Halacha for Monday 7 Kislev 5781 November 23 2020

Moving an Electric Blanket or Fan on Shabbat

Question: May one use an electric blanket (heating pad) on Shabbat or is it prohibited to be moved due to the prohibition of Muktzeh? Similarly, may one turn a fan to another direction on Shabbat?

Answer: In the previous Halachot we have discussed several laws of Muktzeh on Shabbat which are objects our Sages have prohibited moving on Shabbat. When addressing the above question, we must first clarify what category of Muktzeh moving an electric blanket or fan falls into.

Certainly, these objects cannot be classified as “innate Muktzeh,” for only objects which are not a “vessel” and do not serve any purpose on Shabbat fall into this category. A blanket and a fan, however, are considered “vessels” and they most definitely do serve a purpose on Shabbat.

We must consider though the law of “a tool which is used for work forbidden on Shabbat”. Our Sages prohibited moving tools that are designated for work forbidden on Shabbat, such as a rake, shovel, or hammer. Clearly, it is forbidden to turn on a fan or an electric blanket on Shabbat. It would seem then that it should be prohibited to move these objects on Shabbat.

The Tosafot (Shabbat 36a) write that a candle which is made to be lit is considered “a tool used for work forbidden on Shabbat.” Nevertheless, Hagaon Rabbeinu Akiva Eiger quotes the Rashba and other great Rishonim who write that a candle is not a “tool used for work forbidden on Shabbat,” for this only applies to tools which are used themselves for the forbidden work through being moved, such as a hammer or a shovel; however, an object whose igniting is forbidden but is not used itself to perform the forbidden work cannot be classified as a “tool used for work forbidden on Shabbat”. (A candle may, nevertheless, not be moved on Shabbat because of a different law called, “A base for a forbidden object”, which we shall, G-d willing, explain another time).

It would now seem that an electric blanket or fan should not be considered Muktzeh on Shabbat since they are, in essence, not “tools used for work forbidden on Shabbat”; rather they are only powered on by an action prohibited on Shabbat. Similarly, Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Hagaon Harav Moshe Feinstein rule that an object which is turned on through electricity is not necessarily considered Muktzeh on Shabbat unless it is used to perform a work forbidden on Shabbat, such as a drill and the like. Therefore, one may move a fan on Shabbat in order to turn it to a different direction. Similarly, one may move an electric blanket on Shabbat.

For this reason, among other considerations, Maran zt”l writes that one who is hard of hearing may move his hearing aid on Shabbat since this device is not Muktzeh although it is powered by electricity (or battery power).

Summary: One may turn a fan to another direction on Shabbat. Similarly, one may use an electric blanket on Shabbat that was connected to a power source before the onset of Shabbat. However, care must be taken that the plug not be pulled out of the outlet on Shabbat.

Ask the Rabbi

8 Halachot Most Popular

Washing One’s Hands in the Morning

When one awakens in the morning from one’s sleep, one must wash one’s hands and recite the blessing, “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam Asher Kideshanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu Al Netilat Yadayim” (this law is discussed in Berachot 60b). The order of this washing i......

Read Halacha

The Torah is in the Hands of the Jewish Nation

Our Sages teach us in the Gemara (Berachot 5a) that Hashem does not conduct himself like human beings, for when a human being sells an object to another, the seller is upset about the loss of the object he was forced to sell and the buyer is happy about the acquisition of his new purchase. On the ot......

Read Halacha

Question: If one wakes up in the middle of the night and would like to drink a glass of water, must one first wash one’s hands before reciting the blessing on the water?

Answer: In the previous Halacha we have discussed the general obligation of washing one’s hands (Netilat Yadayim) and we briefly discussed the reasons for this Mitzvah. Two of these reasons are: Firstly, the reason quoted by the holy Zohar which states that when one goes to sleep, one’s ......

Read Halacha

The Customary Order of the Night of Shavuot

The Source for the Order of the Night of Shavuot The widespread custom among the entire Jewish nation is to stay awake the entire night of Shavuot and immerse one’s self in Torah study until dawn. Indeed, the holy Zohar states: “The earlier righteous individuals would not sleep on this ......

Read Halacha

Blessings of Enjoyment and Keri’at Shema on the Night of Shavuot

In the previous Halacha, we have discussed the order of learning for the night of Shavuot during which it is customary to remain awake all night and study Torah. Reading the Order of the “Keri’eh Mo’ed” Let us first discuss that which we have mentioned that it is proper t......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Counting the Omer

The Torah states (Vayikra 21, 15): “And you shall count for yourselves, from the day following the Shabbat, from the day the waved Omer offering is brought, seven complete weeks shall they be.” Our Sages (Menachot 65b) have a tradition that the “day following the Shabbat” ref......

Read Halacha

Praying Repeatedly-A Spark of Ruach Ha’Kodesh

Question: Is it correct for one to plead and beseech Hashem for the same thing every single day or is it more proper to pray for a certain matter only several times and if one sees that one has not been answered, one should cease praying for that specific matter? Answer: The Gemara (Berachot 32b)......

Read Halacha

Donating Tzedakah (Charity) in Order for One’s Son to Recover From an Illness

Question: Is it permissible to donate a sum of money to charity in the merit of which someone should become healed or for any other personal request or is it improper to do this since the Mitzvah is not being performed for the sake of Heaven, rather, for one’s personal purposes? Answer: The......

Read Halacha