Electricity on Shabbat

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Using Electric Appliances

  1. It is forbidden to turn on any electric device whether it is plugged into the wall or runs on batteries. [1]
  2. According to many poskim it is Biblically forbidden to turn on an incandescent and fluorescent light bulb. However, if one needs to turn on a light for someone who is mortally sick (see Medicine on Shabbat) one should turn on a fluorescent instead of an incandescent light bulb. [2]
  3. According to many poskim it is Biblically forbidden to turn on oven or warming plate. [3]
  4. In Israel, the widespread minhag is to leave electric appliances running on Shabbat even though the electric companies are run by Jews who violate Shabbat. [4]
  5. It is forbidden to turn off or dim an electric light. [5]
  6. It is forbidden to turn off any electric appliance. [6]
  7. It is forbidden to pick up a phone off the receiver, speak on a phone, or return the phone to the receiver on Shabbat. [7]
  8. Some say it is a good practice to unplug the phone before Shabbat so that if someone calls on Shabbat one won't hear it ring. [8]
  9. Someone who's hard of hearing may use a hearing aid which was turned off before Shabbat. It's proper to attached a piece of scotch tape on the button so one doesn't come to turn it off on Shabbat. [9]
  10. It is forbidden to speak into a tape recorder even if the recorder was turned on before Shabbat. [10]
  11. It is permitted to use an electric blanket on shabbat, provided one does not move the knob that adjusts it. It is proper to place scotch tape on top of the knob in order to prevent oneself from accidentally adjusting the blanket on shabbat. [11]
  12. It is forbidden to press an electric doorbell on Shabbat. [12]
  13. Only elderly and sick people shold use shabbat elevators [13]
  14. It is forbidden to use a regular elevator on Shabbat. Some allow using a 'Shabbat elevator' which stops at every floor, while others forbid, and some say one may go up in the Shabbat elevator but not down. It is forbidden to touch the elevator doors when they are closing. [14]
  15. Some poskim permit opening a refrigerator door only when the motor already is running, while many poskim hold that one may open the door even if the motor is off. [15] If one forgot to disable the light he is permitted to ask a gentile to open or close the refrigerator for him. [16]
  16. Some poskim permit walking in an area where a motion sensor will turn on a light provided that one does not intend to turn on the light if there’s no other way to walk. [17]
  17. Many poskim permit walking in an area where there surveillance cameras will capture a person’s image as long as he does not intend to be recorded. [18]
  18. Many poskim permit using an electrical automatic toilet if no other toilet is available. [19]

Setting timers before Shabbat

  1. It is permitted before Shabbat to set a timer for lights or other electric appliances to go on or off on Shabbat.[20]
  2. One may set an alarm clock before Shabbat even though it will make noise on Shabbat. [21] See Making music on Shabbat.
  3. Some forbid leaving a digital photo frame which presents a slideshow of pictures set from before Shabbat to continue during Shabbat. [22]
  4. It is forbidden to set a timer before shabbat to automatically operate a dishwasher on shabbat. [23]

Sending email on Friday

  1. Strictly speaking it is permissible to send an email on Friday afternoon from America to Israel when it is already Shabbat in Israel or on Saturday night from New York to California where it still is Shabbat but it's praiseworthy to avoid it. [24]However, one may not send it to a non-observant Jew who may look at it on Shabbat. [25]

Reading by candle light versus light bulb

  1. One isn’t allowed to read by a candle (wick in oil) on Shabbat because there is Gezerah that one will come to tilt the wick. [26]
  2. There is a dispute whether the Gezerah applies to a kerosene lamp. Thus, if one wants to read by a kerosene lamp on Shabbat, one should make a recognizable sign that says “Today is Shabbat” to remind oneself no to fix the lamp on Shabbat in order to satisfy all opinions. [27]
  3. One is permitted to read by wax candles [28]
  4. One is permitted to read by electric lights. [29]

Using a light bulb for Shabbat Candles and Havdala

  1. Common consensus among the halachic authorities is to consider electricity as fire for the purpose of Shabbat observance. Just as lighting a fire is a Biblical violation of Shabbat, so too is the flipping of a switch which turns on a light.[30]As such, many families are particular to place a covering over the light switches in the home in order to ensure that they are not switched on or off accidentally over the course of Shabbat.[31]
  2. This concept has broad halachic ramifications and applications. For example, in the unfortunate event that a woman is without candles on a Friday afternoon, she may be permitted to simply turn on the common electric lighting that normally lights up the home and even recite the usual blessing over this "lighting".[32] This is because the light bulbs essentially accomplish the role[33] that the traditional Shabbat candles are intended to serve.[34] The electric lights actually become the Shabbat candles and one will discharge one's Shabbat candle lighting obligations with them. While such an approach should never be relied upon in normal circumstances, it is permissible in extenuating ones. Some authorities suggest that when making use of electric lights for one's Shabbat candles the accompanying blessing should be omitted.[35]
  3. If one is forced to use the electric lights in one's home as the Shabbat candles they should be shut off momentarily and then turned back on in order for them to now be designated as the Shabbat "candles".[36] Indeed, every week before the lady of the house lights her Shabbat candles, she should momentarily turn off the household lights and then turn on them back on. When she makes her blessing over the candles she should have in mind that her blessing include the electric lights as well which will also be providing light over the course of Shabbat.[37] Those who are forced to use the electric lights instead of candles should endeavor to turn on even those lights which are not normally used in order for there to be some distinction that the electric lights are in honor of Shabbat.[38] Even a desktop light could be used for this purpose.
  4. The issues are essentially the same with regards to Havdala and one may use an electric light in place of a Havdala candle in a time of need.[39] In fact, it is reported that Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky would always use an electric bulb for Havdala in order to demonstrate how strongly he felt that electricity is to be treated exactly like fire from the perspective of halacha.[40]
  5. Nevertheless, there are those authorities who discourage the use of an electric light for Havdala. Among their opposition to is the fact that the blessing recited upon the Havdala candle includes the word "fire" which seems to imply the need for actual fire, not merely light. As such a light bulb would not be acceptable according to this view.[41] Even among the authorities who permit the use of electric lighting when needed many would disqualify the use of fluorescent bulbs as they work differently than standard light bulbs.[42]

Static Electricity

  1. According to most poskim, the unintentional creation of static electricity from clothes is not a halachic problem. [43]

Yom Tov

  1. Most poskim agree that turning on or off an incandescent light on Yom Tov is forbidden rabbinically. Although in the past some poskim permitted turning on lights on Yom Tov, it was based on an incorrect assumption. Thus, the accepted minhag is to follow the poskim who say that it's forbidden. [44]

Credits

  1. Special thanks to Rabbi Ari Enkin author of the Amot Shel Halacha series for his contribution to this article. If you would like to purchase his books please click here.
  2. A few halachot on this page are derived from the Halachiedia Article Issue 25 - Electronics on Shabbat.

Sources

  1. Menuchat Ahava 24:2 holds that the prohibition involved is that by completing the circuit one creates an electric current in the wire like there is a prohibition to create a fire (Molid) on Shabbat.
    • There's is a lengthy discussion about which melacha is involved when using electricity. One suggestion is that it is a violation of Mavir (Lighting a fire). See a very interesting comparison of Rav Henkin (Edut LeYisrael p. 151) who seems to compare an electric current to movement of electrons when a person starts to walk or hits a piece of metal and says that’s not called a fire unless the fire is visible. Rabbi Yitzchak Schmelkes Beit Yitzchak Hashmatot to YD 2:31, says that completing a circuit constitutes a rabbinic violation of molid. In Beitza 23a the gemara prohibits one from adding scent to a garment because of molid. Similarly, the Beit Yitzchak argues, introducing electricity into a device is molid. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Minchat Shlomo 1:9 says that the two are different because adding a scent to a garment is adding something to it, that it never had before. Electricity on the other hand was put into this device to be activated and deactivated often. Rav Shlomo Zalman concludes that even without light, the halachic precedent has been established to be concerned for a rabbinic prohibition with the activation of electric device. The Chazon Ish OC 50:9, rules that completing a circuit constitutes a violation of the melacha of boneh, building and deactivating a device by opening the circuit would constitute a violation of soter, destroying. Another possibility raised by Heichal Yitzchak 43 is the prohibition of makeh bepatish, delivering the final blow, completing any item in a way that now renders it beneficial.
  2. Menuchat Ahava 24:3-4. Incandescent bulbs and halogen bulbs contain filaments that can get extremely hot. The Gemara Shabbat 42a, discusses the concept of gachelet shel matechet, a glowing hot piece of metal. The Avnei Nezer OC 229 based on the gemara in shabbat 42a says that according to most Rishonim, heating a piece of metal to the point that it is glowing hot is a biblical violation of havarah, kindling. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in Minchat Shlomo 1:12, says that since turning on an incandescent bulb ignites a glowing hot metal filament, it would be in violation of havarah from the torah.
  3. Menuchat Ahava 24:3
  4. Menuchat Ahava 24:1
  5. While Melamed Lehoil OC 49, Kuntres Gorem HaMalot 185, Maharsham 2:146, Minchat Shlomo pages 85-88 and pages 107-109, Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchatah 13:1 all say this prohibition is rabbinic and this is the conclusion by Rabbi Jachter and Rabbi Broyde, Machaze Avarham OC 41 and Beit Yitzchak Hashmatot YD 2:31:8 say it is a violation from the torah and this possibility is also raised by Rav Shlomo Zalman.
  6. Menuchat Ahava 24:5
  7. Menuchat Ahava 24:6,8,9.
    • Lifting the Phone
    In addition to the problems of circuits or the problem of a light flashing when lifting the phone, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Halperin in Maaseh Choshev 1:60 argues that starting the dial tone violates the rabbinic prohibition of making a noise, or hashma'at kol.
    • Dialing
    In addition to the problem of circuits being built by dialing a phone, Rabbi Benzion Meir Chai Uziel Mishpatei Uziel 1:13 writes one violates makeh bipatish, delivering the final blow but Chacham Ovadia Yosef in Sh"t Yabia Omer 1:20 disagrees because the phone is a functional object even before one dials. Rabbi Yitzchak Schmelkes Beit Yitzchak Hashmatot YD 2:31 and Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski Achiezer 4:6 say that one violates the rabbinic prohibition of making a noise, hashmaat kol, in the place where the phone rings. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Minchat Shlomo pages 75 and 76 argues that maybe since this is indirect and rabbinic one may be lenient. In the Sinai 5705 journal page 152 he argues that since the noise is made in another's house it is possible that the rabbinic prohibition doesn't apply at all because you would never come to fix the object in someone else's house.
    • Talking into the Phone
    Rabbi Yitzchak Schmelkes Beit Yitzchak Hashmatot YD 2:31 asserts that talking into the phone is also a problem of making a noise, or hashmaat kol. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Minchat Shlomo page 67 and Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg Tzitz Eliezer 1:20:10 both disagree based on the Rama 338:1 where he rules that the prohibition of making a noise doesn't apply when this is done through a human voice. Since talking into the phone increases the electrical current being used, Rabbi Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss Minchat Yitzchak 3:38 and 3:60 prohibits based on that. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach MInchat Shlomo page 110 says the increase in current is not a problem in appliances where heat is not created
  8. Menuchat Ahava 24:10
  9. Menuchat Ahava 24:11, Sh"t Yabia Omer 1:19(19), Minchat Yitzchak 2:17-8, 3:41, Minchat Shlomo 1:9, Tzitz Eliezer 6:6, Shemirat Shabbat Kihilchita 34:28
  10. Menuchat Ahava 24:13, Yechave Da'at 2.57
  11. Igrot Moshe 3.50, Menuchat Ahava 1.24.37, Yechave Da'at 2.49
  12. Menuchat Ahava 24:14
  13. Or Letzion 2.47.36
  14. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 23:29 permits uses a Shabbat elevator on Shabbat. Sefer Maliyot BeShabbat (chapters 1 and 7) holds that one may go up in the elevator but not down. Menuchat Ahava 24:15-6 concludes that one shouldn't use the Shabbat elevator to go up or down unless there is a great need in which case he is lenient to allow going up in the Shabbat elevator. Rav Yosef Henkin (Edut LeYisrael p. 121) rules that for someone who's weak to do a mitzvah such as daven with a minyan, one can be lenient to use an elevator on Shabbat as long as the non-jew is the one who presses the button and not a Jew. He then says one doesn't need to protest someone who is lenient if the non-Jew is pressing the button, but a pious person (baal nefesh) would be strict.
    • Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Minchat Shlomo 1:10) permits opening the refrigerator at any time because completing the circuit to run a motor may not involve any melacha at all, and even if it is, it is permitted because it is grama. He says that he’s not sure that it should be considered a psik reisha d’lo nicha lei as one doesn’t want the hot air to cause the motor to run sooner, because one also does want the motor to run so that the food doesn’t spoil. Tzitz Eliezer 8:12:4, 12:92, Rav Moshe Feinstein (quoted by The Shabbos Home vol 2, p. 482; see, however, Igrot Moshe 2:68), Rabbi Mordechai Willig (“Halacha Engages Modernity Part 8,” min 18-22), Rav Benzion Meir Chai Uziel in Piskei Uziel 15, and Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik quoted by Rav Aharon Lichtenstein (http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/english/journal/broyde_1.htm) agree. Rav Willig commented that the minhag in America is to be lenient.
    • In defining grama, Rav Hershel Schachter (“Electricity on Shabbos,” min 73-6) explains that according to many achronim who understand grama as a delay in time, it isn’t even a psik reisha to open a refrigerator if the motor will turn on at a later time, while according to Rav Soloveitchik, who defined grama as a total disconnect in action, if it was certain that opening the door would cause the motor to go on any earlier, perhaps it would be forbidden to open the door when the motor wasn’t running based on koach achar m’urev bo. (See B’Ikvei HaTzon siman 7).
    • On the other hand, Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer 1:21) assumes like Rav Shlomo Zalman that it is grama, but thinks that completing a circuit may involve an issur deoraitta of hav’ara. He also is uncertain if this should be considered a psik reisha d’lo nicha lei and concludes that it is permitted, but it nevertheless is proper not to open the door unless the motor is running. Har Tzvi 1:151, Menuchat Ahava 24:19, and Rav Henkin (Edut LeYisrael p. 122) agree that although it is permitted, it’s proper to be strict.
    • Lastly, Chelkat Yaakov O”C 76 argues that while it may be a psik reisha, perhaps it is not considered grama since this is the intended normal way it is used. Therefore, he rules that one may only open the door when the motor already is running. Minchat Yitzchak 2:16 and 3:24, Az Nidberu 2:36, Sh"t Igrot Moshe 2:68, 4:74, and Mishnat Rabbi Aharon 1:4 agree.
    • Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 10:12, Orchot Shabbat (vol 3 p. 62), and The Shabbos Home (p. 482) quote the two approaches but do not give a final ruling. Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata (10:12) recommends setting the refrigerator to a timer.
    • Rabbi Willig (min 33-35) says that using a water fountain on Shabbat depends on how long it takes for the motor to turn on. He mentions that one shouldn't use a water fountain which clearly will have the motor go on with a single regular use. However, he did not say this as a definitive ruling but in passing.
    • See Zomet.org or star-k.org for details on other problems with refrigerators.
  15. Yalkut Yosef Chelek 4 Shabbat 5 page 229, Iggerot Moshe OC 2:68, and Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchatah 3:31. Rabbi Rieger in Hapardes 1934 volume 3 rules that one is even allowed to open up the refrigerator himself if he knows the light will turn on because it is a psik reishe dilo nicha leih but the aforementioned poskim all reject that opinion either because psik reishe dilo nicha leih is not permitted and they also argue that it is nicha leih because had it not been shabbat one would certainly want the light to help him see (see minchat shlomo page 91), and say that one should get a gentile to do it for him. Rabbi Broyde and Rabbi Jachter permit even asking a Jew who doesn't know that the light will turn on as this would fall under the category of mitasek. Iggerot Moshe OC 2:68 and Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchitah 31:1 also permit hinting to the gentile to disable the light so that the refrigerator could be used for the remainder of shabbat, but not telling him directly.
    • Sheivet HaLevi 9:69 permits walking in an area where there is a motion sensor that will activate a light, such as those attached to the outside of buildings. He explains that davar she’eino mitkaven refers only to when one does an action that may cause an unintended melacha. If, however, one is walking normally and makes no motion in order for a melacha to occur, it is not even a psik reisha as long as one’s intent isn’t to turn on the light. Orchot Shabbat (p. 79) quotes Rav Elyashiv and Rav Nissim Karlitz who say that since one doesn’t have a direct connection to the melacha and doesn’t care about the light, it’s not called melechet machshevet. The Shabbos Home (p. 489) agrees.
    • Rabbi Mordechai Willig (“Halacha Engages Modernity Part 8,” min 50-60) challenges this line of reasoning because it should be considered a psik reisha d’nicha lei and turning on a light might be deoraitta. Furthermore, The 39 Melachos (p. 1215) says that if one can’t avoid walking in a place that will turn on a light because of a motion sensor and the streets are dark so that one will benefit from the light turning on, one shouldn’t leave his house! He does permit one to walk past such a motion sensor if he closes his eyes at the time when the light will turn on because in such a case then it is not considered niche lei, even if one will open one's eyes right afterwards.
    • On the other hand, Rabbi Hershel Schachter (“Electricity on Shabbos,” min 62-8) explains that if one is doing an action that is physically disconnected from where the melacha is occurring, it isn’t considered a psik reisha. Thus, Rav Schachter says that there’s what to rely on to permit walking in an area where there is a surveillance camera or a motion sensor which will turn on a light as long as one doesn’t have intent to be videoed or turn on the light.
    • Rabbi Mordechai Willig (“Halacha Engages Modernity Part 8,” min 48-49) agrees that it is permitted to walk in an area where there is a surveillance camera because unlike the light motion sensors, a person doesn’t benefit from the being videoed by the surveillance camera and thus qualifies as a psik reisha d’lo nicha lei which is permitted for a d’rabanan prohibition. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, (cited by Rav Zalman Nechemya Goldberg in Ateret Shlomo vol 6, p. 57), Yabia Omer 9:35, and The Shabbos Home (p. 489) agree.
    • Rabbi Hershel Schachter (“Electricity on Shabbos,” min 62-8) explains that if one is doing an action that is physically disconnected from where the melacha is occurring, it isn’t considered a psik reisha. Thus, Rav Schachter says that there’s what to rely on to permit walking in an area where there is a surveillance camera or a motion sensor which will turn on a light as long as one doesn’t have intent to be videoed or turn on the light.
    • Sh"t Besel Chachma 6:65 suggests that walking in a place where there are surveillance cameras isn't considered Koteiv whatsoever and is no different than looking in a mirror on Shabbat.
    • Rabbi Josh Flug (Sukkot To Go 5770, p. 27) writes that it is certainly permissible to use a toilet with an automatic flusher if no other restroom is available because most assume that using electricity is prohibited only d’rabanan and therefore is permitted for kavod habriyot. He says that perhaps it is even permitted if going to the non-automated toilets is inconvenient, since it may be a psik reisha d’o nicha lei on a issur d’rabanan.
    • Practical Laws of Shabbat (Rabbi Rafael Soae, p. 335) quotes Kedushat HaShabbat (Rabbi Moshe Harari p. 79) who says that if there’s no other bathroom available other than one which has toilets that automatically flush when one moves away, one may use the toilet because of Kavod HaBriyot.
    • Rabbi Yisrael Belsky in Shulchan HaLevi 7:7 permits using this type of bathroom if there is no other bathroom available, but if there’s another option, he forbids using the electrical toilet. Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz (“Using Automatic Bathrooms on Shabbos”) quotes Rav Belsky as saying that kavod habriyot would not be a leniency in order to wash one’s hands with an automatic sink.
  16. Sh"t Maharam Shik 157, Chazon Ish 38:2, Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 13:26, Menuchat Ahava 24:30, Sh"t Yabia Omer 3:17
  17. The Shabbos Home (Rabbi Simcha Cohen, vol 2, pg 537) and Sh"t Maharshag YD 1:7(2) permit. However, Sh"t Igrot Moshe 4:70(4) only permits if it is not heard outside his personal room. See Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 28:29 (and 28:30 in new edition) who permits before Shabbat for mitzvah purposes setting a mechanical alarm clock that involves removing a pin (see there).
  18. Rav Hershel Schachter (OU Kosher Webcast, 2011, min 16-8)
  19. Menuchat Ahava 1.24.31
  20. Rav Hershel Schachter (OU Kosher Webcast, 2011, min 9-13) ruled that strictly speaking it's permissible but it's praiseworthy to avoid it.
  21. Practical Laws of Shabbat (Rabbi Rafael Soae, vol 1, pg 170-1) writes that it's permissible unless one is sending the email to a non-observant Jew who may look at it on Shabbat in which case it's forbidden because one will be encouraging violation of Shabbat.
  22. Mishna Shabbat 11a says that it’s forbidden to read by the light of a candle because one will come to tilt the wick. Rashi explains that if one tilts to wick (which is flickering) towards the oil so that it lights well, one will be violating Mavir (lighting a flame on Shabbat, which includes adding fuel to a flame). S”A 275:1 quotes this as halacha. Kitzur S"A 80:1 agrees.
  23. Bet Yosef 275:12 quotes a dispute between the Rif, Rosh, Tosfot and Rabbenu Chananel who permit checking cups by a kerosene candle because it produces a lot of light and there’s no concern one will tilt the wick against the Rambam 5:16 who forbids a kerosene candle based on a difference in versions of Shabbat 12b. S”A 275:12 rules stringently like the Rambam. However, Ramban (Shabbat 12b) explains that even those who permit a kerosene candle because it produces a lot of light are only lenient by checking cups for cleanliness, but to read by the light even the Rif and Rosh will forbid. Lechem HaPanim (Kitzur S”A 80:16), Misgeret Zahav (Kitzur S”A 80:1), and Sh”t Mekor Chaim O”C 6 write that a kerosene lamp is permitted because the flame doesn’t decrease and one can set it to give off as much light as one wants before Shabbat and so there’s no concern one will tilt the wick. Mishna Brurah (Buir Halach s.v. VeEin) writes that this leniency isn’t so clear, but one can rely on it to learn Torah, especially in a Bet Midrash. Mishna Brurah permits if one hangs a sign by the lamp that says “Today is Shabbat and it’s forbidden to light a fire” for a few reasons. Kaf HaChaim 275:13 argues that because one can increase the flame when necessary, it’s forbidden to read by a kerosene lamp. [Sh”t Ani Chomah O”C 19 asks on the Kaf HaChaim that the clearly when the Lechem HaPanim and Mekor Chaim permitted they knew that one could increase the flame but still permitted because one doesn’t usually increase the flame.] Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A 275:2) rules like the Mishna Brurah.
  24. Bach in name of Maharshal, Taz, and Magan Avraham (in cases of need) permit reading by a wax candle because there’s no Gezerah of tilting the wick. However, S”A 275:1 forbids reading by a wax candle because one will come to trim the wick and maybe extinguish it. Eliyah Rabba and Buir HaGra concur. The Mishna Brurah 275:4, however, permits reading by wax candles because nowadays the wax produces a clear flame and there is no issue that one will tilt or trim the wick. Similarly, Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A 275:3) is lenient based on Rav Ovadyah’s later writing in Halichot Olam 3 (unlike his stringent ruling in Sh”t Yabia Omer 1:16:6-9 and Yalkut Yosef (first edition Shabbat vol 1 pg 317)). Kitzur S"A 80:1 writes that the minhag is to permit reading by a wax candle, however, one should put up a sign to remind oneself to trim the wick.
  25. Sh”t Yacheve Daat 6:20 holds that even those who are strict by a kerosene lamp will allow an electric light because it produces a clear flame and gives off a lot of light [the leniency of a kerosene lamp, which produces a lot of light and the leniency of a wax candle, which produces a clear flame.] Additionally, Sh”t Yachave Daat adds that we shouldn’t make extend Chazal’s Gezerah of a oil and wick to electric lights because we aren’t allowed to make new Gezerah’s or add to preexisting ones (Magan Avraham 301:58). Thus, Sas Anochi (Kuntres Rach VeTov pg 78c) and Sh”t Yashkil LeAvdi O”C 2:9 who are strict by a kerosene lamp if it’s made of multiple candles, allow electric lights. Sh”t Yachave Daat also argues that electric lights are permitted because Chazal only forbad tilting a wick already in oil but permitted adding more oil [the same distinction is found in Sh”t Igrot Moshe O”C 93 concerning leaving food from before Shabbat on a gas flame.] On the other hand, Sh”t Shoel VeNishal 1:76 forbids reading even by electric lights based on a Hagahot Asheri (Shabbat 12b) who is uncertain about a wax candle even though there is no issue of tilting the wick and so too any lighting should be forbidden even though there is no issue of tilting (because of Lo Palug Rabanan, the Rabbis didn’t differentiate in their Gezerah’s). However Sh”t Yacheve Daat (in the footnote) argues that we shouldn’t forbid because of the Hagahot Asheri’s uncertainty as this is a matter of Derabanan (see there as there are some Achronim who say Safek Derabanan LeKula doesn’t apply to a Safek that we don’t know the halacha. Additionally Bnei Tzion 265:3 explains that the Hagahot Asheri was uncertain when a Gezerah doesn’t have any reason to apply whether it should be permissible or forbidden as the Rabbi’s extend their Gezerah to any case as in the case of a mirror that’s not sharp enough to cut hair (Shabbat 149a) as Rabbenu Moshe (quoted in Ran) rules. However, since in the case of Shabbat 149a, Rif, Rambam, and Rosh, S”A 302:13 permit mirrors that can’t cut, then, so too wax candles aren’t forbidden(Getting Dressed).
  26. Beit Yitzchak Y.D. 1:120, Achiezer 3:60, Melamed L’Hoil O.C. 49, Tzitz Eliezer 3:17, Chelkat Yaakov 1:52, Yesodei Yeshurun 5:147. Chazon Ish Orach Chaim 50:9 says that the problem is the melacha of cooking. On the other hand, Maharsham 2:246, Chasdei Avot pp. 43-75; Yam Gadol OC 26, Levush Mordechai OC page 47-51 all say that turning on a lit switch is only forbidden on a rabbinic level. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Minchat Shlomo page 103-105 addresses this opinion at length and concludes that they are in error.
  27. Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 13:32
  28. Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 43:N22
  29. Tosfot;Shabbat 25b
  30. There are two reasons why we light Shabbat candles. The first is for “Oneg Shabbat” which requires that the home be illuminated Friday night in order that people not stumble in the dark. The second reason is for “Kavod Shabbat” which calls for plentiful lighting in honor of Shabbat, as was the custom upon receiving a distinguished guest.
  31. Shraga Hameir 5:11
  32. Teshuvot V’hanhagot 2:157
  33. Az Nidberu 1:79, Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 43:N171
  34. Tzitz Eliezer 1:20
  35. Shaarim Metzuyanim Behalachah 96:6, Az Nidberu 8:2, Rivevot Ephraim 3:599
  36. Shaarim Metzuyanim Behalachah 96:6
  37. Har Tzvi 2:114
  38. Hachashmal L’or Hahalacha 3:88
  39. Shemirat Shabbat Kihilchita 15:72 quoting Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. Tzitz Eliezer 7:10 writes that there is no problem because the static makes no real impact in that small amount of time, there is no precedent for this type of electricity in the times of the mishkan, and this type of electricity cannot start a fire at all. Sh"t Yabia Omer 5:27 and Sh"t Yechave Daat 2:46 says it is permitted because one does not intend for them, and doesn't care for them. (psik reishe dilo nicha leh.) Chazon Ish OC 50:5 rules stringently in this however.
  40. It is permissible on Yom Tov to add to or transfer an already existing flame and even lighting a new flame is only a rabbinic prohibition. Shulchan Aruch 502:1 and Beiur Halacha "Ein Motziin." See Sh"t Yabia Omer OC 1:19 and poskim cited there. The poskim who permit it include Rav Yechiel Michel Epstein (The Aruch Hashulchan) in a letter published in Kovetz Vaad Chachamim 1 (Shevat 5663), Even Yekara 3:168, Ohr Chadash page 64, Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank in Kol Torah 5694, Mishpetei Uziel OC 19, Hilchot Rabata LeShabbata 1:7, as well as more poskim quoted in Chashmal Behalacha 2:5. However, Rabbi Broyde and Rabbi Jachter explain that this is based on a faulty understanding of electricity that completing a circuit only transfers an existing flame, which isn't correct. Thus, they reject these arguments and conclude that since this is not the view of the majority of the poskim it is prohibited. The poskim who forbid turning on a light on Yom Tov include Rav Ovadia Yosef in Sh"t Yabia Omer 1:19, Rav Moshe Feinstein in Iggerot Moshe OC 1:115, Chelkat Yaakov 1:51, Yaskil Avdi 2:10 and 4:27:3, and Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchatah 13:2.