Halachic Breakthrough: Israeli Ministry Says “Get Ready for ‘Kosher Electricity'”


electric-wiresA law proposed by the Infrastructures Ministry would place Israel’s electricity under “rabbinical supervision,” at least on Shabbos. Under the law, the Chief Rabbinate would set up a supervisory panel to advise the Israel Electric Company and smaller private utilities on how to manage the electrical system on Shabbos.

Poskim of the past several generations are all in agreement that using electricity on the Shabbos is a violation of halachic prohibition of lighting a fire on Shabbos. Thus, frum Jews do not turn on lights and appliances on Shabbos, with most relying on timers to turn on and off lights and air conditioners. The timers are set and plugged into the wall in advance, thus automating the power process – thus allowing Yidden to benefit from the use of power without a direct violation of the holy day.

While Yidden in general meticulously observe the prohibition of direct use of electricity on the Shabbos, some question where that power comes from – and in the case of Israel, the answer is generally the Israel Electric Company. For security purposes, the vast majority of IEC workers – especially the ones in production – are Israeli Jews, with workers in production usually undergoing a security check.

The Chief Rabbinate has in the past ruled that Jews are permitted to run the electricalsystem in Israel on Shabbos, because the power provided is needed for pikuach nefesh, a situation that allows certain violations of Shabbos. Electricity, for example, is provided to hospitals and the defense systems that protect the country, and others are permitted to benefit from this electricity, since it is produced in a permitted manner.

However, that point of view is not accepted by some in frum community. In manyapartment buildings in Bnei Brak and Yerushalayim, for example, residents have set up their own generators, which they use on Shabbos. Members of these groups say that they would rather do without the IEC’s power on Shabbos, because of the violations of the Shabbos entailed in producing it, even if the Chief Rabbinate supplies a heter.

The IEC has for years sought to find ways to bring these groups back into “the fold,” in order to do away with the private generators, which it says are dangerous. As a result, after consultations with IEC officials, Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau has drawn up a bill that would essentially put the Rabbinate in charge of electricity production on Shabbos. The Rabbinate, according to the bill, would devise ways to produce “mehadrin” electricity – without the need for direct violation of Shabbos by Jews – that would be acceptable to all circles.

In a statement, the Ministry said that the IEC had consulted with frum community leaders and with a well-known halachic technology institute (an example of which would be the Tzomet Institute for Technology and Jewish Law, although the Ministry did not specify which group the IEC consulted with). The organization worked out asystem for electrical production on Shabbos that was acceptable to chareidi poskim, the Ministry said, and in fact it has already been instituted in several substations. The Ministry would provide legal authorization for a more widespread implementation of the plan.

The secular media has been having a field day with this story, with comments such as “Israel is now worse than Iran,” and “here comes the halachic state.” In response, the Ministry said Thursday that the new program would likely require an increase in the Rabbinate’s budget, since new “supervisors” would have to be trained, but that much of the cost of the project “is related to automation costs of the electrical system, a common development in advanced countries around the world.”

{Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel based on Arutz Sheva}


  1. Not just BB and yerushalayim. BS RBS Beitar Kiryat Sefer etc etc etc.

    Are any of the people who use the generators going to rely on the rabanut?

    This is almost laughable!

  2. I was just wondering. Since when do the frum yidden in Bnei Berak and Yerushalayim etc. listen to the Rabbanut? Are they going to trust their mehadrin hechsher?
    Let’s wait and see.

  3. #5 it could be that after they set it up the eida charadis will do its own investigating and then put or not put a third party hechsher on the matter

  4. chevra, no way will the BB & Y’m ppl follow this – the Chazon Ish is their moreh derech, and they’ll stick to his psak

    BTW, a friend of mine (a chareidi avreich) told me that he once asked Rav Scheinberg shlita about it, and the R”Y answered “I have my electricity connected to the nation’s grid”.

  5. I don’t know about that story, but as far as I know, Torah Or yeshiva is on a shabbos generator (their own, on the roof of their building)