Flipping a wall switch on Shabbat to turn on electric lights in a room is considered a prohibition by Orthodox Jews. It is less of a problem to Conservative Jews and not an issue with other Jewish denominations.
Members of Orthodox communities don't spend Shabbat in the dark. They either use 24-hour time clocks to control their lighting or leave the lights on all day. But they keep looking for better solutions. Along comes Menashe Kalati with an invention he's been perfecting for more than three years.
It's called the Kosher Switch, and uses sophisticated technology to overcome the main objection to using electricity on Shabbat, that causing the flow of electric current is close enough to kindling a fire which is specifically prohibited by the Torah.
As Tova Dvorin reported in Israel International News,
The switch uses a series of light pulses fired at random to stop - or start - the electric current to flip the switch, which is fired at a randomized series of intervals and at a randomized rate of success when a piece of plastic (the toggle) is moved.
A green indicator light demonstrates when the system is inactive, allowing for the observant Jew to flick on the switch on Shabbat, as it is simply moving a piece of plastic; the randomization process allows for the system to work based on a number of halakhic (Jewish law - ed.) principles preventing indirect toggling of electric switches that leads to a definitive outcome.
The switch has a separate toggle to be used during the week as well as a normal light switch.Kalati has taken his idea to the IndieGoGo crowdfunding community to raise the $50,000 needed to start mass production of the device. As we post this item, he has reached 92% of his goal.
Even though the product has the endorsement of some prominent Orthodox rabbis, there are still voices of objection being raised, mainly questioning whether this innovation is against the spirit of Shabbat and whether it will cause people to assume that all light switches are permitted on Shabbat.
Some lively discussions on the pros and cons of this product are taking place on Internet sites and only time will tell whether the proponents of technological innovation prevail or whether those who resist all new approaches keep this product from becoming popular in their communities.
Shabbat shalom from Jerusalem.
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