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Grama 9 – Meleches Machsheves 7, Grama Switches, Cars, Guns (Klal 9) Hilchos Shabbos – S0325

D'var Halacha
D'var Halacha
Grama 9 - Meleches Machsheves 7, Grama Switches, Cars, Guns (Klal 9) Hilchos Shabbos - S0325
  Sponsorships for the upcoming Klalim, which discuss the 39 melachos of Shabbos, are available. Please contact Rabbi Reingold for more information at or 301.996.5910   We have finished Klal 9. The purpose of this Klal was to learn about broad klalim which come up regarding melachos of Shabbos. We will discuss a few other concepts not discussed by the Chayei Adam. We have discussed the concept of intent impacting the status of melacha, and now we are discussing grama.   We are discussing the concept of grama. We learned multiple caveats which differentiate between an action being considered a grama versus meleches machsheves. One of the caveats discussed was whether the action in question is the primary means for performing the action or not (based on Achiezer, see shiur s323).  This caveat is the underlying issue the poskim discuss regarding the grama switch. We learned that there is a concept of koach rishon and koach sheini, koach rishon being the direct result of one’s action, and koach sheini being grama. The Chazon Ish writes that if one starts a machine which consequently continues cycling by itself, all of the subsequent cycles of the machine are considered koach rishon and not koach sheini. One might have argued that the subsequent cycles of the machine are koach sheini, but the Chazon Ish explains that since the machine works in a way that all cycles of the machine are generated as a result of the original action to start the machine, all cycles of the machine are considered the koach rishon of the person who started the machine. The Chazon Ish concludes that this point undermines any type of grama machine which works based on this logic.   The thought process of those who hold it is muttar is the fact there is a time lapse between the original action and the melacha. However, many times, the time lapse is not obvious to people, so it is not relevant. Many laypeople have no idea how machines work in an intricate way, so just because internally there is a time lapse, to the untrained eye, it does not appear to be of significance. Additionally, the fact that it is the first action which sets the grama action in motion means that there is no time lapse in the action, because something is accomplished immediately. Therefore, the actions of the machine are looked at as one system, and the action which set the machine in motion is the same as any subsequent actions.   The purpose of the grama switch is to try and mitigate melacha in situations of a choleh or the like who is not in a situation of danger. If we can downgrade a melacha which otherwise would be assur to grama, it will be muttar in a case of a choleh or hefsed. However, as we have explained, it is difficult to see the permissibility of it.   Regarding a car, when one presses the gas pedal, it sets in motion many different linkages which eventually set in motion the actual spark in the combustion chamber, which is the issur of havarah. The entire engine then becomes a system, and therefore it is considered one’s koach rishon to press the gas pedal.  Similarly, regarding a gun, the mechanics of a simple gun involve pulling a trigger, which causes  the hammer to hit a strike plate which makes a spark, which ignites the gunpowder, which shoots out the bullet. Although the person who pulled the trigger merely pulled the trigger, we look at the entire gun as a system, so it is one’s koach rishon which shot the bullet.    Be’ezras Hashem, we will discuss other grama situations in the upcoming shiurim.   Summary The concept of meleches machsheves can take an action which would otherwise be considered grama and make it chayav. However, there are five caveats:
  1. The process begins immediately following the action;
  2. The person is trying to do the action;
  3. The person wants the action;
  4. It is the normal method of performing the action.
  5. The results of the melacha are recognizable.
If any of these caveats are missing, the action reverts to grama.   When it comes to grama switches, cars, guns, or other multi-step machines which are set in motion by one’s action, they are not considered grama but rather meleches machsheves because the entire machine is considered one system and therefore the direct action of the person who sets it in motion.  

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