The cultural aspects of traffic lights

Another post about traffic lights…

Apart from the CBD, it seems there are some other places where you don’t need to press the button to get a green man. From what I can tell, this includes a number of intersections in the Caulfield area, such as along Glen Eira Road, on Friday nights and Saturdays. This is Shabbat (the Jewish sabbath), and orthodox Jews are forbidden from work, which includes lighting fires, using electricity and driving cars. I gather for the ultra orthodox, this includes a ban on pressing traffic light buttons.

So during Shabbat, there are a good number of pedestrians out and about who simply won’t press the buttons. Evidently VicRoads has wired these traffic lights so that during these times, the green man will come up automatically.

Clever stuff. (Apparently a similar philosophy resulted in the Shabbat Elevator).

It reminds me of the case a few years ago when the local council initially knocked-back planning permission for a synagogue on the grounds that it had inadequate parking. But, people pointed out, on Saturdays, the busiest day, the congregation didn’t need parking, as they all walked.

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4 thoughts on “The cultural aspects of traffic lights

  1. Without even looking at that elevator article, even without pressing the buttons they are still the lift. The only way for them to be non-hypocritical is to use the stairs, isn’t it? I wonder how many orthodox jews live in Eureka.

  2. That’s an incredibly fine line they’re treading with the lift. The lights is just plain sensible safety, but the lift…?

  3. When I was looking into a new electric stove for my apartment in the US I had a look at the owner’s manual of several models. Many of the electronically controlled ones had a Sabbath mode for the oven which would let it stay on for over 24 hours and not turn on the oven light or cycle the heating element when the door would be opened. Orthodox Jews put their dinner in the oven at a low temperature before the Sabbath (Shabat) to have a hot cooked meal ready without doing work. Orthodox Jews also unscrew the light bulb in their fridge so as not to create light when opening the door. It is permissable to use preset timers to turn things on or off and to leave lights and a stove burner lit to warm food but they cannot create light or fire or do anything considered to be work in Jewish law during Shabat which begins at sundown Fridays and ends at sundown Saturdays.

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