Q. Electric cars have become in recent years very efficient and as fast as the ones driven by gas. Since when driving a common gas consuming car during Shabbos one commits a constant repetitive Torah prohibition, while an electric one is at worst only rabbinical, should not Hatzala groups use electric cars?
A. Poskim disagree if one transgresses a Biblical prohibition when driving an electric car. In question 1327 we wrote: Many Poskim maintain that using an electric device that does not produce heat is only a rabbinic prohibition. See Hachashmal Behalacha Ch. 5, Yabia Omer, O.H. 7:36, Minchas Yitzchok 3: 23. et. al. However, Chazon Ish, O. H. 50:9, maintains that completing a circuit constitutes a biblical prohibition.
On question1328 in regard to we wrote using an electronic key-card on Shabbos, we wrote: Besides the known opinion of the Chazon Ish, that activating an electric circuit is boneh and constitutes a Biblical prohibition, there are different views and opinions in the Poskim.
Beis Yitzchok (Y.D. 2: 31: index) and others maintain the proscription of closing and activating an electric circuit is molid (Making changes to an object or substance. Creating a new entity on Shabbos). He writes: Creating a current flow (molid zerem) is rabbinically forbidden because in doing so one has created something new – a functioning appliance. (See Minchas Shlomo pp. 71-74; Tzitz Eliezer 1:20:10, Tz’lach Hachadash, Kuntres Acharon 1).
Poskim also assert that activating any electrical equipment involves “makkeh bepatish,” literally, striking with a hammer; an act of completing an object and bringing it into its final useful form. These Poskim cite as precedent those who prohibited winding a watch for this reason. (Chazon Ish, O. H. 50: 9; Mishp’tei Uziel 1: 13; Tzitz Eliezer 6: 6; Edus Leyisarel (Rabbi Y. E. Henkin) p. 121. (Rabbi Henkin states that perhaps only a Rabbinic prohibition is involved. The prohibition of metaken mana, is a sub-prohibition of makkeh bepatish).
On question 1125 we wrote: “When electricity is used to make a filament glow and give light or to provide heat as in stove burners or the like, most Poskim maintain that one transgresses the biblical prohibition of ma’avir (kindling – Achiezer 3: 60, 4: 7, Beis Yitzchok Y.D. 120 – 125, Minchas Shlomo 12, Meorei Haeish, Yesodey Yeshurun – Maavir, et.al.). Others call it mevashel – cooking (Chazon Ish 50: 9). A few maintain that it is only rabbinical since even when the metal gets heated and burns or when it glows, it does not get consumed.
When no light or heat is produced, some still maintain that the Torah prohibitions of bonneh (building) apply, since the closed electrical circuit binds together the different components of the appliance or electrical device (Chazon Ish 50: 9). Another biblical prohibition considered is tikun mono (finishing the making of a utensil), since without the electrical power being applied the devise is non-functional and useless. However, other Poskim are lenient and may permit the use of electrical circuitry in cases of need such as in hearing aids or similar (Igrois Moishe O.H. 4: 85, see next question). Some Poskim (Beis Yitzchok Y.D. 1: 2) also assert that one transgresses on the rabbinical proscription of molid (bringing about any creative change in an item).
Horav Shlomo Miller’s Shlit”a opinion is that in most cases activating any electrical circuitry, even when no heat or light is created, besides the rabbinical prohibition of molid, should be considered at least as a sofek deuraisso, or doubtful Torah prohibition because of the tikun mono involved”.
In our case, Horav Shlomo Miller’s Shlit’a opinion is also that blankly advocating the use of electric cars on Shabbos by Hatzalah, may create the erroneous image for some, that they may be actually permitted, causing eventual widespread chilul Shabbos.
Rabbi A. Bartfeld as revised by Horav Shlomo Miller Shlit’a