It is well known that it takes three to be obligated in zimmun and that ten are required for a minyan, but how many are required to screw in a lightbulb?

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  • Wait -- we're allowed to change lightbulbs? I didn't see that in the Artscroll!
    – Shalom
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 23:09
  • When you do change the lightbulb, what's the bracha?
    – ezra
    Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 6:56
  • 3
    @Ezra יוצר אור of course
    – Ze'ev
    Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 21:14

11 Answers 11


To change a lightbulb, you need a crew that is superior in both number and wisdom to the crew that put the lightbulb there in the first place.

  • Collective Bargaining Agreement of the International Brotherhood of Lighbulb-Changers II:3:b:iv, citing Rambam, Mamrim 2:2
  • Rambam? What happened to Mishna?
    – Double AA
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 23:56
  • 7
    @DoubleAA feel free to edit. After all, you surpass me in number, being a double, and in wisdom, knowing the mishna.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 0:02
  • 1
    Conveniently, a bigger, wiser crew also costs more ...
    – Shalom
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 0:12
  • But what if you can't find such a crew? Then no one can change it (or get paid...) Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 5:52

CHANGE the lightbulb?! My grandmother donated that light bulb!

  • 4
    You're grandma donated an old light bulb from 1912. It didn't work then, either. It's just that you're grandma didn't try it out before she donated it.
    – DanF
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 22:49

We are not allowed to change the light bulb, but we can be mechadesh a new light bulb. However, in order to know whether the light bulb is being changed or whether the new one is a proper chiddush, one must have knowledge of the full range of Torah; knowing just the halachos of light bulbs is insufficient. In addition, the chiddush of a new light bulb must be from within the system, not from the outside. Psychologizing, historicizing, or otherwise rationalizing the previous light bulb's expiration is illegitimate.

Sources: https://www.torahweb.org/torah/special/2003/rsch_masorah.html; https://yated.com/grand-showdown-women-rabbis/

  • That's really good!
    – Shalom
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 0:11
  • wfb, Purim Torah is out of season now. Please don't edit any PTIJ posts. See the policy: "don't edit or otherwise bump old Purim Torah posts except during this period"
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 21:06

Replacing a burnt-out lightbulb with one that works is a tiny act of tikkun olam, repairing the world. Not only is it repair but, being about light, it's a small repair to the original shattering of light, tzimtzum! Not only is there no minimum number of Jews to make this repair, but you are obligated to take the steps you can when you discover the problem. As Rabbi Tarfon teaches in Pirke Avot 2:16:

He used to say: It is not your responsibility to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.

  • See my 1st idea in my answer. You're right. It's not your responsibility to change bulbs. Even Rav Tarfon knew that!
    – DanF
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 22:46
  • 2
    @DanF it's not your job to finish, but I don't see where R' Tarfon says you can just sit in the dark and wait. I think he's saying you don't have to put the ladder away after. Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 22:51
  • Why , it says it in Micha chapter 7! כי-אשב בחושך, יהוה אור לי - When I shall sit in darkness, Hashem will provide the light. You just sit in the dark and wait. cc @DanF Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 5:06
  • @Yez Hashem's light is different. With the bulb we're talking about darkness resulting from light we established (of course all light really comes from Hashem), and we all know that if you do something often enough it becomes an established practice that you can't overturn. Having light in that fixture is an established practice, thus when the bulb burns out we must repair it. If we hadn't put it there in the first place then we could sit in the dark and wait for Hashem's light, but we were impatient. Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 15:47

We keep using the broken lightbulb זכר לחורבן.


Jews have never replaced lightbulbs. Everybody knows that we've always used LED bulbs which practicality never need to be replaced all the way back to Moshe Rabeinu.

  • I don't get it...
    – Double AA
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 2:59
  • 2
    @DoubleAA Like how Moshe Rabeinu wore tefillin gasos and a black hat.
    – Daniel
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 3:19
  • 2
    @Daniel No, Moshe Rabbeinu was clearly Modern Orthodox and used a Norelco kosher shaver, wearing colored shirts and davening from a Koren-Sacks Siddur. When he couldn't find Koren, he chose ArtScroll, RCA Edition and said the Mi Shebeirachs for the IDF and the State of Israel.
    – ezra
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 3:50
  • @ezra I guess you haven't seen enough yeshiva parsha sheets, esp. around this time of the year (Shemot and the Mishkan seem to generate a lot of parsha sheets with pictures of Moshe; more than sefer Vayikra does.) All the cartoons of Moshe (I never knew Moshe Rabbeinu was that funny!) show him with a long beard and payot. Some even show him with a black hat with a turned down brim. Who knew Moshe was Chaba"d?
    – DanF
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 14:30
  • @DanF The beard and payot isn't off the chart, but are you serious about the Borsalino Moshe? That's crazy. Lemme guess too, Moshe Rabbeinu also shouted Yechi after davening every morning. ;)
    – ezra
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 15:12

Gd willing Mashiach will come very soon so we don't need to change the lightbulb.


This is a very old question, my friend... I'm generous, so I'm including a few possible answers:

  • None. Jews don't change light bulbs. They ask someone else to do that for them.

  • Depends on the Nusach or Shita that they follow

  • They don't change light bulbs. They're OK with "living in the dark".


We learn about changing the lights from the service in the Bais HaMikdash. There, the Kohahim tended to the Ner Tamid, which was always burning. Only a Kohen could tend to the menorah, and likewise today only a Kohen can change a lightbulb. The procedure is that he comes in the morning and removes the old light that was burning all night. Then he comes back in the evening and puts in a new lightbulb. Today we cannot ask a Kohen to do work for us, and also we are not 100% sure on the mesorah for kohanim, so usually light bulbs remain unchanged.


Only one Jew. If you have more than one do it then we run into the problem of “Two Jews, three opinions,” and then nothing will ever get done. Al achat kama vekama more than two.


At least a million Jews.

As it says ליהודים היתה אורה

To the Jews it was lit.

according to many estimates there were about a million Jews that lived in Persia, despite only 42,000 Jews that went back to Eretz Yisrael with Ezra

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