A few years ago a swedish company started implanting employees with rice-sized microchips in the backs of their hands. An american company followed suit. the chips can open doors, grant access to work computers, be used to buy snacks at the company vending machine, and share some data. In Sweden they have also been used to buy train ticket and serve as gym membership cards. In the future they may serve as credit cards as well.

If one is implanted with such a device, would there be an issue in leaving it in over shabbos? I would think not since it requires interacting with something else which is muktzeh (and not things you ordinarily would come in contact with on shabbos) in order to activate it.

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    I don't know if this scenario compares - People that wear cochlear implants essentially have a "chip" in their head and have an electronic battery operated processor in their ear. Some have a portable "bluetooth" processor that they wear around their waist or carry in their pocket. They are allowed to use these on Shabbat and Yom Tov. From my understanding, I don't think this is a "medical exception" because, while being uncomfortable, one can remain deaf on Shabbat without wearing these devices and still communicate via lip-reading or sign-language.
    – DanF
    Nov 12, 2018 at 15:25
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    the back of your hand cannot be muktzeh :) If its implanted into your body, its part of You. Nov 12, 2018 at 15:58
  • @DanF I’d think a cochlear implant would be worse, since the chip is just a potential muktzeh issue, while the implant is a certain electricity issue (whatever that issue may be) in addition to muktzeh.
    – DonielF
    Nov 13, 2018 at 14:25
  • @DavidKenner ביד applies to something you’re holding as well. Are you saying that if I’m holding something muktzeh on Shabbos it’s not a problem בדיעבד?
    – DonielF
    Nov 13, 2018 at 14:26
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    No, i am saying that a rice grain sized implant under your skin is not being held by you but rather is part of your goof, (it becomes your body) and is not subject to any issues of carrying or moving muktzeh. Nov 13, 2018 at 15:35

1 Answer 1


Acc. to Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Minchas Shlomo) there is no problem with a circuit that is broken or ineffective on Shabbos. However, the items are still a Keli Shemelachto l'issur - a vessel that is used for a forbidden melacho (i.e. a microwave oven) cannot be moved or unplugged on Shabbos.

In the case of an implant, if it is a circuit that is currently running and can be turned on or off, that would be an issue. However, if it is like an NFC chip - that is only activated when brought into proximity with another circuit, then, as long as it is not brought into that vicinity then it shouldn't be a problem with regard to completing a circuit.

However, there is an additional issue. The Torah describes the Melachos as Melachos Machsheves. What this means practically is that today you can get lamps that turn on when they 'hear' a human clapping. Now, on Shabbos it is permitted to make a clapping sound (according to the Rama, according to others, (like the Rosh, it is better to use a Shinui and clap with the back of the hands, like the Yerushalmi says). Does that mean one can turn on a lamp with a clap? So the answer is that no - since the intention is to turn the lamp on, then it is forbidden (and if it is an incandescent light bulb - possibly D'Oraissa acc. to the Rambam). So if your intention is to do a forbidden act, even if the implant seems to respond to a simple hand gesture, it would be forbidden.

Aside from that, there is a further issur of causing oneself bodily injury. Many poskim do not allow implants or plastic surgery for the sake of beauty. If there is a medical necessity or some sort of medical reason that is needed, there would be a heter to allow it. It would seem to me that having an implant for non-medical purposes would not necessarily be under this category of allowance.

As regards Cochlear implants and hearing aids, this is precisely what was addressed by Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. As long as one does not adjust it on Shabbos, there should be no reason to forbid it (although some are machmir and turn off their hearing aid on Shabbos). Chochlear implants might even be Hagrama (indirect) since they take sound waves and convert them into neuro-impulses. It isn't a malacha machsheves, because the intention is to hear, and not to do a melacha per se. As regards whether one should have an implant - this is certainly regarded as an enhancement for better quality of life, and will enable someone to hear Torah and be able to learn and speak so there should be no reason to forbid an implant on these grounds.

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    Your answer seems to discuss using the implant, and interacting with it or if you should or shouldn't have one implanted. How did you address the OP? Nov 12, 2018 at 16:03
  • the OP asked in the subject line: "Would it be mutar to be implanted with a microchip and leave it in over shabbos?" what part did I not address?
    – user18155
    Nov 12, 2018 at 17:03
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    This answer is incorrect because the electrical aspects have no relevancy whatsoever with regards to shabbat and an implant. The implant is batel to the body, so if it's off, there's no issue of muktzeh, melechet machshevet, hotza'ah, etc. Even if it was left on, there would still be no problem as long as he doesn't use it. It's not like a hearing aid which is distinctly separate from the body; not like an implant which is not seen by the eye. Excellent attempt, though. Keep up the good work! Nov 12, 2018 at 18:53
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    I have to hunt down an article that better explains how cochlear implants work. What you stated is basically correct, but, regarding melacha, it's a bit more involved than that. I'll see if I can locate the article.
    – DanF
    Nov 12, 2018 at 23:37
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    @DannyF The question said nothing about using the implant, so anything about electricity would be irrelevant. The only issue here is a muktzeh one, and so your answer should stop after your second paragraph. Had the question been “can one use such an implant on Shabbos” this would be correct (or at least the start of a correct answer), but as the question stands, this is mostly irrelevant. Certainly your final paragraph is irrelevant, given that the OP specified the type of implant he was discussing - and it’s not used for hearing or anything else passive.
    – DonielF
    Nov 13, 2018 at 14:29

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