Alarm went off on Shabbat? Rabbi Yuval Cherlow has a solution: The head of the Petah Tikva Hesder yeshiva and one of the leading rabbis in the religious-Zionist community has ruled that for the public's welfare it is acceptable to turn off a car alarm that goes off during Shabbat.
Rabbi Cherlow published his halachic ruling following a responsa he received from someone who observes the Shabbat and was forced to turn off his car alarm by giving out the code and the keys so that the alarm may be turned off, after it bothered the neighbors in the middle of the night.
"The car alarm went off in the middle of the night (2 am) and we didn't hear it. A neighbor called the police and they in turn asked us to turn off the alarm." When the man explained to the police that he was religious and couldn't turn the alarm off "they said – give us they keys and code and we'll turn it off for you."
The inquirer asked Rabbi Cherlow what Jewish law states should be done in this case, when there is no "Shabbat Goy" to be found.
In his ruling Rabbi Cherlow states that "due to the fact that the harm we cause the public (for it is our car alarm) we can't prevent the person from requesting the keys to turn off the alarm himself."
Among other things, the rabbi bases his decision on the fact that the prohibition on using electricity in this case is based on rabbinical commandments (Mitzvot d'rabbanan) not to be confused with Commandments of the Law (Mitzvot d'oraita) which are far more serious.
"More importantly," continued the rabbi, "this is our duty and we must ensure that it is carried it in the correct way, i.e. – if there is no "Shabbat Goy" available, turn off the alarm but not in the usual way 'Be Shinui' or in any other available method."
The rabbi noted that "halachicly speaking, the serious prohibition on depriving sleep from the public outdoes the rabbinical commandment – and this is what should be done in the case at hand.
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