Jun 16, 2008
Interesting Psak from Rav Ovadia Yosef: washing a soldiers uniform on Shabbos
Rav Ovadia Yosef gives a weekly shiur on motzei shabbos. This past week he spoke about the topic of starting a melacha on Friday afternoon and having it be finished (via an automatic process) on Shabbos itself.
The topic is an interesting one and entails various issues. one is the issue itself of starting a melacha before shabbos and finishing it on shabbos. Another issue involved is one's keilim doing melacha on shabbos. Another issue is the noise involved in such a melacha being done.
The last issue is the most interesting to me. We have learned about this a number of times involving different issues and the topic is one that has a very wide range of opinions as to how to deal with this, and specifically what kind of noise is problematic.
One is not supposed to disturb the serenity and dignity of Shabbos with noisemaking. I can think of applying this to some people talking, kids screaming, Rabbis giving speeches in shul, etc., but it seems to only apply to machinery working and making noise, such as washing machines and dryers running, and the like.
When discussing this in our shiur, we found that some pasken that one cannot even preset a VCR to record a TV show on Shabbos because the click and whir of the tape being loaded and the recording process beginning is enough to be a problem under this category. While others say even more noise is ok.
So the range is great. This always seemed a bit "out of hand" to me, as often the noise can hardly be heard. Even when it can be heard, it can hardly be heard over the normal household noises. And even when it can, it often cannot be heard outside of the house.
And despite all that, almost nobody says one cannot use an air-conditioner because of the noise it makes, and that makes more noise than the click of a VCR or the spin cycle of the washing machine.
So in this week's shiur, Rav Ovadia discussed the topic and gave a very interesting psak. He said, and you can watch/listen to the shiur, though as always, Rav Ovadia is not the easiest to understand. He begins discussing the ramifications at about 10:30 into the shiur.
Rav Ovadia mentioned that army soldiers who come home for shabbos and have to go back after shabbos have a problem when to launder their uniform. They have no time, because they cannot launder it on shabbos, but they have to leave after shabbos. So he paskened they can begin the laundry on Friday afternoon and let it complete itself on Shabbos. Because everything is automatic, all he has to do is press a button and it washes itself, he is allowed to do so on Friday when it will be finished on Shabbos itself.
Regarding the noise created by the washing machine/dryer, Rav Ovadia waved it off (around the 16:00 marker) and said that even though the washing machine makes a zmmmmm noise, it is ok. He is not disturbed by that noise and does not consider it making noise on Shabbos. Rav Ovadia goes through the sources and various opinions explainign why they hold the way they do, and why some are machmir, but says the Bet Yosef paskens it is muttar, and he says (at 20:35) he does not care that it makes that zmmmm noise. That is insignificant. And everybody knows, it is no secret, that the washing machine is automatic and nobody would suspect him of having turned it on on Shabbos just because of the noise.
So this poor soldier who needs to get back to his base, would be allowed, according to Rav Ovadia Yosef, to begin his laundry on Friday afternoon and have it be automatically completed on Shabbos itself.
(NOTE: this post should not be used to pasken halacha. one should learn the subject matter and consult with a competent halachic authority)