Both Sides on the Kosher Switch Debate and Some Commentary

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The Kosher Switch has been in development for several years. According to the inventor, the device replaces the standard light switch and through the magic of technology and Jewish law allows Shabbat observant Jews to switch their lights on and off. Last week, the company launched a campaign on Indiegogo to raise funds to satisfy minimum manufacturer requirements and begin production. The promotional video claims that leading rabbinic authorities approve the device for Shabbat use. In response, a proclamation signed by prominent American rabbinic authorities warned residents of Flatbush that the device was not kosher for Shabbat use and it should not be brought into one’s home.

A lot of the subsequent discussion has been somewhat juvenile. Questions about motive, credibility, and consistency have been raised in all directions and accusations of impropriety have been levied as well. To me, this is all just a distraction from the real issue here: Is the Kosher Switch Kosher? [Please show your work]

Instead of delving into the religio-legal issues raised by the Kosher Switch, I find far too much of the discourse to be declarative and even in the rare case that arguments are made in favor or against the device, the articles read like persuasive briefs instead of dispassionate legal jurisprudence. I have read everything I could find and would like to present both sides of the issue as I see it.

Needless to say, this discussion is for educational purposes only. If you are looking for a psak, ask a posek.

The Prohibition

I. Flipping a light switch on Shabbat might be a Biblical prohibition, but according to many opinions it might be a rabbinic prohibition.electricity-05 If it is Biblical, one set of principles applies, and if it is rabbinic, another package of principles apply. Activating a circuit is presumed to be prohibited, but as has been noted, it’s extremely difficult to identify the actual prohibition. Lighting an incandescent bulb is the most likely candidate for Biblical prohibition due to the heating of the coils and the heat that it emits. But we live in a fluorescent world, and I think we can assume that the Kosher Switch is trying to solve a rabbinic problem as opposed to a Biblical problem.

II. The Torah forbids mindful acts of Shabbat desecration. Thus, there are several leniencies that can theoretically mitigate Biblical prohibition. When one performs an action that unwittingly causes a prohibited result it is permissible. This is called davar sh’eino mitkaven. But the leniency only applies as long as the unintended result was not inevitable, otherwise it is prohibited. This principle is called psik reisha, and the action is Biblically prohibited. However, if the unintended result of the action is undesirable it is called a psik reisha d’lo nicha lei and it is not Biblically prohibited. There is a dispute among the Medieval commentators whether a psik reisha d’lo nicha lei is still rabbinically prohibited or if it is permissible.

III. There is a secondary dispute among the late Medieval and Renaissance commentators when a psik reisha only produces a rabbinically prohibited result. Some say it is still prohibited rabbinically, and others say it is completely permissible. Even those who prohibit in these cases may allow psik reisha d’lo nicha lei. Some prohibit even in such cases, and others only allow under certain conditions.

IV. When it’s unknown if the psik reisha resulted in a prohibition it is called a safeik psik reisha. One late Renaissance opinion holds this would not even be considered a psik reisha, and is not prohibited at all. One Contemporary authority rules that safeik psik reisha is permissible when the result is rabbinically prohibited.

Proximate Cause

  1. Indirectly causing a prohibited result is called grama. The Talmud offers two seemingly contradictory positions on grama. One is permitted to place vessels filled with water in the path of a fire. The fire will be extinguished by the water in the vessels, and extinguishing fire is normally prohibited. The Talmud explains that this is a permissible case of grama. However, the Talmud also prohibits tossing wheat with its chaff into the wind to separate the kernel from the chaff, even though that appears to be a grama as well. Several narrowing definitions of grama have been proposed to reconcile this issue.
    1. When there is a time lapse between the action and the result it is considered a grama. It will take some time for the water to be released from the vessels but the chaff will be removed from the wheat almost immediately.
    2. Perhaps grama is only when the indirect cause is the normal manner in which the result is achieved. Normally, one would not extinguish a fire by placing vessels of water in its path, but one would toss wheat in the air to winnow.
    3. Perhaps grama is only when the person completes the indirect act, and an intervening act is still needed to cause the prohibited result. The water is trapped in vessels that are a distance away from the fire, so the fire must travel and burst the vessels.  In the case of the wheat, the wind is already blowing when one throws the wheat in the air.
    4. Or perhaps grama is only when the prohibited result is not inevitable. There is no guarantee that the fire will be extinguished by the water in the vessels but it’s certain that the wind will remove some chaff from the wheat.
  2. Grama is not a blanket permission. The general consensus is that grama is only allowed in cases of great need. Some Modern and Contemporary authorities hold that grama would also be permissible when the result is not desired.
  3. One Contemporary rabbinic authority holds that oneg Shabbat (pleasure of Shabbat) is considered a great need.   

Not Even a Grama

  1. The foremost Renaissance halachic authority for Ashkenazi Jewry says one can leave a candle near a door if the wind is not blowing, even if the wind will eventually blow. He also holds that grama is only permissible in cases of financial loss, and since here he makes no such stipulation, it can be assumed that he holds this is not even a case of grama.
  2. Perhaps grama is when the other contributing factor causing the prohibition exists. But where the wind is not blowing, the thing that is needed to complete the act does not even exist at the time of human act.
  3. Perhaps grama is when the human act is connected to the thing that will complete the prohibited act. The human is only opening a door to let the wind blow. The wind is the thing doing the extinguishing and the act is not connected to the wind.

The Kosher Switch

  1. Basically, two things are happening inside the Kosher Switch. First, there is an emitter and a receiver that complete a circuit. When the emitter and receiver are active, the circuit is complete and the light is on. The second component is a barrier that creates a blockage between emitter and receiver when the switch is flipped.
  2. When the light is on, the emitter and receiver cycle through sleep and active periods and an indicator will tell the user when they are asleep. The user will move the barrier by flipping the switch, and at a random time, the emitter will try to connect to the receiver. If it cannot connect, the circuit will be disrupted and the light will turn off. When the emitter and receiver are sleeping, an indicator tells the user it’s safe to move the switch. If the barrier is moved, the emitter and receiver will communicate at a random time and will attempt to complete the circuit. Even when the barrier is removed, the emitter and receiver do not automatically connect. They both randomly generate codes that must “match” in order to complete the circuit. After each failed attempt, the emitter will try connected again at a random time. If the barrier has not been moved, the emitter will not see the receiver and the light will remain off.

Show Your Work

  1. Flipping the Kosher Switch does not directly turn the lights on or off.KosherSwitch1
  2. Assuming it is considered a psik reisha, the result is a rabbinically prohibited act. This is permissible according to some authorities.
  3. Assuming a psik reisha that produces a rabinically prohibited act is still prohibited, the act of flipping the switch might be a safeik psik reisha. This is permissible according to some authorities.
  4. It might be a grama because there is a time lapse between the switch flip and the circuit completing.
  5. It might be a grama because an intervening act, by the emitter and receiver, is needed to complete the circuit.
  6. It’s possible that it could be a grama because the Kosher Switch is not the normal manner one turns on a light. Maybe.
  7. If the light is considered oneg Shabbat, grama plus a “great need” would render the switch permissible according to some.
  8. It might not be a grama at all, because the current is totally dead at the time of the act. Non-grama is certainly permissible.
  9. Or it might not be grama at all because the human act is not connected to the emitter and receiver. The human act only connects to the switch and barrier.

Objections

  1. Rabbi Rozen says: “Even if they added to the ‘Grama’ additional apparatuses, and even if there is a one in a thousand chance that the action will not occur, I have received from my rabbis (R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and R. Shaul Yisraeli) that this does not change in any way the halakhic status of regular ‘grama’ (just like grama D’grama and other artificial arrangements).”
  2. Rabbi Rozen says: “Even if the method of operation is non-active from the point of view of the agent, i.e. because he merely removes the “preventing element,” Rabbi S. Z. Auerbach and others wrote that this remains forbidden and is treated like it was done directly by the person, since the action occurs immediately after the human intervention/action. Even if the result comes only after a delay caused by an additional factor, this is plain grama, which is still not permitted L’chatchila.”
  3. Rabbi Student argues that the Kosher Switch is only a grama according to some opinions and even a grama is not permissible ab initio.
  4. Rabbi Tzvi Ortner says: “We must question whether a case can be built for permissibility based on what the Gemara does not say. That is, the fact that the Gemara does not speak of the halacha of something that has not entered the world does not prove that this case is less than a grama. Perhaps this case is deemed a grama too!”
  5. Rabbi Tzvi Ortner says: “Even should this logic be sound, one can hardly call the pulses “not in this world,” since the switch is designed for the function to turn on intermittently. It is an absolute certainty that the force will come back into existence, and this is by design. Even if we could find a case of wind that is not “in this world” that is permissible, this is only because the effect is not under man’s control, which thus “distances” his action from the eventual force (see Magen Avraham 328:53). However, the pulses in the Kosher Switch are designed and controlled by man to arrive with continuity, and thus bear no comparison to the case of the wind, which is beyond his control.”

Possible Responses

  1. Okay, but there is precedent for “not even grama” under similar circumstances. Not everyone has to agree with what you received from your rabbis.
  2. Right, but this is a switch that is delayed and also dependent on random emitter and receiver contact which could have legal implications according to some precedents. Further, even if it is a grama, it could be combined with oneg Shabbat to establish a “great need.”
  3. There is a solid argument, with precedent, to say that it is not even grama. And again, even if it is grama it might be okay.
  4. The Talmud doesn’t say it, but the foremost Renaissance rabbinic authority seems to hold this way.
  5. Sure, this is possible. But so is the alternative proposed by Kosher Switch proponents. It might be different than the wind, but it might be similar as well.

Conclusion

So there you have it. A legitimate discussion about Kosher Switch from a religio-legal perspective.

It seems like two things might be happening here. It’s possible that the opponents of the Kosher Switch did not read through the responsa on the Kosher Switch website. All their questions are covered in their materials. But I think there is something deeper happening here as well. I have a feeling that the Kosher Switch proponents are using a different paradigm than the opponents.

The opponents seem to hold that in order for something to be permissible it needs to work according to all established rabbinic authorities. The Kosher Switch certainly does not meet that bar. Kosher Switch proponents hold that in order for something to be prohibited it needs to not work according to all established rabbinic authorities. Unfortunately, both sides seem to believe that their approach is the only correct approach so they do not acknowledge the validity of their opponents.

This represents a huge gap between two acceptable ways to look at halacha. I do think that the idea that we should try to satisfy all halachic precedent has some roots in the Talmud. But the importance and universal emphasis we give to this idea is somewhat a new innovation. It’s prominent in the Mishna Berura, a 20th century compilation and commentary on one section of the Code of Jewish Law. The Chofetz Chaim seems to have attempted to select and codify the halachic opinions that were most universally held. Today, the idea is very prominent in Brisk and its progeny. The hallmark of this approach is its lack of self confidence and self reliance. We are nervous that we are not doing it right so we try to fulfill as many positions as possible because one of them has got to be right.

We also have a tradition of “koach d’hetera adif” – the power to permit is great, and the concept of “limud zechus” – trying to find any halachic path to justify questionable behavior. The Aruch HaShulchan, by Rav Yechiel Michel Epstein, an exhaustive restatement of Jewish law written in the late 19th century, is known for its efforts on this side of the halachic coin. Rabbi Epstein tried to be machria and choose a path but he presented a potpourri of acceptable opinions in every section. It seems that this tradition is less prominent in our society. The hallmark of this approach is autonomy and courage. We try to research a topic as best we can, and attempt to forge a personal path that rings true to our genuinely held religious convictions.

I do harbor some concerns that our preference for the former over the latter is having a net negative impact on 21st century Orthodox Judaism. A society that looks for stringencies and looks down upon those with a different approach to Jewish law can become extremely uncomfortable for its non-conformist constituents. Autonomy and self confidence are authentic Torah values too. We ignore them at our peril.

This dispute might be a case study of this dichotomy or I might be completely off the mark, but either way, researching this topic inspired this idea in me. I believe there is a valid halachic path that permits the Shabbos Switch. I also acknowledge that this path will not be universally held. I think that’s okay. Variety and diversity can be good things. Let’s try to bring a little more of that back into our world.

I have included links to several published articles that have the sources for everything I quoted in this essay:
Rema on Kibui grama
Aruch HaShulchan on Kibui grama
Electricity on Shabbat
Rabbi Flug on Psik reisha
Detailed Kosher Switch Halachic Analysis 
Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Shapiro Responsum Permitting Kosher Switch
How the Kosher Switch Works
Rabbi Rozen’s Objections
Rabbi Student’s Objections
Rabbi Ortner’s Objections
The Flatbush Ban

I was a bit dismayed by the lack of substantive discussion about the KosherSwitch so I decided to do it myself.
As promised.
This is really long but it also is really clear and easy to understand. Print it out and read it over Shabbos. Or read it now. Or don’t read it at all and pretend you did.

Posted by Eliyahu Fink on Friday, April 17, 2015

  • David Sedley

    There is, however, a big difference between making a ruling on a specific case and asking for investors in a product which claims to solve the “problem” of turning on and off lights on Shabbat. There may be variant opinions, and at times it is appropriate to follow the lenient view. But when seeking to make a radical change to the way Shabbat is observed which will potentially affect a large proportion of Klal Yisrael it is important to do so with a clear consensus (even if not unanimous) of Rabbinic opinion. Without wishing to discuss who “counts” as “acceptable” Rabbinic opinion nowadays, it seems that there are virtually no poskim at all who support the kosher switch (or who have not subsequently withdrawn their support).
    Furthermore, in areas of halakha which have the potential to change the way that Judaism is practiced, the meta-halakhic issues are not irrelevant. It is clear that had the world followed the p’sak of the Arukh HaShulkhan permitted the use of electricity, Shabbat today would look very different. The world did not accept his ruling. The kosher switch aims to overturn the way that Shabbat has been kept for the past century. In my opinion, it is not sufficient to be “technically correct according to many opinions”. It needs a broad consensus of a large number of senior Rabbis to make such a change.

  • Benignuman

    I understand the Grama aspect of the debate but I don’t understand the psik reisha aspect. Psik reisha is only a relevant halachic concept when the act is a Davar Sh’eino Miskaven, but here the intent of the person flipping the switch is to complete the circuit or turn off the light.

    Another issue not discussed above, but relevant, is that many people when faced with an unwanted light situation on Shabbos resort to other means that are certainly prohibited, such as asking a non-Jew or a child to shut the light off or turn it on. It seems to me that using the Kosher Switch is certainly preferrable to those options.

    • Mmmm

      If the owner gives the rabbis of Flatbush a cut in profits trust me it’s KOSHER!

  • Note that the responsa on KosherSwitch.com do not point to the technical
    differences to say that it ought to be halachically less problematic
    than Machon Zomet’s Gerama Switch. The Gerama Switch was allowed by R SZ
    Aurbach and the Shemiras Shabbos keHilkhisa (R’ Neuwirth) ONLY special
    cases of major loss — medical need (for a patient who isn’t so sick so
    as to overide Shabbos altogether), a hearing aid, electric wheelchair,
    the army (if available, better than outright Shabbos violation), etc…

    Rather
    the responsa disagree with R SZ Aurbach about the limits of gerama.
    According to the rulings on the KosherSwitch.com site, Machon Zomet’s
    switch equally qualify as valid for general use.

    • ssvarc

      Impressed by this point (that the technical differences haven’t created any halachic changes) – I don’t think this is being explained enough, and in general, by your series of posts here.

      A tangential and technical side note: Your case of a hairbrush has a logical flaw, in that one can assume that the prohibited action will be happening. Assume a hundred bristles on the hairbrush. Further assume a 1/100 chance to pull out an hair. A statistical certainty that you are currently doing the prohibited action.

      Or assume a 1/1000 chance. When you will pass the brush over a head, at the end of the action it is a statistical certainty that the action was done in this one action (brush action)

      Not so by the switch under discussion, where a series of possible machine actions take place spaced apart by time. You cannot look at any discrete action and say statistical certainty of a desired prohibited action. One can only look at a series of actions, separated by time, and say that there is extremely high chance of the action happening.

      • And one is pesiq reishei, the other gerama — so of course the latter is multistep. My point was that we judge the action by the chance of it causing a melakhah, and not for each opportunity it had to do so. One had many simultaneous opportunities to commit pesiq reishei, because pesiq reishei is by definition simultaneous. The other is setting into motion something that has many sequential opportunities to commit gerama.

        (Also, your math is off. The 1/1,000 chance of pulling out one hair never becomes a probability of 1. When moving the brush over n hairs, the probability of pulling at least one out is 1 – ( 1 / 1,000) ^ n. Which will get very close to 1, but not quite there. The odds of not flipping a heads in any of 15 coin tosses is also ignorable — less than 1:10,000 (much higher than your numbers for hair) — but not certainty. WRT the switch, they are also aiming to get the probability close enough to 1 for the customer to consider the switch reliable. Not as close as the hairbrush, but still, the gap is obviously ignorable or else the product isn’t marketable. There is even a probability in an actual pesiq reishei that the chicken lives; Mike the Headless chicken made it 18 months.)

        In any case, as noted, no posqim (including the three responsa on
        the web site) have used this argument as a reason to be more lenient.
        It’s the inventor’s thought, which apparently has little halachic merit. So, all of the above is quibbling, to no halachic effect.

        • ssvarc

          First paragraph: I’ve pointed out a logical difference, which can be claimed to create halachic differences, and thus a flaw in your comparison. Your example is one where the action happens in one shot, while by the switch it doesn’t.

          Second: Same as above regarding the math. Mike the Headless chicken actually still had part of the brainstem, so it wasn’t a true p’sik reisha.

          Third: Agreed, and this is what I praised as a relatively novel point that hasn’t been talked about by others. As for quibbling, well yes, most “tangential and technical side note[s]” are of that variety.

  • Milton

    While I agree with your point that society today all too often looks for Chumras, you are misusing the term Koach Diheteira Adifa- in fact it means quite the opposite of what you are saying. The basic idea is it takes a lot more to be a mekil than a machmir so the gemera will opt to tell us the meikil view over the machmir view.

    • That’s not how it’s used in the Talmud.

      • Milton

        “It is better for him to teach us the power of the words of the one who has permitted it because he relies on his teaching and he is not afraid to permit it. However, the power of the ones who forbid it is not a proof because everyone is able to be stringent, even with something that is permitted” Rashi Beitzah 2b (translation my own). Rashi says the same concept numerous times throughout Shas- his basic point is there’s no “kuntz” in being a machmir. He is clearly not saying we should try to be makil.

      • It is used twice in the Talmud, Berakhos 60a and Beitza 2b.

        Milton already cited Rashi on Beitza.

        In Berakhos, the context is “… וליפלגו בקנה וחזר וקנה דאין צריך לברך? להודיעך כחו דרבי יהודה – כח דהתירא עדיף ליה. — But should they rather not state the debate as being about the case of buying again
        after already buying, where there is no need to say a berakhah? To teach you the extent of Rabbi Yehudah[‘s ruling], that it is more precios to him to show you how far the heter goes.”

        … Because we couldn’t deduce further leniency on our own.

        In neither case is the usage amenable to a liberal interpretation. And indeed quite the reverse.

  • aloeste1
  • “The opponents seem to hold that in order for something to be permissible it needs to work according to all established rabbinic authorities.”

    I remember a lecture on eruvin I once went to where the speaker said that every single community eruv is based on one heter or another, but could not possibly satisfy all objections – it was an either-or situation.

    • Eiruv is slightly different, because the gemara states a rule that we are supposed to look for leniencies when it comes to eiruv. Eiruv represents Jewish unity by creating a common space for the community. This is usually cited as the reason why the rabbis wanted you to treat their legislation about carrying in non-private spaces that aren’t massive public squares lightly; unity is more important.

      And in fact, the gemara singling out a few cases like eiruv where we are supposed to find leniency tells you this isn’t the default. So here, it’s not appropriate.

      In any case, it’s not htat anyoe is saying “it needs to work according to all established rabbinic authorities”. But to comment it to the public, it needs to work according to at least a sizable number of the more noted ones, and preferably a majority. We’re talking about bucking both R’ SZ Aurbach — who through R’ Neuwirth’s Shemiras Shabbos keHilkhaso is even MORE broadly accepted when it comes to Shabos than in general — and Rav Moshe Feinstein. The dominant voices in 20th century halakhah, among Ashkenazim. Saying it’s okay because someone we usually don’t look up and cite understands gerama (and zilzul shabbos — cheapening Shabbos) differently is only appropriate among those rabbis’ followers. Not as communal policy.

      And this points out the real problem… why are people who don’t know how to pasqen looking at the dispute themselves, rather than asking their rabbis who /they/ advise following? Why is this a topic for ads and counter-posters?

  • Holy Hyrax

    Gil Student had a couple of interesting posts on the subject.

    On a personal level, I sometimes think these sorts of things make us look a bit idiotic to the outside world. They ALREADY think our rules are splitting hairs and odd. Trying to explain to them, now, after telling our neighbors how we are not allowed to turn on electricity that this kosher switch is not technically turning on electricity makes us look foolish. I remember having a discussion with some curious onlooker how some hold that it is OK to turn off a stove fire by overheating the water and letting it put out the flame. He didn’t say a work, but I understood the look. This is obviously just a personal opinion, but I wonder if this concern is ever part of the thinking that goes on.

  • Pinchos Woolstone

    The proof of the pudding will be in the eating.
    Let us observe what percentage of Orthodox. Jewry will incorporate this switch in their homes, over the next period of time.
    Over the next few months the debate will rage, let’s take a rain check and come back in say 18 months.

    • To emphasize where I AGREE with R’ Eliyahu… The truth is there is little debate. People on both sides are utilizing the tools of marketing, not education. As our host put it “I find far too much of the discourse to be declarative and even in the
      rare case that arguments are made in favor or against the device, the
      articles read like persuasive briefs instead of dispassionate legal
      jurisprudence.” Me too.

  • Meir Zirkind

    I have not seen it anyone mentioning anything beyond the “groma” problem. The problem I thought of was the Issur of “mimtsoi cheftsicha” (see SA HORAV 306:1&5). Especially this sentence: אלא שעושה איזה מעשה המותר אפילו הליכה בלבדה ומעשה זה או הילוך זה הוא בשביל כדי לעשות אחר השבת איזה דבר שאסור לעשותו בשבת בין מן התורה בין מדברי סופרים שנמצא מזמין עצמו בשבת בפועל ממש לא בהרהור לבד לדבר האסור בשבת I think all the more so doing an action that will effect a Melacha to happen on its own, similar to setting a trap on Shabbos to capture animals which is forbidden.
    Another aspect is the Halacha that one may not on EREV Shabbos light a candle and then place it in a glass with water so that it goes out when it reaches the water – Kal Vochomer when you do an action on Shabbos that will eventually cause a Melacha to happen.

    • Is that different than R’ Oelbaum’s position that its use (outside of special circumstances) would be zilzul Shabbos? (Available at KosherSwitch.com’s Endorsements/Blessings page even though it clearly runs counter to their intent.)

      • Meir Zirkind

        1) It may or may not be different, but to the public the word Zilzul Shabbos is very broad and ambiguous and many people take that to mean that it’s up to each persons feelings to translate what is and what isn’t Zilzul; however I was trying to convey the thought how it’s precisely under the category of Mimtzo Chef’tzcha.
        2) The second point I make is the bigger issue I have with the new switch. (Basically, if I can’t do this Gerama on Erev Shabbos, Kal Vochomer on Shabbos!)
        3) I believe (and please tell me your thoughts) that if it does happen, that if, by chance, at the moment the person flips that switch the light actually turns on or off (because the “random moment” happened to be just then) that the person has then done the Melacha (or whatever you want to label electricity), similar to the Melacha of capturing that if at the moment he set the trap the animal was caught, he has done the Melacha De’oraisa.

        • If the switch is not-even-gerama then flipping the switch during the one in dozens chance that the internal LED is on would be a davar she’ein miskavein (an unintended consequence). Pesiq reishei (loosely: side effect) is only when the result is inevitable. And even then, the software randomizer may decide not to respond to that first blip of the light.

          But to do so would mean you’re flipping the switch when their warning light is red. They actually have an indicator that says that the LED within the switch may go on during this interval.

          To my own mind, the question of whether or not its gerama revolves around understanding the line the Rama draws between OC 377 (not taking a lamp out between gusts on a windy day) and OC 514 (permitting opening a window near a candle). The Shaar haTziyon says that 514 permits because it’s about extinguishing on Yom Tov. R’ SZ Auerbach says it revolves around whether the act itself is one of extinguishing, etc… R JB Soloveitchik would prohibit the Kosher Switch (in theory) because the mechanism, the step 2 after your action, was already set up and running when you flipped the switch. Or it could be that opening the window is less certain to get your outcome, whereas the Kosher Switch is certain enough for it to sell as a soution to using a switch on Shabbos.

          The grounds for permitting the switch is NOT the second random element, as can be seen by it not being a factor in any of the 3 teshuvos on KosherSwitch.com. Rather, it’s a general approach to gerama that would permit because of the random delay.

          However, in practice, if all they can sell to is people who follow their posqim rather than the approach to gerama of those who follow R SZ Auerbach, R’ Moshe Feinstein, R JB Soloveitchik, there won’t be a large enough market for the company to stay afloat.

          • Meir Zirkind

            I had forgotten about the warning light. However, I can’t agree that it’s without intention, wasn’t that the purpose of switching on or off the light? And it isn’t either Dlo Nicha Lei.

            • I agree that it’s obviously with intent, so I don’t know what it is you think you couldn’t agree to. The person opening the window in siman 514 also intends for the wind to eventually blow his candle out. So intent may not be the relevant factor. This isn’t pesiq reishei, where we discuss nicha lei.

              • Meir Zirkind

                I quote “If the switch is not-even-gerama then flipping the switch during the one in dozens chance that the internal LED is on would be a davar she’ein miskavein” -it is this that I take issue.
                I don’t see any “window” or “wind” in 514, and if you mean 277 (1&2) – it’s not allowed,. So I don’t know what you are trying to say.

                • If you wish to follow the path I took through the sugya, start at the Arukh haShulchan OC 514:11 (link).

          • Thinker

            “To my own mind, the question of whether or not its gerama revolves a…….. OC 514 (permitting opening a window near a candle). The Shaar haTziyon says that 514 permits because it’s about extinguishing on Yom Tov. R’ SZ Auerbach says it revolves around whether the act itself is one of extinguishing, etc…

            How is the algorithm in the KosherSwitch, which, by its very built programming, keeps re-attempting to complete the task, anything akin to the randomness of nature and wind?
            Similarly, why does everyone use the Gerama scenerios (Forest fire put out by jugs, a dam that was opened and water flowed out and drowned someone, opening a door to eventually allow wind in) as proof ? in all of those situations, nature intervenes or could intervene and blow something the other way. Until this modern day still, exact wind paterns and water flow paterns are not ascertainable and indeed involve something other than a self contained unit.
            Clearly, the “random nature” aspect can not be compared to electricity running within a closed circuit electrical grid system where the electricity is definetely 100% going to flow in at a controlled rate….Lets not forget, electricity, while found in nature, is not, at all natural in our contexts. It is a manufactured, controlled item, and in order to send it down the wires, the electric company has to increase production and increase flow as well…..
            Just a thought…. because I have never seen a shitah that says “electricity is random like wind”

        • Thinker

          In fairness, Meir, Electricity is only around for about 100 years and only in all homes the way we know it for about 60.

          Its very hard to make any kind of determination of what is and what is not “zilzul” based on the “tunnel vision” of how we have been keeping shobbos for the last 30 out of 3000 years of jewish history since matan torah, and to then say “well, if its not like the way ive been doing it in my lifetime, so it must be zilzul”

          If any of the rishonim or early acharonim came to your house this shabbat and saw refrigerators, shabbos ovens, hot plates, air conditioners, lights going on and off with timers and so on, they would say that THAT is ZILZUL IN THEIR EYES and would be utterly shocked!!!

          In fairness, you never saw the chafetz chaim say “hmm… this electricity thing, if we bring it in to our homes it won’t look “Shabosdic” without candles” (He was well alive when electricity came to homes).

          Similarly, The Chazon Ish never for a moment said “Electricity? Light Bulbs? Light Switches? Fans? ZILZUL SHABBOS!!!” Same thing with other talmidei chachamim.

          Instead, in fairness they analyzed it from a halachic prospective and then applied the halachah as best as possible to electricity. We now have the luxury of knowing that none of them, not even the strictest among them, ever said “bringing electricity in your home to run all your lights and appliances is not shabosdic because for 2000 years we have been operating on candles”

          Halachah, is NOT EVER based on your or my 20th century view of Zilzul and hashkaffa of how we do things. Its based on the Gemarah and Shulchan aruch and it is a very difficult task to separate the two. (Similar debates occurred between Rav Moshe Feinstein and the Satmer Rebbie on IVF and in the end Rav Moshe pointed out, halachah is halachah and we don’t base halachah on “hashkaffah” or emotion)

          In any event, there are plenty of halachic opinions on both sides although the overwhelming majority seem to say that it is not permissible lechatchilah and without tzorech for a Choleh, or something like that.

          HOWEVER, for those that don’t hold by the device, any engineer can tell you they need to take a look outside their homes at those big machines sitting on electric polls because they are constantly operating, turning on and off or increasing or decreasing electricity flow based on your and your neighbor’s usage. To say that the KosherSwitch is no good and ignore that device being remotely actuated and operated by a goy at an electric station somewhere is a bit halachically dishonest, given that most of us today, live on electric grids within towns that are 90% or more Jewish……

          Just saying….

          • I asked the same question on Avodah this morning. To just use the part that continues your thought:

            … So it’s very hard to say that “not using electricity” is a defining feature of the Shabbos experience.

            Contrast this to hotza’ah, including haavarah, which take up what seems like 1/3 of chazal’s discussion of issur melakhah (rough estimate from Shabbos and Eruvin in mishna, Tosefta, Y-mi and Bavli).

            When community eruvin got started, wasn’t there a much easier argument of zilzul? Why wasn’t it made? Indeed we use the general kelal of being meiqil WRT eiruvin to quite an extent to build one. And what does the fact that a community eruv is NOT zilzul Shabbos say about the nature of zilzul Shabbos and its applicability to our question?

            • Thinker

              You are correct but comparing anything to Eiruvin, is Halachically difficult because, as you noted, it was “built” with certain kulas from Chazal.
              Keep in mind also, that MANY, including the Rambam, did NOT hold that we can use an Eiruv and that still today many sefardim and some ashkenazim do NOT hold by our modern “lechi and a fishing line” system of eiruvin.
              Also, some aspects of Hotzaah are derabanan, so hence the leniencies.
              Having said that, Electricity has multiple Deoraisa issues depending on who you hold by, namely, Boneh, Molid, the heat created by the device it turns on, the heat created by the wiring, the “fire” so to speak of incandescent bulbs, sparks that could be created at the point of turning on, how energy is generated in the first place and sent down the wires and the management process for electricity (it is really akin to a hot water heater that gets filled with cold water that uses pressure to then send up the hot water…generally if you don’t generate more electricity you wont have anything to “pump” down the electric wires), and so on and so forth. Some of these issues are derabanan but most have some aspect of deoraisa.

              From a halachic perspective, each and every single one of these needs its own separate answer and analysis which is why none of these switches really makes it through the “testing gauntlet” of halachic analysis for electricity.

          • Zilzul Shabbos isn’t just “won’t like Shabbosdik”. You’re allowed to switch from gefilte fish to sushi for your Shabbos meal appetizers. (I’m not a poseiq, but I’ll stick my neck out on that one.) Zilzul Shabbos specifically consciously circumventing a prohibition that shapes the experience of Shabbos.

            Thus my earlier comparison to community eiruvin, which remove one of the melakhos from our weekly experience.

            • Thinker

              …any Grama and sometimes any Shevut, is “consciously circumventing” so if you use Zilzul as a psak, your basically saying Grama is Zilzul.
              As I said, Zilzul is not a psak. Its more like minhag. Even those very few times it is mentioned in the shulchan aruch, is extreemly limited where the R’ma or mishna berurah wasn’t sure about a gray area and went lechumra.
              Said differently, did you ever see a sugya called “Hilchos zilzul”?
              Is Zilzul mentioned in the gemara? is it a derabanan or Deoraisa?
              We can’t be mesaken new Derabanan’s so when chachamim did not have an answer but something looked improper some would use Zilzul but at best its mishum Minhag, NOT mishum a derabanan shevut they invented….

              • Any gerama and any shevus is assur because of gerama or shevus.

                Zilzul is a conscious attempt to circumvent Shabbos. And assur derabbanan (obviously), although based on a pasuq, the pasuq is in Nakh, not chumash.

                As for its usage, you’re making stuff up. It seems like you think I wouldn’t bother opening sefarim, and therefore you can just sound authoritative and intimidate your way into winning an argument.

                I gave one example sefarim actually discuss in terms of zizul Shabbos — handing something from a reshus hayachid to someone in a meqom petur so that they could hand it to someone in a reshus harabim. Engineering a solution that avoids violating Shabbos in a manner that could eliminate an entire melakhah. (Rashi Shabbos 6a “ublivad”, quoting in Arukh haShulchan OC 346:8)

                Another example… By the black-letter halakhah, one may carry if surrounded by walls made on purpose on Shabbos (SA OC 362:5) or by people in a manner that they qualify as “walls” around the carrier (se’if 5). But we aren’t allowed to. The Mishnah Berurah says “shelo yezalzelu beShabbos” (s”q 39).

                Also, while you mention the MB, perhaps because people like painting him as a “ba’al nefesh yachmir” chumerah shopper, the Arukh haShulchan invoked zilzul Shabbos FAR more often, and yes, to explain existing pesaq as practiced, not to justify ruling stringently in open questions.

            • Thinker

              I did some further research.
              The word “Zilzul” or its concept does not appear in the gemarah at all.
              Unlike what you said, it does not appear in the Tur at all either.
              I thought I would find it in the Shulchan Aruch, but it did not appear in the shulchan aruch either.
              There are times where it appears in some miforshei harambam in other contexts and then in the context of Eiruv.
              In a search of about 30 sefarim of later acharonim, it comes up about 42 times, usually quoting the same Eiruv issue and certain issues relating to Tefilah.
              In other words, “Zilzul”, on its own, is indeed, not a “psak”. it does not make something derabanan and certainly doesn’t make it deoraisa.

              I also don’t think you can use Zilzul in the context of a Grama because thats like saying “we don’t care about Gramas because its zilzul anyhow” and I don’t think that holds water.
              One could, perhaps, argue, that a grama is something you can set in motion once or twice on a shabbos and therefore the Grama is not really a Grama if you can sit there and turn the switch on, and off, and on and off and so on.
              But honestly, thats not Zilzul. Thats just saying the Grama is invalid and not really a Grama when it can be controlled, repeated and the action reversed. (i.e. its one thing to set jugs that will burst in a fire, that happens once on a shabbos, but its another to set some again with potassium or some chemichal, that will cause a chemical reaction to create fire, and then another, after that, that will put it out etc.)
              I think this would be a very good argument that the Grama fails as a Grama and rather, is something that is completely controlled by humans and so maybe one can apply that to the kosher switch and hold that the Grama there fails because its something that can be reversed, repeated multiple times (none of the examples of the Grama in the talmud are something that could be reversed or repeated with ease).
              I do not, however, think that once could say “well, since it circumvents shabbos in my eyes its Zilzul” …..it just doesn’t work that way.
              In fairness to Rav Moshe, he clearly knew where this was going when he saw timers and maybe thats the phrase he used because he too couldn’t see the actual halachic issue but new that there was something wrong with it that needed Iyun.

              • Tur OC 315: and 495 were the ones i first thought of.

                Let me guess, you searched for “zilzul shabbos”, and therefore didn’t think of “lezalzel bah”, “mishum shemizalzelim” or the like. Or even zilzul in the context of melakhah on Yom Tov. Diqduq makes searching non-trivial.

                Also, you’d have to search for the contrapositive, laws passed mipenei kevod Shabbos.

                You are also implying thatl the latter acharonim you found are calling things “halakhah” that aren’t.

                Gerama isn’t valid. In the sense that short of major need, one can’t do it on Shabbos. If one rules that the KosherSwitch is gerama, then it can only be used in wheelchairs, hospitals and the like.

                • Thinker

                  1. I did not search “zilzul shabbos” but did various searches on the word and shoresh and indeed, I indicated in my note, that it comes up in the context of certain tefilot and Eiruv and that is where a few rishonim first talk of it but not many other places. Certainly not in the context of Gramas and I think that they had gramas back then…..

                  2. Zilzul is a concept of “making mockery” or contempt or making a joke or light of something, and that is why it comes up in tefila/brachos for a goy.

                  3. OC 315 of the Tur does not use the phraseology at all. It may be mentioned later as a description because 315 has to do with answering amein to a goy’s beracha because of avodat gilulim, so a good modern term description for this is Zilzul, but that is not the verbiage used in the Tur. Also, that has to do with using a WRONG kavanah of a goy and you can’t compare Gramas like this to that.

                  4. The Tur’s verbiage of “lezalzel bah” in 495 (finally, the one usage I see remotely related melachos shabbos and its actually Yom tov!! other than a few references in Choshen mishpat) has to do with Mukzah and why we are machmir in some respects on Shabbos and yom tov because it is too easy to make mistakes between what is permitted to cary in this context and what is not. Again, there is no countervailing heter mechanism here to deal with.

                  5. I stand as I started, that “Zilzul” in and of itself is not a halachah unless it is something that comes from geonim or the gemarah. it is too subjective. If “Zilzul” was a methodology to learn halachah, there would have been a Gemarah meseches zilzul that would teach how to determin when something is zilzul and when it is not- Zilzul Nidah, Zilzul Mamzeirus, Zilzul Avodah Zorah, etc. , and when it is not, and when, at exactly what point, a Grama reaches the point of Zilzul.
                  Is a heter Iska a Zilzul? sure sounds like one to me. So does mechirat chametz in the context of leaving all those expensive scotch whiskies in the cabinet. I know that there is a concept of mechiras chametz but why can we just outlaw it and call it “Zilzul” ? at what level does it become Zilzul (I don’t hold by mechirash chametz).

                  In the case of the Tur above for 495 there also wasn’t a competing heter, such as Grama, to contend with. If there were, the Tur would certainly have explained why we don’t use that heter and it would have explained more than simply “Zilzul” (in fact he does so and discusses how it is “Kal” to make the error)

                  6. In any event, when you have a sugya like Grama (or various of them since it does come up several times in the Gemarah) to contend with, you can not say “well, I don’t like putting jugs of water in the way of a fire or opening a door to later blow out a candle because even though those are Gramas, I happened to think they are zilzul.” To me, if you do that without explaining why the Grama DOESNT APPLY, then its like, chas veshalom, tearing out the page of gemarah that talks of Gramas.

                  In other words, I think you need to find a definition for Zilzul that makes a clear line between it and Grama such that it does not obviate or render useless the term “gramah” altogether.

                  As I indicated above, perhaps one could say that this switch is different then a timer or jugs in the forest because those are one time things that go on or off and can’t really be undone or controlled on shabbos. By contrast, perhaps there is a question altogether if the concept of Grama applies for something that can be undone on shabbos or done and undone repeatedly controlledon shabbos as that seems to be contrary to the way Grama was described in the gemarah and rishonim/acharonim.

                  But that is not “Zilzul” that is saying that the Grama system doesn’t work because it doesn’t satisfy the definition of Grama.

                  7. It is true that Grama is used in connection with tzorech/makom mitzvah. I think that those rabanim that did endorse use of the switch may have not specifically noted that for whatever reason.

                  At least one of the rabonim that accepted the switch held that electricity could be like R.S.Z.A, altogether and only be a derabanan. if it is, then use of a Grama switch won’t require a choleh, just makom mitzvah. You can also hold like the Baal Haitur and say that a goy can flip the kosher switch in a shul letzorich rabim bemakom mitzvah even if electricity is deoraisa. (which they do anyway on shabbos so the switch is not a huge chidush but at least makes it easier)

                  8. If you want, you can tell yourself that there is a concept of Zilzul in Halachah, but I think you are thinking more along the lines of halachas such as Zeh Keili V’Anveihu, and mitzvohs that related to kibud shabbos and the like.

                  9. I won’t argue the point of Zilzul with you. If you like you can write a sefer one day called “hilchos

                  Besoros tovos and yarshekoach.

          • Meir Zirkind

            If you read my post correctly you would not have had to write a whole sermon! I did not claim zilzul at all MB tried to put it into my mouth but I negate it with this (which you should have read and it would have saved you all the effort) ” to the public the word Zilzul Shabbos is very broad and ambiguous and many people take that to mean that it’s up to each person’s feelings to translate what is and what isn’t Zilzul” that is why I did not come from that angle at all!

            But while I’m at it I’ll respond to your allegations:

            #1 you write “If any of the rishonim or early acharonim came to your house this shabbat and saw refrigerators, shabbos ovens, hot plates, air conditioners, lights going on and off with timers and so on, they would say that THAT is ZILZUL IN THEIR EYES and would be utterly shocked!!!” -That is YOUR opinion so unless you can substantiate your claim I don’t have to respond.

            However, in all the above cases no one is doing an act ON Shabbos for the PURPOSE of a melacha to happen. I’ll explain, when I open my refrigerator my intention is the bottle of milk to drink and not for the compressor to go on or off but when someone switches on the kosherswitch his intention is solely for the purpose that the light goes on.
            #2 you write “In fairness, you never saw the chafetz chaim say “hmm… this electricity thing, if we bring it in to our homes it won’t look “Shabosdic” without candles” (He was well alive when electricity came to homes).

            Similarly, The Chazon Ish never for a moment said “Electricity? Light Bulbs? Light Switches? Fans? ZILZUL SHABBOS!!!” Same thing with other talmidei chachamim.” – again you make a claim that you can’t prove and state it as a undisputable fact! (How do you know for a fact that that thought never entered their mind?)

            #3 you write “take a look outside their homes at those big machines sitting on electric poles because they are constantly operating, turning on and off or increasing or decreasing electricity flow based on your and your neighbor’s usage.” – yes the operation is **based on your and your neighbor’s usage** but NOT because they put it on on Shabbos (this is similar to the Halacha that one is permitted to leave raw food on the stove before shabbos on a blech and it cooks -on its own- on shabbos. Whereas the kosherswitch would be more compared to the halacha of a person putting food on an oven (that heats up house) ON shabbos before the non-jew puts on the fire which is forbidden.

            Just answering….

            • Thinker

              Thank you Meir for proving my point.

              I’d request that you take a step back for a moment.

              My comment was not to you it was more generally, that too many people are crying “zilzul shabbos” without understanding that one can not simply point to a new technology in the 20th Century and yell “assur mishum zilzul” because if we did that, we would still be in horse drawn carriages and using candles. Moreover, with modern televisions, it is no longer possible to use a timer or switch like this to turn on TV’s or devices. Most that are saying “zilzul” are doing so with “20th century tunnel vision” in that they think that anything that isn’t they way they did it in the last 40 years is a sign that it must be assur on shabbos!! obviously, that is not the case. In addition, I do not know of anyone today, that can accurately say, what is and what is not “zilzul shabbos” as it is totally subjective.

              Also, “Zilzul shabbos” is not a psak in and of itself. It is not one of the 39 melachos – rather, it’s really the attitude you have towards keeping them.

              Said differently, what may be totally acceptable to you on shabbos would be completely unacceptable to me. Does that make it zilzul shabbos? I am sure that there are many who would walk into an average Jewish home, see TV or computer screen uncovered (even though it is off) and other devrei chol such as books and magazines and games on a coffee table or shelf, or see that not everyone is wearing a suit and tie, and scream “Zilzul Shabbos” at that!!

              It is for this reason, that no one legitimate “Psaks halachah” solely based on Zilzul shabbos. They usually combine it with other possible Issurim and explain their concerns. Even Rav. Oelbaum knew and understood, that “Zilzul” is not a Psak in and of itself, which is why he suggested people speak to their own Rav. Otherwise, he could have just said “Zilzul. Assur” Period.” He didn’t because he knows that paskening halachah isn’t that easy.

              With respect to the Chazon Ish and Chafets Chaim and others who had the opportunity to see electricity come to the home, none viewed it as “zilzul shabbos” and if it did enter their minds, then they were obviously Gedolim enough to know and understand that they can NOT be mesakein logical halachah based on that premise alone and based on the fact that they had lived their ENTIRE lives until that point where once the shabbos candles went out, it went dark for the rest of shabbos! This was an insanely “disruptive” technology for the Jews and the world- far more than the kosher switch or timers, and they did not react that way. In fact, I am certain it entered their minds and I am certain they kept it generally OUT of their Teshuvos on purpose (this is why Rav Moshe was a bit wishy washy with the timers….), because a true halachist, understands that you divorce yourself from all feeling, emotion and present outlook on life before writing a teshuva.

              As for the grid, if you think for one second electricity is like keeping a log on a stove from “before shabbos” you are deceiving yourself, probably for the purposes of convincing yourself that your halachic reasoning is sound.

              To begin with, electricity is kind of like water. There are other engineers here who can verify this for you. It is very similar to the concept of how cold water goes into your boiler (a kli rishon) to push hot water up which is why hot water is assur on shabbos-in order to use it you must make and pump more!!! The same goes for electricity. When you use it, more has to be manufactured on shabbos (or taken from storage) and “pumped” down the wires to your home. They know its you that is using it in fact, and send you a thank you note every month. They do not provide you with a discount for four days a month.

              Moreover, during times of off peak (like when your clocks go off), power companies power down the lines and store energy which involves multitudes of melachos deoraisa on your behalf on shabbos, so that it is available later on!! When they see that persons in a specific local are using more power (such as four people on a block whose shabbos clocks / AC Units were timed to come on when they got back from shul), I promise you, people are pushing buttons, transformers are being actuated, and melachos are being completed again, some possibly deoraisa and sometimes the people that work there are Jews.

              In other words, before you holler that “any self contained or automated switch is assur deorasia and zilzul” please understand that you LIVE in such a device. Its not a nice comfortable fire log that was “put there before shabbos and automatically burns itself out” like you would like to tell yourself. Rather, Its called the modern electric grid and it lives and reacts to everything that your particular house does.

              All of the teshuvas on this subject were premised on permitting electricity in an area and at a time where we as Jews occupied a small minority of towns or a particular grid within a town. By Contrast, today, if you live in parts of Flatbush, Borough Park, Five Towns, Flushing etc, you could be on a grid that is now 99% Jewish not 99% gentiles.Power systems back then also did not “react” to your particular usage in the way that it does today. The chachamim at the time used reasoning such as “we are not the rov” and psik reisha de lo nicha leh or “maybe electricity is derabanan” and combined those psaks, no matter how illogical, in order to bend over backwards to permit electricity. If you read any of those teshuvas, your head would spin with their logic and you would wonder how they did not call it “zilzul shabbos”. And yet, we all rely on them, don’t we?

              The same thing applies if your power goes out and the repair man comes and fixes the device on the poll…. he is doing so solely for the 10 or 15 Jews that live on the block, is he not? (Please don’t answer “tzorech rabim or pikuach nefesh unless you live in a shul or hospital).

              My point is, “Zilzul” is not a psak. My point is also that the question of electricity is clearly a debate that won’t “fuse out” very quickly but that has very good basis on both sides.

              • Zilzul Shabbos is indeed a pesaq. (You also missed my correcting your misdefinition of it.) Shows up in prohibitions in the Shulchan Arukh and everything. For example, circumventing hotza’ah by putting someone in a maqom petur, handing them something from a reshus hayachid and they putting it down in a reshus harabim.

                Intentionally circumventing Shabbos prohibitions in a manner that diminishes the Shabbos experience is itself prohibited. Really.

                • Thinker

                  It is ONLY a psak in connection with something else that would have to be a melachah. I.e. if you hold something is mutar then it is mutar and you can’t use Zilzul to get it to become assur. Also, it is used more by the R’ma and is kind of a chidush when used sometmimes. To the extent they used it, they are rishinim, and acharonim. We, today, have no ability to use “zilzul” because everything and anything can be said to be zilzul.

                  In other words, it is NOT a psak to say its “circumventing” a melachah because then you can say anything that is a Grama or shevut is zilzul. The Gemara never said “such and such is a grama, but don’t do it, because its zilzul” It simply doesn’t work that way and, as I indicated, in today’s time, it is EXTREMLY rare to see rabonim like the Tzits eliezer, Rav Moshe Feinstein or Rav OVadya Yosef or even Rav Shlomo Zalmon Aurbach, base an entire psak just on zilzul.

                  • What does that mean? That something can only be assur as zilzul Shabbos is only if it’s already assur as a melakhah? Similarly, if it’s a gerama or shevus, it’s assur already, and the concept of zilzul wouldn’t be necessary anyway.

                    Or are you saying that you do not believe when the Tur, Shulchan Arukh, Arukh haShulchan, Mishnah Berurah, Igeros Moshe or the like say something is assur because it’s zilzul Shabbos it’s really assur? Rare? How rare is rare? A dozen times in the MB isn’t enough? Once should be sufficient to prove the concept’s existence!

                    The concept of zilzul Shabbos is rather simple: Don’t turn Shabbos into chol by investing effort making a not-even-gerama device.

                    I asked about the applicability of the concept WRT electricity because there is no reason why something we lived with for only a century or less should be a defining feature of Shabbos. But you seem to be questioning the entire concept of zilzul Shabbos altogether.

                    As a side note: I added “Im tashiv miShabbos raglekha” (Yeshaiah 58:13-14) to the beginning of my Shabbos daytime qiddush about 6 months ago. (And, for the sake of my ADHD boys, removed my father’s addition of “Zakhor”. Our minhag was only veShomru and “Al Kein”.) These pesuqim discuss Shabbos as a day of rest (shevus), enjoyment (oneg) and qedushah, and therefore make a good counterpart to VeShomru’s obligation of melakhah and creation. Covers more unique bases than combining VeShomru and Zakhor.

                    I mention this because Im Tashiv discusses all those aspect of Shabbos that you talk like they aren’t really real.

                    • Thinker

                      They are real mishum minhag. They are not dinim derabanan or deoraisa.
                      If it weren’t then you would see something about Zilzul mentioned in the Gemarah and it is not.
                      The Rishonim do NOT talk much about zilzul as you suggested, you should re-read them.
                      Zilzul is the shabbos equivalent of saying “this food is 100% treif mishum safek dam, but in a hefsed its perfectly okay to eat it”
                      We say that too plenty of times in the Shulchan aruch. It is not a “din” derabanan in that respect because if it were you would not be able to use Hefsed to then eat it. Rather, we say the halachah is to keep the stringency unless there is a Hefsed.
                      Zilzul is the same concept to me, for shabbos. Its basically saying “this doesn’t look good to me, but I can’t be mesakein new derabanans”
                      If it were, then any Grama would, by defeinition, be Zilzul and you may as well through out, chas veshalom, the entire sugyas in talmud that discuss gramas because you can easily say that they are all “zilzul”.
                      As I said, check carefully your sources. Zilzul is not a psak (derabanan)

                    • Thinker

                      I did further research on “Zilzul” and looked at Rav Moshe’s psak again. Indeed he does NOT say “this is assur because it is zilzul shabbos” rather, he specifically says, quoting a question from his grandson and others, that “there is no GREATER zilzul shabbos than a timer because….” and then he gives several specific reasons as to why it is mechalel shabbos under halachah… he points to amira leakum and points to the rules of shelichut and also points to other issues that it presents.
                      His conclusion, is NOT contrary to what people say, that “this is assur because it is zilzul”
                      Rather, he says “this is Zilzul BECAUSE it is assur for the following various reasons”

                      You can not use “Zilzul” to say that someone is “circumventing” shabbos if the person is using a valid grama or shinui or what have you. You can say, as I indicated above, that the grama is invalid for whatever reason and therefore it is zilzul.

                      I hope you take a look at Rav moshe’s psak carefully and do not “psak” based on “zilzul” alone.

                • Thinker

                  is Zilzul a Derabanan or a deoraisa?
                  Can you show me where Zilzul is mentioned in the Gemarah?
                  Whouldn’t any Grama be deemed Zilzul then?
                  is there a sugya in Talmud I missed, called Hilchos Zilzul?
                  Is Zilzul used in any other area of Halachah?

                  Zilzul, on its own, is not a psak. Its mishum minhag only and not “Din” – We do not have power to be mesakein new Derabanans, so Zilzul is when certain rabanim saw something, weren’t sure where it fits in and said Zilzul.

                  Many areas in halacha have ways around the halachah… heter iska, Eiruv, Heter Mechira, michiras chometz…

              • Meir Zirkind

                Let me start out by saying that you write on the premise
                that you know it all and the other guy doesn’t know enough to even dare challenge your position, however that may not be the case!
                I quote, “To begin with, electricity is kind of like water. There are other engineers here who can verify this for you. It is very similar to the concept of how cold water goes into your boiler (a kli rishon) to push hot water up which is why hot water is Assur on Shabbos-in order to use it you must make and pump more!!!”
                That is pure rubbish, because if that was so, then we
                couldn’t use COLD water either! The problem with the boiler is that when you turn on the hot water the cold water that enters is going to cook in there (otherwise known as Bishul Beshabbos)!
                After all the ranting and assuming you know all the Heteirim out there you conclude “The same thing applies if your power goes out and the repair man comes and fixes the device on the poll…. he is doing so solely for the 10 or 15 Jews that live on the block, is he not? (Please don’t answer “tzorech rabim or pikuach nefesh unless you live in a shul or hospital).”
                You either forgot or purposely left out a major factor in
                all this, namely, when the non-Jew presses buttons etc. he is NOT doing so for the Jew he’s doing it Al Daas Atzmoi to get his paycheck, in addition it’s a Shvus Deshvus if the head foreman (or dispatcher) sent the worker and did not go himself.
                I quote, “In other words, before you holler that “any self contained or automated switch is assur deorasia and zilzul” please understand that you LIVE in such a device.”
                You don’t seem to “get it”, I do nothing on Shabbos (itself) with the intention that a Melacha be done by anyone or anything, in contrast to the so-called kosherswitch, the person personally does an act with the full intent that the Melacha gets done.

                • Thinker

                  Usage of Electricity, much like usage of hot water at home which goes into the kli rishon to be cooked, DOES have to be manufactured (usually by burning wood or gas) and then pushed to your home, and your usage of electricity, much like using hot water, CAUSES DIRECTLY the generation and pumping of more electricity to your home. In other words, you and your neighbor’s shabbos clock goes off, and the generator at the plant starts cooking.

                  If you think that the worker is doing it “Al Das Atzmoi” to get his paycheck is an answer then we can all just hire a goy to do stuff for us and then we can all say that they are doing it “Al Das Atzmoi” because he is not doing it for us, but rather, he is doing it for his paycheck.
                  My point on that was, that when the “Al Das Atzmo” psakim came out, indeed it WAS AL Das Atzmoi, because Jews were nothing in America…. a small percentage of a town etc. But when the gentile (or sometimes a Jewish worker!!!) knows he is in a Jewish area (like when he comes to your home) and knows that the actions he is doing is going to benefit your home (which is EXACTLY the case in Flatbush, Boro Park, Five Towns, KGH, Lakewood, etc.) then it is no different whatsoever than hiring a shabbos goy to do work for a Jew. It is for this reason that neighborhoods in israel have now shifted away from a general generator and are creing paradigms to avoid that. It is a huge issue and “Al Das Atzmo” doesn’t work anymore when the goy knows its benefiting a Jew.
                  Would you let a gentile who was being paid by the State you live in, come to your home and turn on lights for you? What makes you think when he is working outside it is any different?

                  Lastly, when you say that you don’t do anything with the Intention of the melacha to be done by anyone on shabbos, my point to you, if you use timers or what have you, is that indeed YOU DO. Rather, you simply fail to see that the electricity being generated behind closed doors in order to pump it to your house is exactly the same as hot water usage in your home which causes more cold water to flow into your kli rishon in the basement!!!
                  You just don’t want to “admit” that to be the case because you will find halachic ramifications to it. But I assure you, Electricity is NOT like cold water!!!!!!!
                  Its being manufactured. Its being delivered. and its being done because you are using it.

      • ssvarc

        R’ Oelbaum doesn’t express any opinion as to if it is zilzul. He states that one should ask his personal Rav. To categorically write that his position is “that its use … would be zilzul” is misleading to say the least.

        • Actually, he did, via his son. (Which you could have seen in the Avodah discussion.) In a YWN chatroom, of all places, but I confirmed it’s really him. The post reads:

          Rabbi Noach Isaac Oelbaum’s true position on kosher switch .

          I regret that my father’s position on kosher switch was misrepresented
          by stating that he endorses it l’maaseh . His position is that there are
          2 aspects in hilchos shabbos. One is issur melacha and then there is
          zilzul shabbos. My father’s opinion is that there is no issur melacha or
          chilul shabbos. However , there is a concern about zilzul shabbos as he
          stated clearly on the video. Before it is used one should ask a shaila
          from his rav.

          Moshe Oelbaum

          Son of Rabbi N I Oelbaum
          —————————————————
          His advice in the talk on KSTI’s web site lacks halachic jargon, but given this clarification, he appears to be saying that since it’s zilzul, one should ask one’s LOR whether their need is extenuating circumstances.

          But in either case, what I was saying “clearly runs counter to their intent” is that when you click the link that says “Approbation: transcript” you see him saying, “ask your own Rav regarding the actual, practical usage” — not an actual approbation.

          • ssvarc

            Actually, he doesn’t. I saw the video, read the statement, well before this was raised on Avodah (which I avoid, due to the biased censoring of posts by its sole moderator).

            He says that there is a concern regarding zilzul, and therefore one should ask their own Rav. Thus, I repeat, to state that R’ Oelbaum holds that “that its use … would be zilzul” is misleading.

            • I’m glad you know what R’ Oelbaum meant more than R’ Oelbaum did when he spoke to his son.

              • ssvarc

                One can watch the video themselves, and read the words of the statement. Or one can listen to relatively anonymous people on the Internet.

                • As you may have seen on Avodah, I demanded verification that it was really him too. But received it.

                  • ssvarc

                    For a point that was never in doubt for someone who watched the video. As I have done.

                    But here you are going beyond both the video and the statement which say there is a concern, ask your Rav, and are stating that R’ Oelbaum hold definitively that it is zilzul.

                    • Are you kidding me? YOU argued that I needn’t have demanded authentication!!!!
                      http://article.gmane.org/gmane.culture.religion.jewish.avodah/35633

                      The statement says “there is a concern about zilzul shabbos as he stated clearly on the video”.

                    • ssvarc

                      Actually, no, I didn’t. Just as above, I said that the video authenticates the the statement, not that one who has only read the statement on the Internet wouldn’t need or demand authentication.

                      So, yes, the statement does say, “there is a concern about zilzul shabbos as he stated clearly on the video”. And it says, “Before it is used one should ask a shaila from his Rav”.

                      Which is precisely why saying that R’ Oelbaum holds that it is definitively zilzul is misleading.

  • JJ

    1. The examples for Grama given, extinguishing fire, winnowing wheat, entail isurei d’araita. Isn’t grama for something that is only d’rabanon generally not asur?

  • stealthman5

    One better be extra extra careful that any fixture that is a load on this switch is fluorescent and not incandescent. People will often have incandescent bulbs in a ceiling fan fixture mixed with fluorescent bulbs. Since it is seems to be the difference as to whether flipping the switch is D’Oraita or D’Rabbanan, one must be extra extra careful that it is 100% fluorescent. .

    • I taught Electrical Engineering in Polytechnic University (now part of NYU) in the last 1980s. Admittedly digital circuits and compute design, not this neck of the field, but it does establish why I think I know something about electronics — it was my field of study in college and grad school, and I knew it well enough to get a job.

      Thinking that fluorescent bulbs are less problematic than incandescent ones is based on not knowing how fluorescent bulbs work. See my comment from yesterday on the subject. And here is a useful illustraction: http://www.edisontechcenter.org/lighting/Fluorescent/CathodeAnodeIonized-800.jpg (Note the glowing filaments serving as electrodes, and the conversion from liquid to vaporized mercury.) The problems are actually worse, even though you’re not using the light of the glowing metal directly.

      You would have to use LEDs to eliminate problems of cooking and possibly igniting a fire.

  • Emmanuel

    My question is : isn’t it Muktse ? I mean, if those who defend the kosher switch say : “you are juste moving a piece of plastic”… Then isn’t it forbidden to touch it during Shabbat ?

    • Well, what would make it muqtzah? Unusability for Shabbos. So, if the function is permitted, the plastic in the switch wouldn’t be muqtzah, and if it is prohibited, muqtzah isn’t your biggest problem.

      • Thinker

        Interesting catch 22. I think what Emmanuel is saying is interesting on Muktzeh.
        He is basically saying, if you hold that the switch “doesn’t do anything” or is an “un-Geramah” as do its inventors, and that it is a non-melachah because it has no significance, then shouldn’t it be deemed mukzah from a halachic standpoint because it doesn’t do anything on shabbat?

        Conversely, if you hold that it DOES do something, i.e. if you hold halachically that it indirectly provides a method for turning on a light, then it wouldn’t be “muckzah” but rather, you would be making the admission that it is assur because of the function that it DOES do? i.e., the fact that its inventor says “it does nothing” is what makes it mukzah.

        Kind of clever… not sure that the halachah of Muktzah quite works that way but it is an interesting thought he has.

  • Yosef

    One interesting thing to note: the word random when referred to by act of communication between the emitter and receiver. The idea of using the concept of randomness between two digital devices as a pillar to its “heter” is a poor idea. Why? There is no such thing as a true random number generator on any digital device (unless the device has a sensor connected to a radioactive isotope). That is, all “random” numbers generated by a device are pseudo-random and are always deterministic. Any programmer can tell you that random numbers generaters started with the same initial conditions will always generate the same sequences of numbers. The fact that the kosher switch or any similar uses such a pseudorandom number generator to generate a “random” pulse is not something which should be used to allow its permissibility.

    • YOu don’t really need randomness, you need unpredictability. After all, it has to do with the motivation for flipping the switch, for which a pseudorandom number generator is just as “I dunno” as real randomness.

      (I also wonder if the texbook case, the presence or absence of a wind within the next hour or so, is also truly random.)

      • Thinker

        R. Berger, you are right. You need unpredictability and this switch is quite predictible as the programming is such that it keeps trying, Moreover, I don’t think you can compare this to the “wind” or “fire” which are forces of nature that have some level (even a mashehu or kol shehu) of true unpredictability.
        This device is nothing more than a robot that 1)checks if you left a siman, and then 2) runs its fully integrated internal program until it receives permission to effectuate that program. Unlike a clock, you are leaving the “siman” for the internal “eye” on shabbat. If this were an animal, everyone would say, you can’t train an animal to do the melacha for you on shabbat and if it were a gentile, everyone would say you can’t rely on leaving a “marker” out for the goy to come into your house and open your light for you and leave. I am not sure you can compare this switch therefore to a proper “grama” that is based on nature. I also am not sure that it doesn’t somehow fail under the reasoning that amira leakum is assur because the gentile (or animal you trained) becomes an “extension” of your arm or that it is your agent somehow.
        At most the grama aspect, I believe, constitutes one shevus here and so the Doraisa drops down to a Derabanan (Maybe) but I don’t see getting around this by saying its not a robot of sorts that checks your sign and then effectuates it.

        • Rav SZ Auerbach rules that Machon Zomet’s Gerama Switch is indeed gerama. The inventor of the KosherSwitch tried to make something halachically further from Shabbos violation than the Gerama Switch was, but even according to the responsa on his web site, he failed. Those who permit the KosherSwitch do so for reasons that would permit the Gerama Switch as well.

          So I think that in R’ SZ Auerbach’s opinion KosherSwitch would be usable for patients or in other cases of severe need. Which is what R’ Neuwirth said in the line that got presented as a blanket endorsement. (It simply never crossed R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth’s mind that he was being asked about an electrical switch for general usage, and presumed he was endorsing the development of a medical device.) R’ Rosen’s presentation of these clarifications as “retractions” may or may not be valid in other cases. But R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth, author of Shemiras Shabbos keHilkhasah, is a solid student of R’ Auerbach and consistently follows his pesaq. Including presenting Rav Auerbach’s Grama Switch ruling in his book. And so this clarification came as no surprise; it was the claim that he gave a blanket endorsement that surprised.

          • Thinker

            as I indicated, at MOST it drops the doraisa down to a Derabanan and permits letzorech mitvah with a shevut or for a choleh, not stam, even under Rav Aurbach. I still don’t see much of a difference between this switch, and a robot that essentially checks whether you left a siman around and then if it sees it, goes and opens a switch for you.
            SImilarly, you can not “Train” an animal to do a melacha doraisa for you either on Shabbat. That is my point…
            I am aware of Tzomet’s devices, and I don’t think they looked at it either from this prospective.
            Frankly, for all their devices, anyhow, they say it can only be used for a choleh sheyesh bo sakanah or safek sakanah (which in most cases won’t require a switch anyway if a goy is around), or letzorech rabim together with mitzvah (which the Baal Haitur allowed anyway, so you don’t really need a switch for that),

  • Shlomo2

    There are two issues with Kosher Switch, perhaps inseparable — perhaps not.

    Issue # 1 is their marketing campaign. Issue #2 is Hilkhot Shabbat.

    Although I can sympathize with why issue # 2 must be dealt with independent of how one feels about issue # 1, I will address only issue #1, as I believe it is the primary reason for the strong counter-reaction.

    The marketing says that this is something without problem, a boon to every Jewish home, and has much Rabbinic support. Problem is that the wide Rabbinnic support (to the extent it exists) was generally for use ONLY in situations of great need — and by almost all accounts that is the way it was presented to most of these Rabbonim in the first place.

    Most prominent of these Rabbonim was Rav Neuwirth. His signature was a gold mine for the marketers and gave them tremendous credibility, allowing them to then solicit additional approvals. However, when Rav Neuwirth was informed as to how the item was being marketed and how his signature was being used, he requested that they stop using his name and that they make clear that he never intended to allow it for such purposes. That request was refused.

    Although the marketers do allude to the fact that not every endorsement is a full endorsement, I would venture to guess that very view consumers would take the time to investigate each endorsement and realize that practically NONE of the Rabbonim endorse it for what it’s marketed for — a no-problem device that will enhance the Shabbat in EVERY Jewsish home.

    Rav Ben Chaim’s video, the latest one from Kosher Switch, does not address the fundamental issue of consumers and Rabbonim being misled. It happens that Rav Ben Chaim seemingly makes a fundamental mistake relating to Hilkhot Shabbat as well (a very crucial one), but that is beyond the scope of this comment. (As does another endorser, a Rav Israeli, he says that Battei Kenneset are relying upon amira l’akum for a d’Oraitta when asking that overhead lights be turned on and off, when it is actually shevut d’shevut, given that the bulbs are not incandescent.)

    Accordingly there has been a strong reaction against a campaign that seems to heavily rely upon deception at every stage.

    This is why we do not have a calm and reasoned discussion that is limited to Hilkhot SHabbat.

    • Thinker

      You are 100% incorrect on this statement:
      As does another endorser, a Rav Israeli, he says that Battei Kenneset are relying upon amira l’akum for a d’Oraitta when asking that overhead lights be turned on and off, when it is actually shevut d’shevut, given that the bulbs are not incandescent.

      Rather, they are relying on a Deoraita since the Baal Haitur says explicitly that one shevut (like Amira LAkum) is permitted when you have BOTH TOGETHER of tzorech rabim AND Makom Mitzvah.
      If what you were saying about fluorescent being not incandescence, I have yet to see a single shitah that says that this is the case and would constitute shevut.
      If it were, then ANYONE at home with florescent could tell a gentile to open your LED or Fluorescent lights in a makom miztvah and no one allows this that I know of (again, aside for cholim etc.).

      • Michoel

        What about turning off a florescent or LED?

        What about turning on a CFL or LED?

        http://www.zomet.org.il/eng/?CategoryID=199&ArticleID=216

        http://www.zomet.org.il/eng/?CategoryID=199&ArticleID=215

        • You would need to make sure the CFLs had electronic (EL), non-heating, ignition. So only a subset of CFLs would be less problematic than incandescent bulbs. Shuls don’t usually use CFLs of any sort, they use large fluorescent tubes that require old-style tech. Which, as per my earlier post, is *MORE* problematic than incandescent bulbs. (As the heat the filaments generate is desired, it is used to boil mercury. So, if glowing metal is bishul, it’s not even pesiq reishei. Whereas the bishul of an incandescent filament is lo nicha lei — the only effect of the cooking is that the bulb eventually blows.)

          • Thinker

            In any event, completion of the circuit is Deoraisa and that usually the halachic problem poskim all run into.
            People forget that…
            I am still trying to see the difference between this device and Amira Le’Akum, or, this device and a Robot that reads pre-printed signs you leave around the house and then effectuates the actions on those signs.
            Its the same thing really which is why I have a problem with this.

            I am also not sure that you can compare the Artificial Intellegence of a computer which keeps trying until it succeeds, with the concept of wind which, even if its .000001% chance, it could still be an intervening factor. The wind/forest fire argument of Sanhedrin and the Mishna Berurah are quite different than controlled electricity running through a closed circut with a “robot” that will eventually turn it on once it solves the algorithm.

            As I posted elsewhere here, the truth is, that The Chazon Ish and others defined electricity as “boneh” or “Molid” but did so in away that made those melachos a “concept” and not an act (i.e. the concept of completion of a circut and creating light, regardless of whether it is done by connecting two physical wires together). In actuality, I do not know any of the other 38 melachos that are treated as a “concept” (perhaps Zoereyah, although maybe that would be a “process” involving several acts and a few days to take root…. )

            When you approach electricity as a “concept” and not an “act” then, by definition, all the Grama or similar products become not permitted.

            This issue, I believe, needs Iyun.

            • Including, whether the completion of a circuit is indeed deOraisa. R SZ Auerbach concluded it was derabbanan, after ruling out each of the possibilities, including the Chazon Ish’s. http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/english/journal/broyde_1.htm has a nice survey, except where he underplays RSZA’s position.

              I also wonder how the Chazon Ish invoked “boneh”. (Makeh bepatish and molid seem more likely to my mind.) The best I can come up with would require talking about plugging into the AC, so that one is building upon the ground. And thus not a battery powered appliance. OTOH, converting milk to cheese is boneh, so the parameters of boneh isn’t always obvious.

              • Thinker

                1- Regardless of the survey, I think that most simply view it today as Deoraisa and if you say its not Deoraisa then you don’t need this switch altogether, just go ahead and tell a goy and you don’t even have to hint it really!!! and in a shul you wouldn’t even need that much!!! I think Rav Aharon Walkin and others also held it was derabanan… not sure but I am aware there is a list. Nonetheless, everyone today holds it is deoraisa so its a moot argument…(now if we can argue its a safek deoraisa because it has SOME features of the melachah but not all….that would be a great argument for those who hold like the rambam that Safek Deoraisa is a derabanan)

                2- As I indicated elsewhere….the melachah of Electricity, by rov poskim today, is NOT treated like a “physical act” but rather, like a “concept” i.e. the creation of something new or completion of an action. In these contexts and definitions, there is no “grama” or similar concept that would help because “gerama” is a way to get around the “act” and the poskim don’t care about the “act” they care about the “outcome” and net results and then work backwards to see what the process was to complete those results. Right or wrong, its just the way it is.

                3- If we held electricity was de’rabanan, we would be able to solve all our problems because already, it is manufactured and sent to our homes by gentiles which in and of itself is kind of like “Amira le’akum” or deriving benefit from a gentile’s actions when the actions weren’t intended for us (again, I would love to see someone say that is the case in today’s Jewish world where entire sub grids are occupied by Jews, but that is another story!!!), so for our further activities in the home it would probably be mutar altogether!! For the reasons that be, we just don’t hold like that….

                • Michoel

                  RSZA held that completing a circuit is not even a derabbanan, as far as I understand.

                  His concern was the appliance, not the circuit.

                  Didn’t he compare flipping a switch to turning a faucet, that facilitating the flow of electrons was no different than facilitating the flow of water?

                  According to him, would there be any issur in flipping a switch that allowed electricity to flow to an outlet, now making it “live” (assuming no appliance was connected to the outlet)?

                  In other words, according to him, there is no issue in electricity per se, as far as I know.

                  What matters is whether an appliance is attached at the other end and will then go “live.”

                  • Thinker

                    It could be and he is probably 100% correct. But halachah does not and has never worked like that. Right now, the vast Rov Poskim hold that it is Deoraisa to complete a circuit under various melachos. If we held like Rav Shlomo zalman (which again, he is NOT The only one… many hold like him) then most of these devices would have been perfectly okay 20 years ago…..

                    • Michoel

                      Thinker: Do you send out autographed pictures?

                      It would be my honor to have the autographed picture of someone who understands better than RSZA how halacha works and has always worked!

              • Michoel

                RSZA held that completing a circuit is derabbanan?

                I thought his concern was the appliance, not the circuit.

                Didn’t he compare flipping a switch to turning a faucet, that facilitating the flow of electrons was no different than facilitating the flow of water?

                According to him, would there be any issur in flipping a switch that allowed electricity to flow to an outlet, now making it “live” (assuming no appliance was connected to the outlet)?

          • MarkSoFla

            Doesn’t mercury boil at something like 600F? If it’s so hot, how do they keep those bulbs so cool? Is it because the pressure is low enough to reduce the boiling point of the mercury? Still I think it would be pretty hot to the touch.

        • Thinker

          Food Question. There are two SEPERATE (and maybe multiple more) halachos deoraisa here.
          1. The actual completion of a circuit, REGARDLESS of whether the light or whatever is “fire” is deemed a deoraisa melacha by most poskim. (Boneh, Molid etc.)
          2. Even then, many poskim are still holding that Florescent and LEDs are still, in and of themselves, deoriasa and not halachically different from incandescent bulbs. There may be a minority that say otherwise, but I think most tend to say it is the same.

          To the extent that Tzomet says “from the halachic point of view, this second type of bulb is preferred since according to most rabbis lighting them only violates a rabbinical degree” does not change the fact that getting current to them is still deoraisa! moreover, it is not a “conclusive holding” that LED and Fluorescent ARE d’rabanan, but rather, they are advising that its the lesser of two evils because at least with these lights you have some poskim that say its better… but it still doesn’t fix the issue of completing a circuit.

          Keep in mind, when paskening halachah we do NOT use “modern” logic. We use “halachic” logic. The two, as any talmid chacham can tell you better than I, are not always the same.

          I think many people don’t understand that, the way the Chazon Ish and others interpreted completion of a circut it is NOT a physical act like choreish or zoereyah or bishul. Rather, they seem to have viewed it as a “Concept” – i.e. completion of an action no matter how accomplished, or molid, which is “the creation” of something new.

          This is, in my opinion, an area of halachah that needs far more investigation because until now, no one has asked how come we are treating electricity like a concept and the other 38 melachos like a physical action…..
          I would love to see teshuvas on this.

  • Ballzo

    Jesus Christ, Jews!