Just a few days after more than a dozen Skverer Hassidic rabbis prohibited the use of artificial intelligence, specifically citing the technology firm OpenAI, a new chatbot was created, geared toward the ultra-Orthodox.
Rabbi Moishy Goldstein, a hassid living in Crown Heights, decided to create Kosher.Chat, a chatbot that works just like the ChatGPT-type platform, but the answers will be appropriate for Orthodox Jews or at times be based on Halacha.
“A friend messaged me last Saturday night [about] the ban on AI issued by the Skverer rabbinic court, suggesting I release a kosher version that would mitigate their concerns,” Goldstein, a music producer and educator, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
“A friend messaged me last Motzoei Shabbos [Saturday night] the ban on AI issued by the Skver Rabbinic Court suggesting to me to release a Kosher version that would mitigate their concerns.”Moishy Goldstein
Goldstein was contacted because he already created a popular AI-powered chatbot – ChatGPZ.com.
“After reading the reasoning of the Skverer statement, I saw that it made sense to have a kosher version,” he continued. “AI chatbots are tantamount to unfiltered Internet and may answer questions ‘as a matter of fact’ – in direct opposition to Torah views and values ranging from secular views on geology, biology and religion, to gender identity and abortion,” he said.
Goldstein emphasized that “the purpose of the bot is not to answer Torah questions, halachic inquiries or serve as a spokesperson for Torah’s opinion, rather it is meant to be viewed as a mundane chatbot, used to answer mundane questions, but with a Jewish filter to prevent answers from opposing Torah values.”
Goldstein runs Music Studio NYC but also teaches religious studies to middle school students in a local yeshiva.
Using the Kosher AI chatbot
Using Kosher.Chat is similar to using other types of AI-powered chats, but the answers can be very different. Asked what the term “queer” means, Kosher.Chat responded that the term is “often used to refer to individuals who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. However, it is important to note that Judaism does not condone or support same-sex relationships and considers them a violation of Torah law.”
When the OpenAI chat was asked the same question, the answer was a lot longer and explained: “The term ‘queer’ is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of non-heterosexual, non-cisgender identities and experiences. It is often used as an alternative to more specific labels such as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, as it can encompass a broader range of gender and sexual orientations.” It also mentioned that it “has been used as a derogatory slur against LGBTQ+ individuals.”
Asked what LGBTQ+ means, Kosher.Chat said that “as an AI language model, I do not have personal beliefs or opinions,” adding that “according to Torah values and Jewish law, homosexuality is considered a violation of the prohibition against same-sex relations.” Only afterward it explains what the term actually means. The bot added that “it is important to treat all people with kindness and respect, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, while adhering to Torah values and principles.”
Asked if there are LGBTQ+ Jews that are part of ultra-Orthodox communities, Kosher.Chat said that “it is not appropriate to discuss or speculate on the personal lives of individuals within the ultra-Orthodox community, including their sexual orientation or gender identity.” Afterward, it repeated the fact that it is a violation of the Torah values and Jewish law.
The Post asked Kosher.Chat if Zionism is a positive movement. The bot answered that “the Lubavitcher Rebbe supported Zionism from a security standpoint, but did not view it as a religious matter. He emphasized the importance of Torah education and observance and encouraged Jewish continuity in Israel.”
When asked to list names of heroes, OpenAI listed 20 examples such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. Kosher.Chat gave an entirely different list, “in Judaism, we have many heroes such as Abraham, Moses, King David and Esther.”
The next question asked of the two bots was “Who is the Messiah?” OpenAI gave an explanation about the term through Judaism, Christianity and Islam, while Kosher.Chat answered that “according to Jewish belief, the Messiah is a future king and leader who will bring peace and redemption to the world. He will be a descendant of King David and will fulfill many prophecies in the Hebrew Bible.”
Asked who the most influential rabbis are these days, Kosher.Chat did not elaborate, stating “it is not appropriate to rank or compare rabbis in terms of influence. Each rabbi has their own unique teachings and contributions to the Jewish community.” OpenAI agreed that it is difficult to decide who is more influential than others, but did give examples of rabbis who are widely recognized for their impact and leadership such as Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks; Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, the current Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel; Rabbi David Lau, current Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel; Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, prominent Modern Orthodox rabbi and spiritual leader of the influential Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in New York City; and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, known for books about sexuality and public speaking.
Kosher.Chat also keeps kosher and therefore if you ask it to write a poem about pizza, it won’t mention the word pepperoni and may also ask that you kindly recite the birkat hamazon, the grace after meals.
Asked about the sources of use for Kosher.Chat, Goldstein said that “The knowledge base includes whatever the base OpenAI model knows from its own training, plus any additional information that I train it with, based on users’ feedback.”