Dec 14, 2010

Interesting Psak From Rav Elyashiv: No Kotel On Shabbos

A few years ago Israel installed a series of security cameras throughout the Old City. It was a time when there was a rash of stabbings, and stabbing attempts, in the Old City and the cameras were meant to both help catch the perps and to also discourage it in the future, as they will know they could more easily be caught.

The issue was raised that perhaps the cameras operating on shabbos would be a problem with those walking through the Old City on Shabbos to go to the Kotel. Rav Elyashiv was supposedly asked and after being made certain that it was not based on motion sensors and no lights were to be activated based on people walking by he paskened that people could continue to walk to the Kotel on Shabbos.

Kikar Shabbos is reporting, based on a notice in the Yated Neeman, that it seems the security system is not being monitored the way it was meant to be. Therefore, Rav Elyashiv has supposedly said that people should not walk to the Kotel on Shabbos, because they might be tripping security cameras. Until the system is checked to be ok, one should avoid it. According to Kikar, while Rav Elyashiv initially was satisified with the arrangements, at a later time he, or his people, tried to get the police to make some changes to some of the technological aspects of the system to satisfy some more machmir concerns. When the police refused to comply with the request for additional changes, Rav Elyashiv supposedly withdrew his support.

Obviously such a psak will affect thousands of people every shabbos. And not just those who are walking to the Kotel These security cameras are placed throughout the Old City and if the psak is really true as publicized, people throughout the Old City will have to stay in their homes the whole Shabbos.


  1. If this issue requires one to stay in their home all Shabbat then Jews in London and New York are in serious trouble as well, as there are literally 10's of thousands of such cameras in every such city and they can no longer be avoided.

    Publicizing a psak that is unlikely to be followed by the klal is forbidden. Doing it repetitively, which is what's been going on, degrades the klal's respect for gedolim (which is exactly what's happened).

    I doubt the fault is with the gedolim but rather with those who ask questions for leverage and then publicize the resulting answers as a psak.

    There should be a psak against that.

  2. I just saw the notice in the Yated on page 3. It says that in the sefer Hakotel Hamaaravi it says Rav Elyashiv paskened it is ok to go to Kotel when the Mabat 2000 program is working (the video surveillance system). The notice then goes on to say that they have become aware that there is not adequate supervision of the system to ensure the mabat 2000 system is functioning properly, and until the situation is rectified people should not go on sshabbos to the kotel.

  3. Why do these announcements have to be so lacking in specifics?

  4. I wonder if they really expect anyone to adhere to them. Are people really going to stop going to the kotel on shabbos (even without all the other ramifications of this announcement)?

  5. I'll put money he never said it, or he never meant it as it's being quoted.

    This has been a known issue for many years when visiting hospitals, and many Rabbonim have paskened that there's no problem because (a) eino psik reisha, it's not clear what cameras are being viewed, and a camera not being viewed on a screen doesn't have a substantial effect, (b) eino nicha lei, (c) eino miskaven, (d) LCD screens nowadays are miderabanan unlike CRTs years ago, .....


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