From the Rav’s Desk: Alexa bathroom smart system

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Alexa bathroom smart system

Question: [Friday, 14th Iyar 5780]

Someone set up a light system, which notifies them if the bathroom is occupied, kind of like an airplane. There is a small light that is plugged into a smart plug. The smart plug is connected to Alexa, and Alexa is connected to a contact sensor on the bathroom door. When the bathroom door is closed, it notifies Alexa, which notifies the smart plug to turn on, which turns on light. When the door is opened, same thing, other way around. Now for Shabbos, they could set it up that Alexa doesn’t turn on the plug with the light. But the sensor would technically still be working when you open and close the door. There are no lights, but still sensors internally. Is that a problem?



This enters into the subject of a Rabbinical Melacha Shelo Nicha Lei, of which many Poskim are lenient, although some are stringent. I would thus say that one should initially unplug the sensor from before Shabbos, although if it was not unplugged one may be lenient to use the bathroom, assuming the light will not turn on as a result. This follows a similar ruling of Admur regarding applying the rules of Lo Nicha Lei to a cloth that is wrapped around the pipe of a barrel.

See here for details of this matter: Piskeiy Teshuvos 277:8; Lo Nicha Lei: Halacha 3C

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