FJJ, Hanukkah 5791 (2030). Current news section.
A group of Reform-Jewish-Women-Rabbis (RJWR) recently came out with a statement against inhumane treatment of robots. “They are almost like people and each one has special individuality” commented the spokeswoman of the organization. “Yet it’s considered completely legal to recycle an old robot or to simply throw it in the garbage. Our organization has always been in the forefront of fighting injustice, and we are working with the US Congress to pass laws forbidding mistreatment of robots. Just as we were able to lobby for laws protecting the rights of apes, we will eventually succeed with laws against cruelty to robots. With your kind donations and special help of the Xoros fund we were also able to build a new state of the art building for retired robots, so now for a modest fee of $10,000 a month you can rest assured that your no longer needed robot will enjoy the best care at our institution. We appeal to you during this holiday of our freedom, please send your tax-deductible donations to our organization. Our main slogan is: robots and people – brothers forever”. On the cover of their promotion brochure, one can see a robot lighting the Hanukkah Menorah.
Orthodox rabbis responded negatively to this initiative. Our corresponded spoke to the spokesman of the “Union of the American Orthodox Rabbis” (UAOR) who said that when the Menorah lighting is performed by a robot, one is not fulfilling the mitzvah according to all opinions and this cannot be done even beshaat hadchak. Moreover, most rabbis forbid even lighting the remaining candles by a robot even though they are only hidur mitzvah. Only beshaat hadchak, for example when one is very sick and bedridden, can the robot finish lighting the remaining candles. In addition one has to be careful not to allow the robot to move the Menorah after the lighting is finished, since the halacha is that “hadlaka oseh mitzvah”. If however the candles got extinguished by themselves, it is permissible for the robot to relight them since meikar hadin “kavta lo zakuk la”, and we only prefer to relight the Menorah in such a case because of choshed (see Beis Halevi, Miketz).