Halacha for Wednesday 17 Shevat 5780 February 12 2020

Baby Monitors on Shabbat

Question: May one place a baby monitor (intercom) in a baby’s room on Shabbat in order to be able to hear if the baby cries and to be able to adequately care for his/her needs?

Answer: At first glance, it would seem that the baby monitor is similar in the way it works to a microphone which has already been prohibited by the greatest luminaries of the past several generation for several reasons, including the fact that it is a vessel designated for making noise whose usage on Shabbat is subject to a rabbinic prohibition. Indeed, Maran zt”l writes lengthily in his Responsa Yabia Omer (Volume 1, Chapter 19) to prohibit the usage of a microphone on Shabbat for several reasons.

Nevertheless, there seems to be more room for leniency regarding a monitor placed in a baby’s room, for an infant is considered to be “an individual ill with a non-life-threatening illness” even when he is healthy (since a baby’s condition is very sensitive and he is constantly in need of his parents’ care); thus, there is room for leniency regarding a rabbinic prohibition not being performed by the parents and which is only a result of the raising of the baby’s voice. Although the parents’ voices are heard on the intercom as well when they enter the baby’s room in order to care for him and speak there, nevertheless, this is still permissible since they have no intention for their voices to be heard and they gain no benefit from this in addition to the fact that there is no physical action. Thus, regarding a rabbinic prohibition, there is room for leniency.

On the other hand, some claim that the usage of a microphone or baby monitor on Shabbat is not only a rabbinic prohibition but is actually a Torah prohibition, for the sound waves create an electrical function whereby sparks of fire are emitted via electrical conduction. Several great luminaries from the previous generation rule likewise. Nevertheless, Maran zt”l disagrees with this opinion, for after having spoken this matter over with his great friend, Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l (who was known to be an expert in the Halachot regarding electricity), the latter informed him that it is clear that the opinion of the aforementioned luminaries is completely incorrect and one’s speech does not create any kind of sparks and only causes an increase in the sound waves which has no connection to the forbidden works of igniting or extinguishing a flame. All experts in the field of electricity point to an increase in the sound waves but no fire (electricity) is increased or decreased as a result. The reason why some Poskim wrote this way in previous generations is because the mechanics of electricity were not yet clearly understood by all.

Thus, it is clear that using a microphone on Shabbat is only a rabbinic prohibition and regarding our situation which is a necessity for an infant and where no physical action being performed, one who is lenient and uses a baby monitor on Shabbat surely has on whom to rely.

8 Halachot Most Popular

The Laws of Taking Haircuts During the “Three Weeks"

The Customary Prohibition of Haircuts As a result of the mourning observed during the “Three Weeks,” the Ashkenazi custom is to abstain from shaving and taking haircuts beginning from the Seventeenth of Tammuz until the Tenth of Av. The Sephardic Custom Nevertheless, the Sephardic c......

Read Halacha

Mourning Customs Observed During the “Three Weeks”

---------------------------------- By Popular Request: There is room for leniency regarding listening to music during the "Three Weeks" for those who are in isolation or quarantine in cases of need. This is especially true regarding young children and one must do one's utmost to lif......

Read Halacha

Eating Meat with Fish

Since we have discussed several laws related to eating meat and dairy in the previous days, let us now discuss some laws related to eating fish with either chicken or meat and other related laws. Fish Baked With Meat The Gemara in Masechet Pesachim (76b) states: “Regarding fish that was ba......

Read Halacha

The Prohibition to Eat Meat and Dairy on the Same Table

The Reasons and Parameters of This Law If one is eating dairy foods, our Sages have enacted that one may not allow meat foods to be placed on the same table. For instance, one who is eating bread with cheese may not place meat on the same table. The reason for this is because we are concerned that ......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Eating Meat and Dairy on the Same Table-Continued

In the previous Halacha we have explained that it is forbidden to eat dairy foods on a table on which meat foods are placed, for there is concern that the individual eating will taste some of the other foods on the table, thus having transgressed the grave prohibition of eating milk and meat togethe......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Glassware and Pyrex Regarding the Prohibition of Milk and Meat Mixtures-Continued

In the previous Halacha we have written that according to Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch, glassware does not absorb any flavor from foods placed in it and thus, there is no prohibition to use a glass vessel for meat and then after it is washed well, to use it for dairy (although the Rama does rule st......

Read Halacha

Question: Must one designate two different sets of glassware for dairy and meat as one would with other utensils?

Question: Must one designate two different sets of glassware for dairy and meat as one would with other utensils? Answer: We have already established in the previous Halacha that one is obligated to designate two separate sets of dishes and flatware for dairy and meat, for dishes used with either......

Read Halacha

The “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on a New Garment

Question: When is the appropriate time to recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on a new garment, at the time of purchase or the first time one wears it? Similarly, must one recite this blessing for every new piece of clothing one purchases? Answer: The Mishnah (Berachot 54a) teaches us ......

Read Halacha