Halacha for Thursday 27 Av 5781 August 5 2021

A Power Outage on Shabbat

Question: Last Shabbat, there was a power outage and for six hours, we had no electricity. Later on in the day when the problem was repaired, the Plata (electric hotplate) turned back on. Is it permissible to eat the foods that were warmed on the hotplate?

Answer: Regarding the aforementioned matter, we are discussing a situation where technicians of the Israel Electric Company (we shall discuss power outages in other countries further) travel by car to the plant or scene of the issue and perform many other forbidden works in order to restore the neighborhood’s electricity. The Halacha is quite clear that if one cooks a food on Shabbat, that food is forbidden for consumption for that individual forever, i.e. even after Shabbat has concluded, this individual may not derive any benefit from this food. Even others may only eat and derive benefit from this cooked food only once Shabbat has concluded. The Rama writes (in his gloss on Shulchan Aruch, Chapter 318) that this law does not only apply to a food that was cooked on Shabbat; rather, this applies to any other forbidden work on Shabbat in that one may not derive any benefit from performance of any forbidden work on Shabbat. Thus, if a Jew picks fruit off a tree on Shabbat, other Jews may not eat these fruits until the conclusion of Shabbat.

In our situation, restoring the electricity requires acts of Shabbat desecration and as a result of this Shabbat desecration, the food on the hotplate was rewarmed and it seems that it should be forbidden to partake of these foods until Motza’ei Shabbat.

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l deals with this issue in several of his works. In his Chazon Ovadia-Shabbat, Volume 6 (page 158), he writes that nowadays when enemies surround Israel from all sides and evil terrorists wait for any opportunity to inflict terror and murder on innocent Jews, when the city is shrouded in darkness and the Israel Defense Forces cannot protect the citizens properly as a result, restoring electricity is considered a form of a life-threatening circumstance which overrides Shabbat, as the Gemara (Yoma 85a) states, “And they shall live by them-and not so that one die by them.” Thus, the technicians of the electric company are actually pursuing the Mitzvah of saving lives. Thus, all foods warmed as a result of their actions have been warmed in a permissible fashion and they may be consumed on Shabbat. This was actually the last responsa Maran zt”l penned in his holy works before returning his soul to his Creator in Cheshvan of the year 5774. May we merit being reunited with Maran soon with the Resurrection of the Dead, Amen.

Similarly, the Sefer Shemirat Shabbat Ke’Hilchata (Chapter 32, note 182) writes that one derive benefit from the electric lights and the like since every city has ill patients whose lives are in danger and the technicians work to restore electricity on their behalf as well and it is impossible to restore electricity only for those ill patients. Thus, the work performed by the technicians was not done in a forbidden manner and it is permissible to benefit from the electricity.

Thus, halachically speaking, when a power outage occurs on Shabbat and electricity is later restored on Shabbat, it is permissible to benefit from the light and from the heat of the electric hotplate even if the food has completely cooled off and was later rewarmed. Maran zt”l provides ample proofs and supports for this from the works of the Poskim.

We must point out though that we are nevertheless dissatisfied with the work of the Israel Electric Company, for unfortunately, the company is still very far from running all of their operations in accordance with Halacha. It is extremely unfortunate that specifically in the Land of Israel, to which so many of our ancestors wished to move their and live a Torah-observant lifestyle, large-scale Shabbat desecration is performed by the Israel Electric Company on a regular basis. May Hashem shower the owners and managers of the Israel Electric Company with a spirit of purity so that they merit running their company in accordance with Torah law and may the merit of Shabbat protect us one-thousand times over.

Regarding electric and utility companies outside of Israel, if there is a power outage of Shabbat in countries abroad, there is an even greater reason for leniency since the utility companies are owned and operated by non-Jews in addition to the fact that this is being done for a majority of the population who are non-Jewish, such that the above issue does not even begin.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Order for Lighting Shabbat and Chanukah Candles

There is a disagreement among the Rishonim as to the order of lighting Shabbat and Chanukah candles on Erev Shabbat Chanukah. The Ba’al Halachot Gedolot (commonly referred to as “Behag”) is of the opinion that Chanukah candles must be lit before Shabbat candles because women cu......

Read Halacha

Lighting the Chanukah Candles

The Mitzvah of Lighting Chanukah Candles There is a Mitzvah to light Chanukah candles throughout all eight nights of Chanukah (beginning from next Sunday night). The Sephardic custom is to light one set of Chanukah candles per house. The Ashkenazi custom, however, is that every member of the househ......

Read Halacha

A Guest On Motza’ei Shabbat Chanukah

Question: If one is staying as a guest at one’s parents’ or in-laws’ home for Shabbat Chanukah, where should one light Chanukah candles on Motza’ei Shabbat? Answer: Regarding a married individual who is staying as a guest at his father’s home, according to the Sephar......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Boarders, Guests, Soldiers, and Yeshiva Students Regarding Chanukah Candles

Question: If one will be away from home as a guest during Chanukah, how should one act regarding lighting Chanukah candles? Similarly, what is the law regarding a soldier who will be at his military base during Chanukah? Answer: If one is away from home during the holiday of Chanukah and stays a......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Married Children Staying with Their Parents and One Staying in a Hotel

In the previous Halacha, we have explained that although one who has no one lighting on his behalf at home (for instance, because he has no family or because his family is with him) and is staying as a guest in a friend’s home on Chanukah should have been obligated to light candles in one&rsqu......

Read Halacha

Washing One’s Hands After Taking a Haircut

Question: Is one obligated to wash one’s hands (Netilat Yadayim) after taking a haircut? Answer: Our Sages list various situations where one must wash one’s hands. Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 4) states: “The following activities require one to wash one’s hands: ......

Read Halacha

“Al Ha’Nissim”

Starting from the Arvit prayer on the first night of Chanukah (this year, 5782, starting from tonight, Sunday night) “Al Ha’Nissim” is added in the Amida in the middle of the Blessing of Thanksgiving (“Modim Anachnu Lach etc.) as it is printed in all Siddurim. Even if mos......

Read Halacha

The Meaning of Chanukah as it Applies to Us

We have already discussed the essence of the miracle of Chanukah which was that when the wicked Greeks threatened the Jewish nation, the sons of the Hashmonai family rose up against them and were victorious. They then chose a king for the Jewish nation from their priestly family (of Kohanim). Fro......

Read Halacha