Lift ban didn’t go down at all well

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY AN­SHEL PF­EF­FER AND SI­MON ROCKER

A NEW edict by se­nior Charedi rab­bis for­bid­ding the use of “shab­bat lifts” is caus­ing an up­roar in the Or­tho­dox world.

For decades, the great ma­jor­ity of rab­bis have ap­proved the use of lifts that op­er­ate au­to­mat­i­cally, stop­ping for a few sec­onds on ev­ery floor, on Shab­bat.

But on Tues­day, the Charedi daily Yated Ne’eman pub­lished a new rul­ing signed by some of the lead­ing ha­lachic de­ci­sion­mak­ers in Is­rael, in­clud­ing Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and Rabbi Sh­muel Halevy Wos­ner.

Af­ter re­ceiv­ing tech­ni­cal in­for­ma­tion on changes in the way lifts op­er­ate, they con­cluded that us­ing th­ese lifts on Shab­bat con­sti­tuted a di­rect des­e­cra­tion of the To­rah’s pro­hi­bi­tions.

The rul­ing is al­ready caus­ing con- ster­na­tion among many thou­sands of re­li­gious Jews around the world liv­ing in high-rise apart­ment build­ings and nurs­ing homes, who rely on Shab­bat lifts to leave their homes.

The rab­bis lead­ing the two main in­sti­tutes in Is­rael re­search­ing ques­tions of ha­lachah and tech­nol­ogy have both said since that they are not aware of any changes in lift mech­a­nisms that should lead to a change in the ex­ist­ing rab­bini­cal rul­ings per­mit­ting their use on Shab­bat.

One of them, Rabbi Yis­rael Rosen of Zomet In­sti­tute, sur­mised that the rab­bis had been mis­led.

Sources close to Rabbi Elyashiv are now main­tain­ing that he did not per­son­ally sign the rul­ing.

A Lon­don Beth Din spokesman said: “The adap­ta­tion of lifts for use on Shab­bat is a com­plex ha­lachic is­sue. Any lift adapted un­der our guid­ance may con­tinue to be used.”

A source for the Union of Or­tho­dox He­brew Con­gre­ga­tions said that it cur­rently al­lowed Shab­bat lifts only for in­valids and the very el­derly, but “not the gen­eral pub­lic”.

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