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Can one leave an alarm to go off on Shabbos morning?

If one can, then can it play anything, music, radio, etc?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

I learned that the prohibition of generating sound on Shabbos even through a trigger - which is plainly permitted in general - was related to the prohibition of musical instruments on Shabbos. R'Eli Mansour brings the reason that it's not in the spirit of Shabbos to watch television or listen to the radio, and specifically prohibits using an alarm that turns on news or music.

Some rabbis prohibit waking up to music period, although the question would be whether or not recorded music qualifies as actual music in this regard, as the Shulchan Aruch is regarding "musical instruments". Furthermore, this may be informed by the general prohibition to listen to music at all.

It's interesting to see R' Auerbach Z"L ruling this way as he generally seems to hold that we cannot say that specific laws such as this apply to modern inventions. He is presumably understanding the speaker which produces the music to be a resonant body as one would find in an instrument, its electrical component notwithstanding.

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R' Eli Mansour seems to just be bringing the Mechaber's opinion for Sefardim. The Remah (252:5) says that you also have to worry about vessels making noise on shabbat because of "Mashmiah Kol" (making noise) and perhaps indicates that part of the problem is that people will think you are doing melachah on shabbat (since he permits winding a clock - before shabbos - which will chimes on the hour on shabbos since everyone knows you wound it before shabbos) -- I'm not 100% sure about all of this, any clarification would be great. – Menachem Aug 7 '11 at 17:41
Huh, good point. I assumed he was ruling based solely on the Shulchan Aruch, but I neglected to actually look at the source. Perhaps we might say that today everybody knows one can set an alarm before Shabbos, so it's like a clock which chimes on the hour. B"N I'll look at the Rema and ask my Rav. – yoel Aug 7 '11 at 18:16
What about non-musical alarm clocks? Just a beep beep beep sound – user6781 Aug 1 '14 at 15:06

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