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Lights On Or Off

The laws of Shabbos are reviewed in this week’s parsha; especially the laws of making a fire. An interesting question arises regarding the following scenario. Reuven sees a Jew driving a car on Shabbos. The driver forgot to put his car’s lights on. He is driving in the dark and is at risk of killing someone by accident. May Reuven tell him to put on his lights?

Reb Chaim Kanievsky answers this question by saying that one should find a goy to tell the driver to put on his lights.

Reb Shlomo Zalman Auerbach was of the opinion that one should tell the driver the following, “I don’t feel it is right for you to travel on Shabbos, but since you are not listening to me in any case, I am just letting you know that your lights are off.”

Reb Yitzchok Zilberstein said one should determine whether there is any way one could be melamed zchus on the driver. For example, the driver might be on an emergency call; or perhaps he is unsure whether the driver is a Yid altogether. In such a case one may tell him to put on his lights. In the event that Reuven knows for sure that the driver is not on an emergency call and he is definitely a Yid, he should not tell him to put on his lights unless he is driving in a place populated with small children in the street, which can bring catastrophic results.

Reb Shmuel Eliezer Stern differentiates between one who is travelling on the highway and one who is driving on local streets. One would not be allowed to tell him to put on his lights on the highway, but would be allowed to tell him if he is driving on local streets. The reasoning for this is that he is only endangering himself on the highway. However, there are pedestrians on the local streets who are not mechallel Shabbos in danger when he drives without lights.

Rabbi Naftoli Nussbaum is of the opinion that one may tell a driver on a highway to put on his lights since according to the Chazon Ish most individuals driving may be considered a tinok shenishba. Therefore, one may tell the driver to put on his lights b’rmiza.

There are many other Rabbonim who say that our streets are well lit so one would not be allowed to tell the driver to put on his lights. Obviously, if this takes place in the country, where the roads have no other lighting, it would be permitted to tell the driver to put on his lights,

Let us not make light of Shemiras Shabbos and learn the halachos so we can observe it properly.