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Electric Timers On Shabbat

The Daily Halacha Moment - Electric Timers & Shabbat

״כל השונה הלכות בכל יום - מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא״ (נידה עג ע״א, מגילה כח:)

“Anyone who studies Halachot every day is guaranteed that he is destined for the world-to-come” (Megilla 28b, Niddah 73a)


May one set a timer to have his lights or appliances turn on during Shabbat?


It is permitted before Shabbat to set a timer for lights or other electric appliances to go on or off on Shabbat. [1] Some are stringent one should follow one’s custom. [See footnote 2]

Similarly, as we’ve mentioned in a previous Halacha Moment one may set an alarm clock before Shabbat even though it will make noise on Shabbat. [3]


[1]. Sh"t Maharam Shik 157, Chazon Ish 38:2, Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 13:26, Menuchat Ahavah 24:30, Yabia Omer 3:17.

[2]. Ben Yehuda (responsa 151) writes that it is rabbinically forbidden to use a timer that turns on a light on Shabbat. He writes that there's no biblical melacha to set a timer since it was all put in place before Shabbat as per the Nemukei Yosef b"k 10a. However, he writes that it is rabbinically forbidden based on the opinion of Rabba in Shabbat 18a who says that it is a disgrace to Shabbat to leave grain in a water-grinder that will become ground on Shabbat. Rav Yosef in the gemara argues that it is permitted and only forbidden according to Bet Shamai. The Shulchan Aruch 252:5 rules like Rav Yosef but the Rama is stringent unless it will result in a loss. He says that based on the Rama it is forbidden to set a timer before Shabbat and even though everyone knows that it is set before Shabbat that logic isn't applicable if the melacha in question is biblically forbidden. The Kaf Hachaim 252:73 cites this opinion. Ish Matzliach (v. 3 p. 17) writes that his father wouldn’t use timers even for the lights.

[3]. Chazon Ovadia_, Shabbat, vol. 5, p. 262; Or Letzion, vol. 2, 39:3; Tzitz Eliezer, 8:13; Yalkut Yosef, Shabbat, vol. 5, p. 79. See however Igrot Moshe 4:70(4) only permits if it is not heard outside his personal room.

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