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Feb 19, 2013

Interesting Psak: Opening the Refrigerator on Shabbos

This psak made me laugh and cringe at the same time, so I share it with you....

Rav Ofir Malka, a Sefardi rav in Modiin Ilit, was asked how one could open the refridgerator on Shabbos if they forgot to disable the light bulb.

The psak given by Rav Malka is interesting in its own right - it is one that I have not heard in practical application - one could ask a non-Jew, directly, to open the fridge. Even though the light will turn on, it is allowed because the non-Jew wants to open the fridge, not turn on the light. It is a psik reisha, but that is allowed when telling a non-Jew to do something.

 Rav Malka continues and says some poskim today don't approve of that because the light turning on is an integral part of , so it is better to not tell the non-Jew directly but only to hint to it.

And, Rav Malka continues, and this is the funny/cringe part, if no non-Jew is available one can call over an Asheknazi child and tell him to open it up, on condition that he does not know the light will turn on and as long you give him something to eat from the fridge..
No further comment necessary...

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  1. Why laugh or cringe? The photo you posted showing Rav Malka's psak notes his source in the Biur Halacha. Assuming that causing the light to turn on is only an issur d'rabanan, then the Biur Halacha, generally followed by Ashkenazim but not as much by Sephardim, explicitly gives full sanction to asking a child to perform a melacha d'rabbanan if the child personally benefits.

    If you have an issue with this, surely it's with the Biur Halacha, and not with any contemporary Rav's application of the Biur Halacha.

  2. Rafi, I'm going to disagree with the cringe-worthiness of the psak. Without having seen the psak itself, it's certainly possible that the reason he's saying this is because there are plenty of ashkenazi poskim that permit opening a refrigerator on shabbat even if one left the light on.

  3. the sound of "you can ask either a goy or an ashkenazi" hurts my ears.

    I did not dispute the halacha or logic. It just hurts my ears.

  4. My wife was in the hospital for 5 weeks before our daughter was born. Our Rabbi said she could eat the hospital food but it is better not to and for sure I couldn't. Each week we prepared meals. Our Anglican Minister (The Chaplin) allowed us to keep a hot plate in her office on Friday night, so we could have warm food for dinner. Most of the food (including grape juice) was kept in the communal fridge. We were allowed to ask the nurses directly to take the food out of the fridge.

    Of course my daughter was born on Shabbat. Shabbat afternoon, I was starving but as she wasn't hungry, I had no way to get the food out of the fridge.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. This is revenge for Ashkenazim not holding by "mesi'ach l'fi tumo" in kashrus and using Sephardim to taste food to make sure there's no taste of basar v'cholov.

  7. See Se'if כט here, where he allows a Goy to open the fridge, but not a Katan, but to close the fridge is even OK via a Katan (Ashkenazim and Sepharadim are not mentioned):

    כט אם שכחו להוציא את המנורה מהמקרר מערב-שבת, ואי אפשר ליקח משם את המאכלים שהכינו לצורך עונג שבת, מותר לומר לגוי להביא דבר מאכל הנמצא במקרר, אף על-פי שעל ידי שפותח את דלת המקרר בודאי תידלק המנורה. [שהרי אינו מצוה אותו למלאכת איסור, וגם אין הישראל מתכוין למלאכה, ולא הוי אלא פסיק רישיה. וכל פסיק רישיה בגוי מותר]. ולאחר שהגוי יפתח את המקרר, ונדלקה המנורה שבתוכה, והוא צריך עדיין להשתמש במצרכי המזון שבמקרר, ויש חשש שהמאכלים יתקלקלו, ואין שם גוי, יכול לסגור את המקרר כלאחר יד. [כי כיבוי הנורה היא מדרבנן, וכשעושה כלאחר יד הוי תרי דרבנן. וכן אפשר להתיר לסגור את דלת המקרר על ידי קטן, דכיון שמדינא מותר בפסיק רישיה בדרבנן, הבו דלא להוסיף עלה בקטן]. אבל לפתוח את המקרר כשהנורה יכולה להדלק, אין להתיר אפילו על ידי קטן, ורק על ידי גוי מותר. ותנור שיש בו גחלים בוערות, אסור לישראל לפתוח התנור כדי להוציא את החמין. [מפני הרוח שמנשבת ומבעירה את הגחלים, ואף שאינו מתכוין לכך, פסיק רישיה הוא בהבערת הגחלים]. ועל ידי גוי מותר לפתוח התנור להוציא החמין. [ילקו''י שבת ב' עמ' רנו. יבי''א ח''י או''ח סי' כח].

  8. Rav Ofir Malka is awesome. It is on one hand incredible to listen to his radio shows (regular one on Thursday night 10pm to midnight on Kol Brama) and how he fields questions from callers and instantaneously cites the source from the Shulchan Aruch and on the other hand, (me cringing too), to understand how much detail the rav goes into what might be a 'simple' Shabbat halacha most of us take for granted.


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