Difference between revisions of "Electricity on Shabbat"

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# It is forbidden to speak into a tape recorder even if the recorder was turned on before Shabbat. <ref>Menuchat Ahava 24:13 </ref>
 
# It is forbidden to speak into a tape recorder even if the recorder was turned on before Shabbat. <ref>Menuchat Ahava 24:13 </ref>
 
# It is forbidden to press an electric doorbell on Shabbat.<ref>Menuchat Ahava 24:14 </ref>
 
# It is forbidden to press an electric doorbell on Shabbat.<ref>Menuchat Ahava 24:14 </ref>
# It is forbidden to use a regular elevator on Shabbat. Some allow using a 'Shabbat elevator' which stops at every floor, while others forbid, and some say one may go up in the Shabbat elevator but not down. It is forbidden to touch the elevator doors when they are closing. <ref>Menuchat Ahava 24:15-6 </ref>
+
# It is forbidden to use a regular elevator on Shabbat. Some allow using a 'Shabbat elevator' which stops at every floor, while others forbid, and some say one may go up in the Shabbat elevator but not down. It is forbidden to touch the elevator doors when they are closing. <ref>Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 23:29 permits uses a Shabbat elevator on Shabbat. Sefer Maliyot BeShabbat (chapters 1 and 7) holds that one may go up in the elevator but not down. Menuchat Ahava 24:15-6 concludes that one shouldn't use the Shabbat elevator to go up or down unless there is a great need in which case he is lenient to allow going up in the Shabbat elevator. </ref>
 +
# It's permitted to open a refrigerator door when the motor is running as long as the light was disabled from before Shabbat, however, when it is not running it's proper not to open the refrigerator. <ref>Menuchat Ahava 24:19 </ref>
 +
# It is permitted before Shabbat to set a timer for lights or other electric appliances to go on or off on Shabbat.<ref>Menuchat Ahava 24:30, Sh"t Yabea Omer 3:17 </ref>
 
==Reading by candle light versus light bulb==
 
==Reading by candle light versus light bulb==
 
# One isn’t allowed to read by a candle (wick in oil) on Shabbat because there is Gezerah that one will come to tilt the wick. <Ref> Mishna Shabbat 11a says that it’s forbidden to read by the light of a candle because one will come to tilt the wick. Rashi explains that if one tilts to wick (which is flickering) towards the oil so that it lights well, one will be violating Mavir (lighting a flame on Shabbat, which includes adding fuel to a flame). S”A 275:1 quotes this as halacha. </ref>
 
# One isn’t allowed to read by a candle (wick in oil) on Shabbat because there is Gezerah that one will come to tilt the wick. <Ref> Mishna Shabbat 11a says that it’s forbidden to read by the light of a candle because one will come to tilt the wick. Rashi explains that if one tilts to wick (which is flickering) towards the oil so that it lights well, one will be violating Mavir (lighting a flame on Shabbat, which includes adding fuel to a flame). S”A 275:1 quotes this as halacha. </ref>

Revision as of 14:34, 26 December 2011

Light Bulb.JPG

Using Electric Appliances

  1. It is forbidden to turn on any electric device whether it is plugged into the wall or runs on batteries. [1]
  2. According to many poskim it is Biblically forbidden to turn on an incandescent and fluorescent light bulb. However, if one needs to turn on a light for someone who is mortally sick (see Medicine on Shabbat) one should turn on a fluorescent instead of an incandescent light bulb. [2]
  3. According to many poskim it is Biblically forbidden to turn on oven or warming plate. [3]
  4. In Israel, the widespread minhag is to leave electric appliances running on Shabbat even though the electric companies are run by Jews who violate Shabbat. [4]
  5. It is forbidden to turn off any electric appliance. [5]
  6. It is forbidden to pick up a phone off the receiver, speak on a phone, or return the phone to the receiver on Shabbat. [6]
  7. Some say it's good to unplug the phone before Shabbat so that if someone calls on Shabbat one won't hear it ring. [7]
  8. Someone who's hard of hearing may use a hearing aid which was turned off before Shabbat. It's proper to attached a piece of scotch tape on the button so one doesn't come to turn it off on Shabbat. [8]
  9. It is forbidden to speak into a tape recorder even if the recorder was turned on before Shabbat. [9]
  10. It is forbidden to press an electric doorbell on Shabbat.[10]
  11. It is forbidden to use a regular elevator on Shabbat. Some allow using a 'Shabbat elevator' which stops at every floor, while others forbid, and some say one may go up in the Shabbat elevator but not down. It is forbidden to touch the elevator doors when they are closing. [11]
  12. It's permitted to open a refrigerator door when the motor is running as long as the light was disabled from before Shabbat, however, when it is not running it's proper not to open the refrigerator. [12]
  13. It is permitted before Shabbat to set a timer for lights or other electric appliances to go on or off on Shabbat.[13]

Reading by candle light versus light bulb

  1. One isn’t allowed to read by a candle (wick in oil) on Shabbat because there is Gezerah that one will come to tilt the wick. [14]
  2. There is a dispute whether the Gezerah applies to a kerosene lamp. Thus one should make a recognizable sign that says “Today is Shabbat” to satisfy all opinions. [15]
  3. One is permitted to read by wax candles [16]
  4. One is permitted to read by electric lights. [17]

Using a light bulb for Shabbat Candles and Havdala

  1. Common consensus among the halachic authorities is to consider electricity as fire for the purpose of Shabbat observance. Just as lighting a fire is a Biblical violation of Shabbat, so too is the flipping of a switch which turns on a light.[18]As such, many families are particular to place a covering over the light switches in the home in order to ensure that they are not switched on or off accidentally over the course of Shabbat.[19]
  2. This concept has broad halachic ramifications and applications. For example, in the unfortunate event that a woman is without candles on a Friday afternoon, she may be permitted to simply turn on the common electric lighting that normally lights up the home and even recite the usual blessing over this "lighting".[20] This is because the light bulbs essentially accomplish the role[21] that the traditional Shabbat candles are intended to serve.[22] The electric lights actually become the Shabbat candles and one will discharge one's Shabbat candle lighting obligations with them. While such an approach should never be relied upon in normal circumstances, it is permissible in extenuating ones. Some authorities suggest that when making use of electric lights for one's Shabbat candles the accompanying blessing should be omitted.[23]
  3. If one is forced to use the electric lights in one's home as the Shabbat candles they should be shut off momentarily and then turned back on in order for them to now be designated as the Shabbat "candles".[24] Indeed, every week before the lady of the house lights her Shabbat candles, she should momentarily turn off the household lights and then turn on them back on. When she makes her blessing over the candles she should have in mind that her blessing include the electric lights as well which will also be providing light over the course of Shabbat.[25] Those who are forced to use the electric lights instead of candles should endeavor to turn on even those lights which are not normally used in order for there to be some distinction that the electric lights are in honor of Shabbat.[26] Even a desktop light could be used for this purpose.
  4. The issues are essentially the same with regards to Havdala and one may use an electric light in place of a Havdala candle in a time of need.[27] In fact, it is reported that Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky would always use an electric bulb for Havdala in order to demonstrate how strongly he felt that electricity is to be treated exactly like fire from the perspective of halacha.[28]
  5. Nevertheless, there are those authorities who discourage the use of an electric light for Havdala. Among their opposition to is the fact that the blessing recited upon the Havdala candle includes the word "fire" which seems to imply the need for actual fire, not merely light. As such a light bulb would not be acceptable according to this view.[29] Even among the authorities who permit the use of electric lighting when needed many would disqualify the use of fluorescent bulbs as they work differently than standard light bulbs.[30]

Credits

  1. Special thanks to Rabbi Ari Enkin author of the Amot Shel Halacha series for his contribution to this article. If you would like to purchase his books please click here.

References

  1. Menuchat Ahava 24:2 holds that the prohibition involved is that by completing the circuit one creates an electric current in the wire like there is a prohibition to create a fire (Molid) on Shabbat.
  2. Menuchat Ahava 24:3-4
  3. Menuchat Ahava 24:3
  4. Menuchat Ahava 24:1
  5. Menuchat Ahava 24:5
  6. Menuchat Ahava 24:6,8,9
  7. Menuchat Ahava 24:10
  8. Menuchat Ahava 24:11, Sh"t Yabea Omer 1:19(19), Minchat Yitzchak 2:17-8, 3:41, Minchat Shlomo 1:9, Tzitz Eliezer 6:6
  9. Menuchat Ahava 24:13
  10. Menuchat Ahava 24:14
  11. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 23:29 permits uses a Shabbat elevator on Shabbat. Sefer Maliyot BeShabbat (chapters 1 and 7) holds that one may go up in the elevator but not down. Menuchat Ahava 24:15-6 concludes that one shouldn't use the Shabbat elevator to go up or down unless there is a great need in which case he is lenient to allow going up in the Shabbat elevator.
  12. Menuchat Ahava 24:19
  13. Menuchat Ahava 24:30, Sh"t Yabea Omer 3:17
  14. Mishna Shabbat 11a says that it’s forbidden to read by the light of a candle because one will come to tilt the wick. Rashi explains that if one tilts to wick (which is flickering) towards the oil so that it lights well, one will be violating Mavir (lighting a flame on Shabbat, which includes adding fuel to a flame). S”A 275:1 quotes this as halacha.
  15. Bet Yosef 275:12 quotes a dispute between the Rif, Rosh, Tosfot and Rabbenu Chananel who permit checking cups by a kerosene candle because it produces a lot of light and there’s no concern one will tilt the wick against the Rambam 5:16 who forbids a kerosene candle based on a difference in versions of Shabbat 12b. S”A 275:12 rules stringently like the Rambam. However, Ramban (Shabbat 12b) explains that even those who permit a kerosene candle because it produces a lot of light are only lenient by checking cups for cleanliness, but to read by the light even the Rif and Rosh will forbid. Lechem HaPanim (Kitzur S”A 80:16), Misgeret Zahav (Kitzur S”A 80:1), and Sh”t Mekor Chaim O”C 6 write that a kerosene lamp is permitted because the flame doesn’t decrease and one can set it to give off as much light as one wants before Shabbat and so there’s no concern one will tilt the wick. Mishna Brurah (Buir Halach D”H VeEin) writes that this leniency isn’t so clear, but one can rely on it to learn Torah, especially in a Bet Midrash. Mishna Brurah permits if one hangs a sign by the lamp that says “Today is Shabbat and it’s forbidden to light a fire” for a few reasons. Kaf HaChaim 275:13 argues that because one can increase the flame when necessary, it’s forbidden to read by a kerosene lamp. [Sh”t Ani Chomah O”C 19 asks on the Kaf HaChaim that the clearly when the Lechem HaPanim and Mekor Chaim permitted they knew that one could increase the flame but still permitted because one doesn’t usually increase the flame.] Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A 275:2) rules like the Mishna Brurah.
  16. Bach in name of Maharshal, Taz, and Magan Avraham (in cases of need) permit reading by a wax candle because there’s no Gezerah of tilting the wick. However, S”A 275:1 forbids reading by a wax candle because one will come to trim the wick and maybe extinguish it. Eliyah Rabba, Buir HaGra concur. Mishna Brurah 275:4 permits wax candles because nowadays the wax produces a clear flame and there is no issue that one will tilt or trim the wick. Similarly, Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A 275:3) is lenient based on Rav Ovadyah’s later writing in Halichot Olam 3 against his opinion in Sh”t Yabea Omer 1:16(6-9) and Yalkut Yosef (first edition Shabbat vol 1 pg 317).
  17. Sh”t Yacheve Daat 6:20 holds that even those who are strict by a kerosene lamp will allow an electric light because it produces a clear flame and gives off a lot of light [the leniency of a kerosene lamp, which produces a lot of light and the leniency of a wax candle, which produces a clear flame.] Additionally, Sh”t Yachave Daat adds that we shouldn’t make extend Chazal’s Gezerah of a oil and wick to electric lights because we aren’t allowed to make new Gezerah’s or add to preexisting ones (Magan Avraham 301:58). Thus, Sas Anochi (Kuntres Rach VeTov pg 78c) and Sh”t Yashkil LeAvdi O”C 2:9 who are strict by a kerosene lamp if it’s made of multiple candles, allow electric lights. Sh”t Yachave Daat also argues that electric lights are permitted because Chazal only forbad tilting a wick already in oil but permitted adding more oil [the same distinction is found in Sh”t Igrot Moshe O”C 93 concerning leaving food from before Shabbat on a gas flame.] On the other hand, Sh”t Shoel VeNishal 1:76 forbids reading even by electric lights based on a Hagot Asheri (Shabbat 12b) who is uncertain about a wax candle even though there is no issue of tilting the wick and so too any lighting should be forbidden even though there is no issue of tilting (because of Lo Palug Rabanan, the Rabbis didn’t differentiate in their Gezerah’s). However Sh”t Yacheve Daat (in the footnote) argues that we shouldn’t forbid because of the Hagot Asheri’s uncertainty as this is a matter of Derabanan (see there as there are some Achronim who say Safek Derabanan LeKula doesn’t apply to a Safek that we don’t know the halacha. Additionally Bnei Tzion 265:3 explains that the Hagot Asheri was uncertain when a Gezerah doesn’t have any reason to apply whether it should be permissible or forbidden as the Rabbi’s extend their Gezerah to any case as in the case of a mirror that’s not sharp enough to cut hair (Shabbat 149a) as Rabbenu Moshe (quoted in Ran) rules. However, since in the case of Shabbat 149a, Rif, Rambam, and Rosh, S”A 302:13 permit mirrors that can’t cut, then, so too wax candles aren’t forbidden(Getting Dressed).
  18. Beit Yitzchak Y.D. 1:120, Achiezer 3:60, Melamed L’Hoil O.C. 49, Tzitz Eliezer 3:17, Chelkat Yaakov 1:52
  19. Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 13:32
  20. Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 43:N22
  21. Tosfot;Shabbat 25b
  22. There are two reasons why we light Shabbat candles. The first is for “Oneg Shabbat” which requires that the home be illuminated Friday night in order that people not stumble in the dark. The second reason is for “Kavod Shabbat” which calls for plentiful lighting in honor of Shabbat, as was the custom upon receiving a distinguished guest.
  23. Shraga Hameir 5:11
  24. Teshuvot V’hanhagot 2:157
  25. Az Nidberu 1:79, Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 43:N171
  26. Tzitz Eliezer 1:20
  27. Shaarim Metzuyanim Behalachah 96:6, Az Nidberu 8:2, Rivevot Ephraim 3:599
  28. Shaarim Metzuyanim Behalachah 96:6
  29. Har Tzvi 2:114
  30. Hachashmal L’or Hahalacha 3:88