Background: Among the things one may not move on Shabbat (Muktzah) is a utensil which is primarily used for a forbidden activity on Shabbat (a classic example is a hammer). This is called a "Keli Shemalchto Leisur".

One may use such a utensil to perform a permissible act on Shabbat (e.g. use said hammer to crack nuts). (This is called Lesorech Gufo) -- see here.

What is the Halacha regarding using a flashlight that was lit before Shabbat i.e. for reading? It would seem to be allowed since it is Keli Shemalchto Leisur (an item normally used for forbidden acts) used Lesorech Gufo (for itself) which is allowed (Shulhan Aruch 308)?

(I understand Minhat Shelomo Siman 14 may have something to say on this but haven't read it. A summary of that or any other source will be most welcome.)

  • I think there is a similar question in Rishumei Aron .
    – sam
    Commented Jul 21, 2013 at 22:41
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    Is the "hint" something to do with the question? Then please expand on it instead of merely hinting. Or is it an answer? Then please put it in an answer. See also meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/a/140.
    – msh210
    Commented Jul 21, 2013 at 23:32
  • Is it a KelI Shemelachto LeIsur LeTzorech Gufo and not a Basis LeDavar HaAsur, like a torch? (I assume it is more like the former than the latter, but either a source could help or you should specify that that's part of the question, too.
    – Seth J
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 1:04
  • @msh210 Rav Shelomo Zalman is Matir but most are Oser (Yalkut Yosef, Menuhat Ahava and Rav Herschel Shechter) I'm looking for some more background. Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 6:05
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    Worth pointing out that there may be a halachic difference between modern LED bulbs and incandescent or even halogen ones. I've heard some Rabbonim say that LEDs are definitely not considered to be aish, even according to opinions that say that incandescent bulbs are, but that may not be something that is universally accepted. Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 22:36

2 Answers 2


Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Meoray Eish and Minchas Shlomo 14) sides that technically as far as the laws of Muktzah are concerned it is permitted. However in a footnote he writes "All what I have written is only a discussion and not to be relied on, for all of Israel refrained all these years from moving an electric light on Shabbos and it appears as uvdin dchol (the work of the weekday) and also we must worry that people may think it is permitted to move for Halacha does not consider it a fire (and may come to use electricity on Shabbos). And although we do not institute our own Gezeira (Rabbinic Prohabition) Leave all of Israel to continue to treat it as if it is Prohibited"

Rav Moshe Feinstein in Igros Moshe (O.C. 5, 32) writes that it is Prohibited since it is like a fire. However he wrote that decision to an english book on the Laws of Muktzah called "Tiltulei Shabbos". Numerous disciples of Rabbi Feinstein testify that he himself carried a flashlight on Shabbos. In sefer "Halacha Shleima" (54:2) writes how he heard from the author of Tiltulei Shabbbos that Rabbi Feinstein held it was permitted and told him to write in english it is assur because it is similar to a fire and people might get confused and come to carry a fire.

There is a specific type of Muktzeh prohibition for a lit fire (See Shabbos 45a). The Chazon Ish gives two reasons to explain why it is Muktzeh. Both of those reasons do not apply to a flashlight and therefore Rabbi Abadi (Ohr Yitzchak O. C. 154) writes that it is permitted. (Rabbi Abadi goes further and writes that "What you heard that Rabbi Feinstein prohibits, maybe Rabbi Feinstein says this based on his opinion of Shabbos clocks that anything that is clear that Chaza"l would prohibit as a Gezeira, is prohibited as if they made such a decree.")

Rav Elyashiv is quoted (Ashrei Ha'ish) to have said since the reasoning of the Muktzeh of a lit fire is not explained in the early Poskim we have no way of knowing a flashlight is not included in the prohibition. See also Tzitz Eliezer 6 26 who is prohibits it.

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    Hi chacham, welcome to Mi Yodeya and thank you for your recent thorough answers. Please see our jargon policy; this site is read by people of many different backgrounds so we try and keep unnecessary jargon out of our answers. I look forward to seeing you around!
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 13:29
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    i tried to fix it
    – chacham
    Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 14:59

In the sefer Rishumei Aahron(Rav Aahron Felder) chelek 2 pg 27 he brings from Rav Moshe that it is mutar to move a lamp(with a cord) on Shabbas lzorech gufo and mimkomo.

  • This opinion is also attributed to Rav Moshe in the end notes of the English version of Sh'miras Shabas K'hilch'sah.
    – WAF
    Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 20:08

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