Q. An apartment next to a hospital, donated (to Bikur Cholim) primarily for providing necessary lodging of family staying with patients during during Shabbos, has two bedrooms permitting the stay of individuals of different families and gender. To avoid yichud issues a recording security cameras were installed that operate on Shabbos, following the advice of Horav Miller.
Due to security concerns that the presence of unknown visitors may create, it has been suggested that emergency alarm switches should be installed in all rooms including all common areas. Those alarms when triggered would connect directly to 911 or a security facility. Is there a Halachik issue with them?
Is there a specific way that Horav Miller recommends how they should be installed?
A. On question 828 we wrote: Horav Shlomo Miller Shlit”’a advised that in order to leave the cameras and recording equipment on during Shabbos, a random timer should be added in order to avoid this becoming a case of psik reisha or certainty of committing a prohibition. There should also not be a light or other on-indicator on the camera when recording.
The Rov recommended that the emergency alarm switches or panic buttons, should be installed as there could be, although uncommon, valid concerns of even Pikuach Nefesh in some instances. He also recommended that they should be connected to a competent security service, rather than effecting a direct 911 call, that may be considered due to its automated nature, to be a fake call. Usually, there may be more responsibility and obligation with a remunerated institution.
Rabbi A. Bartfeld as revised by Horav Shlomo Miller Shlit’a