It is an interesting approach - trying to satisfy the major halachic issues, while skirting the stringencies. Halachically, what would be the status of using this phone on Shabbat? Obviously it violates the stringency of muktzeh etc. but I am curious to hear an analysis taking into account the benefits listed on that page. In particular, if one keeps the app just to receive potential messages from elderly etc. and only uses it in emergencies it may actually come under the heading of "desecrate one shabbos to keep many," especially since the desecration is only of rabbinical stringencies?

I am curious as to the various halachic issues with using this app on Shabbat.

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    Why is Muktza only a stringency? Isn't it law? (I don't mean to comment about whether or not this is a case where Muktza is relevant.)
    – Double AA
    Oct 1, 2014 at 21:54
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    Why don't you include a description of what the app does, and why the developers thought that it was OK for Shabbos? That would make it easier for people to understand and answer your question.
    – MTL
    Oct 1, 2014 at 22:02
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    If anyone elderly's life is possibly at risk, it is a huge mitzva to use any regular phone to alleviate the danger.
    – Double AA
    Oct 1, 2014 at 22:13
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    @GregoryMagarshak And what happens if that page gets taken down, or moved? Then someone finding this question several months from now will have no idea what's going on.
    – MTL
    Oct 1, 2014 at 22:18
  • 3
    Someone has voted to close this question as a request for p'sak. I disagree -- I see no reason to believe that this question is seeking p'sak.
    – MTL
    Nov 25, 2014 at 1:18

3 Answers 3


Now that the app is actually out and we can see what it does, the Tzomet institute has an article about it. In summary, they say it is forbidden. They take issue with the app's primary claim, which is that the app utilizes a time delay and calls this a grama. The Tzomet institute (which is a pioneer in the development of grama based devices and has some serious halachic and technological knowledge), utilizes both time delays and indirect causation in all of their grama switches.

According to the publishers of this application, the Halachik basis for this leniency is a time delay between the human action and the electrical response. All Orthodox rabbis, including the most liberal, are well aware that every human action, that has a desirable outcome, is strictly forbidden even if it has a delayed response and even if it takes place only after a certain time. A person initiating a delayed mechanism is considered as if "shooting an arrow", where the results are attributed directly to this person’s action.

In our 'Gramma' mechanism, when a person presses a button or a touch screen, they do not start any chain reaction – 'shooting an arrow'. This indirect activation ('Gramma') is based on a complex technological design and the result is not a chain reaction started by a human hand. As stated before, our 'Gramma' solutions are for medical and security use only.

Then they add in a few more issues just for good measure:

Another aspect of this issue, is that while communicating with someone else, a person also activates electrical circuits on the second persons phone. All this is without even mentioning anything about the Melacha of writing, the 'Image of Shabbat', the importance of a Shabbat atmosphere and the Halachik aspects of Shabbat such as 'Uvdin D’Chol' and 'Maris Ayin'. There is no need to further explore these concepts in order to completely prohibit this surreal and absurd so called Shabbos app.


According to the article posted here:

The Shabbos App is completely unacceptable from a halachic standpoint, according to Rabbi Moshe Elefant of the Orthodox Union.


Noted halachic authority Rabbi Yair Hoffman said that while the app could transform texting from an issur d’oraysa to an issur d’rabanon, it is still strictly forbidden and should be avoided at all costs.


Rabbi Hoffman observed that according to some, texting with the Shabbos App would be still be an issur d’oraysa and is also contrary to the spirit of Shabbos.

Allowing that there might be some value to the app for those in the medical field Rabbi Hoffman said, “If doctors require it and it is truly pikuach nefesh, , then when you have issues that are not time-is-of-the-essence, but still life threatening, there may be a use for it.”

Note that the app developer in the article claims to have rabbonim who are "Orthodox and knowledgeable in Torah and halacha" in agreement with the app, but is not naming them. He also says that the intention of the app is strictly for those who are texting anyway but doing it in a "more" forbidden way, not an attempt to provide an ability for those who refrain from texting to start doing it on Shabbos (ח"ו).

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    Nobody in their right mind will give a Haskama to a product which hasn't been developed yet! Of course he's not naming them yet.
    – Double AA
    Oct 1, 2014 at 22:16
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    +1 for relevant info, although the OP wasn't asking for a ruling, so much as the reasoning and thoughts surrounding the app. ( curious to hear an analysis taking into account the benefits listed on that page .... I am curious as to the various halachic issues with using this app on Shabbat. )
    – MTL
    Oct 1, 2014 at 22:16
  • @Shokhet, the details of why it comes to that conclusion are in the link.
    – Yishai
    Oct 1, 2014 at 22:49
  • @Yishai See my earlier comment on the question judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/45970/…
    – MTL
    Oct 2, 2014 at 0:37
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    @DoubleAA, if they are willing to give the app developer guidelines and promise future endorsement if they are met, they should be willing to publish those guidelines with their names. The app author may have not wanted them to do that, though, as he wants to get his app released first and not give the requirements to a competitor. But in that case.
    – Yishai
    Oct 2, 2014 at 14:21

The app dev is making it is as if you do something with a shinoy it is halachically permissible to violate shabbat.

Source: Was discussing with my communal Rabbi

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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya! This answer could be a lot better if you would edit in your sources.
    – Scimonster
    Oct 7, 2014 at 12:02
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    What melachos are under discussions, and what was done to "be meshaneh them" (change them to create a "shinoy")?
    – MTL
    Oct 7, 2014 at 13:52

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