Vs. “Sabbath Mode” (Star-K)

(Note that we are not qualified to take any Halachic position on any matter, and that our assessment is based solely on the critique published by several prominent rabbis/poskim.)

 

KosherSwitch® technology is quite different than the Sabbath Mode feature that’s integrated into thousands of appliances, marketed by the Star-K and approved by HaRav Hagaon Moshe Heinemann shlit’a.  Compared to the Sabbath Mode, KosherSwitch® has several key innovations, addressing the shortcomings that have been raised (with KosherSwitch®,  pressing the “key” does not interact with an electrical circuit in any way):

 ”In our opinion, pressing the [Sabbath Mode] keys on Yom Tov is strictly forbidden since pressing a key immediately closes an electrical circuit and instructs the microcontroller to carry out an action. Pressing the key is forbidden just as all manipulation of electricity is forbidden on Shabbos and Yom Tov…” ( letter issued by several leading rabbis/poskim banning use of Star-K’s Sabbath Mode feature)

 

Background

In 2008, a number of prominent rabbis signed a public pronouncement stating that it was unequivocally forbidden to use the Star-K approved Shabbat Mode feature.  Here is a brief and simple explanation why:

 

The Star-K Sabbath Mode claim is that one is permitted to use the electronic keypad that’s on an oven to control the temperature on Jewish holidays.  While it’s true that you don’t sense any immediate reaction to your key-presses (since the display and any beeps are disabled in the Sabbath Mode), you are still directly interacting with a computer and closing a circuit at the time of your key-press!  Many argue that this is Halachically unacceptable.

 

KosherSwitch® addresses this issue in several ways, the most significant being that when you push the “button” on a KosherSwitch®, you’re not interacting with an electronic switch/keypad in any way.  Rather, you’re simply sliding a piece of plastic that’s not attached to anything electrical.

 

Supporting Documents

The following documents elaborate the positions held by HaRav Hagaon Moshe Heinemann shlit’a and the Star-K, along with the rabbinic pronouncements that were issued in response.

 

Sabbath Mode Pronouncement Article (Yeshiva World News):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rabbinic Public Pronouncements Combined:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HaRav Hagaon Moshe Heinemann shlit’a Responsa:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


More common questions answered in the FAQs

Halacha

Is KosherSwitch® meant to be used by everyone?

Due to the highly-relevant nature of this question, and the lack of visibility of the answers when presented in the form of a FAQ, we have relocated the information to a dedicated a page.

 

Is this real? I get to control electricity on Shabbat? Can it be used l’chatchila or is it only as a b’dieved?

Yes, it is very real!  Many of the rabbis/poskim who have endorsed the technology agree that it is not grama (indirect causation) and is therefore permissible l’chatchila  (the ideal Halachic condition or ab initio) and not just b’dieved (acceptable but not the ideal Halachic condition).  See the Halacha section for further details.

Who says that the technology is permissible/“kosher” to use?

From the early concept days for KosherSwitch®, we have been in constant consultation with many prominent Torah scholars around the world, seeking their guidance and their rulings.  We have always remained mindful of our primary objective of zikuei harabim – bring the merit to the masses.  All of our endorsements are from Orthodox, Haredi, and/or Hassidic rabbis/poskim.  See the Endorsements section for details.

How long does it take for the fixture attached to a KosherSwitch® Classic to turn on/off?

In Normal Mode, it’s instant.  In KosherSwitch® Sabbath Mode, there’s no way to predict how long it will take, since the device must go through one or more cycles, each with a possibility that it will fail to function as intended.  Typically, it will take “dozens of seconds” but sometimes, randomly,  it can take more than a minute or two.

Are the rabbis that endorse the technology engineers? Do they understand electronics?

The concepts and Halachic issues raised by KosherSwitch® technology are not necessarily analyzed by a rabbi/posek  on a technological level.  Instead, they are compared to cases and analogies that exist in the Talmud, the Shulchan Aruch and related works.  For example, rather than dealing with electric circuits, their analysis would examine the permissibility of extinguishing a candle by opening a window at a time when a wind is not yet present, etc.

Isn’t your technology the same as moving the pins on a Shabbos clock/timer?

No.  Among other reasons, the movement of the timer pins more directly cause the triggering of the electrical circuit.  KosherSwitch® is innovative, and quite different.  See the Halacha section for an in-depth analysis.

Isn’t KosherSwitch® just another “grama” (indirect causation) device? How are you any different than Zomet? What’s special about your technology?

No, KosherSwitch® is “un-grama”™ technology based on the rulings of many leading rabbis/poskim.  This is why its use is not limited only to the infirm and other lenient situations, as are the solutions offered by Zomet and the Institute for Science and Halacha.  For more details, see: How Does it Work, Analogy, and Halacha.

When all is said and done, isn’t it my action that’s causing the light to go on or off?

Technically, yes; Halachically, no!  (Actually, your action isn’t causing anything to happen, but only allowing something to maybe happen in an unrelated future.)  Halacha does not only consider the end result, but also carefully evaluates the means used to get to that end. See the Halacha section for an in-depth analysis.

Isn’t KosherSwitch® just like the Star-K/Rabbi Heinemann Sabbath Mode feature?

No, KosherSwitch® is very different.  More details are available here.

 

 

Shouldn’t we be concerned that KosherSwitch® technology will be used in inappropriate ways? Won’t it be used as a T.V. remote and to drive a car on Shabbat?!

No, that’s the last thing that we would want to see happen.  Our mission is to enhance the sanctity of Shabbos, not to diminish it.  Someone who is determined to experience Shabbos in inappropriate ways will find a way of doing so with or without our technology.  Therefore, our focus is Zikuei Harabim — to bring the benefits to the masses and not be concerned with individual “renegade” users.

Isn’t this just a loophole that’s bypassing the religious rules? Isn’t this Halachic subterfuge?

No.  Halacha is very specific in what is permitted vs. prohibited.  We have invented a way of doing something that traditionally has been forbidden in a new way that’s permissible and yields tremendous benefits.  Historically, there are many such examples, and they are not viewed as bypassing Halacha.

Isn’t it better to be more stringent and avoid using KosherSwitch® ?

The real question to ask is “which is more stringent – using a KosherSwitch® or not using one?!”  We believe that one is behaving much more stringently by using our technology rather than avoiding it.  Since KosherSwitch® makes chilul Shabbos impossible, it is the perfect tool for one who wishes to be stringent since it will prevent him/her from even accidentally desecrating the Sabbath (or doing so in a Halachically forbidden manner in other extenuating circumstances, such as in amira l’akum).  Still, use of our technology is highly subjective, and we don’t expect everyone to use it.  Existing psychology takes time to reshape, and adoption in certain groups will be slow.  However, we believe that history will prove that by not using a KosherSwitch®, one is being too lenient.

 

Have any rabbis/poskim that have been approached refused to endorse KosherSwitch® ?

We have spent the last few years securing the responsum & endorsements of many respected rabbis in order to help an individual decide whether or not to use KosherSwitch®-based products.  Most rabbis that have refused to endorse the KosherSwitch® have done so on non-Halachic grounds.

Even if permissible, won’t it confuse my kids when all along we’ve been teaching them that electricity is off limits? Won’t they use a regular light switch on Shabbat?

No.  Kids are smart, and they know the difference between something that’s permissible and something that’s not.  This is true even when the two items look identical, which is certainly not the case with the KosherSwitch® since it looks and behaves very differently than traditional switches.  One child provided the best affirmation when asked, “why are you allowed to use a KosherLamp™ on Shabbat?” they answered simply, “because it’s different!”  During our testing, children ranging from 3 to 5 years old were able to discern the difference between a KosherSwitch® and a regular switch, and to verbalize when it’s permissible to use a KosherSwitch® (“only when the light is green”).  More details are available here.

As I used the switch, the Status Light changed from green to red!

In our usage section,  we explain that one should use the KosherSwitch® on Shabbat and Yom Tov only when the Status Light is green, but not when it’s red.  In reality, the device continues to be dormant for the entire duration of the Status Light’s green and red cycle.  Only at the very end of the red cycle does the device become active.  So flicking the on/off button as the Status Light is changing from green to red is of no consequence.

Available Now!

KosherSwitch® Classic Wall Switch
KosherSwitch® Classic Wall Switch

Videos of Interest

Featured Shiur/Lecture

Rabbis & Poskim

HaGaon R Pinchas Zabihi Analyzing the KosherSwitch
HaGaon R Pinchas Zabihi Analyzing the KosherSwitch
HaGaon Rabbi Dzimitrovski Analyzing the KosherSwitch prototype
HaGaon Rabbi Dzimitrovski Analyzing the KosherSwitch prototype
HaGaon Rabbi Yitzhak Israeli Analyzing the KosherSwitch
HaGaon Rabbi Yitzhak Israeli Analyzing the KosherSwitch
HaGaon Rabbi Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa) Analyzing the KosherSwitch prototype
HaGaon Rabbi Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa) Analyzing the KosherSwitch prototype

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