Volume 15 Number 55
                       Produced: Fri Oct  7 12:00:33 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Lights and Rerigerators on Shabbat (5)
         [Michael Broyde, Stan Tenen, Yehuda Harper, David Charlap,
David Charlap]
Western Culture and Torah
         [Binyomin Segal]


From: Michael Broyde <RELMB@...>
Date: Tue, 04 Oct 94 10:00:17 EDT
Subject: Lights and Rerigerators on Shabbat

The question of extending an incomplete circuit so that it remains still
incomplete but yet longer (such as the unscrewed light buld in the
refrigerator is dicussed with in the approach of the Chazon Ish by Az
Nidberuh repeated in volumes 1,2 and 3 of his teshuvot.  He concludes
that the chazon Ish would prohibit this.  Rav Waldenberg in Tzitz
Eliezer argues tthat Chazon Ish would permit the extension of an off
circuit so long as it remains off.  All of the other theories of
electricity (there are six other theories) would certainly permit this
and the normative halacha does permit this; see the articles on
electricity in volumes 21, 23 and 25 of the Journal of Halcha and
Contemporary Society for a listing of authorities.
 Michael Broyde

From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Mon, 3 Oct 1994 17:16:09 -0700
Subject: Lights and Rerigerators on Shabbat


In M-J Vol 15 #42, you inquired about about light sockets in 
refrigerators.  I am knowledgeable on electricity and electronics but 
not up on the latest in appliances.  In older refrigerators, where there 
is no electronic circuitry and only electrical components (such as 
switches, motors, relays, etc.) when the light bulb in a refrigerator is 
disconnected (by being removed) that BREAKS THE ENTIRE CIRCUIT.  No 
electricity can flow and no spark is possible (in the door lighting 
system for that light) even if the button in the door is pressed 
repeatedly.  This has EXACTLY THE SAME CONSEQUENCES are taping over the 
switch so it will not connect the light to the electric circuit.  That 
also breaks the entire circuit.  You could unscrew the bulb while the 
switch was taped or you could push the switch while the bulb was missing 
or blown out and no current could flow.

But, although I am not aware of it, in new appliances - even in 
refrigerators - it is POSSIBLE that the lights are controlled by means 
of some electronic circuitry for the whole refrigerator.  Let's say that 
there is one integrated circuit that controls all the refrigerator's 
functions (including, for convenience, functions it doesn't really need 
to control, like the light).  That may mean that the switch is still 
electrically alive even when the light bulb is removed because the 
switch senses the door position for the integrated circuitry first, and 
then, only when it is appropriate for other reasons perhaps, the 
integrated circuit tries to connect the light bulb.  Even if the bulb is 
missing, the door switch might still send its signal to the integrated 
circuit.  The door switch could be electrically alive.

This is unlikely in the situation of a refrigerator light, but it is 
increasingly common in more complex appliances.  (It's just not 
important because we don't use these other appliances on Shabbos at all 
anyway.)  For example, the power button on most new HiFis, VCRs and TVs 
does not actually connect or disconnect the power.  (They need to keep 
the power on at all times so as to keep the clock timer and program 
memories correct.)  This means that the power button is always live and 
so is the rest of the HiFi, VCR or TV.  

This is also true for telephones. It used to be that the bell control on 
the bottom of standard telephones was a mechanical arm that physically 
kept the clapper from hitting the bell.  Obviously, there is no spark 
and no Shabbos violation in turning off the bell during Shabbos with 
this mechanical arrangement.  (There is a Shabbos violation for touching 
a non-Shabbos device.)  But new, electronic telephones are also, 
usually, ALWAYS on and the bell control is an electrical or electronic 
control that always carries current.  Even if you could touch these 
appliances, turning off the telephone bell on one of these after the 
start of Shabbos would still be a definite no-no.

I hope this helps more than it confuses,

From: Yehuda Harper <jrh@...>
Date: Sun, 2 Oct 1994 23:59:08 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Re: Lights and Rerigerators on Shabbat

>I am not knowledgable about electricity - either halachically or
>technically- but something just occurred to me that might be a
>problem. What I have always done on Shabat is to unscrew the lightbulb
>from my refrigerator. This at least eliminates the problem of "esh"
>(fire) when I open the door. But what I am wondering about now is if
>the opening of the door sends some sort of electrical signal to the
>socket, and if that in itself would be halachically forbidden. My wife
>says we should just tape the button down that lets the fridge know the
>door has been opened, but that is too simple and not always
>practical. Any ideas?

Removing the light bulb "permanently" dismantles the circuit.  Thus,
opening and closing the switch does absolutely nothing. -- Analogy: The
same thing would happen if you were flipping a light switch on and off
while not even having electrical service in your house.

So, don't bother to tape the switch.  Its a waste of tape. <g>

Yehuda Harper

From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Mon, 3 Oct 94 11:34:54 EDT
Subject: Lights and Rerigerators on Shabbat

From: <6524dcurw@...> (David Curwin) writes:
>I am not knowledgable about electricity - either halachically or
>technically - but something just occurred to me that might be a
>problem. What I have always done on Shabat is to unscrew the
>lightbulb from my refrigerator. This at least eliminates the problem
>of "esh" (fire) when I open the door. But what I am wondering about
>now is if the opening of the door sends some sort of electrical
>signal to the socket, and if that in itself would be halachically

I doubt this is a significant concern.  Electricity does nothing
unless it exists in a complete circult - from source to ground.
(You'll notice that there's only one wire going into your house, if
you trace the "return" from the breaker-panel, you'll find that it
goes to a metal spike in the ground near your house.)  Without a
circult, electicity doesn't flow.

In more refrigerators, the lightbulb is attached directly to a
120-volt switch, mounted near the door.  This behaves just like a
normal lightswitch in your house.  Closing the switch (opening the
door) completes the circuit, the electricity flows from the sources
through the switch, through the bulb, and to the return (ground), and
the bulb turns on.  If you remove the bulb, then there is no circuit -
the bulb isn't there anymore - and no electricity flows.

Your concern (a signal) would imply a more complicted circuit.  One
where the switch is part of a separate circuit from the bulb.  In that
case, closing the switch completes one circuit.  That circuit routes
power (how is irrelevant) to the bulb - part of a separate circuit.
If your refrigerator is built that way, you wouldn't be able to simply
unscrew the bulb.  But I don't think you'll find a refrigerator that's
built this way.

A similar, but more real, concern is some refrigerators where the fan
turns itself off when the door opens (to save energy).  In this case,
you're completing a circuit whether or not you remove the lightbulb.
(Usually, this is because there are two circuits being activated by
the switch.

>My wife says we should just tape the button down that lets the fridge
>know the door has been opened, but that is too simple and not always
>practical. Any ideas? 

That's what I do.  What's wrong with the solution being simple?  Must
the answer be hard to understand?  WRT not always being practical,
why?  The switch isn't usually hard to find.  Just take a piece of
masking tape and tape the switch down.  It'll be somewhere on the
door's frame.

The only thing to look out for are some fan-shutoff type refrigerators
that have two switches.  Be sure you tape them both.

If you want a difficult and expensive solution, I guess you could open
up the machine and install a normal 120V lightswitch on the side of
the refrigerator and use it to disable the door switch.  But that
seems like a waste of effort.

It should be noted that the door-switch may not be enough to satisfy
some poskim.  Some hold that the act of opening the door lets in hot
air, which will affect the timing of the motor.  Even if the motor is
on when you open the door, you'll cause it to remain on longer than
normal.  The only way around this is to get a special "shabbat
fridge".  These are made in Israel - when switched into shabbat mode,
the motors start and stop based on a timer and not based on a
thermostat.  This way, opening the door has no effect on its

But you may not require such a device.  Ask your rabbi.

From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Tue, 4 Oct 94 11:04:49 EDT
Subject: Lights and Rerigerators on Shabbat

<light@...> (Sam S. Lightstone) writes:
>In a sense there *MAY* be a signal that gets sent to the light bulb.
>This would occur if and only if the door switch precedes the
>lightbulb in the circuit. Here's my long winded explanation:
>When the bulb is screwed in, and the door switch is closed (when
>fridge is open), the switch-bulb-power mechanisms form an electrical
>circuit (a loop around which electrons may freely flow). ... Consider
>the case where the light bulb is unscrewed ... When you open the
>fridge door, the switch closes, and suddenly there is voltage on both
>sides of the switch, *and* at one terminal of the bulb.

No.  Electricity doesn't work like this.  Build yourself a circuit and
measure voltages across various components.  You'll find that if there
is a break anywhere in the circuit, there is no voltage anywhere.
Take a 120V electric meter and stick it's probes in a switched wall
outlet.  When the switch is off (assuming that the switch isn't
"leaky" - some are), you will measure zero current and zero voltage.
And it doesn't matter if the switch is on the "hot" wire or on the
"return" wire.

When there is no circuit, the potential difference (voltage) across
all components is zero.  Period.  Mathematically and in reality.

But the point is also moot.  A switch will always be on the "hot"
wire, since it is a safety hazard to have it any other way.  (If you
switch the "return" wire, then you could get a shock by sticking your
finger in the switched-off socket.)

>3) Although it is clear that no current flows in the circuit, (from
>one power terminal to the other ), it may be a quantum mechanical
>debate to assert if electrons have flowed between the switch and the
>bulb terminal. 

Let's get real here.  Just like kashrut doesn't make you look for
microscopic bugs (although some people look anyway), and the scent
from your neighbor's pork-barbecue doesn't ruin all the food in your
house, Shabbat observance doesn't require intimate knowledge of how
individual electrons are moving within an open circuit.  If you're
going to be worried about individual electrons, you'd better not walk
across a carpet or touch any metal object (or anything similar),
because these actions are going to make electrons move - probably a
lot more than by flipping a switch on an open circuit.


From: <bsegal@...> (Binyomin Segal)
Date: Tue, 4 Oct 1994 00:17:32 -0600
Subject: re: Western Culture and Torah

marc shapiro writes:
>This is exactly what has happened throughout history and is not
>merely natural but the only way history develops. When Rambam approached
>Torah he "knew" that certain insights of Aristotle were correct and
>therefore could not read the Torah in any other way but in accordance
>with Aristotle. To show how the Torah can be manipulated, he even said
>that he could, if he wished, interpret the book of Genesis in accordance
>with Aristotle's view that the world is eternal! We all know Rav Kook's
>view that Genesis can be read in accordance with evolution. When Hirsch
>came on the scene he was convinced of the value of secular educaation
>and therefore read this view into the Torah, or better read the Torah in
>accordance with this view. Rav Kook loved Zionism and therefore all
>Torah became a proof text for his view. The Satmar rebbe hated Zionism
>and therefore all Torah became a proof text for his anti-Zionism. The
>point is that there is very little objective proofs for anything in the
>Torah (our sages speak of one who can prove the kashrut of something
>unkosher.) All of the people mentioned in this paragraph first came to
>their views of the world (a very complicated process), and then
>interepreted Torah in accordance with these views.

I find this whole thesis to be a gross misjudgement of the facts and the
men described.

In all these cases (and in many others you might mention) you forget an
important part of the history. These men were giants in Torah FIRST and
then exposed to the "modern" idea.

The Rambam was the Rambam before he learned aristotle. The Satmer Rebbe
& Rav Kook were both giants in Torah BEFORE zionism.

Rav Hirsch _may_ have taken secular information and used it to better
the practice of Torah, but he was a Rabbi first and then upon exploring
education and leading his community was exposed to chachmas
hagoyim.(wisdom of the non-jews) and Im sure they were all aware of the
chazal - chachmah bagoyim taamin (there is wisdom among the non-jews).

Of course the trick is how to apply it.



End of Volume 15 Issue 55