Automatic Lights and Videos on Shabbos

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    Is it permissible to walk somewhere (in the street/public) where you know there is a video being taken 24/7 (i.e. crossing a street where there is a red light camera or passing in front of a private house with a video monitor) or somewhere where a light goes on when someone passes (i.e. in front of a private house)?

    If it is impermissible, how can you walk anywhere unless you know for certain the above issues do not exist? And if you did walk by somewhere like that (i.e. a light went on) unintentionally, where you mechallel Shabbos b’shogeg?


    I am not a posek. Please contact your LOR.

    That said, keep in mind that your two cases are not analogous.

    If a location is being recorded 24/7, then the melacha is occurring whether you are there or not. Your going there does not change anything.

    Going somewhere where you will activate something, then that may well be a different story.

    Again, I am not a rav. Contact your LOR.

    The Wolf


    I know my neighbors have a light sensor that is motion-activated, so I go out of my way to avoid their house on Friday night. You cannot avoid everyone’s house, but you can make the effort to do so when you are aware of a potential problem.


    First of all, you appear to be asking two different questions. In the case of the automatic light, the light is going on because of you. In other words, you turned on a light, just like if you flipped the switch, so you are really asking if walking in the street counts as ????? or possibly ???? ???? ??? ???? ??? . In all the other cases, the melacha is a process set in place before shabbos; your being there does not influence the camera in any way.

    I’ve learned these halachos, but not in any great depth, so I won’t say anything more even though there is no danger of anybody taking this as a psak.


    for those that are attuned intelectually, have you ever heard of “aino mechavin” and “pisik rasho de lo necha lai”.


    Itche Srulik; Your reply to “Trying My Best” was on the right track. He did not define ???? the right way. A “Shogeg” is when you do something knowingly but you’re unaware that this “M’lacha” process is prohibited on Shabbos. “Mis-Aseik” is when some act is being done without you intending to do it. In a practical application, when you walk by a house with a motion sensor and the light goes on as a result, it’s “Mis-Aseik”, not “Shogeg”.


    And if you know that it is there, but do not gain anything by it going on, it may still be Muttar on the basis of Psik Reisha Delo Nicha Lei, which is an offshoot of Misasek. It would depend on who you ask, so ask your Rov.


    From Wolf and Itche’s above comments, I could think it would be okay to leave a video monitor running 24/7 in front of your home (i.e. so you can see who is at your door), and it would be no problem for the owner to leave it on during Shabbos and/or it would be no problem for any family member (or especially a visitor who knows it is running but had no responsibility for its operation) to walk up to the front door, putting your moving image on the screen.

    Am I understanding you gentlemen correctly?


    1. The video is definitely not a problem as mentioned above.

    2. If you are unaware AND uncaring (meaning even if you were aware, you still wouldn’t care)then a light going on as you pass by is not a problem.

    3. If you are aware, or you do care (like a sensor in your living room) , then there are poskim who permit activating it in your normal routine (you may walk around your living room normally)provided it is not a heat producing sensor. There are poskim who forbid this even if the sensor is not heat producing.


    Technically, yes. You are not doing any Melacha by having the already recording device record your image. However, a microphone is the same situation and we don’t use it, regardless. We don’t use electric appliances just like we don’t play music: because of Shema Yisaken Klei Shiur. Every electrical appliance is meant to be turned on or off, amongst other adjustments. Using one puts you in the mode of Issurim. Reb Moshe mentions this among other problems for using a microphone on Shabbos.

    A survailance camera is not “used” by anybody, hence the Hetter. Reb Moshe, too, was Mattir to use hearing aids.


    metrodriver: It was clear that TMB was using shogeg in the general sense of “mistake” rather than the technically correct halachic term. The thing is, the action is by definition not ????? once you know the light is there. In that case it becomes ???? ????

    TMB: yes, that’s exacty what we’re saying.

    Y.W. Editor

    shlomozalman “1. The video is definitely not a problem as mentioned above.”

    There are poskim who hold it’s chillul shabbos to walk in front of a CCTV camera on shabbos.

    For example, the Posek Hador, Rav Elyashiv Shlita, holds that you are not allowed to walk through the old city of Yerushalayim on Shabbos due to the security cameras.

    He very well may be a daas yochid on this, but don’t write “definitely” not a problem.

    I believe that the Debertziner Rav has a Teshuva on this. I could be wrong.

    Most yeshivos now have security cameras, so it would lead one to assume that a shaila was asked, although this might be only because yeshivas are a terror target. Again….I don’t know for sure.

    In any event, ask a posek.


    From Wolf and Itche’s above comments, I could think it would be okay to leave a video monitor running 24/7 in front of your home

    I said nothing of the sort. I merely pointed out that the two cases (automatic lights going off when someone passes by and videotape running 24/7) are not analogous.

    I said nothing about the permissibility or lack thereof.

    Please contact your LOR.

    The Wolf


    ShlomoZalman, if you are unaware it is Misasek. If you know that it is somewhere but you don’t know where, then it is Eino Mischavein as long as you’re not trying to turn it on. If you don’t care at all for it, like someone else’s light, then it is Lo Nicha Lei, which is Muttar according to many Poskim even by a Psik Reisha. It’s actually a Machlokes Rishonim.


    “the video is deffinetly not a problem” Lets get things straight, Most, if not all CCTV surveillance systems do not record 24-7, they only record when motion activated, This can deffinetly run into some problem if chilul shabbos.


    NYC is considering installing a London style 24/7 CCTV system throughout the city. How will the poskim who say its assur allow anyone to walk the streets then? How is it done in London now?


    One of the elements that no one has mentioned here, but figured into my opinion above, is that there is no direct action on the part of the person. This is what is known as grama, and automatically reduces the issue to one of m’derabonon. If we add to this the ambiguity of the prohibition of video, (what is the issur in video? The electronics don’t heat up if I walk in front of the camera, there is no fire, so what is the issur? electronic impulses? that is at worst a d’rabonon in itself), we have a case of grama d’rabonon where the person is not even aware of what he is doing, and does not want the end result. I cannot see how this would be assur.

    In a case where the end result is a light turning on, the issue is one of hav’arah, creating a fire. But if the light is only a sensor, no heat, grama, don’t know about it, don’t want it (you do want it because of security? less justification for a heter), then I think it is permissible.

    Somenone else here mentioned that soon many if not all public areas will be monitored by video. What then? Even now, I know of no one who stopped walking in the Old City because of this issue. The opinon that forbids walking in old Yerushalayim has been ignored and will be ignored in other places too.


    sz: Violating a d’rabbonon on chillul Shabbos isn’t chopped liver.


    To Trying my Best, do live up to your name and try your best to ask this question of your LOR! Coffee rooms are for shmoozing, not the place to get a posuk halacha.

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