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If there is a camera in Israel that is operating on Shabbos, am I (a person living in America, where Shabbos only starts 6 or 7 hours later) allowed to view such a camera?

I suppose the same could be asked in reverse (i.e. someone in Israel views an American camera when it is Moztei Shabbos over there)


P.S. I'm not sure if the current camera at the Kosel is available on Shabbos, but I'm 99% sure it used to be. Either way, the question still applies in general, so treat the Kosel case as a common example.

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I detagged eretz-yisrael and tagged time-zone since as far as I can tell Israel is just an example here and the same question would apply to e.g. China and Belgium as to Israel and the States. By all means revert me if I'm mistaken. –  msh210 Nov 3 '11 at 4:33
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This would be similar to (or the same as) whether you could send a fax or leave a voicemail on erev shabbat to a place where shabbat has already started. Apparently no one has asked that yet, so I will. –  Shmuel L Nov 30 '11 at 5:05
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Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/11839/… –  Shmuel L Nov 30 '11 at 5:15
    
Meikar Hadin, Hacham Yishak writes that it is Mutar to walk in a place where there are security cameras and the like. –  Hacham Gabriel Sep 1 '13 at 4:54
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3 Answers

I'd say it depends what you are looking at and the degree to which your observation affects the event on site. Let's start with the assumption that what you are watching is something you could watch on weekdays.

My understanding of the permissibility of going where there are security cameras on Shabbat (based on several YU lectures) involves me wanting the thieves videotaped, and not caring about them videoing me. So if I set up a camera to videotape a bar mitzvah in Taiwan while I watch from America, that could be an issue, since the observed know they are videotaped and want to be videotaped.

Something like the Kotel cam, no one being taped really cares if he is recorded presumably. As such it seems less of an issue.

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Rabbi Frand once dealt with this problem by speaking of the case of an answering machine or a FAX. While leaving a message on an answering machine in Eretz Yisroel would not be a problem as long as the recipient did not actually use it, you could cause a problem if the person at the other end would actually be mechalel shabbos as a result of your leaving the message. He said that many people would turn off the answering machine so as not to be faced with the problem. A similar answer would seem to apply with the web site.

The moderators of Mail Jewish will often not handle messages even though it is not Shabbos where they are in order to avoid a possible mar'is ayin situation or to avoid leading to someone being mechalel shabbos by sending a message on shabbos to recipient who is not in the shabbos time zone.

Consider someone for whom Shabbos has already ended with a server in an area where shabbos is still extant. Even though the posting is automatic and not done on shabbos, the time stamp could bring about a situation of mar'is ayin.

Another point to consider is that we really do not know where any web site is actually hosted or the path a message actually traverses to get from the originator to the recipient. This is similar to leaving a snail mail message in the mail box on Friday. This is allowed since you are not makpid on its being picked up and carried on Shabbos. Another analogy would be how you handle snail mail delivery on Shabbos.

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But suppose that I did know that the server is in Israel, would I be responsible for any LED lights that turn on on the server as a result of accessing it? –  Matt Mar 17 at 3:22
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It only matters what you do in the place that you are. What ever affect you may or may not have in a location that you are not, is not really something that you need to worry about regarding halacha.

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That's not what those who don't use electricity in Israel on Shabas hold. Presumably they'd not use Israeli electricity on Friday in the States either, viz by watching a kosel cam. No? –  msh210 Nov 3 '11 at 14:24
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You aren't using Israeli eletrcity when you watch the camera in New York. You are using New York Electricity. –  avi Nov 3 '11 at 15:41
    
"That's not what those who don't use electricity in Israel on Shabas hold." Actually it is, the eletricity that they forbid to use on Shabbat, is electricity that is being created/repaired/operated on during Shabbat where they currently are. –  avi Nov 3 '11 at 16:26
    
You're also using the electricity running the camera, no? For some sense of "using". And it's being generated using m'lacha (or a concern of possible m'lacha, or whatever it is they worry about). –  msh210 Nov 3 '11 at 17:19
    
You might be benefiting from the fact that someone else is using the electricity, but you yourself are not using it at all. No more electricity is used by you using the cam (in Jerusuelem) or not using the cam. The reason people don't allow Eletricity in Bnei Brak, is because of the fear that using the eletricity might cause something to break, which then a Jew will be called to fix the outage. If no eletricity is being used, then nobody will know that there is something broken and no Jew will be called to fix it. –  avi Nov 3 '11 at 17:23
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