Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Banning Gas Stove-tops for Yom Tov

Instead of writing about a shooting attack on the car in front of me this evening, or the rock that hit my car, I thought it might be more interesting to write about the new rage in Israel.

In a letter from Rabbi S. Y. Nissim Karlitz and Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, they write that due to the safety gas valve installed on gas ranges, which creates an electric circuit despite not being connected to an electrical source, it is absolutely forbidden to light a gas range on Yom Tov (from another source of fire, which is permitted on Yom Tov), and one should leave their gas range on for the entire holiday.

The source of the news story is on the Kikar Shabbat ultra-Orthodox website, which claims that a few weeks ago, an "expert" on electricity arrived at R' Nissim Karlitz's home and informed him of his findings, that the emergency shut off valve creates an electric circuit, despite not being connected to an electrical source. (Kikar Shabbat website source in Hebrew)

While this may seem as shocking news to the Ultra Orthodox community in Israel, it has been previously addressed by Rabbi Yisrael Rosen of the Tzomet Institute (this isn't a "new" issue at all). All new gas ranges by law, are required to have an emergency shut of gas valve.

Pushing in the dial for a gas range, opens a spring operated gas valve and allows gas to reach the range top. Near the location of the flame is a dual metal sensor which has the physical property of creating a minute electrical current resulting from the the heating of 2 different metals closely aligned with each other. The minute current is enough to keep the gas valve "open" against the spring mechanism.

If the flame goes out, the sensor cools, and after 5 seconds, the dual-metal contraption ceases to generate the micro current. This results in the valve springing opening, thereby shutting the gas flow.

Rav Rosen then posits why this isn't an issue for using a gas range on Yom Tov. (Article from Tzomet, here)

I will try and translate them tomorrow...

המדליק את הלהבה מתכוון להבערה ולבישול. חימום החיישן ויצירת הכח החשמלי היא תוצאת לוואי, היכולה להיחשב לכל היותר פסיק-רישא (בדרבנן?), דניחא ליה.

2. יצירת הכח החשמלי היא בדרך ה'גרמא' מנקודת המבט של פעולת האדם. כתוצאה מהתחממות 2 מתכות שונות נוצר כח חשמלי זעיר. גם אם 'אשו משום חציו' היינו האש עצמה, אך התחממות המתכות ויצירת החשמל הנגרר מכך אינם 'חציו' אלא 'גרמא'.

3. לדעות רבות אין איסור 'בונה' ו'מכה בפטיש' במעגל חשמלי אלא 'מוליד' בלבד. ולענין 'מוליד' אין איסור כשנעשה ממילא, ומותר לכתחילה מעין מה ששנינו (שבת נא,ב) "אין מרזקין לא את השלג ולא את הברד בשבת בשביל שיזובו מימיו, אבל נותן הוא לתוך הכוס או לתוך הקערה ואינו חושש", שאינו מוליד מים במישרין.

4. ובעיקר, מדובר בצורך יו"ט, ועונג יו"ט, ואוכל נפש. ואמנם כל אלו אין בהם כדי להתיר מלאכת 'מכה בפטיש', למשל, אך נימוק זה חזי לאיצטרופי להיתרא. ובפרט, כאמור, אין מנוס על פי החוק והתקן משימוש בהתקן בטיחותי זה.

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Michael Sedley said...

Once upon a time Poskim like Rav Shmuel Zalman would spend years studying new technology and consult with experts in the field before making a ruling.

Nowdays a self-proclaimed expert knocks on a Rabbis door, and by the end of the day we have a ruling with Posters all over Mea Sharim.

I guess that Rabbis today are just smarter about techmology than they were 15 years ago.

Anonymous said...

What's next? Water filters?

D.C. said...

It should be noted that for those if us who hold, like R' Heinemann, that opening/close a circuit is permitted if there is no visible or audible effect (see http://www.star-k.org/pdf/oventeshuva.pdf, starting with the last paragraph on Page 3), this is a non-issue.

That being said, I know that a number of other posekim came out against this position a few years ago, and prohibited changing the temperature on the "Sabbath mode" ovens on yom tov. They took this stance not out of ignorance of R' Heinemann's sevara, but simply in disagreement with it. Here, too, I think that we should be dan lechaf zechut and assume that R' Karelitz and R' Kanievsky did read and consider what R' Rozen had written, but simply disagree with it, which is certainly their right.

I think that the way that technology is developing, though, within a decade or so, everybody will have no choice but to rely on the lenient positions in these matters.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

I think that we should be dan lechaf zechut and assume that R' Karelitz and R' Kanievsky did read and consider what R' Rozen had written, but simply disagree with it, which is certainly their right.

Yes, it is completely their right to disagree with R' Rozen. However, what I do find annoying is that people run to Rabbanim on a regular basis to find issues with EVERYTHING...from Shabbat elevators, to shabbat security cameras to gas ranges. These aren't NEW issues at all!

Shiloh said...

So concentrating on rabbinical commandments while ignoring the commandment from haShem to cleanse the land that He gives us is utterly insane. Sorry people, but we do not follow the Torah when it comes to difficult mitzvoth. We follow a foreign religion that Moshe, nor the prophets would ever recognise. Shame on us for bowing to the erev rav replacement theology. And you wonder why we are in such trouble. Wake up Israel.

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For most shoppers, the choice comes down to whether you want a gas stove or electric stove. As modern versions of both varieties each have advantages, your choice should be based on your preferences and needs as a cook.

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