A KosherSwitch unit shown installed alongside a traditional Shabbos clock/timer.  The switch is in Sabbath Mode, and may be used, since a green status light is visible.
A KosherSwitch unit shown installed alongside a traditional Shabbos clock/timer. The switch is in Sabbath Mode, and may be used, since a green status light is visible.

The KosherSwitch (a.k.a. "Kosher Switch", "Shabbos switch", "Shabbat switch") is a wall switch marketed to the observant Jewish market and institutions servicing this market, as a means of controlling electricity on-demand on Shabbat and Jewish holidays in a manner that is permissible according to some Orthodox authorities,[1] though some reject it.[2] It is manufactured by KosherSwitch Technologies headquartered in New York City and was invented by Andy Menashe Kalati.

Halakha of electricity on Shabbat

According to Orthodox halakhic authorities, the use of electricity on Shabbat is forbidden in most situations. Work-arounds include devices such as the Shabbos timer (since a person programs the timer before Shabbat, they are not doing a forbidden act on Shabbat), and the Kosher Lamp (where the lamp is constantly lit, but can be covered so no light is visible).

The KosherSwitch seeks to improve upon existing innovations by allowing light fixtures to be triggered on or off as needed by a person acting on Shabbat. According to the manufacturer, the switch is based upon "un-grama"[3][4] (non grama). The basic idea is that the switch activates only sometimes, and only after a delay, making the action indirect and uncertain. Several Orthodox poskim have ruled as thus makes the device permissible for general consumer use.[5][6] Others, however, have reached the opposite conclusion.[2]

Launch

In April 2015, the KosherSwitch group launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign seeking to raise US$50,000 in support of their product. The campaign was successfully concluded with $70,715 total funding, and several thousand KosherSwitch units pre-ordered.[7] Their launch video, featuring founder Andy Menashe Kalati, went viral among Jewish viewers and had received over half a million views within the first few days post-launch.[8]

In October 2015, the company announced[9] that all pre-orders had been shipped and that sales of the product would shift to retailers and Amazon.

Debate and controversy

Shortly after the KosherSwitch launch on Indiegogo, fervent halakhic debate ensued. Many rabbis have issued rulings against use of the switch,[2][10][11][12][13] or have ruled in favor of its use for exigent purposes only, while others continued to back its use for general consumer use.[14] Yet others encouraged a less emotional and more calculated analysis of this invention.[15][16]

The KosherSwitch group also faced allegations of misrepresenting rabbinic positions by doctoring their letters of endorsements and/or their endorsement videos.[17] KosherSwitch group has denied this and stated that they present letters and videos unedited and in their entirety.[18] In response KosherSwitch has accused several rabbis of spreading misinformation and blatant lies. Several rabbis who had initially endorsed or offered their blessings for the product later retracted their original endorsement. Those retractions have also been published by KosherSwitch on their website.

Adding to the confusion, in some cases these retractions seem self-contradictory, and such behavior has been decried by impartial bystanders.[19]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Endorsements/Blessings". KosherSwitch -Control Electricity on Shabbat!.
  2. ^ a b c "2 Rabbis Prohibit 'Kosher Switch'". Chabad Online. Retrieved 2016-07-13.
  3. ^ "KosherSwitch 3D Tour". 13 April 2015.
  4. ^ "How Does It Work?". KosherSwitch -Control Electricity on Shabbat!.
  5. ^ "Rabbi Noach Isaac Oelbaum KosherSwitch". 13 April 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Responsum Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Shapiro" (PDF).
  7. ^ "KosherSwitch - Control Electricity on Shabbat!". Indiegogo.
  8. ^ "The Jewish Standard - Timeline Facebook". www.facebook.com.
  9. ^ "Updates". Indiegogo.
  10. ^ "Is Kosher Switch really kosher for Shabbat?". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 2015-04-16. Retrieved 2016-07-14.
  11. ^ "Rabbi Sholom Shuchat Audio Class about KosherSwitch". Retrieved May 13, 2017.
  12. ^ "The KosherSwitch – Were Rabbonim Misled? And A Halachic Analysis". Retrieved 2016-07-14.
  13. ^ "The Kosher Switch Part II Follow Up". Retrieved 2016-07-14.
  14. ^ KosherSwitch (2015-04-25), Rabbi Eliyahu BenHaim KosherSwitch 4/24/2015, retrieved 2016-07-14
  15. ^ "When Mass Hysteria Attacks". Retrieved 2016-07-14.
  16. ^ "Both Sides on the Kosher Switch Debate and Some Commentary". Finkorswim.com. 2015-04-24. Retrieved 2016-07-14.
  17. ^ a b "New York - Shedding Light on KosherSwitch". VosIzNeias. Retrieved 2016-07-14.
  18. ^ KosherSwitch (2015-05-04), Zev Brenner KosherSwitch Radio Interview, retrieved 2016-07-14
  19. ^ KosherSwitch (2015-05-08), Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi Hypocrisy & KosherSwitch 4/28/2015, retrieved 2016-07-14
  20. ^ KosherSwitch (2015-04-13), Rabbi Noach Isaac Oelbaum KosherSwitch, retrieved 2016-07-14
  21. ^ "R Chaim Tzvi Shapiro letter".