All 3 of these are highly affected by technology and halacha willl either need to deal with technology or abandon it.
The use of electricity (which powers all technology) on Shabbos has been an issue in halacha from the start. everyone prohibits using electricity, however, there is no clear issur and the poskim offer various suggestions why electricity should be prohibited
- Molid (Beit Yitzchak 2:31) - Turning on an appliance is analogous to creating something new which is prohibited on Shabbat (איסור דרבנן).
- Boneh (Chazon Ish Orach Chaim 50:9) - Completion of a circuit is prohibited because it is a form of building (איסור דאורייתא)
- Makeh B'Patish (Chazon Ish Orach Chaim 50:9)- Turning on an appliance completes it (איסור דאורייתא)
- Sparks (Chazon Ish Orach Chaim 50:9) - Completion of a circuit creates sparks and therefore is prohibited because it creates a flame (איסור דרבנן)
- Increased fuel consumption (Chashmal Leor Halacha 2:6) - The use of electrical appliances leads to an increase in fuel consumption at the power station, which is prohibited. (maybe an איסור דאורייתא)
- Heating of metal (Chazon Ish, Orach Chaim 50:9) - Heating of a metal transistor or wire, even when no visible light is emitted, is prohibited because of cooking or burning (איסור דאורייתא)
R' Sholom Zalman Auerbach (RSZA) is probably the posek who dealt the most with electricity and understood both the halachic and physical realities. All of the above suggestions were rejected by RSZA for the following reasons:
1. Only a limited number of actions were prohibited by Chazal because of molid, and therefore we may not extrapolate from these limited examples that creating anything else new (like electrical current) is rabbinically prohibited.
2. Closing a circuit is analogous to closing a door (which is permitted) because it is meant to be opened and closed.
3. Since the appliance is made to be turned on and off it cannot be makeh b'patish
4. This is not factually true anymore
5. This is at most grama and in fact is many times not true.
6. This is not factually true anymore
Based on the above RSZA (Minchat Shlomo 74, 84), writes the following:
In my opinion there is no prohibition [to use electricity] on Shabbat or Yom Tov... There is no prohibition of ma'keh bepatish or molid... (However, I am afraid that the masses will err and turn on incandescent lights on Shabbat, and thus I do not permit electricity absent great need...) ... This matter requires further analysis.
However, the key point in my opinion is that there is no prohibition to use electricity on Shabbat unless the electricity causes a prohibited act like cooking or starting a flame.
He states unequivocally that since the minhag is to prohibit the use of electricity, and this minhag received near unanimous approval from the poskim absent great need we should accept this tradition.
Even according to the Chazon Ish, many/most modern appliances would not be assur min hatorah for the following reason. Appliances today are always on, your refrigerator is running 24/7 as is your water meter. The Chazon Ish said it was boneh or make b'patish when you turn on an appliance was talking about an appliance that was off, no current, turning it on makes it useful (the Chazon Ish called it ממות לחיים). This certainly does not apply to a running appliance, the refrigerator is functioning perfectly, your opening the door causing some sensor to do something does not finish the appliance, does not make it useul, does not turn it on. Therefore, even according to the Chazon Ish there would be no issur d'oraysa.
My sense is that the more modern poskim (MO in America, Dati Leumi in Israel) agree with RSZA while much of the Charedi world holds like the Chazon Ish.
Given the fact that electricity is prohibited by all poskim today lets take a look at some common issues:
New refrigerators all have sensors that are put into action when you open the door etc. (even if you tape down the light switch) and are becoming more and more integrated and essential to the use of the refigerator.
Electronic Water Meters
Electronic water meters are being installed all over the world. Every time you turn on the water you are directly causing the electronic water meter to record your use which falls under the general rubric of electricity.
Security Cameras/Security Lights
In many cities there are security cameras everywhere which will record you on Shabbos. Likewise, there are lights that are activated by a motion sensor when you walk by.
Electronic Door Locks
These are found in every hotel and are now being installed in apartment buidings around the world.
Hotels On Shabbos
When you take all of the above, plus add in some additional issues with hotels such as
- Motion sensors which shut off the lights and air conditiong if there is no movement
- Faucets that go on and off based on motion sensors
- Toilets with sensors
- Automatic doors
I don't see how an orthodox Jew will be able to stay in a hotel on Shabbos unless there is a change in approach to electricity.
There are a number of halachic solutions that can be applied to these cases that have been suggested by contemprary poskim.
- A number of poskim hold that sensors that don't cause any visible action to happen are not prohibited. For example, if you open the refigerator and some sensor records that action but no there is no visible response in teh refigerator that is not considered a Melacha. This would address refrigerators and electronic water meters
- If you are just walking normally and something happens like a secuirty camera records you or a light turns on that you have no interest in, that is not considered anything in halacha and is permitted (Shevet Halevi). This would address the security camera/security lights scenario.
- פסיק רישיה דלא ניחא ליה בדרבנן - If you assume that electricity is drabbanan many of these are a פסיק רישיה דלא ניחא ליה and therefore permitted according to some opinions.
The electronic door locks is more problematic as there is a visible response to your action and you clearly want the response.
The Charedi response is very predictable, אסור אסור אסור. Below are some Kol Korehs from Yated Neeman about electronic water meters.
Zman technologies are selling a fancy shabbos clock for refrigerators, see http://www.zmantechnologies.com/faq where they claim that there are many issurim involved in opening the refrigerator door.
IMHO, in the not so distant future we are going to see a real split between the Charedi world which will need to take extreme measures to avoid electricity on Shabbos and the rest of the orthodox world which will permit this. The orthodox world which engages with the outside world can't just say assur and be done with it.
to be continued...