Rabbi Y. Belsky
506 East 7th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11218
To whom it may concern:
I was given a description of a device called “the kosher switch” by its makers. The accompanying material claimed that it could be used to turn lights on or off during Shabbos without violating halachah. Upon careful examination, it turned out to be nothing more than a tool for the breaking down of meleches Shabbos into its component parts without omitting a single element thereof. It is a “Rube Goldberg” contraption comprising an entire melachah, except that somewhere along the line, a tiny possibility of safeik is introduced, so that the odds of the melachah being completed is reduced somewhat or delayed minimally. This concept has no place in halachah. (1) If the Sanhedrin were empowered, that act would be punishable by misas bais din.
Following this fallacious reasoning, all thirty-nine melachos and their subcategories, toldos, could easily be performed on Shabbos. There is but a one-word correct response to these machinations: assur, period.
In a case of pikuach nefesh, there would be no improvement in using this device over a direct performance of the actual melachah, which would be preferable, because it would shorten the rescue time.
The material advertising the “switch” is an agonizing distortion of Torah values. It portrays the holy and wonderful Shabbos as a nuisance and a problem to be solved. “Get our switch and you will be relieved from the unbearable limitations and yoke of Shabbos.” That is the unequivocal message resounding from every word of the false publicity accompanying the gadget.
It is worthwhile to issue a clarion call at this time to clear the air. Shabbos is wonderful, Shabbos is bliss. There is nothing in Jewish life comparable to preparing for and experiencing our holy Shabbos. Nor is there anything in non-Jewish life that comes close to Shabbos.
The limitations of Shabbos are what characterizes it and what endows it with its sweetness and majesty.
Zachor es yom haShabbos lekadsho, ois hee beini uveineichem ledoroseichem.
Signed on the 2nd day in the month of Iyar 5775
Rabbi Yisroel Belsky
(1) Compare to “zoreh veruach mesayato.” There, as well, the lack of certainty in intermediate elements does not diminish the continuity of the melachah. There are numerous other examples.