For the Shabbos-observant crowd, it is now possible to curl up in bed with a book on a long Friday night – and still sleep in a dark room. One can use the traditional Shabbos lamp, which allows users to “hide” the source of light by moving a cover over it. And then there’s the relatively new creation: the Shabbulb.
Created by Sunlite – a lighting and manufacturing wholesaler located in Brooklyn – Shabbulb is a kosher-for-Shabbos lightbulb that fits into any regular-sized lamp. I recently spoke to Zalman Perl of Sunlite to better understand how this kosher-for-Shabbos lightbulb works.
Shabbulb looks like an ordinary LED lightbulb. It has a specialty cover, with an attached lever, designed to hide or reveal the light. When you close the lever, the light is still on, just not exposed. In that sense, it is similar to a traditional Shabbos lamp. The lever also allows you to partially cover the bulb, thereby enabling you to decide just how bright you’d like the room to be.
Unlike traditional Shabbos lamps, however, Shabbulb is just a lightbulb so there is no need to change your home décor. Simply place the bulb in an existing light fixture and you’re all set!
Shabbulbs are about 40 watts – sufficient for reading, but if you wish to light up a larger room, you probably need several bulbs to. Shabbulb is also multi-voltage (110V-240V).
One of the biggest challenges in creating the Shabbulb, Perl said, was figuring out how to safely cover it. Covering any hot surface prevents heat from dissipating. Yet, without a cover, a Shabbulb becomes an ordinary bulb and useless for Shabbos. Sunlite’s engineers and designers had to figure out how to create a cover that enables heat to escape. With the advent of LED lights, doing so became much easier, and I was assured that Shabbulb passed all the standard safety tests and is ETL-certified.
From a halachic perspective: Shabbulb is certified by the OU, Rabbi Asher Eckstein of Belz, and a multitude of other rabbanim. I was told that they actively participated in the product’s development from the onset, asking numerous questions and thoroughly researching every aspect of the process. In addition to ensuring that the light is merely covered and not turned on and off, they also had to ascertain that the bulb’s cover is separate from the bulb so that it wouldn’t be muktzeh.
The rabbanim were involved to such a great degree that they even contributed to marketing the lightbulb! For example, they insisted that the word “lever,” not “switch,” be used when describing the bar that hides or exposes light. They also insisted that the words “hide” and “expose” and “cover” and “uncover” be used – as opposed to “on” and “off” – to ensure there wouldn’t be even the slightest doubt in anyone’s mind that he or she is turning on or off a light switch, which is of course forbidden on Shabbos.
Perhaps due to these precautions, there has not been as much of a backlash from frum Jews to this product as there has been to previous kosher-for-Shabbos products introduced to the market.
Shabbulb, like traditional Shabbos lamps, is available in most Judaica stores and kosher supermarkets, as well as Amazon and Home Depot. It will be interesting to see how many more products will be developed over the course of the next years for Shabbos-observant Jews.