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September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
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Q & A: Sabbath Shuttle? (Part V)

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“However, most probably, in my view, they only forbade this if the Jew told the gentile to go with him. But if the gentile is going of his own volition, the Jew is permitted to benefit from his lit candle since we say that the gentile lit it for his own need as it is not evident that he is pursuing this route specifically to accompany the Jew. The Jew can benefit as long as we have no reason to suspect that the gentile will add more oil for the Jew’s benefit.

“This is similar to a gentile who rides in an elevator with a Jew without the Jew asking him to do so. Since we see that the gentile is using it [for his own benefit], riding with him is permitted.

“I am aware that one must be very careful regarding this leniency. However, there are buildings with three or four stories or more, and not everyone is able to go up or down the stairs by foot. A person is not expected to be stuck in his house for the entire Shabbat day. And what is a Jew to do if he is in an [apartment building] that is inhabited by a majority of Jews and it is not always possible to find a gentile who wishes to go up [for his own purpose]? In cases of necessity like this, I find reason to lean toward leniency [even when the gentile is acting on behalf of the Jew] because the gentile is [also] using the elevator himself. We [therefore] opt to say that he is riding it for his own need and a Jew may benefit from his labor.”

Regarding a Shabbos elevator – one that automatically stops on every floor – my uncle, Rabbi Sholom Klass, zt”l (Responsa of Modern Judaism, vol. I, p.71), notes authorities who permit its use (see the responsum of the Gaon Rabbi Yosef Eliyahu Henkin, Responsa Ivra 19:2). Certainly, the elevator keypad controls must be completely disabled and the doors must remain open at each floor long enough to allow one to safely embark and disembark. Many of the authorities who permit using Shabbos elevators do so only for the elderly who find it difficult to climb numerous flights of stairs. (From Rabbi Henkin’s responsum, however, it seems that if the Shabbos elevator is properly equipped, one may use it on Shabbat regardless of one’s age.)

(To be continued)

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.


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12 Responses to “Q & A: Sabbath Shuttle? (Part V)”

  1. I know what the rabbis say, but I feel it is more important to attend shul than how you get there. I live 25 miles from shul, so I actually have to drive myself. I guess one could argue it would be more preferred for me to obey the Sabbath and stay at home just to avoid diving, but then I wouldn’t be able to learn, ask questions or participate in the Jewish community, which are also very important, at least to me. Thoughts?

  2. Ideally, you should move closer to a shul so that you can take advantage of its benefits to you without violating the shabbos.

  3. Dick Farrel says:

    who cares…just do it…God will forgive you…Sheet…we were let out of temple at noon on Yum Kippah in 2004 when Jean was about to clobber us three weeks after Francis did…and guess what…WE HAD TO EAT , drink and bathe…ON Yum Kippah…we did it! and I am sure The Almighty forgave us…

  4. Dick Farrel says:

    OH… I always DRIVE ON YUM KIPPAH…OTHERWISE I CANNOT GET TO SHUL… so, the only driving I do on that day is for that and nothing else.

  5. Ideally yes, but financially/economically not possible. So the question remains, in the absence of no alternative other than to drive to shul, is it better to observe the sabbath by not driving and thus not going to shul at all, or to drive the car and make it to shul? There is no right or wrong answer in my opinion, it’s all about how you feel you need to observe the Sabbath. Perhaps my vews are too liberal for this page, though.

  6. If you can ride a Sabbath-mode elevator then you can ride a Sabbath-mode shuttle. Right?

  7. Haa haa good point David!

  8. That’s between you and god, no one shall judge you, not even rabbis!!!

  9. I think you answered your own question, and yes, your views are probably too liberal for any orthodox Rabbi to condone. We all have to do what we feel is right for us but you’re not going to get a “dispensation ” from an orthodox Rabbi.

  10. I Am Catholic, I dont conciser it a crime

  11. Eduardo Mazo says:

    good Samaritan bless it of our Lord which he is the Lord of Sabbath too. the Sabbath made to the people not people made to Sabbath, written in the holy scriptures.

  12. Allan F. Hyatt says:

    As a secular Jew I see the need/desire to attend out weighing the fine letter of Jewish law. In the end it will be G-D who decides who acted from their heart and who was really wrong.

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