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Light Up Shoes on Shabbos for Children

Question:
Is it permissible to allow ones children to wear shoes that light up when they walk on Shabbos based on the fact that it is a psik reisha on a rabbinic prohibition in a case of Rabbinic obligation of children.

In addition would the case of a child with special needs be a further mitigating factor for leniency in this case or other cases of toys that light up or make sounds

Answer:

Wearing such shoes involves turning on a light, by using some form of electricity. The use of electricity is a matter of much debate, but according to many authorities involves a question of a Biblical prohibition. When dealing with a Biblical prohibition, a psik reisha which has a desirable outcome [psik reisha d’nicha lei] is a Biblical prohibition as well.

A child who understands that stepping on the shoes activates the light and understands that lights may not be turned on on Shabbos, should certainly not be given such shoes to wear. This is probably from about the age of 4 – 5.

Younger than this age, the child is not yet educatable [“higiya l’chinuch”] and does not even comprehend that stepping on the shoes turns on the lights. Hence, the stepping may not be considered a psik reisha, as the rationale for psik reisha is that one has intent for the secondary result as well, which is not the case at such an age.

However, even at this age a child should not be dressed in such shoes. One may not cause a child to perform a Shabbos prohibition even at a young age. In addition handling the shoes by the adult may very well cause their being lit, as well as handling the child wearing the shoe, such as placing them on the ground. It seems that such shoes are also not in the spirit of Shabbos and perhaps somewhat of a belittlement of the sanctity of Shabbos.

However, a young child [under age of chinuch] who on his own goes to play with electronic toys, does not have to be prevented.

Sources:

See Shulchan Aruch O:C 343 and Mishna Brura.

With regards to the use of electricity on Shabbos see Shu”t Minchas Asher Vol. 1 Siman 30 – 32.

 

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