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Children And Shabbos

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#1 Chaim613



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Posted 30 June 2012 - 10:41 PM

As far as children doing melacha on Shabbos in pressing need I have heard that if they are below the age of knowing that their parent's want them to do it, then this is ok...... for example having baby flick off a light switch, adjust air condition settings, in time of need.

My question is, firstly is this correct? Secondly, practically what age is that acceptable until?

thank you,

#2 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 06:49 PM

If a child does a Melacha for the benefit of others (such as his parents), you can't benefit from that act on Shabbos. So if the child turns on a light for the parents, the parents cannot benefit from that light on Shabbos. But if a child turns on a light for his own benefit, then you may benefit from that light.


If a Koton is of the age of Chinuch, you not only cannot ask him to do something Assur, you must prevent him from doing something Assur if he wants to on his own. The age of Chinuch depends to an extent on the child. If he is able to understand that there is such a thing as "Shabbos" and that certain actions should not be done on Shabbos, he is of age. 


According to the Rav Shulchan Aruch, it is permitted to ask a child to do (a) a  D'Rabbonon prohibition, if (b.) it is needed in order to do a Mitzvah, and (c.) you do not do this regularly. 


That heter should only be used when no other solution is feasible.

#3 Menorah



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Posted 15 January 2013 - 07:21 PM

How can you not benefit from the light the child turned on or off? If you're in the room you will now see as a result of his having turned it on or be able to sleep as a result of his having turned the light off.

#4 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:23 PM

You're allowed to "see" as a result of the light, but if there is a specific something you would not have been able to do in the dark (such as read a book for example) that you can now do because of the light, you may not do it. If the light just makes it easier to read, but you would have been able to read in the dark, you may read the book since technically, the light did not enable your reading.


As far as benefiting from the dark (such as being able to sleep), you are allowed to do it anyway because the prohibition of מעשה שבת means a thing that was put into place or created or built as a result of Chilul Shabbos is forbidden to use. But darkness is not a thing, but rather the absence of light. And so, being able to sleep is not benefiting from any given thing that came about due to Chilul Shabbos.