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Ask the Rabbi #34

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Ask the Rabbi

September 11, 1994; Issue #34

Dedicated in the memory of Aaron A. Seruya Z''L of Gibraltar

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  • Glow in the Dark Toys and Shabbos
  • Pregnancy and Yom Kippur
  • Subscription Information
  • Back issues are indexed both by issue no. and by subject
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  • Glow in the Dark Toys and Shabbos

    Steven Edell from Jerusalem wrote:

    Dear Rabbi,

    My daughters recently received a "glow in the dark toy," i.e.: a fluorescent toy. I was wondering why it would be permitted to put the toy near a light on Shabbat to "charge" it, as you are actually moving around electrons, causing them to 'fluoresce' -- basically the same thing that is done with electricity?

    Dear Steven,

    The subject of using 'electricity' on Shabbat is very complex. I'll try to answer your question despite the space limitations of this column. The Halachic authorities prohibit turning-on an electric light or completing an electrical circuit on Shabbat for various reasons: Havara (burning) and/or Binyan (building) and/or Bishul (cooking). These are 3 of the "39 Melachot", 'work' activities, that are prohibited on Shabbat.

    Another interesting reason is mentioned: Molid - lit. 'giving birth' to a 'new product' on Shabbat. Obviously, this doesn't forbid a mother to give birth on Shabbat! Molid is quite a novel idea [as its name implies ;-) ].

    I asked Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg about using a glow in the dark toy on Shabbat, and he answered that it is permitted, since there is no violation of any category of Melacha on Shabbat.

    "Moving around electrons" is not prohibited unless it involves a transgression of Shabbat, as in the case of an electrical circuit. An act is prohibited on Shabbat only if it violates one of the 39 Melachot, their derivatives, or special Rabbinical prohibitions. If it doesn't, as in your case, then it is certainly permitted.


    • Shabbat and Electricity - Halperin/Oratz, Feldheim Publishers, 1993.

    Pregnancy and Yom Kippur

    We received several different versions of the following question from Ask The Rabbi subscribers from around the globe:

    With Yom Kippur just around the corner, I have a very practical question. Does a pregnant woman need to fast on Yom Kippur?

    Dear All,

    A healthy, pregnant woman should fast on Yom Kippur, just as she would on the 9th of Av and the other public fasts. Whereas, in general, physical weakness exempts a pregnant woman from the other public fasts, it does not exempt them on Yom Kippur.

    However, a pregnant woman who is not well, either before or after the onset of Yom Kippur, is permitted to eat if there is any danger to life that may result from this illness or any complications that my result from the illness. This may be determined by the woman consulting with her physician. In fact, the woman's own feeling and determination of her "need to eat" is usually the most important factor.

    Maintaining good health when under "stressful" circumstances is also a consideration. There is a well known story about Rabbi Yisrael Salanter beseeching his community to eat on Yom Kippur during a cholera epidemic, so that the population's resistance to the disease should not be lowered.

    This is only a sketchy guideline. Please consult your doctor and YLOR (Your Local Orthodox Rabbi) for a decision in your personal case (or make a voice connection with a NSLOR - Not-So Local Orthodox Rabbi - if an LOR is not available).


    • Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) - Orach Chayim 617, 618, 550,554.

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