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Halakha Question of the Week #2 - Lowering a Mezuzah for Children From Noam 

Halakha Question of the Week #1 -Riding an Elevator on Shabbat from Nathanel Sabbah

Question - May one ride an elevator on Shabbat?

Answer - This issue has been heavily debated by Rabbis over the last fifty years, most notably Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (RSZ) and Rabbi Yitzchak Levi Halperin. Here is a summary of what is permitted and what is not:

"Kosher" Elevator options on Shabbat

  1. Using an automatic "Shabbat" elevator to go both up and down (Rav Ovadia Yosef + RSZ)
  2. Entering the elevator when a non-Jew is entering and going to whatever floor they go to. This is permitted because the non-Jew is performing this act strictly for themselves (if they do it for you, it is prohibited). In such an instance, you may benefit from their action on Shabbat, because they are doing it strictly for themselves. (Noam Ohana pointed out that on the UWS you need to be more careful that the "Non-Jew" is actually Jewish!)

"Non-Kosher" option

  1. ​​Pressing the elevator yourself
  2. Asking one's child (or even subtly suggesting to them) to press the elevator button.

The "Middle Option" 

Having the elevator man push the button. There is a principle known as שבות דשבות במקום מצוה which practically entails that if a person has a non-Jew perform a rabbinically prohibited melacha for them on Shabbat (such as pressing an elevator button), then for the purpose of performing a mitzvah (i.e. going to shul or to learn Torah), one may have a non-Jew perform the act of violation. For example, if the A/C in the shul breaks, one may ask a non-Jew to turn it on because without A/C it is hard to pray. Most poskim believe that using this leniency is problematic because שבות דשבות במקום מצוה should only be relied upon in extenuating circumstances and not on a regular basis. However, others argue that perhaps for a pregnant woman, a sick person, an elderly person, or a parent with kids for whom it would be hard to walk the stairs, this can be relied upon as well. This exception does not include a healthy person who is more than capable of walking the stairs.

Two Suggestions:

  1. When one is looking for an apartment, it is ideal to look for an apartment on a lower floor
  2. For those with a carriage, consider talking to your Super to see if you can park your carriage in the lobby on Shabbat.


Tizku L'mitzvot
Rav Bendavid

Wed, August 17 2022 20 Av 5782