Shabbos Elevator Saga Not Over Yet, Rabbonim Convene and Will Meet With Rav Elyashiv in Coming Days


shabbos-elevator-meeting[Video and photos below.] The issue of Shabbos elevators in halacha is not out of the limelight just yet following the recent p’sak from gedolei haposkim stating the Shabbos elevators are forbidden to be used on Shabbos.

As first reported here on, the p’sak was released after a technician said that that the way Shabbos elevators work has change technologically, and after reading the technical opinions of engineers who are experts in this area, poskim, including Rav Yosef Shalom 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, it turns out that the matter is not so clear-cut. Rav Levi Yitzchok Halpern, who heads the Yerushalayim Institute for Technology and Halacha and is a renowned expert in this area, has expressed his doubts about the facts that were presented and said that “the engineer who was brought before the rabbonim does not know his right from his left.”

A team of rabbonim has thus been formed to meet, review and analyze the various issues involved with the Shabbos elevators and the practical halachic applications. The team is headed by Rav Yosef Efrati, trusted right-hand of Rav Elyashiv. The first recent meeting was held in Rav Efrati’s office.

The meeting was initiated by Rav David Chaim Shubkis, a dayan in Belz. The rabbonim discussed a recent letter written by Rav Shubaks in which he explains why the elevators should not be forbidden on Shabbos. Rav Shubkis’ letter contains three principal arguments supporting his contention.

Rav Shubkis emphasizes in his letter that this issue is different than other halachic questions that come to the fore where one can either rule lechumrah, stringently, or lekulah, leniently, for in this case, he says, “there are several reasons to be meikil (lenient).”

1. The first issue he discusses is pikuach nefesh, life and death. Those who are not well or have heart conditions and relied on the elevators are now physically walking up flights of stairs, putting their lives in danger. Until now, with the Shabbos elevator permitted on Shabbos, they used the elevator without hesitation, but after the recent p’sak, they may decide not to take the elevator on Shabbos, and the result can be one of life and death, according to Rav Shubkis.

2. Second is the issue of bein adam lachaveiro. There are those who bought apartments on high floors in buildings, for up to a million dollars, based on the knowledge that they had working, kosher, acceptable Shabbos elevators to use. Not being able to use the Shabbos elevators will cause major damage to them.

3. The third point that Rav Shubkis made was intriguing. He said that rabbonim who have previously paskened the elevators were kosher based on Rav Elyashiv’s p’sak would actual be liable according to him because of changing their p’sak. Rav Shubak said that Rav Elyashiv would be immune from this because he is like an “uman bechinom – a free craftsmen” offering his opinion, but other rabbonim who receive salaries will likely be legally liable for any monetary damage caused by changing their opinions.

Rav Shubkis has thus requested based on the three reasons listed above that the p’sak be changed back to permitting the use of Shabbos elevators.

Rav Elyashiv has agreed to meet with the team of rabbonim, analyze all the issues, and come out with a final decision in the coming days.

Writer’s note: It would appear that if the poskim feel that the Shabbos elevators are forbidden, the reasons listed here would not make a difference, as chillul Shabbos is chillul Shabbos. It would seem, based on our research, that these reasons are simply in addition to the important claim by Rav Halpern that the details of the way the elevators operate were misrepresented. That would appear to the reason for a potential changing of the p’sak.

For a video clip of the meeting, click below:

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For photos of the meeting, see below:

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{Yair Israel with Dovid Bernstein of Newscenter}


  1. I think that any psak regarding elevators or any other issue thats reported here or anywhere else should have the actual original psak in writing from the posek with his signature,not a translated english or hebrew version.Otherwise nothing reported here has any meaning nor should it be accepted as halacha .

  2. regarding points 1 and 2.
    these appartments [rav shefa] can be sold for a lot of money and alternative housing can be purchased,without looking for heterim in issurei shaboss.