Do Shinuis really work?

Shinuis on ShabbosI was one time sitting in someone’s house who forgot to set the Shabbos timer for the air conditioner. Being that they were marginally Modern Orthodox (they were more Flexidox than anything) the woman of the house suddenly got the bright idea to use her elbow to turn on the AC. We were all thankful, even though I tried not to benefit too much from it.

I have been witness to countless people using a shinui to avoid transgression of the biblical law to keep Shabbos. I have seen people turn on lights with their noses, knees and tongues, but in the end they are all going to hell, or getting harshly judged by the big courthouse in the sky – or are they?

Do shinuis work?

Can I carry my key in my shoe outside of an eruv? Can I turn on the TV with my foot? Can I use a slotted spoon for my coleslaw if I use my teeth to pick up the spoon? (bet most of you didn’t know that when God wrote the Torah he forbade the usage of slotted spoons in coleslaw.) Did you know that they made coleslaw out of the leftover mann?

What about the usage of kids to do things that are assur on shabbos? I have seen plenty of people try and convince their children to turn on lights and other household appliances like the riding mower to make the lawn look good l’kavod shabbos. I have even seen people take a kid and rub them against the wall so the kid was sort of turning the light switch – strange I know and possibly child abuse, but we need to see the cholent and we forgot to set the shabbos clock.