Sunday, 16 October 2016

Move Lamp on Shabbos and Yom Tov

Question: Am I allowed to move an electric lamp in and out of my sukka on Shabbos and Yom Tov?
Answer: The Mishna (Shabbos 3:6) teaches us that oil lamps mustn’t be moved on Shabbos while they are burning. The Gemara (Shabbos 45a) explains that there is a specific type of muktze prohibition for a fire. The Chazon Ish (Hilchos Shabbos 41:16) gives two reasons for why lamps are muktze. Firstly, in order to avoid extinguishing the flame, lamps are not usually moved around. Secondly, as lamps are not normally moved around, it is muktze to move them.
R’ Moshe Feinstein writes about moving electrical appliances in a few teshuvos. He writes (Igros Moshe OC 3:49; 4:91:5) that lamps, like fans, etc. are kelim shemelachtam leissur, items that serve a forbidden action on Shabbos. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 308:3) writes that such items are allowed to be moved either if one needs the space (letzorech mekomo) or for personal need (letzorech gufo). He allowed the use of electric blankets on Shabbos (OC 3:50) and wrote (OC 5:21:3) that an appliance is only muktze machmas chisaron kis (concern for monetary loss, a more stringent category) if one is reluctant to use it out of fear that it will get ruined.
Accordingly, regular lights would be allowed to be moved letzorech gufo umekomo, for its permitted functions or if its place is needed. According to R’ Moshe (OC 5:23) this would include brightening or darkening a room (See Tiltulei Shabbos, Teshuvos 11).
R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Minchas Shlomo 1:14:1) also wrote that there should be no reason why one shouldn’t be able to move an electric lamp on Shabbos.
Nonetheless, some poskim write that one mustn’t move electric lamps on Shabbos. R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 3:43) writes that while one can’t move lights on Shabbos, one may do so on Yom Tov, providing it is switched on.
The Piskei Teshuvos (279:1) argues that the reason lamps are muktze, is because the actual flame is muktze machmas gufo, inherently muktze. Even the poskim that forbid moving lamps on Shabbos will only forbid moving incandescent lamps. All poskim would agree that lamps without a filament, such as LED and fluorescent lamps do not fall under this category, and may be moved on Shabbos.
In conclusion, as there is a machlokes concerning moving incandescent lamps on Shabbos, one should only move them if absolutely necessary. One may move LED and fluorescent lamps around as one needs them.

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