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UPDATE – More on Shabbos Elevators P’sak

elyash1.jpgAfter the turmoil created by the response to the p’sak halacha released pertaining to the prohibition against the use of shabbos elevators, based on a report in the Hebrew edition of Yated Neeman and on an in-depth follow-up on Kol Chai Radio, it is now being explained that Maran HaGaon HaRav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv Shlita did not affix his signature are first indicated, but his comment from the past was attached to the publicized signatures of the other gedolei yisrael.

As reported earlier by YWN, Zomet Institute’s Rabbi Yisrael Rosen maintains the technology of the elevators remains unchanged since the ruling permitting their use were issued by Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Aurbach ZT”L, questioning how the change in the ruling came about while none of the rabbonim close to the gedolei yisrael contacted him or his institute. It appears Maranan V’Rabanan Gedolei HaDor Shlita, Maran Rav Shmuel Halevy Wosner Shlita, Maran Rav Nissim Karelitz Shlita and Maran Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita did indeed sign the p’sak as reported earlier by YWN and others. The change is that Rav Elyashiv did not sign at present, but the inclusion of his past remarks on the issue led to a misunderstanding.

HaGaon HaRav Levi Yitzchak Halprin, who heads the Jerusalem Institute for Technology & Halacha is quoted as saying he has written a book on the matter, and the ruling permitting the use of a shabbos elevator is based on decisions by gedolim, and since that time, there have not been changes.

Rav Halprin confirms hearing a “certain engineer” did make an appearance before one of the gedolim and stated the elevators are indeed a cause for chilul shabbos, adding in his (Rabbi Halprin) opinion, “he does not know what he is talking about”.

Rabbi Halprin adds that Rav Elyashiv did not come out against shabbos elevators but against elevators on shabbos (in Hebrew – “ma’aliyot b’shabbos” and not “ma’aliyot shabbos”, insisting Rav Elyashiv did not come out against the ruling, adding he learned the posek hador did not wish to affix his signature to the ruling that carries the names of the other gedolim.

Rav Halprin concludes that until such time he learns of a change in the p’sak halacha, he does not see a reason not to use the shabbos elevators where applicable.

Click on the following link to see the P’sak posted earlier this morning by YWN

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)

20 Responses

  1. The issue today is Shabbos elevators but the real issues are what the Zomet Institute’s Rabbi Yisrael Rosen touched upon in remarks reported elsewhere, namely that access to most of the gedolei haposkim is tightly controlled and it is those who surround them who call the agenda shots. In this instance that has resulted in only one side oif the argument being presented. “There is the utmost importance to to hear the other side, and in this matter there is definitely another side.” said Rabbi Rosen.

    It is really an absolute disgrace that it now appears that the signature of Rav Eliashiv Shlita, dated Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shuva, this year, appears to have been put on a public announcement not only without his consent but in opposition to his views.

    Why should we take as genuine anything that is published in the name of these Gedolim? That is aside of the general point that it is for each one to consult his own Rav for a psak halacha not rely on what he sees on an Internet site, the same Internet that, just by the by, the same gedolim have forbidden yirei hashem from looking at.

  2. I think it is a disgrace that the askanim who printed the psak halacha added Hagaon Hrav Eliyashiv to the Psak in such a misleading way.
    Surely this borders on genevas daas and shows a total lack of derch eretz to the Gadol Hador.

    I often wonder what their real agenda is.

    Kol Hakavod to YWN for clarifying the issue so promptly

  3. Dovid,

    True Torah Jews get their psakim in halacha from their LOR, not Internet hearsay. This includes things (possibly) said in Rav Elyashiv’s name.

    Though your LOR may likely take a verified psak from Rav Elyahiv as immutable, you should realize that halacha is very far from black-and-white and it would be foolish and extremely irresponsible to base one’s halachic day-to-day and other matters on what one sees online. There’s a reason the Torah tells us, by Metzorah, to go to the kohein “asher yihye bayamim haheim”, and not to other sources of reference.

  4. Morei Verboaaei

    I have a funny feeling that this has to do more with the definition of death than with Shabbos Elevators.

    Last week, the Supreme Rabbinical Council ruled that Brain Death is in some circumstances halachically acceptable. The ruling overturned a thousnad year of Psak that only cessation of breathing signifies death.

    The point being made by the Rabbis i Bnai Brak is that if one can so easliy overturn accepted Halacha than all accepted Halacha can be overturned.

  5. Last year this time there came out a psak from Rav Elyashiv’s circle that certain lulavim were assur to buy because shmitta was not kept. After a few days and tens of thousands dollars lost by those sellers, Rav Elayashiv himself signed a letter that he never said that and the lulavim were 100% kosher lemehadrin. I don’t think those sellers were reimbursed by anyone

  6. It’s very sad that this is the 2nd ‘psak’ in a week that had to be “re-issued” (or whichever politically correct phrase you want to use).

    All this is doing is causing many people (myself included) to question the next Psak or Kol Korei I see from Gedoilim even if their signature is affixed.

    For the public good, I would suggest that YWN leave its reporting for news items only and leave the news of Psokim to the Rosh Yeshivos and Gedolim who are able to articulate and more equipt on commenting on any Psak better than a blog or website (as well intentioned as you all are).

  7. This may be an interesting historical US patent by Rav Halprin in 1978 (with a 1974 Israel patent as well):

    If as the article says not much has changed in elevator design, perhaps these diagrams and figures can be useful to understand the halachic issues that have just recently come up?

  8. I would like to reassert my previous comment. Rav Halperns response to me was short and clear. However, as I see he is being quoted otherwise, I hope to ask him again tomorrow morning, as I daven in his shul. For the time being I stick with what I wrote:
    “Recently a relative of mine was hospitalized in a Jerusalem hospital. I asked Rav Levy Halpern of the “Jerusalem Institution for Technology and Halacha” about using the “Shabbos Elevators”. (He has written a whole book on the subject). He stopped me short and simply said: Insert a period between “Shabbos” and “Elevators”. His opinion was clear: “Shabbos Elevators” don’t exist.”

  9. instead of focusing on what Rav Elyashiv did or did not write, did anybody else notice that Ha Rav Shmuel Halevy Wosner, Ha Rav Nissim Karelitz and Ha Rav Chaim Kanievsky all ruled together on this issue as well? To say you follow halacha but reject the poskim (or what the poskim “may or may not have really said”) sounds a lot like Korach, the Sadukim and the Reformers.

  10. Indeed we must listen to the gedolim. The true gedolim IN THIS AREA are R Halperin and R Rosen. Hilchesa keRav be’isurei vechiShmuel bemomonei; everyone has his own area of expertise, and these two rabbonim are the unrivalled experts in this area of halacha. As far as I’m concerned, any psak in the area that was made without consulting these experts is irresponsible and without foundation.

  11. Ben Zvi, how can you lie like that? R Halperin wrote a whole book detailing a kosher design for a Shabbat elevator. Chavrusa O Mesusa pointed us to a patent he took out for such a design. So how can you claim he said Shabbat elevators don’t exist?! Do you take us for fools?

  12. Some years ago someone approached Rav Zolty ZT”L and inquired as to the permissibility of using “Shabbos Elevators”. Rav Zolty ZT”L began to shout “Mir mutcheren zuch und mutcheren zuch and mir vil vaiter funnen chumros?” loosely transalated as “We have exhausted all our efforts in disecting this complex issue, and we have issued a ruling (le-heter), and people still want to find reasons to assur”.
    Being that most people commenting here are neither mechanical engineers or Gedolim, it is probably not in our realm to comment in a Halachic context on a topic where much ink has been spilled.
    If you don’t want to use a Shabbos Elevator (and I don’t) then don’t, and if you do, Yesh al mi lismoch. If you don’t agree with that opinion, you are in your right to do as you wish, but don’t denigrate those who issued a Psak Le-heter and those that followed it.

  13. #4 – Your logic makes no sense. If you can be persuaded that Rav Elyashiv Shlita holds that a shabbos elevator is assur from a YWN report, why don’t you believe the correction?! Either believe YWN, and shabbos elevators are mutar, or don’t believe them, in which case you have no reason to assume Rav Elyashiv holds shabbos elevators are assur!!!!! Come on think logically!!

  14. Our family Rov who is a Posek in his own right, meets with Rav Elyashiv Shlita once or twice per year and speaks with him on different Inyonim. Our Rov once mentioned that if you don’t heat a Psak directly from Rav Elyashiv Shlita do not believe that it might be true. The same was true with the previous Gedolim. How many people quoted Rav Moshe ZT”L with positions he never uttered and was totally made up, or turned around to fit a persons own agenda.

  15. Hey milhouse, welcome here. It’s about time you left the other place, if you’re who I think you are.
    Another interesting thing is that I don’t recall r’ Chaim Kanievsky signing psakim. I thought he refrains from doing so.
    Also, the psak says that it might be deoraisa. That is definately going too far. Creating a load on a circut and therefor drawing more current shouldn’t be considered a Melacha according to any Shita, including the Chazzon Ish.
    These Kol Kores aren’t written by Rabbonim even if they might be signed by them. Divrei torah shel am ha’aretz eino tzarich talmud.

  16. I spoke to Rav Halpern again this morning, and I would like to clarify his opinion. Only elevators made with a “Pikud Shabbos” (פיקוד שבת) as specified in his sefer are permissible. This is not the case in general. All others are forbidden.

  17. Rav Felder from Lakewood said that he once asked Rav Elyashiv about a psak that he “gave” and was told by Rav Elyashiv not to believe any psak nnot heard directly from him.
    BTW the first shabbos elevator was designed for the Pioneer Hotel by Leo Gartenberg together with Rav Ahron Kotler.

  18. It is difficult to imagine that a psak would be issued by these Rabbanim without consulting the Rabbinical experts in the field. Why were they not consulted?

    Of course, it would help if we were told exactly what technological changes were made so that made what was previously permissible now forbidden.
    This way, we could also learn something about the reasoning behind these halachic decisions. Surely such examples of halachic thought would be of benefit to all of us. Why aren’t they specified?

    It would also help if there was some way of authenticating the reports. We have seen false statements about piskei halacha before, and anyone can print papers and stick them up on walls.

    Alternatively, we can blindly believe in anonymous “noble, righteous, devoted, dedicated askanim shli”ta” who are “TREMENDOUS talmidei chachamim”, and follow a psak whose reasons have not been explained to us.

    As things stand, I think that I will go with the Rabbanim who have spent years studying the matter. I will bet that the majority of the shomer mitzvot world agrees with me.

  19. #22, Thank you. That is very different from what you claimed, that R Halpern said there is no such thing as a Shabbos elevator! What you are now reporting is that of course one must actually HAVE a Shabbos elevator in order to use it; one can’t just take a normal elevator, put it on a timer, and CALL it a “Shabbos elevator”!

    Similarly, there is such a thing as an eruv, and it is permitted to carry in one on Shabbos, but it must actually be an eruv; one can’t just put up a few strings here and there for decoration, and call it an “eruv”. Nor, for that matter, can one take a belt, wrap it around ones arm a few times and call it “tefilin”. But that’s a far cry from claiming that there is no such thing as an eruv, or tefilin!

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