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Shabbat clock

Category: Shabbat // By Rabbi: הרב ירון אשכנזי // Answer date: 18.01.2021

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Question:

We are going away for Shabbat and the last time I went away my house was broken into and stuff was stolen. I had an idea that maybe I can put my music player on a timer and it will play loud music at intervals during the day and any robbers will think someone is home. Is that permitted?

Answer:

If you are actually worried that robbers will break into your house there it may be permitted, but it is better to have the lights go on and off since blasting music on Shabbat is pretty disgraceful to Shabbat, even if you are not home.



The Gemara in Shabbat 18a says:
However, one may not place wheat kernels into the water mill unless he does so in a way so that they will be ground while it is still day on Friday and not on Shabbat.
The Gemara asks: What is the reason that the Baraita prohibited a mill and permitted other prohibited labor? Rabba said: Because it makes noise and the public will hear the mill grinding on Shabbat. Although no prohibited labor is being performed, doing so displays contempt for Shabbat. Therefore, the Sages prohibited it. Rav Yosef said to Rabba: And let the Master say a better reason, due to the obligation to ensure the resting of utensils. Even the utensils of a Jewish person may not be used for prohibited labor on Shabbat. As it was taught in halachic midrash, the Mechilta: That which is stated: “And in all that I said to you, take heed” (Exodus 23:13), is an allusion to matters mentioned in the Oral Torah. It comes to include the resting of utensils on Shabbat. Rather, Rav Yosef said: The reason for the prohibition of the mill on Shabbat is due to the resting of utensils.
Since the obligation of resting utensils on Shabbat was mentioned, the Gemara says: Now that you said that Beit Hillel also hold that resting utensils on Shabbat is required by Torah law, with regard to sulfur and incense on coals that are placed under silver vessels and clothes, respectively, what is the reason that the Sages permitted this on Shabbat? Isn’t that performed on Shabbat in utensils? The Gemara answers: Because the utensil itself does not perform an action when the incense or sulfur is burning. With regard to the bundles of flax, what is the reason that they permitted placing them in the oven on Shabbat eve at nightfall to dry, even though the oven is performing a prohibited labor on Shabbat? Because it does not perform an action; rather, on the contrary, it sits idle in its place and the prohibited labor occurs on its own. However, with regard to traps of an animal, and a bird, and a fish, which perform a bona fide action of trapping, what is the reason that they permitted spreading them on Shabbat eve at nightfall? The Gemara explains: There too, it is referring to a fishhook and nets [kokrei], which perform no action. They stand in place, and the fish comes to them and is trapped. Indeed, a trap that performs an action is prohibited.
And now that Rav Oshaya said that Rav Asi said: Who is the Tanna who states that the obligation of resting utensils on Shabbat is by Torah law? The Tanna is Beit Shammai and not Beit Hillel. Consequently, according to Beit Shammai, whether the utensil performs an action or whether it does not perform an action, it is prohibited. And according to Beit Hillel, even though it performs an action, it is nevertheless permitted.
The Gemara says that there is machloket between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai if one’s property, ones Keilim, are allowed to Melacha on Shabbat. Beis Shammai says that is forbidden. Beis Hillel is of the opinion that there is no problem at all and one’s Keilim can do Melacha.
Rabbah raises another issue that putting flour in a millstone before Shabbat and having it work on Shabbat will make a lot of noise. Rashi explains that it .will be very apparent and it will disgrace Shabbat. Rav Yosef held that we do not have to be concerned about that and the only question is whether a person sets up his Keilim before Shabbat to do Melacha whether that is permitted or not.
The Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 252 rules that it permitted for one to set up their Keilim to do Melacha before Shabbat because there is no prohibition for one’s utensil to not do work on Shabbat (unlike his animals which are forbidden.)
The Rema though says the custom is to be stringent and a noisy contraption should not be set up before Shabbat because it makes the noise of Melacha and it disgraces Shabbat. However, in a situation of monetary loss one may rely on the other opinion and let the machine run.
The Rema concludes that one may put out chimes even though it makes noise it is obvious that you can set it up before Shabbat.
R’ Moshe Feinstein ruled that putting appliances on a Shabbat clock is disgraceful for Shabbat since it’s not obvious that you set it up before Shabbat. However an alarm clock everyone knows that you can set an alarm clock before so the is no problem.
So anything which is not normally put on a Shabbat clock cannot be set up before Shabbat. The Sephardic custom is not to be stringent for Ziluta Deshabbat. However, in a big disgrace like playing music, they are usually stringent
The Rema does say however that in the place of monetary loss one may be lenient. So if it a highly likely they will break in then you may be lenient. If you can figure out a different way to deter thieves it is preferable. However, if you are only generally concerned about thieves then you may not set up the music.

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