If a phone charger (or any electric adapter that is not connected to a device, for that matter) is plugged into an outlet, does unplugging it constitute any forbidden form of work, or is simply a 'muktzeh' issue? If it is a muktzeh issue, can it be unplugged and moved if the space is currently needed?

  • I don't know, but I imagine that it would also have to do with your reasons for unplugging the charger. If it is to save electricity (which, for most people = to save money) then that's something that needs to be factored into the answer as well. – Shimon bM Oct 10 '12 at 3:21
  • I got a pesak from my LORP (which i intend to follow) but he's no physicist – Kidor Oct 10 '12 at 3:22
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    What's a "LORP"? – msh210 Oct 10 '12 at 3:37
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    @msh210 local orthodox rabinnical posek - usage ive learned from your site – Kidor Oct 10 '12 at 3:51
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    Kidor, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for bringing this interesting question! I look forward to seeing you around. – Isaac Moses Oct 10 '12 at 5:00

If the charger has an indicator light it would obviously be forbidden as unplugging would extinguish it. Even if not, phone chargers utilize electricity even when the phone is not plugged in. Consequently unplugging would interrupt the flow of electricity and would most probably be forbidden on Shabbos under the general minhag/uvdin dechol prohibition of utilizing electricity.

[Those that follow the Chazon Ish would regard this as an Issur Deorasa of Soser. Menuchas Ahava 24:2, quoted here writes that since people regard electricity as fire, it is forbidden to terminate an electric current as this is perceived as extinguishing fire. This answer rules that unplugging electrical devices is forbidden on Shabbos.]

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    Wouldn't that depend on the reason for forbidding electricity usage? The only one on that list that this might fall into is the minhag one, and in this case it's a melacha she'eina tzericha legufah, mekalkeil, and depending on the circumstances possibly a davar mitzva. Since it's not nikkar at all, it seems to me to be much more like the Star-K certified electric ovens. – Double AA Oct 10 '12 at 3:17
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    Who says utilizing energy = asur? Please source – Kidor Oct 10 '12 at 3:23
  • @Kidor Utilizing energy indicates that there is a complete circuit inside even before you plug in your phone. Unplugging it is thus breaking a complete circuit and interrupting the electric current. – Double AA Oct 10 '12 at 3:42
  • @DoubleAA so its assur acc to the Chazon Ish? What about everyone who is oser for reasons like bishul? – Kidor Oct 10 '12 at 3:42
  • @Kidor I don't know of anyone who forbids all electricity usage because of bishul. See the linked question for more discussion about why most manipulation of electricity is forbidden. – Double AA Oct 10 '12 at 3:44

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