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This answer asserts that R' Auerbach held that not using electricity on Shabbat is a minhag. However, assuming that this ruling dates to the 1930s (which is what I have heard in the past), everyday usage of electricity went back only about 50 years.

Based on this information, how could R' Auerbach assert that not using electricity on Shabbat is a minhag, considering its [electricity's] relative novelty?

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    IIUC, you think 50 years is too short a time to develop a Minhag. Is that correct? Why do you think that? Please edit in support for this claim. – Double AA Jan 25 '16 at 19:19
  • @DoubleAA, that is my impression, since I don't have any formal support for it, I am leaving it as an implicit usage of conjecture. – Noach MiFrankfurt Jan 25 '16 at 19:21
  • @DoubleAA I think that he is asking how could something that new have been accepted as a minhag by klal Yisrael. Then again, if everyone behaved this way and treated it like this from the beginning, then a minhag could be established very quickly. – sabbahillel Jan 25 '16 at 19:23
  • @NoachmiFrankfurt IMO better than "leaving it as an implicit usage of conjecture" would be explicitly stating "that is my impression [and] I don't have any formal support for it". – Double AA Jan 25 '16 at 19:25
  • I found the quote by Rav Auerbach and quoted the article that deals with it. – sabbahillel Jan 25 '16 at 19:40
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Journal of Halacha & Contemporary Society, No. XXI - Spring 91 - Pesach 5751 has an article by Rabbi Michael Broyde - Adjunct Assistant Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School, and Rabbi Howard Jachter - Associate Rabbi of Congregation Beth Judah in Brooklyn which gives Rabbi Auerbach's opinion in his own words. The article concludes that current practice is that it is forbidden in any case.

The original quote from Rav Auerbach (Minchat Shlomo 74, 84) is

In my opinion there is no prohibition [to use electricity] on Shabbat or Yom Tov... There is no prohibition of ma'keh bepatish or molid... (However, I [Rabbi Auerbach] am afraid that the masses will err and turn on incandescent lights on Shabbat, and thus I do not permit electricity absent great need...) ... This matter requires further analysis.

...

However, the key point in my opinion is that there is no prohibition to use electricity on Shabbat unless the electricity causes a prohibited act like cooking or starting a flame.

The article goes through the various opinions on using electricity and concludes, in the relevant part:

Rabbi Auerbach additionally states that since the tradition forbids the use of electricity, and this tradition received near unanimous approval from rabbinic authorities in the normal course of events observant Jews should accept this tradition (even though he feels it is based on incorrect premises) and operate under the presumption that the use of electricity without light or heat is a violation, of rabbinic origin, based on molid.

  • Do you think there is grounds based on R'Auerbach's opinion for some leniency with electricity (not incandescent lights) in a situation of pressing need? – SAH Nov 3 '16 at 17:28
  • @SAH I would need to get a psak as it would depend on the need and the specific use. Just reading the summary of an opinion is not enough – sabbahillel Nov 3 '16 at 19:00

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