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Baltimore, MD - Prominent Posek: Burglar Alarm Can Be Turned Off On Shabbos

Published on: January 21, 2016 09:11 PM
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Baltimore, MD - Following a rash of burglaries in his community that had residents focusing on crime prevention, a highly respected Baltimore posek clarified several halachos regarding security issues on Shabbos.

The remarks made by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, rov of Agudath Israel of Baltimore and the Star-K’s rabbinic advisor, came after a Crime Town Hall meeting was held on January 11th as area residents shared their concerns with members of law enforcement. The forum was convened after a rash of over 25 home break ins took place in Baltimore’s Jewish community within a one month period.

Margie Pensak, director of public and media affairs for the Star-K, told VIN News that she taped a telephone interview with Rabbi Heinemann, asking if residents who left their burglar alarms activated over Shabbos would be halachically permitted to shut off their alarms should they accidentally go off on Shabbos. 

Mrs. Pensak transcribed Rabbi Heinemann’s words which were quoted on the Baltimore Jewish Life website, explaining what to do if the alarm should go off, particularly if police will call the home once the alarm has been tripped. 

“If your burglar alarm goes off on Shabbos, you are allowed to turn it off, for example, with a shinui - for example, your elbow or knuckles. If the alarm company will call you first, before the police would come, you have to tell them it was a mistake, so you are allowed to knock off the phone with a shinui to tell them it is a false alarm. If Yidden would not answer the phone when they call up, the police will not call anymore on Shabbos because they will come and if it’s a false alarm, they will say: If it’s a Yiddishe home, they are not going to come. It is a question of pekuach nefashos.”

 Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, rov of Agudath Israel of Baltimore Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, rov of Agudath Israel of Baltimore

Rabbi Heinemann also addressed the issue of whether or not to call police if someone observed unusual activity or a crime taking place on Shabbos, saying, “If you see something suspicious, you should not call 911 or Shomrim on Shabbos, however,  if there is a break-in, in your own home or someone else’s house, after you see it, you are allowed to call them on Shabbos, because it could be pekuach nefashos, dangerous.”

Baltimore Shomrim has posted several crime deterrent suggestions on its Facebook page, encouraging residents to keep their homes well lit, alarmed and to install video surveillance systems on their property, noting that capturing a picture of the intruder can help police make a positive identification.

Ronnie Rosenbluth of Baltimore Shomrim said that at least one of the perpetrators responsible for the burglaries has been apprehended by police.  The teenage suspect was apprehended by police in connection to a stolen vehicle and was found to be in possession of a keychain bearing the name of a local kosher pizzeria, which had been reported stolen in one of the home invasions.

Rosenbluth noted that while the burglaries have abated since the suspect was apprehended, robberies have continued in the Jewish community.

Rabbi Heinemann studied for many years in Beis Midrash Govoha under Rabbi Aharon Kotler, and was ordained by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein.


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Read Comments (14)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jan 21, 2016 at 09:46 PM schmaltzy Says:

Very interesting. While I am not a fan of the Star K, I have great respect for Rabbi Heinemann. I believe he has the "pleitzes" to issue such a psak. Years ago Rabbi Emanuel Rackman, then of the 5th Ave Synagogue ruled that a Jew may carry some cash with him on Shabbos so that a mugger will not harm him if he has no money. He was vilified at the time, but I think a more "mainstream" rabbi would have had that psak respected.

2

 Jan 21, 2016 at 11:51 PM ComeOn Says:

What's the big deal? This is a well known psak due to the concern that the police will begin to ignore real emergencies. I believe that it was said by a different Gadol before Rabbi Heinemann.

3

 Jan 22, 2016 at 07:12 AM allmark Says:

Reply to #1  
schmaltzy Says:

Very interesting. While I am not a fan of the Star K, I have great respect for Rabbi Heinemann. I believe he has the "pleitzes" to issue such a psak. Years ago Rabbi Emanuel Rackman, then of the 5th Ave Synagogue ruled that a Jew may carry some cash with him on Shabbos so that a mugger will not harm him if he has no money. He was vilified at the time, but I think a more "mainstream" rabbi would have had that psak respected.

What does it mean that you are not a "fan" of the Star-K?

4

 Jan 22, 2016 at 08:43 AM qazxc Says:

Reply to #3  
allmark Says:

What does it mean that you are not a "fan" of the Star-K?

It means he cheers for the O.K. in the Cholent Bowl.

5

 Jan 22, 2016 at 09:45 AM Lazer Says:

Reply to #2  
ComeOn Says:

What's the big deal? This is a well known psak due to the concern that the police will begin to ignore real emergencies. I believe that it was said by a different Gadol before Rabbi Heinemann.

And who might that "gadol" be? Your tone seem to be mocking Rabbi H.

6

 Jan 22, 2016 at 09:56 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
allmark Says:

What does it mean that you are not a "fan" of the Star-K?

It means he does not eat the Star K kosher hotdogs that are available at the baseball stadium of the Baltimore Orioles. It is well known that Rabbi Heinemann many years ago found an important need to provide kosher hotdogs at the stadium for his olam.

7

 Jan 22, 2016 at 10:01 AM Park Heights Resident Says:

Reply to #3  
allmark Says:

What does it mean that you are not a "fan" of the Star-K?

Rabbi Heinemann is a talmid muvhak of Rabbi Emanuel Rackman and was ordained by him as well. He also studied in Lakewood. The article should be corrected.

8

 Jan 22, 2016 at 10:23 AM yonasonw Says:

Reply to #4  
qazxc Says:

It means he cheers for the O.K. in the Cholent Bowl.

Funny!

9

 Jan 22, 2016 at 12:15 PM schmaltzy Says:

I guess I don't get Baltimore humor.

10

 Jan 22, 2016 at 02:40 PM skeptic Says:

wow, so you just trick your god by using your elbow? either keep shabis or not, you think these loop holes are fooling any one?

11

 Jan 23, 2016 at 12:08 PM BarryLS1 Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

It means he does not eat the Star K kosher hotdogs that are available at the baseball stadium of the Baltimore Orioles. It is well known that Rabbi Heinemann many years ago found an important need to provide kosher hotdogs at the stadium for his olam.

Your post is not accurate. The Kosher stand at Oriole Park wasn't Rav Heineman;'s idea. The Star K just gave the hashgcho.

12

 Jan 23, 2016 at 07:17 PM AuthenticSatmar Says:

Why doesn't Rav Heineman issue such an important psak in writing. Relying on a third party is questionable.

13

 Jan 24, 2016 at 02:14 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
skeptic Says:

wow, so you just trick your god by using your elbow? either keep shabis or not, you think these loop holes are fooling any one?

yes, that's exactly what we do, we trick our Gd, because he is so easily fooled, unlike your god, whoever or whatever that may be.

Also, before you write another comment, you may want to learn to write and spell in English and not give away the fact that you were home-schooled by morons.

14

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