OU Kosher Hails New Zman-Switch to Enhance Shabbos Observance


Leading rabbis from the Orthodox Union Kashrut Division enthusiastically endorsed revolutionary new technology by Zman Technologies to enhance Sabbath observance. The rabbis, including Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, posek (halachic advisor) to OU Kosher, Rabbi Menachem Genack, Chief Executive Officer of OU Kosher, and Rabbi Moshe Elefant, Chief Operations Officer of OU Kosher, were joined by Rabbi Menachem M. Weissmandl, Nitra Rav of Monsey, NY, and Rabbi Tzvi Ortner, rabbinic advisor to Zman Technologies, at OU headquarters. The meeting also included representatives from the electrical and appliance industries as well as marketing experts.

The rabbis received a firsthand demonstration of the new Zman Switch, the first of many new and innovative technological products that will dramatically enhance the observance of Shabbat. Joel and William Thea, owners of Zman Technologies, presented the new development that will ultimately guide the use of electricity on Shabbat. The rabbis enthusiastically welcomed the initiative, indicating that the technology would solve many age-old problems that could not be addressed to date.

Zman Switch is the first of many new technological products that the company is developing to help observant Jews conform to the highest standards of halacha regarding Sabbath and Yom Tov observance. Some of the rabbis are already using the trailblazing technology in their homes. It is scheduled to be available to the broader market in the near future.

Zman Switch is built with a fool-proof, patented program, approved by rabbis and tested by experts. The switch, which also serves as a regular timer during the week, replaces most regular light switches and can be installed in minutes. After the Sabbath observer uses the advanced LED screen to select one of the many Jewish communities throughout the country that are preprogrammed into the device, the switch automatically configures to the start of Shabbat in that location and allows the user to preset the desired time for when the light should turn on each week (e.g. 20 minutes before candle-lighting time). The user can also preset the switch to go on and off during Shabbat at preset times, eliminating the needed for the common weekly adjustments. The Shabbat and Yom Tov times in each location are already programmed in the device until the year 2050.

The feature that most intrigued the rabbis was that once the timer is in Shabbat mode, it cannot be switched on or off (save for an emergency bypass for first responders such as Hatzalah), eliminating the need for tape, velcro, and guards to protect against accidentally triggering the switch. Many households have experienced sitting in the dark as a result of inadvertently turning off lights on Shabbat. The rabbis were intrigued by the cutting-edge technology which will ultimately enhance Sabbath and Yom Tov observance and eliminate some of the complex problems that are inherent in current modes of use of electricity.


  1. This is nothing more than a Shabbos zeiger with a program that includes the time periods until 2050. It does NOT enhance Shabbos observance. Most more expensive homes had such clocks installed years ago to thwart burglaries for their lights to go on and off in different rooms even thou they are vacationing in Florida etc.

    It is simply a commercial marketing hype.

  2. Zero problems have been solved. Why don’t these people tackle the real shabbis issues such as Shabbos elevators, electric wheelchairs, handicapped chairlifts etc. There are so many items that are truly important to avoid chilul shabbis.

    A simple time clock with a programmable time schedule when sundown will be and nightfall is a great convenience but no relationship to shabbis observance.

    It is new owners of a company that want to commercialize it. No problem with that, but lets not get sucked into it. Next thing will be if we don’t place it in the home we will be accused of not being shomrei shabbis

  3. I dont always want my lights on/off the same time every week – and seems like it not simple to change it, without reprogramming it. what’s wrong with regular shabbos timer switch?

  4. The big tikkun here is that it becomes totally disabled during Shabbos and Yom Tov which means that it cannot be accidentally switched off, children can’t play with pins, don’t have to worry about a guard or velcro falling off. It totally avoids Chillul Shabbos. Bottom line: You don’t have to be busy with the settings on a stressful Erev Shabbos and don’t ever have to worry again about sitting in the dark because someone forgot to turn on the timer or accidentaly bumped into the switch and turning out the lights. That is why the rabbonim are so exscited about the switch and more importantly the technology that will ultimately be applied to other appliances

  5. It is the beginning of a break through. The timer is locked, so that there is no inadvertent chilul shabbos, and it automatically adjust for shkiyah, tzies (even 72). Thus, you can set your lights to go on an hour before shkyiha on shabbos and yomtov for the next 36 years.

    The company is also looking to use this same technology for shabbos ovens and refridgertors, so that the many problems such as operating the automatic defrost, etc. can be avoided and enhance shemiras shabbos and yomtov.

  6. Sounds great and already available on the market. You can get them at Home Depot for about $40 each and have an astronomical clock built in, so you can automatically set by sundown/sunrise. One company is Leviton.

    With all the ads on the top and sides, does Matzav really need to put more in the main area?

  7. This might be a great idea, but let’s not get carried away. Technologically, it is not innovative, trailblazing, advanced, or cutting-edge.