web analytics
September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



2 Liberal Orthodox Rabbis Warring over Flipping Fuse on Stormy Shabbat

A "Beit Hillel" rabbi reported his decision to turn on the electricity on a frozen Shabbat morning, only to be attacked by a "Tzohar" rabbi from his neck of the (snowy) woods.

It's Shabbat morning in snowy Efrat and the electricity has just gone out. Do you suffer through the rest of the day, or do you search for a creative halachic solution? (illustration image)

It's Shabbat morning in snowy Efrat and the electricity has just gone out. Do you suffer through the rest of the day, or do you search for a creative halachic solution? (illustration image)
Photo Credit: Gershon Elinson / FLASH90

Two National Religious rabbis, each a member of different National Religious organizations, have been pushing two radically different views of Shabbat laws following the weekend’s “storm of the century.”

Coordinator of the Beit Midrash (study hall) of the Beit Hillel organization Rabbi Yoni Rosenzweig, who lives in Efrat, in the Judean hills, reported in a personal column in Maariv that at 3 AM, Shabbat, he had woken up to discover that the electricity in his apartment was out.

“I sat down in the middle of the dark living room and was thinking: today is Shabbat. Pushing up the fuse and turning on heat sources in the house is a Torah level prohibition, but, on the other hand, it’s frightfully cold outside, and tomorrow is bound to be cold as well, how will we survive Shabbat without heat?” Rabbi Rosenzweig wrote.

Acknowledging that tens of thousands of Jews in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria had opted to avoid touching their electric systems on that Shabbat, Rabbi Rosenzweig insisted that to him, that choice seemed unreasonable.

“I said to myself: there must be a halachic solution,” the rabbi continued. In the end, he combined two halachic concepts: one – hakol cholim etzel tzina—everyone is considered sick when it’s very cold (Mishna Brura, laws of Shabbat, No. 253 – although the discussion there is regarding asking a gentile to heat the food on Shabbat, Y.Y.); and two – doing the prohibited labor with a change (meaning not the way it is normally done) combined with the concept of Grama (an event caused by another, indirect event) based on the fact that the electricity was not being produced directly as a result of flipping the fuse switch.

In the end, Rabbi Rosenzweig reported, “I lifted the switch with a change, and the heat returned to the apartment. I contemplated for a while if the act was really permitted, but I had no problem falling asleep. I felt that the duty of a posek—halachic ruler is to try and be permissive when it’s needed. We have plenty of ‘chumrot’—severe interpretations of the law, but in an emergency we must know how to go easy.”

Rabbi Rosenzweig’s neighbor in the Gush Etzion region, Rabbi Israel Rosen, of the Tzomet Institute, which, among other things, finds creative halachic solutions to Shabbat issues, and is not known for its strict rulings, published a response in the website Srugim, calling his decision “A Delusional Ruling to Anyone who Understands the Laws of Shabbat.”

Rabbi Rosen laid out a well founded objection to the heter—permission Rabbi Rosenzweig had given himself, starting with the argument that it appeared the children in the house—who are the vulnerable entity in such rulings—appear to have been sleeping comfortably under their covers, which should have at least justified pushing off the decision until morning.

He also suggested that the “indirect” argument is delusional, because there was only one, predictable outcome to flipping the switch on, makes no difference where the actual production takes place.

What I liked most about rabbi Rosen’s well reasoned attack was the fact that, after all had been said, he did not suggest Rabbi Rosenzweig was not within his rights as a halachic Jew to act as he did. What upset him was the fact that he chose to brag about it.

“I was mostly shocked by the atmosphere and the style,” Rabbi Rosen wrote. “It’s evident that the reporting rabbi wishes to aggrandize himself in front of the readers with his great arm that bends halacha with virtuosity.”

“It’s cheapening halacha, using it like playdough,” argued Rabbi Rosen, but, again, his greatest complaint was not the rabbi’s choice, but his turning of a choice that should have remained private into braggadocio.

“If he had ruled this way for his neighbors, I would have kept quiet,” Rabbi Rosen concluded. “But the entire entry emphasizes his own and his family’s interests.”

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

13 Responses to “2 Liberal Orthodox Rabbis Warring over Flipping Fuse on Stormy Shabbat”

  1. Sara Bedein says:

    I had the exact same impression as Rav Rosen when I read the article on Ma'ariv's online website –

  2. Nachum Lamm says:

    R' Rosen is of Tzomet, not Tzohar.

  3. if he didn't live in Israel, he could have called a Shabbos goy

  4. Moshe Mann says:

    Excuse me "Rabbi" Kolakowski, but in your Satmar/Neturei Karta crowd, anyone who isn't sufficiently anti-Israel is called a Shabbos goy!

  5. Cathy Sherman says:

    couldn't this come under "saving a life"?

  6. Boris Moyse says:

    Why would you make the ridiculous claim that Rabbi Kolakowski is part of the "Satmar/Neturei Karta crowd"???

  7. Moshe Mann says:

    from http://roshpinaproject.com/tag/joseph-kolakowski/:

    "In September 2009, Kolakowski was fired as rabbi of Young Israel in Richmond, Virginia for his pronounced anti-Zionist views, prompting a sympathetic article from the anti-Zionist haredi group True Torah Jews."

    Does that answer your question?!

  8. Dan Silagi says:

    What Rabbi Rosenzweig did was a no-brainer. Shabbat isn't supposed to be a punishment. Shame on Rabbi Rosen for making a mountain out of this molehill.

  9. Good grief!!! No wonder so many Jews walk away from the Jewish religion. Look what Kind David did when his men were hungry. All these super religious men wonder what to do and none of them think of asking their God. Do they even know God? Seems like it is just endless rabbi made rules.

  10. Yori Yanover says:

    Thank you. Made the change. Actually makes his position stronger.

  11. Nachum Lamm says:

    True.

  12. Anonymous says:

    There were better solutions to the problem. However the greater issue is not that someone did the best they could in a particular situation, but here the Rabbi, rendered and 'boasted' of his 'unilateral halachic decision' that he immediately benefited from… That's just not right.

  13. I don't know who reported what to whom, but it sounds like Rabbi R may not have seen the original written by Rabbi Y. But for sure the editor who wrote the header of the news item did not accurately describe the response. i wish the involved rabbis would discuss this directly instead of through the media – and only afterwards – publish their messages. We need all the Ahavat Yisrael we can get, and knowing both rabbis, I know that neither sought anything but Kavod HaTorah!!!!!

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
A scene from the opera "Death of Klinghoffer." Protests at Lincoln Center start Sept. 22, at 4:30.
Klinghoffer: Pretending Art Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry
Latest News Stories
Tourists  ride segways down a promenade in Tel Aviv.

The US warns people to buy gas masks if visiting, Israel warns of world-wide anti-Semitism.

Unwelcome sign for Jews.

This happened in Britain in 2014, not in Germany in 1939.

A scene from the opera "Death of Klinghoffer." Protests at Lincoln Center start Sept. 22, at 4:30.

The Met’s upcoming opera trivializes the murder of Jews, pretends Jews have no connection to Israel, and portrays terrorists as victims.

Toy doll filled with ammunition was discovered in package destined for Uzbekistan.

Never, never, never take packages from someone without knowing what is inside.

Anti-radical Islam begins to trump anti-Semitism.

The presence of ISIS has created a “great need” for Hezbollah to remain in Syria, says an official from the Lebanese terror group’s executive council.

Gadi Yarkoni, the last person injured during Operation Protective Edge, was released today from Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva.

Hamas denies its politburo chief Khaled Meshaal will leave Qatar; the monarchy evicted Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood leaders.

United Nations peacekeepers are pulling out of Syria and heading for the Israeli side of the border due to deteriorating security.

Police arrest three in connection with anti-Semitic vandalism in Sderot, including slathered green swastikas and dripping red Satanic symbols.

Yaalon revealed that most of the “8200″ signers do not do reserve duty, and the few that do, haven’t done any in years.

Residents of Gaza Belt communities in the south headed for bomb shelters on a false alarm at midday Monday. Northern Israel was hit earlier.

11:41am Talk about really bad timing. Sirens heard in Shomron communities were an (unannounced) siren test in the community of Maaleh Shomron. The siren was heard in Karnei Shomron, Ginot Shomron, Yakir, Nofim and Emmanuel. It was *only* a test. 11:39 am OK. Now this is just strange. Rocket Siren heard in Karnei Shomron (in the Shomron) […]

12:04pm IDF says there was no rocket launch at Israel from Gaza. Gazan sources say a rocket misfired and landed inside Gaza. No explosions or rocket landings were heard inside Israel. Conclusion: It’s more likely that no rocket was launched and it was a false alarm. We will update this article, if we learn something new. […]

PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas reportedly plans to ask French Pres. Francois Hollande to recognize the Palestinian Authority as a sovereign nation.

For the first time ever, Israel appoints a woman to serve as ambassador to an Arab country. Einat Schlein is posted to Jordan.

More Articles from Yori Yanover
rain ATM

A Jerusalem woman is trying to hold on to her umbrella while withdrawing some cash at a Meah Shearim ATM, Sunday, March 9, 2014. The rain appeared out of the blue (which is how rain should), after a warm week that started to feel like summer. Well, it don’t feel like summer no more. Last […]

Rabbi Meir Mazuz (seen visiting a synagogue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn) declared in a public Internet psak that it is legal for a Jew to go up to temple Mount.

Needless to say, Shas, the Haredi Sefardi party, is not happy.

“The only difference between this world and the time of Meshiach is our bondage to the gentile kingdoms.”

Here’s the Israeli Navy boat INS Hanit arriving in Eilat on Saturday, March 8, 2014, after capturing the Klos C, which was carrying dozens of advanced Iranian-supplied weapons made in Syria and intended for Palestinian guerrillas in the Gaza Strip. Here’s Israeli Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ram Rotberg speaking with the INS Hanit soldiers in […]

Pat Condell has a new video out, so, sit back, have fun. By the way, Message to Offended Muslims should not be confused with Message to Off Handed Muslims. Also, I’d love to hear what he has to say about Haredim.

The description that came with this picture says: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with American actor Bette Midler during an event at the house of Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan in Hollywood on March 6, 2014. But Bette Midler is not really an actor, she’s a singer who made movies for the LGBT community and […]

We will shut them up in the campuses, we will shut them up in the high schools, we will shut them up at the 92nd St. Y.

An Israeli female soldier (because they’re better at removing babies from their homes) evacuates a baby from a settlement in Judea and Samaria some time in the recent past. I’m thinking, if the baby was angry enough, couldn’t he evacuate in return, right there in her arms? Imagine the same picture, except with a settler […]

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/2-liberal-orthodox-rabbis-warring-over-flipping-fuse-on-stormy-shabbat/2013/12/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: