Volume 57 Number 39 
      Produced: Mon, 02 Nov 2009 16:11:52 EST

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Cameras and sensors (2)
    [David Tzohar  Bernard Raab]
Halachic Structural Reasoning on Modim d'Rabbanan 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Modim d'Rabbanan 
    [Meir Possenheimer]
sensors (was "Shabbat Elevators") 
    [Steven Oppenheimer]
Shabbat Elevators 
    [Sammy Finkelman]


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 28,2009 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Cameras and sensors

In answer to Carl's questions about cameras and sensors:

Rav Moshe Harari, in his book "Kedushat Hashabat," deals extensively with the
questions that you asked and brings a summary of the relevant piskei halacha
[legal rulings --MOD] by modern Israeli decisors.

Here is a very short summary of his summary:
The poskim differ on how to define halachikly the activation of sensors,
cameras and electric eyes. Is it "gramma" (causal action), "psik reisha"
(inevitable result of an action), or "ma'aseh yadayim" (direct result of an
action). Rav Nahum Rabinovitch (RY of Ma'ale Adumim) shlita says that even
if it is 'psik reisha' as in activating outdoor lights by approaching them,
if one doesn't go out of his way to acativate them but is acting in a normal
manner then it is permitted. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zatzal said that
because it is programmed to be activated automatically it is considered
'ma'aseh yadayim' and is forbidden and you have to go out of your way to
avoid it. There is also a difference whether an incandescent bulb is
activated and it is considered a 'm'lacha d'oraita' [Torah-level prohibited 
activity --Mod.] or a fluorescent which is considered by most poskim m'lacha 
d'rabanan [i.e. prohibited only at a Rabbinic level --Mod.].

About waiting for someone else to activate a door, assuming that most people
are not Jewish, it is irrelevant since it is forbidden to allow a non-Jew to
do a m'lacha [forbidden Sabbath work --MOD] for your benefit.

From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 28,2009 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Cameras and sensors

From: Carl Singer (M-J V57#38)
> Re: adaptive technologies -- would it be a stretch - perhaps to absurdity,
> that when you open the door to enter your home, or for that matter your body
> heat - impacts the temperature in your home and thus hastens or delays the
> furnace cycling on or off.   Don't forget opening the refrigerator -- again
> perhaps some delay.

As it has been explained to me by a good friend who helped in the design of the 
early "grama" [indirect causation --Mod.] switch by which various electrical 
devices such as electric wheelchairs can be operated on Shabbat, the issue of 
delay appears to be crucial, in that your action does not "directly" cause the 
prohibited function, plus the "indirection" must be random; i.e., not completely
determined by your action. I assume the general acceptability of opening
refrigerator doors or entering a room with a heating or cooling system 
controlled by a thermostat, as Carl suggests, is based on that same principle. 
Here's a thought: Despite Einstein's famous objection to Quantum Theory that "G-
d does not play dice with the universe", it is well-accepted today that at the 
atomic level, the level at which electricity operates, there is really no 
determinism. As with the grama switch, the response appears to be instantaneous,
but the reality is that there is an indeterminate quality to all electric usage.
When the incandescent lamp replaced the gas light, it was perhaps inevitable 
that the late 19th-early 20th century poskim would draw the clear analogy and 
apply the same halacha to this new light form, although no combustion was 
involved. But over time the halacha came to be applied to essentially all 
applications of electricity, even applications which today involve no light and 
no sensible heat. As these applications become more and more common, and we go 
through increasing contortions to avoid their activation, might it be time to 
seek a more general understanding that some forms of electric usage might be 
acceptable as a general category for Shabbat application?comments?

--Bernie R.


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, Oct 26,2009 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Halachic Structural Reasoning on Modim d'Rabbanan

Following my query regarding the minhag of YICC on Modim d'Rabbanan,
thanks to Mark Goldenberg for presenting the response of Rabbi Elazar
Muskin, who notes that:
> This was the practice that Rabbi Soloveitchik Z"L instructed.  He
argued that the repetition of the Amida by the Hazan serves as "Tefilah
shel Tzibur" and therefore the congregation must hear each word from the
Hazan.  If the congregation is saying "Modim D'Rabbanan" then they can't
be listening and hearing the repetition of Modim by the Hazan at the
same time.  In order to avoid this the Rav Z"L said that the Hazan
should say the word "Modim," creating the obligation of the congregation
to respond to the Modim.  Since one does not stand straight until he
reaches God's name he waits bent over and only continues once the
congregation has finished their recitation of "Modim D'Rabbanan".  This
practice is documented in the Sefer Nefesh Harav pp. 128-129. <

and to Ariel Cohen who notes:
> This practice is not based on a requirement for the Hazan to remain in
a bent position until after the congregation has finished. Rather it is
based on the combination of two considerations:
1: The assumption that the Hazan should say every word of the repetition
aloud, in a manner in which the congregation can hear.
2: The assumption that one who says modim should bow up to and including
the words "Ata Hu le'dor va'dor".
> Thus, the Hazan should say the word "modim", pause so that the remainder
of his recitation should be heard by the congregation once they have
completed the "modim de'rabanan", then continue - in a bent position -
until the words "le'dor va'dor".  Both of the above were the practice of
Rav Soloveitchik. I do not know the reason or the source for the latter
assumption although it is clear that the words "le'dor va'dor" mark a
dividing line between two distinct parts of modim. <

and, finally, to my friend and former comrade-in-arms, Joel Rich, who
> It is based on his understanding that the congregation must hear the
entire modim from the Hazan (which they can't if they are saying modim
d'rabanan at the same time) but we don't want it to seem like the Hazan
is not "modim" while everyone else is, so he says the first few words
(in a very loud voice) and then waits until they finish. IIRC The Rav
waited as Shatz in bent position until midway through the repitition
(look in the R'YBS machzor-I think
it's mentioned there) <

I am still going to pursue this as an exercise in Halachic Structural
Reasoning (my term).  No Halachic decisoring here.
First, I don't think there is a hard-and-fast answer to my "Who
is the last person that finishes which would permit the Hazan to take up
again?  Seems fraught with indecision and hesitancy and pain." question.  
Rather, there is no real "last person", not even the Rav of the congregation, as
a benchmark.  It seems to be the congregation and that is problematic.
The Chazzan seems to assume he no longer hears anyone or maybe counts to
10.  Where in the prayer repetition he gets up from a bent position is
stated in three ways: either 'l'dor vador' or the 'first few words' or
'G-d's name'.  Thus, I would suggest the topic is still open.
Second, we enter into a major assumption choice: is chazarat hashatz
(repetition of the Amidah) a requirement of "saying" or of "hearing", that
is, must the Chazan repeat (for example, even after a minyan is no longer
present) the entire prayer or should he go silent when the minyan breaks
up, or is it that the congregation must hear with deliberate attention,
and respond with an 'amen'?
But let me go to the heart of the matter:  what is the essence of the
It would seem, based on a simple reading of OH 124 that (a) it is a
takana that even though the reason for its institution no longer exists
it is still practiced [124:3]; (b) it is intended for those who do not
know how to pray [124:1]; (c) that what is most important is answering
'amen' to the blessings (is that only the last verse in each benediction
starting baruch ata?) [124:4]; (d) in any case, he who answers 'amen'
should not raise his voice more than the chazzan [124:12]; and (e) his
'amen' should be directed to the specific blessing being said [124:8].
Moreover, regarding modim d'rabbanan itself, see OH 127, where (a) the
congregation should not bend over too long [127:1] and certainly not the
chazzan/shatz [MB 1]; (b) that the chazzan need not, I repeat, need not
(!) wait until the congregation finishes the entire modim d'rabbanan but
should continue k'darko, 'as is his fashion' based on Ailiyah Rabba &
Magen Gibborim [MB 3].
Furthermore, in the book Ishei Yisrael, 24:3, note 12, the opinion is
brought that only the first three words, "modim anachnu lach', are to be
said together with the chazzan although in note 116 the Abudraham is
sourced as saying that since modim is a 'bakasha', a supplication, one
should be thankful not through an emissary but say it himself.
The Ishei Yisrael continues, in 24:34-48, to deal with modim and in note
118 writes that some hold that modim is not on par with kedusha or
kaddish but is of a lower standard and that only if one hears it he
should answer 'amen', i.e., there is not really a required obligation.
In 38, three forms of bending are given - all the way until the end;
until hashem, the sixth word, and then again at the end; or just at the
beginning.  And he brings the opinion that one should always face
east/the Beit Hamikdash when bowing, not just a simple bending of the
head in any direction.  
In 39, what is most relevant to my questions, he notes that the chazzan
need not wait until the congregation finishes but as an aid, the first
three words should be said slowly (see note 124) and in 40, one who is
saying modim d'rabbanan along with the chazzan's regular modim and the
chazzan finishes first, the congregant should stop where he is and not
continue with his modim d'rabbanan.  Another suggestion, of the Chazon
Ish, is that the chazzan should say aloud until 'l'olam va-ed', halt
there a bit until the congregation finishes and then continue.
In 48, if, during the listening to modim, the congregant hears another
blessing, he is permitted to answer 'amen' which means 100% attention is
not needed.  But in 47, the Ishei Yisrael writes in repetition of what
he wrote in 3, that if one wishes to yotzei yedai chovat tefillat
shmoneh asreh (have his requirement to pray be fulfilled by the chazzan
in its entirety), then he does not respond with modim d'rabbanan at all
for he is standing stock still, legs together, listening word-for-word
to the chazzan's aloud repetition (and is this different from the
requirement of Rav JB?).
Given all of the above, I would suggest that the custom in the vast
majority of synagogues that I have attended, to wit, that the chazzan
need not wait until the end of the congregation's full repetition of
modim d'rabban but rather should say loudly the first three words while
bending, pause for a few seconds to allow the congregation to get a
running start, stand up straight and then say loudly - not silently -
the rest of his modim in moderate speed so as to allow the congregation
to be prepared to answer 'amen' at "hatov shimcha", which is far enough
away in any case, would pass any Halachic requirements and that there
are many minhagim connected.
Yisrael Medad


From: Meir Possenheimer <meir@...>
Date: Sun, Nov 1,2009 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Modim d'Rabbanan

In M-J V57#36, Yisrael Medad wrote:
> I see no reason for a Hazan to remain in a bent position for the
> entire congregational repetition of modim d'rabanan nor do I see any
> reason not to begin the Hazan's repetition until after the congregation
> has finished the entire modim d'rabanan.
As is, indeed, stated quite specifically by the Mishna Berurah 126:3 
quoting Eliyahu Rabba and Magen Giborim.


From: Steven Oppenheimer <steven.oppenheimer@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 28,2009 at 10:01 AM
Subject: sensors (was "Shabbat Elevators")

Regarding walking on a sidewalk and activating a sensor that someone has
placed outside his home for security reasons (or for whatever reason) where
the sensor will illuminate the area, Rabbi Sh. Wozner has paskened that it
is permitted because you are "holeich lefi toomo" (walking in a normal usual
fashion) and have no interest in causing a light to go on.  Rabbi Y. Sh.
Elyashiv has also ruled that it is permitted as long as you are not going
into the house where the sensor illuminates the entrance since this appears
to be "nicha lei" [desirable to him --Mod.].  They both rule that you need not 
go out of your way to avoid that road even if you know that there are sensors 
there.  Most of these lights are non-filament lights and so turning them on is 
only a Rabbinic prohibition.

Of course, if you do not know there are sensors present, then it would 
[constitute] "mitasek" [accidentally doing something while intending to do 
something else --Mod.] and therefore [be] permitted.

Regarding camera sensors that capture your image as you walk along the
street, Rabbi Sh. Z. Auerbach ruled leniently, as did Rabbi M. Feinstein.
There is a very good article written by R. Auerbach's son-in-law, Rabbi Z.
N. Goldberg, explaining his father-in-law's pesak (in Ateret Shlomo).  Rabbi
Y. Rozen has published the letter from R. Feinstein.

Rabbi J. D. Bleich has a good review article that was published in Tradition
and can also be found in his book Contemporary Halachic Problems.

Of course, there are people who are machmir.

Steven Oppenheimer, D.M.D.


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Wed, Oct 28,2009 at 08:01 PM
Subject: Shabbat Elevators

The Jewish Press had an article last week (October 23, 2009/5 Chesvan
[sic] 5770 issue) about Shabbos elevators.  Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum
devoted his entore "My Machberes column to this. He has a whole list
of responsas about this at the end including where it is mentioned in
Shimaras Shabbos K'Hilchasah. He also translated what that poster


The most important points I would say are:

The psak we all generally rely on today is that Rabbi Shlomo Zalman
Auerbach zt"l (1910-1995) who permitted it.

Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv said nothing new now (and he doesn't
apparently know where it might be quoting him from) and Rabbi Elyashiv
has told many people over the years that if they hear about a psak
from him they should ignore it unless they heard it personally or
read in a legitimate sefer or Torah journal.  And he notes that the
quotation only says "elevators" and not "Shabbos elevators" and of
course in general elevators are prohibited on Shabbos. He has no idea
of the context of such a statement.

There are two claims about the first Shabbos elevator.

One is that it was created for Rabbi Leo Gartenberg zt"l (1906-1990)
(author of the Torah Thoughts books and Jewish Press columnist) for
his Pioneer Hotel in the Catskills with the specific approval of Rabbi
Aaron Kotler zt"l (1891-1962)  The Shabbos elevator was libeerally
used and many rabbis visited the hotel. Some used it and some didn't,
but nobody is known to have made a protest.

Others claim that the Shabbos elevator at the Fifth Avenue synagogue
was the first.

A lot of people who have written about this have expressed surprise.

Looking at the transalation of the new "psak" it looks like there is
not even a claim of anything new, but only 3 Rabbis claim that now
they understand because of a report from reliable experts and
certified elevator technicians that using these elevators activates
work prohibited by the Torah. These three Rabbis therefore overrule
any institute or equivalent that allows such use. One of those Rabbis,
Rabbi Shmuel Wosner says that for years he suspected that Shabbos
elevators demeaned the sanctity of the Shabbos (this would be an ovda
d'chol [weekday activity --MOD] argument)

Now that he got this secretly commissioned report or whatever it is
he joined that.

There are issues with Shabbos elevators. Rabbi Levi Yitchak Halprin
wrote a whole sefer on that and even designed an elevator that tried
to take care of as many issues as possible.

I didn't notice this article until I read a letter mentioning this
today in this week's issue.


End of Volume 57 Issue 39