The Analogy

Sometimes, it’s easier to understand how KosherSwitch® functions by way of analogy.

Rabbi, may I open a door on Shabbat?

 

Rabbi, may I close a door on Shabbat?

 

The technologist’s analogy: 

  • There are two robots, “Jake” and “Ben”.  Jake is located outside a room, and Ben is inside that room.  The robots are usually “asleep” or inactive/dormant.
  • At random intervals, Jake will send a message to Ben using a brief pulse of light from its flashlight.
  • Ben looks for these messages, and will act upon them.  If it sees a pulse, it will turn the light in the room on (or leave it on).  If it doesn’t see a pulse, it will turn the light in the room off (or leave it off).
  • Jake has a way of indicating that it’s getting ready to send a message.  Its eye color is constantly changing between green (for a random duration), then red (for ~5 seconds), and then back to green.  It will only send a message right before its eye color changes from red back to green.  So when its eyes are green, there is absolute assurance that no message will be sent for at least another ~5 seconds, even if the change to red is imminent.  Jake is dormant during the entire time that its eyes are green and red, and will only wake up at the very end of its red-eye phase, send its message using a pulse from its flashlight, then go back to green eyes and be dormant again.
  • At each attempt, there is a possibility that the message communication will fail: Jake’s flashlight may break, and Ben may not receive it.  The probability of failure is random, within a certain range.
  • At each attempt, there is also a possibility that Ben will fail in turning the room light on/off as expected, even if the message was received properly.  The probability of failure is random, within a certain range.
  • On Shabbat, a person opens/closes the door to the room separating the robots, while Jake’s eyes are green, knowing that it will ultimately affect the state of the room light… Welcome to KosherSwitch®.

An alternative Talmudic analogy: 

  • There is a candle burning next to a closed window, and a strong wind blowing outside.  Certainly, opening the window on Shabbat is forbidden, since the candle will be extinguished immediately.
  • There is a device that can determine if there’s no wind currently blowing, and it can predict with 100% accuracy that no wind will be blowing for at least the next ~5 seconds.  It lights up with a green light when it has determined this to be true.
  • On Shabbat, a person opens/closes the window while the device’s indicator is green, knowing that a wind will ultimately blow and succeed in extinguishing the candle.
  • More accurately:  A person opens/closes the window before the wind is created, before the candle is placed by the window, at a time when the device’s indicator is green, knowing that sometimes gusts of wind hit the candle [its future location] and sometimes they miss, and even when they do strike the candle, sometimes they’re able to extinguish it, but other times they do not… Welcome to KosherSwitch®.

More common questions answered in the FAQs

Technology

Is KosherSwitch now available for purchase? Can I now buy a KosherSwitch? Have you launched?

Yes we’ve launched!  KosherSwitch® is now available online (BUY NOW) and at select retailers, resellers, and installers!

 

Is KosherSwitch® technology similar to the Zman Switch? (ZmanSwitch)?

No, KosherSwitch® is quite different!  The product marketed as “Zman Switch“ is simply a timer/Shabbos clock that is pre-programmed with Halachic times/zmanim for Shabbat and holidays.   Unlike the KosherSwitch®, it cannot be used for on-demand control of electricity on Shabbat/holidays — when and where it’s needed.  Like a traditional timer, it must be pre-configured with on/off times based on an anticipated and predetermined schedule that cannot be changed during Shabbat or holidays.  KosherSwitch® also yields significant energy savings, which the ZmanSwitch does not.  For more details on the advantages that KosherSwitch® yields, please see here and here.

 

Is the KosherSwitch® Classic UL certified?

Yes.  Our production units are UL® Listed / UL Certified with a cULus safety certification covering the USA and Canadian standards.  See here for details.

 

How easy is it to install a KosherSwitch® ? How do you program/configure it?

The KosherSwitch® Classic is easy to install, and there’s nothing to program or configure.  There are several wires protruding out of the switch.  Simply attach those wires to the wires that are currently in the wall (some models require an available A/C neutral wire) using the included “wire nuts”.  See here for the installation guide and video.

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.

Do we need to change our wiring, anything inside the wall, or our wallplate?

The KosherSwitch® Classic does not require changing any wiring, since it attaches to the existing in-wall wires. (Note that some versions of our switch require an A/C neutral wire in the wallbox.)  It is designed to fit most electrical/junction boxes and wall cutouts.  It fits perfectly within standard decorative wallplates such as the Leviton® Decora® style plates, which are the type of wallplates found in many homes and institutions.  For those locations were the traditional “toogle switch” wallplates are used, only the wallplate would need to be replaced (these are widely available in various configurations and are inexpensive). Note: Wallplates are not included with our products.

Isn’t KosherSwitch® technology similar to timers/Shabbos clocks/motion sensors?

Not at all.  Use of motion sensors are forbidden, since they’re akin to directly triggering an electrical switch, and timers do nothing to prevent Shabbat desecration (“Chilul Shabbos”).  Timers/Shabbos clocks have many issues and limitations.  They require knowing your schedule ahead of time, which is often impossible to do, especially when Shabbat is following a two-day holiday.  Timers require programming, which invariably leads to errors that cause things to go on/off at undesired times.  Also, because of the required programming “buffer” before and after your anticipated usage times, they are very wasteful.  A KosherSwitch® addresses all of these limitations, and many more, allowing you to control your electricity when and where needed, in a way that’s permitted.

Since the KosherSwitch® Classic is a “smart device” isn’t it constantly wasting electricity?

No.  The KosherSwitch® Classic draws less than 1.5W of electricity while it is installed.  That’s about a quarter of the consumption of  most nightlights.  By using a KosherSwitch® Classic, you will actually  be reducing your overall electricity consumption in a significant manner.

Does the The KosherSwitch® Classic require anything else installed, like a computer or a base unit?

No.  The KosherSwitch® Classic is a self-contained unit that does not require any external devices such as base units, computers, timers, etc.  When we mention the device’s “computer” or a “micro-controller”, we’re actually referring to a tiny computer that’s included inside the switch’s enclosure.

You claim that KosherSwitch® “pays for itself” in under a year. How is that possible?

The alternatives to KosherSwitch® are all relatively wasteful:  1) Leaving the fixture on for the entire duration of Shabbat and/or Jewish holiday.  Obviously, this is extremely wasteful, since much of the time that the fixture is turned on, it’s not in use (such as overnight).  2) Timers and Shabbos clocks: Since they need to be pre-programmed with the anticipated schedule required, they will always include wasteful “buffer” time before and after the actual use.  So while you’re sleeping in the bedroom, the dining room lights are still illuminating an empty room.  (If an air conditioner is active in that room, it will be double the waste, since the unit will continue to work hard cooling a room that’s vacant!)  KosherSwitch® eliminates this waste by allowing the on-demand control of electricity in a manner that’s permitted.  So electrical devices go off soon after they’re no longer needed.  See the Energy Savings section for further information, including a sample calculation of the electricity savings possible.

Is KosherSwitch® technology similar to the KosherLamp™ (Kosher Lamp)?

Not at all.  A KosherLamp™ is simply a light bulb that’s constantly on and situated inside of a cylinder with an aperture that acts as a variable shade.  Since it’s fully enclosed, the lamp must be of very low intensity in order avoid the risk of fire, so its uses are very limited (and it’s marketed as a reading light). In direct contrast with KosherSwitch®, it can’t control any other light fixture and is wasteful since the bulb remains on for the entire duration of Shabbat and Jewish holidays.

Is KosherSwitch® technology similar to the Shabbos Smart Switch? (ShabbosSmartSwitch)?

Not at all.  The product marketed as “Shabbos Smart Switch” is simply a timer/Shabbos clock that installs over an existing toggle light switch.  It must be programmed before Shabbat, and cannot be used to prevent Chilul Shabbos or to interactively control electricity on Shabbat/holidays.

Since the on/off button is mechanical and not attached to anything electrical, won’t it break easily? Since the Status Light indicator is constantly in use, won’t it burn out? Won’t the door break off?

No.  Our switch is designed to ensure tens of thousands of actuations.  The Status Light is rated for millions of operations.  Nevertheless, our products are backed by our support and a warranty.

Can the KosherSwitch® Classic coexist with other types of switches in the same electrical box/wall plate?

Yes.  If you need to mix a KosherSwitch® with the more traditional toggle switches, multi-gang wall plates will allow you to mix and match devices in most configurations.

 

Is KosherSwitch® considered to be the KosherLamp™ (Kosher Lamp) killer?

No, we believe that they complement each other.  While KosherSwitch® is superior to the KosherLamp™ because of its many benefits, the KosherLamp™ has certain advantages in the specific area that it’s marketed: a reading light.  Its variable shade offers “dimming” capabilities that we don’t plan to include in the KosherSwitch® Classic.  Additionally, since it’s always on, there’s no delay when turning the lights on or off.  We think that the KosherLamp™ is a great product within its limited context, and believe that our products will co-exist with it.

 

 

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 Rabbi Dzimitrovski Analyzing the KosherSwitch prototype
HaGaon Rabbi Dzimitrovski Analyzing the KosherSwitch prototype
HaGaon Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Shapiro
HaGaon Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Shapiro
HaGaon Rabbi Noach Isaac Oelbaum Analyzing the KosherSwitch
HaGaon Rabbi Noach Isaac Oelbaum Analyzing the KosherSwitch
Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi Analyzing the KosherSwitch
Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi Analyzing the KosherSwitch

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