Rabbonim Continue to Examine Shabbos Elevator Issue


shabbos-elevator-meetingAs first we reported here on Matzav.com on Monday, a meeting was held in the office of Rav Yosef Efrati, trusted right-hand of Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, to examine, review and analyze the various issues┬áinvolved with the Shabbos elevators and the practical halachic applications. In our report, we mentioned that a great focus of the meeting was on a letter written by Rav Dovid Chaim Shubkis, a dayan in Belz, in which he explains why the elevators should not be forbidden on Shabbos. Rav Shubkis’ letter contains three principal arguments supporting his contention, focusing on the condition of sick people and those who are weak.

That meeting came after a p’sak – signed by gedolei haposkim – was released based on information provided by a technician who said that that the way Shabbos elevators work has change technologically. After reading the technical opinions of engineers who are experts in this area, poskim, including Rav Elyashiv, said that by using these elevators, either for going up or down, it directly causes the performance of melacha de’oraisa and is therefore bonafide chillul Shabbos and they should not be used, even bedieved.

However, as we reported, some, including Rav Levi Yitzchok Halpern, who heads the Yerushalayim Institute for Technology and Halacha and is a renowned expert in this area, said that the facts that were presented were incorrect and that “the engineer who was brought before the rabbonim does not know his right from his left.”

A large number of rabbonim have visited the gedolei haposkim over the last month to contend that the information that had been provided by this engineer about Shabbos elevators was not accurate. Technicians were summoned, and experts were brought for their opinions. These exchanges were held at the office of Rav Efrati.

The recent discussions included the participation of Rav Efrati, Rav Shubkis, Rav Avrohom Moshe Halpern, Rav Moshe Mordechai Karp, Rav Yechiel Nadel, and Rav Simcha Bunim Leizerson.

A full review of all the details discussed is beyond the scope of this report, but some of the conclusions are as follows:

-The opinion of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach , brought in Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasah (Perek 23, He’arah 137, 140, 141) and Shulchan Shlomo (Chelek Bais, Siman 318) would be that even today, there is no problem using a Shabbos elevator, whether for going up or going down, and that it is mutar lechatchilah.

– Rav Efrati reported that until recently, Rav Elyashiv permitted the use of Shabbos elevators approved by the Institute for Technology and Halacha, at least for going up. It would appear that Rav Elyashiv would permit the use of Shabbos elevators for the elderly and their care-takers, the ill, pregnant woman and kimpeturin. A formal written p’sak has not been released yet. Recently, some have said that the weight of the passengers in the elevator causes increases work for the engine, which would possibly be a reason to assur its use for the masses, according to Rav Elyashiv.

– Even if the presence of people causes the elevator to work harder, there is the sevara, repeated in the name of Rav S. Gelber, that since the person is completely passive, the result is not connected to him.

It appears that a p’sak halacha may be released by Rav Elyashiv in the coming days.

Note: This article should not be relied upon l’halacha and is a merely a report of the facts emerging from the office of Rav Efrati.

{Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel}