Does Virtual Seeing Count as Seeing under Jewish Law?

How the Zoom-seder debate opens up on questions of virtual reality.

May 21, 2020 | Shlomo Zuckier
About the author: Rabbi Shlomo Zuckier is the Flegg postdoctoral fellow at McGill University. A founder of The Lehrhaus, he recently completed a PhD at Yale University and serves on the editorial committee of Tradition.
This is a response to In Rejecting the Zoom Seder, What Did Orthodox Jews Affirm?, originally published in Mosaic in May 2020

A man looking through augmented reality glasses at the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem’s Old City on October 17, 2017. Hadas Parush/Flash90.

Chaim Saiman’s characteristically astute essay provides a thorough and cogent accounting of the logic on both sides of the Zoom-seder controversy and, most importantly, explains why it has become such a flash point for debate. While his analysis largely accords with my own account, I would like to call attention to two points that he does not touch upon, which I believe can further our understanding of the subject: the first involves the nature of rabbinic authority, the second the status of virtual reality in Jewish law (halakhah).

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