shabbos candles

The Shabbos Weekly
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

shabbos candles

Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Based on the Shiurim Given by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita

developed from the Chabura of the
Pirchei Shoshanim Semicha Program

These Halachos were shown by Rabbi Ostroff to
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita


Questions for the Week of Parshas Mishpatimsubscribe


Is one permitted to ask a non-Jew to turn on the heating?

We find that Chazal took meticulous care with regards to children’s health. Since cold weather can be detrimental to their health, Chazal permitted a non-Jew to turn on the heating on Shabbos in cold countries. 1 Accordingly, there is no problem to have a non-Jew switch on the central heating (when it was not preset with a time switch), because children require heat to remain healthy.

In certain cold conditions, Chazal even permit a non-Jew to turn the heating on for the benefit of adults, because, as Chazal say: ‘everyone is considered sick when it concerns cold weather”.

Is there a difference between a bonfire and central heating?

As mentioned last week, one light caters for many, and therefore when a non-Jew turns a light on for himself, a Jew may benefit from it. However some hold 2 that a bonfire is different, because the more people warming themselves around a bonfire the more wood is needed to make it bigger, and therefore if a non-Jew makes a bonfire for himself one is forbidden to sit by it (according to this opinion) lest he adds wood for the sake of the Jew.

This, of course, does not apply to a central heating system. A central heating is similar to a light, and if a non-Jew turned it on for himself or for children, adults may benefit from it as well.

If a non-Jew turned on the heating when it was prohibited to do so, what is one supposed to do?

The Rama 3 says that one does not have to leave the house if a non-Jew turned on a light or the heating, but nevertheless the Jew is forbidden to do anything he could not have done before. That means that if he could not read beforehand, because of poor reading light, he may not read now either. He may not warm himself in front of the fire, yet he may remove his sweater he was wearing due to the cold, just as he may walk in his house at a quicker pace than he could have, before the non-Jew turned on the light.

How would this apply to a building with a central heating system joined by Jews and non-Jews?

In extremely cold weather, or when children dwell in the flat, there is no problem whatsoever.

If the majority of the residents are non-Jews, we say that the non-Jew has intention for the majority, and is permitted. Even when the majority are Jews, the Mishna Berura says 4 that one is permitted to hire the non-Jew for the entire winter season to turn on the heating when it is cold (which might be detrimental to one’s health), and if he turns it on when it is not so cold, it is considered as if he did it on his own accord, and as mentioned above, one does not have to leave the apartment.

[1] Simon 276:5
[2] Simon 276:1
[3] Ibid. If the Jew instructed the non-Jew to turn on the heating when he was forbidden to do so, the M”B 13 says that Jew would have to leave his house.
[4] Simon 276:45

Food For Thought

May one hang a wet raincoat on a washing line?

Does it make a difference whether it got wet from the rain or if it fell into a puddle?

If a sock landed inside the washing bowl, what is its status?

How is one supposed to wipe up a mess on the floor on Shabbos?

Vort On The Parsha

One, who steals and sells a lamb, must pay four times its value, and one who steals and sells an ox, must pay five times its value. (21:37).

R” Simcha Zissel of Kelm pointed out that when the lamb thief carried the lamb on his shoulders, he was somewhat degraded and ridiculed by others, and the Torah duly reduced his monetary punishment. Whereas in the case of the ox thief there was no degradation, and hence no lessening of his punishment.

All the more so when one overcomes an evil urge through difficult inner conflict, or performs a mitzvah against all odds, his reward will be far greater than the basic reward for fulfilling the mitzvah.

For a printed version, click here.

In memory of R' David B' Shmuel HaLevi zt'l, The Taz, yahrzeit 24th Shevat.

One may receive and distribute these weekly shiurim by calling or writing: Office 99 Rechov Bayit Vegan, Yerushalayim,
Phone Numbers:U.S. and Canada 732-370-3344 Israel 972-8-974-4177
 South Africa 2711-728-4275 England 44161-792-2492 Australia 61-296835626
e-mail:, or, weekly sponsorships are available as well. 

If you would like to send a question to Rav Ostroff, you can write to him at

Note:  The purpose of this series is intended solely for the clarification of the topics discussed and not to render halachic decisions. It is intended to heighten everyone's awareness of important practical questions which do arise on this topic.  One must consult with a proper halachic authority in order to receive p'sak.