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Muktzeh of Modern Lighting

The Minchas Shlomo (1:14) discusses why a flame is muktzeh (so that the lamp is a bosis). Reasons given are;

1) (R’ S.Z.) It is not possible to be mechin a flame because it is a new thing each moment. It is only possible to be mechin (something which exists and which you have ba’alus over such as) food and utensils.

2) (Chazon Ish) People don’t move lamps in case they blow out.

3) (Chazon Ish) People do not move lamps on Shabbos and therefore the lamp becomes like a wall-clock which is muktzeh because it is generally fixed in place.

None of these reasons seem to apply to modern methods of lighting such as incandescent light bulbs, LED’s and fluorescent lamps. Why therefore do the poskim assume that electrical lamps and torches are muktzeh because they are a basis to the light emitting element seeing as none of the above reasons apply to electrical lights where the material itself emits the light and the light is not emitted from a (new) flame, you are not afraid that it will blow out and it is normal to move it?


This is a nice question.

Poskim have much trouble explaining why a flame is muktzeh. The Gemara, however, states clearly that it is muktzeh, and it is hard to rely on our limited reasoning to make distinctions in this matter.

If electric light has the halachah of fire, it thus fits into the category of “fire” as specified by Chazal, and is muktzeh.

In addition, the first rationale mentioned can be applied to the constant renewal of an electric current — though there is room to distinguish between the cases.

Note also that the third rationale you mention does not apply to regular hand-held lamps, which the Chazon Ish was surely familiar with. In spite of this, hand-held lamps remain muktzeh, because they work with fire, and fire is muktzeh. We thus see that even when the specific rationale does not apply, the decree of muktzeh on fire remains.

Yet, all of the above applies only to lighting that can be considered fire, and I don’t think any poskim will consider an LED as fire, so that the comparison with fire should not render LED devices muktzeh.

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