Rav Halpern: Rav Elyashiv Did Not Assur Shabbos Elevators

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rav-elyashiv2[P’sak under question below.] After a storm that followed a ruling published this morning regarding Shabbos elevators, Matzav.com has learned that, according to a prominent authority on this matter, contrary to what was reported in various news outlets and websites, Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv has not prohibited the use of Shabbos elevators.

This morning, the Israeli Hebrew language Yated Ne’eman published a new p’sak halacha from the gedolei haposkim prohibiting the use of Shabbos elevators. The p’sak, which can be seen below, states that those who use such elevators possibly transgress issurei de’oraisa. The p’sak was signed by Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner, Rav Chaim Kanievsky and Rav Nissim Karelitz, with an added statement and signature from Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv.

The p’sak states that the way Shabbos elevators work has change technologically, and after reading the technical opinions of engineers who are experts in this area, it became clear to the poskim that by using these elevators, either for going up or down, it directly causes the performance of melacha de’oraisa.

The halachic debate surrounding the Shabbos elevator has existed for many years, basically since the advent of this type of elevator. Gedolei haposkim of past generations have given their halachic approval for the use of these elevators on Shabbos, as, based on the testimony of engineers, it was determined that a person riding the elevator does not cause the elevator to work harder whatsoever, and riding it does not cause any chillul Shabbos. There are those who only take the elevator up and not down, based on the technological explanations of engineers. Further examination of this specific halachic consideration is beyond the scope of this report.

The p’sak that was released today, however, changed the generally accepted heter regarding the Shabbos elevators. The institutes that give the hashgacha on Shabbos elevators state that they do not understand what prompted the p’sak.

Rabbi Yisroel Rosen of the Zomet Institue said today that the previously accepted heter was based on a p’sak of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, and that he had not heard of any change in p’sak since that heter was issued years ago. He says he does not understand the sudden tumult regarding this matter. “There is the utmost importance to to hear the other side, and in this matter there is definitely another side.” said Rabbi Rosen. “The halachic ruling must be reasoned, and unfortunately this is not a reasoned decision.”

Rav Levi Yitzchok Halpern, who heads the Yerushalayim Institute for Technology and Halacha, responded that he has written a sefer on the topic “and those who want can go and learn the subject in depth.”

 “Shabbos elevators are mutar according to all gedolei Yisroel with whom I spoke and there isn’t any change in the matter,” said Rav Halpern.

What happened now? How did such a p’sak, like the one today, come out?

Rav Halpern: “I heard that that it was an engineer who went to the homes of gedolei Yisroel and explained to them that Shabbos elevators cause chillul Shabbos. Apparently, the engineer did not know what he’s talking about. I know hundreds of engineers who have no idea what they are talking about on these issues. On this basis, the p’sak was released. I studied the subject. I had to find reasons why to forbid it, not why to permit it.”

Rav Elyashiv signed today’s p’sak. Did he rely on this amateur engineer?

Rav Halpern: “Carefully note the words of Rav Elyashiv: He did not write a single word against the Shabbos elevators. Rav Elyashiv stresses: “Regarding maaliyot b’Shabbos (elevators on Shabbos), my opinion is not to use them for either going up or going down.” He writes maaliyot b’Shabbos, elevators on Shabbos, not maaliyot Shabbos, Shabbos elevators. I also hold that it is prohibited to use elevators on Shabbos! I heard from people in Rav Elyashiv’s home that he did not want to sign the p’sak, and after pressure was applied (by those organizing the signing of the p’sak), he wrote this version.

Bottom line, can one use a Shabbos elevator?

Rav Halpern: “As long as we do not hear about new elevators that cause chillul Shabbos, the p’sak has not changed.”

Click here to view the newly released p’sak. Then click on the image to magnify it.











{Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel}


  1. Is Rabbi Halpern saying that there are gedolim not in control of what they write but are forced by others into writing certain psokim ???
    Is he saying that gdolim write psokim in a confusing manner to the common reader intentionally???

  2. The issue today is Shabbos elevators but the real issues are what the Zomet Institute’s Rabbi Yisrael Rosen touched upon in remarks reported earlier, namely that access to most of the gedolei haposkim is tightly controlled and it is those who surround them who call the agenda shots. In this instance that has resulted in only one side of the argument being presented. “There is the utmost importance to to hear the other side, and in this matter there is definitely another side.” said Rabbi Rosen.

    It is really an absolute disgrace that it now appears that the signature of Rav Eliashiv Shlita, dated Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shuva this year, appears to have been put on a public announcement not only without his consent but in opposition to his views.

    Why should we take as genuine anything that is published in the name of these Gedolim? That is aside of the general point that it is for each one to consult his own Rav for a psak halacha not rely on what he sees on an Internet site, the same Internet that, just by the by, the same gedolim have forbidden yirei hashem from looking at.

  3. Any Psak quoted from Maran Harav Elyashiv Shlita is subject to question- witness the recent scandal regarding the Vaad Hair tzedokoh campaigns where the news paper had to be removed from the streets- I personally doubt that he paskened on the Crocs issue as well- there are so many pesakim quoted in his name that it is impossible to know the authenticity of any-

  4. postyomkippurshakes – in common language it is called ‘peer pressure’. No gabbai wants ‘his Godol’ to seem less of a kanoi that the next one. The name of the game is to persuade one gabbai that ‘his godol’ should sign, then you move on from there. Once ‘the godol’ has signed who doesn’t want to have his godols name in lights on the same page. We are told, and I belive it is undoubtedly so, that most of the gedolim spend almost all their waking hours immersed in learning. Someone has to sift the rest. That is what gabboyim or askonim are for. Unfortunately they are not of the same quality of the gedolim they have great influence on. Please note I carefully say on not over.

  5. While I agree with Rabbi Halpern in the manner in which these psokim are issued as I have first hand experience in this manner, the lashon in the kol koreh printed at the bottom of the page clearly states, ma’aliyot shabbat not the ambiguous maaliyot b’shabbos that he suggested. So, Matzav editors should have picked up on that before running this story – unless of course there are no editors looking for typos or such mistakes.

  6. why does matzav only report the views of this rabbi rosen and not any gabbbi of rav Elyashiv and what about rav Chaim Kanievsky and rav Nissin Karalitz? Is matzav trying to cover up the issur instead of reporting abalasnced opinion? Rav Vosner clearly allways held its ossur how could matzav report that everyone holds its mutter?Daas baal habyes hepech daas torah

  7. a “psak came out erev yom kippur that Rav Elyashiv forbids crocs on Yom Kippur as they are too comfortable. Does that mean that comfortable tennis shoes,etc. are all forbidden. Now, today, I read that he forbids all shabbos elevators. They then quote the head of the Zomet Institute that studies science and halacha as to how could he have overturned a psak from Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach without even asking Zomet to explain why it is still just as permitted now as it was then. It seems that there are people around these rabbis and it is hard to present more than one side of an issue . What this leads to , in the opinion of those who know what is going on is complete disdain for anything said in the name of these revered sages. No one knows if they really mean it or if some handlers around them are not telling them the whole story. It is a chilul Hashem and it keeps going on.

  8. Rabbi Yisroel Rosen of the Zomet Institue designed an alarm for an aron kodesh for Shabbos. The RCA Rabonim ask me to discuss it with Rabbi Rosen of Zomet, I found that the design was OSSUIR to be used on Shabbos, as it did not work as he portrayed it to be (an electonic imposibility). Reb Moshe Feinstein in his letter to Rabbi Rosen said “the he described it to me…it’s permitted”.
    So one may not rely on Zomet’s designs.


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