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Alexa on Shabbes

Question:

BS”D

I have an alexa device (smart device that controls the house, light, coffee machine, platta and everything electronic by means of voice command), the question is; can a Jew use this device by voice command in Shabbes? Even giving orders by voice indirectly as if talking to a goyim, today is the heat here, and so the device turns on the air conditioner alone? is it allowed, since the person is not making melakhos shabbes?

 

Answer:

On Shabbos we may not activate anything using the Alexa device. Essentailly there is no differance to activating an electronic device with one’s hand or one’s mouth. If this is the normal way to activate the device, halachically they are they same. Regarding taking to a gentile, there is some confusion here. We are not allowed to ask a gentile to do melacha for us on Shabbos, in fact even if he does do melacha for us we may not benfit from it, lest we be tempted to ask him to do it for us. There are however certain instances when it is permitted, but the general rule is that it isn’t permitted. Even regarding the times that we may ask a gentile to do melacha, the gentile is doing it and we only asked him. However when making a command with an electronic device, it is considered as if the device is an extension of the person, just instead of turning it on by hand it is done via voice. Therefore it should not be done on Shabbos.

Best wishes

 

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