issue wrote:

    Guys this is a sociological issue (not really a halachic one) and happens pretty much every time there is something new..
    It will last and slowly people will realize how beneficial it is (for many) and accept it’s intended use and purpose

    Reply
  • 42. Rivkah Bloom wrote:

    Rabbi Shochet.
    Thank you for taking the time to download and try Tahor.

    I am a scientist who received both a Bachelors and Masters from MIT and did not take the creation of this app lightly.

    This app will actually give you extremely close color match by following the instructions.

    You MUST take the picture in sunlight (as specified by the instructions). Florecent light, no light, ect. will not give you accurate results (again as specified).

    After you take the picture, you are asked to make sure that the picture is indeed an exact color match and if not, to adjust the white balance with the white balance tool.

    If one follows these instructions, the Rabbonim are able to give the correct psak in most cases very easily. Any “borderline” case is sent back to the user and the user is requested to take the cloth to a Rav.

    Please let me know if you have any questions as I am confident that this app will help many thousands of couples who are not asking shailahs.

    Humbly,
    Rivkah Bloom

    Reply
    • 43. Not an expert wrote:

      2 concerns here. 1) you write that it’s an “extremely close match”, but it’s not an exact match, hence no good. 2) reading your instructions on how to takethe pic and get the color right, it seems that you really do need a ba and ma from MIT to be able to use your app correctly. How many women will use your app incorrectly resulting in kids being conceived whilst they are in niddah?

    • 44. With All Due Respect wrote:

      I don’t have degrees from anywhere, but one thing stood out in your response. You stated, “After you take the picture, you are asked to make sure that the picture is indeed an exact color match and if not, to adjust the white balance with the white balance tool.

      “If one follows these instructions, the Rabbonim are able to give the correct psak in most cases very easily.”

      You’re asking a Rov to pasken on matters of such importance that korais is attached to it, yet you want to rely on the individual user’s determination on whether the picture is an exact match to the stain, and if not, to start playing with “white balance” until it’s perfect. Change “korais” with “instant death”, and now, as a scientist, I ask you: would you allow people to play roulette with this app?

      There are some things an app can’t replace…

  • 45. why not? women foe women wrote:

    how about training a handful of women to know all the ins and outs of this topic and have them look after all women inquiring
    when a difficult y arises then the Rov can be approached by the middle person (a women)
    this can solve all/most of the above comments raised
    עד אחד נאמן באיסורין אפילו אשה

    Reply
  • 46. Always easier to Pasul Something wrote:

    It’s ALWAYS easier and safer to pasul something. It takes vision (and guts) to use technology in halachically appropriate ways to make it more accessible to the masses.

    Reply
  • 47. Tough questions wrote:

    Seems like the typical tough question of do we allow something that will help some people that struggle to do the right thing at the cost of possibly other people (who were dping the right thing)being careless/negligent/forgetful and making a serious mistake by relying on this Kulah.
    There are those who will start doing more and better because of this (as evident in the comments here, but maybe some others will be lax (not actually using sunlight for the picture or other slight variances from the way the App says to do it) when they used to go to the Rov
    Comparisons might be like making a non Alter Rebbe Eruv in Lubavitch community or (stretching) Mikva for single girls VeDal

    Reply
  • 48. Voee wrote:

    Rabbi Shochet,
    I was just told and confirmed which I assumed you did not use the application and made judgements before understanding the capabilities of the app. Unbelievable, as I was taught to respect Rabbi’s growing up but at the same time taught not to rush to judgement before understanding of the applications. I assume you have no idea and how humiliating it is for women to run to a Rabbi to review this issue. Do you care about women, do you think they deserve this with modern technology that after reading your letter all issues raised were why the application was developed. Now as a Rabbi, do me a favor and become the person I was taught to respect, download the application and try it. Do not rush to judgement, before trying it.

    Reply
    • 49. Webby wrote:

      As a matter of fact we double checked with Rabbi Shuchat and confirmed that he did in fact use the app and even included screenshots of the results from the app itself.

  • 50. Rebecca wrote:

    This app is something that brings women’s dignity while following Halacha. Amazing application and something to be proud of.

    Reply
    • 51. It's Halacha stupid. wrote:

      It’s not about dignity, it’s about Halacha. Some streams of Judaism find it more dignified to drive to shul on shabbos, and to have a woman chazzan.

  • 52. yc wrote:

    Well, both sides have good points. The issues described in this letter are perfectly correct.

    The solution though is “simple”:
    – Whoever uses the app must have a “standard color palette and size measurement tape” that must be placed side by side with the stain within 1/2″ of it (leaving a small white space in between)
    – The app should identify the color palette and calibrate all pictures to *always* look the same in terms of brightness etc.
    – The stain should be checked with a bedikah cloth and such info must be present when submitting the picture (simple bar code scan should suffice). Only supported brands/types should be used etc etc
    – At least two pictures should be taken, one of each side of the cloth.
    – Ideally several pictures should be taken (automatically) so there is a possible “range” from worse to best case scenarios.
    – The app should include a luminosity index (doable in most if not all smartphones) so the rabbi can find an equivalent place to check the picture (the phone detects the luminosity index on the rabbi’s location and gives a “green light” when it matches)
    – The pictures should be taken both indoors and outdoors as required by halacha, such instructions could easily be placed in the app.
    – A list of “kosher” phone models should be compiled and the app should be calibrated to compensate for differences in each model.

    I believe that what I wrote covers most if not all that has to be done in order to “kasherize” the app/phone (some would use boiling water but that has proven to be destructive in most cases)

    Reply
  • 53. Pragmatist wrote:

    Actually, the app does NOT properly control for color and lighting. In fact, the developer pretty much admits that the app cannot do that when points out that Rabbi Shuchat didn’t take the picture in sunlight.

    What’s more that app can’t even properly size the picture, which is why you need a coin, so the Rov can see what size the thing actually is – a problem that doesn’t exist when you actually have the cloth.

    I love technology. But this is like giving someone who needs insulin a placebo, because you don’t have any insulin around. “almost” doesn’t cut it.

    Reply
  • 54. What shame? wrote:

    For those who are on shlichus or not in a Jewish area, you can FEDEX your mareh ANONYMOUSLY to the Rov of your choice. (you can basically use a generic return address or a p.o. box)

    For people within the community, you can ANONYMOUSLY drop it in the mailbox of almost any Rov.

    I am married for many years, and I have almost never actually saw the Rov face to face. I drop it in his mailbox with my phone number. Case closed.

    What is this “embarrassment” people are speaking of?

    Reply
  • 55. All is lost wrote:

    Have you all no shame to put this on ch.info ?
    How low can crown heights get?
    All in the name of Halacha??

    Reply
  • 56. you fools wrote:

    Did you consider women who were sexually abused as children and how this app addresses their sensitivities? (for those who will jump on this -go ahead – none of what you deny matters – because it has already been proven to be more popular than you can ever imagine)
    Did you consider that women are embarrassed to even drop it in the mailbox of some rav , it’s not like these ravs mailbox is in some alley that you can drive down not get out of your car and just pull down your window and slip it into a box. Most of the boxes are in public places, if this mitzva is supposed to be private, then how is that private?
    Do you even consider that people have feelings and feelings are not something that can be justified, you just got to accept it that if some people are embarrassed, they have a right to feel embarrassed who are you to judge? Perhaps Rabbi S. instead of shutting down the app just ask your followers not to use it!
    (for those who are going to say well your husband should do it, it doesn’t solve the issue of the mailboxes being in public site and still offering no privacy to the spouse who drops it off).

    Reply
    • 57. Meir wrote:

      Oh, get a grip. What does your first sentence have to do with anything discussed here? And what’s so bad about dropping it off anonymously? I’ve done that for my wife dozens of times, in broad daylight on Kingston Avenue, and never had any reason to be embarrassed. It might do some people some good to realize that the whole world isn’t watching their every move with bated breath.

  • 58. The Tahor App Team wrote:

    To clarify (as this seems not to be clear):

    “Tahor” is meant to serve as a halachically approved “filter” for a majority of Shailos (many of which are straightforward and simple to determine). It is meant to allow those who may not have access to a rov, or who may not feel comfortable going to a rov, to have an option, when halachically viable, to send in their sample anonymously.

    What this app is not:
    This app IS NOT meant to be an umbrella replacement for the process of showing questionable bedikah cloths to Rabbonim. Rabbonim were all able to pasken correctly because of our advanced white balance technology and Rabbinic measurement capabilities. The ones which are borderline or questionable, will be told to show the actual cloth to a Rabbi.

    It is obviously preferable to take the cloth directly to the Rabbi when possible, but many many women are not doing it! This will allow them to keep Taharat Hamishpachah and get accurate answers.

    We know that anything new is scary, but this app is not at all lenient and halachah will not be compromised.

    Reply
  • 59. srj wrote:

    its not control unless one doesnt want to follow halacha.
    its halachic advice for the best outcome.
    unless one just wants convenience over quality

    Reply
  • 60. Moishe pipek wrote:

    The other Rabbis are just as compenant as Chabad Rabbis if not more They would not compromise chaloha Instead of being angry and frusterated etc.make up your mind And that is it.

    Reply
  • 61. Anonymous wrote:

    As an addition to #54-does anyone remember the letter about pantyhose and how uncomfortable they are,etc.?One woman wrote in that we should not discuss this on this site because it is not “tznuah”.What would she say to this?

    Reply

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