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Using Child to Open electronic Door on Shabbos

Using Child to Open electronic Door on Shabbos

Question:
Shalom! Here in Russia we have electronic locks on house doors. On Shabbat when davening is late we have difficulty to get in because a neighbors do not come and go at that time, so we have to wait for a long time. So is it possible to give an electronic key to a two years old baby and he bring it (without eruv) and unlock a door himself?

Answer:

If the child is taught during the week to open the door himself, and he is given the key before Shabbos to hold, and when you arrive home he goes and opens the door without being told to do so, and he is opening it to get himself inside, this would be permitted.

Obviously if there is another feasible way to arrange entry without using a child to do melacha for you this would be preferable.

Sources:

There are 3 potential issues we face when a child is doing Melacha we are benefiting from. Firstly, the there is an issue of ספיה בידיים, the general prohibition against directly causing even a small child to do an aveirah. In this case it would seem there is no ספיה as he is given the key far in advance, and when he opens the door he is doing so mainly for himself. Even on the small side there may be ספיה we could rely on the leniency of the Rashba that a child may be given a Rabbinic prohibition when it is for his own needs.

Secondly, there is the issue of Chinuch. A child of such young age is not yet הגיע לחינוך and so would not need to be stopped from transgressing.

Finally, there is the issue of a child who is עושה על דעת אביו, even if one does not cause or command his son to violate a transgression, if he is doing so for the sake of his father he must be stopped, see Mishna Shabbos 121a, and Biur Halacha 266:6 s”v הג”ה who discusses whether this is a rabbinic or Biblical prohibition. In this case however it would seem that as long as it is clear that the child wants to enter the house for himself, we need not be concerned that he is doing melacha על דעת אביו.

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