New York – The owner of a Brooklyn bulb company is hoping to shed some new light on an ages old problem with a rabbinically approved bulb that can be switched from full light to darkness without any halachic violations.
Morty Kohn, the owner the Redhook based Sunlite which stocks approximately 9,000 different bulbs and lighting fixtures, said that the idea for the Shabbulb had been brewing in his head for many years. As LED lighting began gaining in popularity, he saw the opening he had been looking for.
“Because LED bulbs rely on a chemical reaction, it isn’t really considered to be aish, so I knew from a technology standpoint it would be much easier,” Kohn told VIN News. “You could never do this with a regular bulb.”
It took Kohn, a 55 year old Borough Park resident, two years to bring his vision to life.
The resulting Shabbulb is comprised of two distinct parts: a base containing the LED components that screws into a standard light fixture, and a removable cover whose horizontal shade controlled by an outside lever.
Sliding the lever in one direction opens the shade, allowing the light to shine through the top of the bulb, while moving it the opposite way closes the shade, keeping the light confined to the base of the bulb. Leaving the level in the middle position gives the Shabbulb the ability to work as a dimmer.
Separating the bulb into two distinctly separate components was an extra level of stringency incorporated into the Shabbulb design to make it acceptable to an even wider audience within the Jewish community.
The seven watt Shabbulb bears the rabbinical endorsement of Rabbi Usher Eckstein of Vaad Hakashrus Machzikei Hadas and the Orthodox Union and has also the approval of Rabbi Asher Zelig Weiss, Rabbi Yisroel Duvid Harfenes and Rabbi Mechel Steinmetz, the Skverer Dayan.
In response to an inquiry from VIN News, Rabbi Eckstein’s office sent an email on his behalf saying that the concept of covering a light source to darken a room is brought down in the Gemara, which discusses covering a burning candle on Shabbos.
“By moving the knob you are placing a cover on the light that blocks its shine, the same as the cover over the candle,” explained Rabbi Eckstein. “When covering, there is no change to the amount of power to the bulb and absolutely no electricity involved.”
The Shabbulb’s sliding lever does not fall into the category of muktza because both the lever and the cover can be completely removed from the base which houses the bulb.
The Shabbulb is completely permissible for the general population, according to Rabbi Eckstein.
“This cover may be used by everyone and is not limited to the sick and old. It is muter lechatlichilo for everyone,” noted Rabbi Eckstein.
The Shabbulb retails for $24.99 and will be available for sale on September 29th on the Sunlite website and Amazon. Kohn said that the bulb, which can work with both 110 and 240 voltage and is only intended for indoor use, will also be available worldwide in Judaica stores and major kosher supermarkets.
The bulb bears the safety seal of the ETL which certifies that it complies to North American safety standards. The expected life of the Shabbulb is 10,000 hours, according to Kohn.
The Shabbulb is not the first Shabbos light source market to the kosher consumer. As previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2d7MAyq), the Kosher Lamp, an upright lamp with a movable shade, debuted in 2004. A 2008 New York Times article reported that tens of thousands of Kosher Lamps had already been sold.
Creating the Shabbulb was a labor of love for Kohn who said the product was never intended to be just another product in his inventory but rather a useful tool for Orthodox Jews, who could have a small, easily transportable light source that takes up minimal space and still produces a beautiful white light.
“I have a very large business,” said Kohn. “This was about doing something for the klal, to make people’s lives easier.”