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Is one allowed to move a working electrical fan on Shabbos, or is this a problem of Muktzah?

I would hope an answer cover:

  • If there's a difference between moving a fan so that it blows towards the person (when too hot), or away from the person (when too cold)
  • If there's a difference whether the entire fan is moved, or if a part of the fan is moved (the latter is more common in fans attached to a wall, or clip-on fans)
  • Whether the oscillation functionality of the fan can be turned on or off
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Rabbi Dovid Ribiat writes in his Sefer Lamed Tet Melachot - The 39 Melachos Vol. 1 Section 1/Chapter III/E)/a/2 (Chapter 3 - Muktza Page 51):

An electric fan may be moved or adjusted if it is needed elsewhere. For example, the fan may be moved to blow in a needed direction (while being extremely careful not to accidentally pull the plug).

This is based on Igrot Moshe O'Ch Chelek Gimmel Siman 39

As well Rabbi Ribiat writes in Vol.4 Section 3/Chapter V/L (Chapter 37 - Mavier Page 1235):

It is permitted to adjust an oscillating fan, either by causing it to oscillate or to stop oscillating. Doing so is not a problem of Mavier because no electric current is switched on or off...However, some contemporary Poskim advise that the control knob or switch of the fan, which turns it on and off, and adjusts the fan speed, should be taped before Shabbos.

He also adds that Rav Belsky agreed with this ruling (regarding adjusting the oscillating fan)

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See page 6 & 7 they are all permitted at least according to some Poskim.

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According to that, it's a k'li shem'lachto l'isur, which would imply it can only be moved l'tzorech gufo (or m'komo), not arbitrarily. – msh210 Jun 22 '11 at 19:52
Can the argument be made that by moving it to redirect the air is LeTzorech Gufo? – Seth J Jun 22 '11 at 20:26
From his wording it also appears that moving it away from you may be less acceptable than moving it towards you. @msh210: moving it because you want the air on you is considered l'tzorech gufo (or m'komo - I can't remember which one) – Menachem Jun 22 '11 at 20:30
@Menachem, I don't doubt moving it because you want the air to blow a certain way is l'tzoech gufo (but CYLOR), but the question asked about moving it altogether, not only for a use. – msh210 Jun 22 '11 at 20:32
Yes, please fix your answer. He clearly writes that only some hold that you may turn it away. – yydl Jun 22 '11 at 21:01

goes without saying that in any case you can't press any buttons and should be careful not to shake the contact when moving (meaning a bad contact would turn on and off the fan several times when moved)

ialcut iosef permits it without shinui if I remember correctly, but I heard in the name of harav bension aba shaul that in case of need you could move with shinui.

I believe that according to the hazon ish (that holds that electricity is deoraita) you couldn't in any case.

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