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Thought for the Day: Why You Can't Run the Dishwasher After Friday Night

Let's say you don't mind using timers to run stuff on Shabbos.  R' Moshe, by the way, told R' Fuerst (I heard him say) that if there had been timers at the time of Chazal, they surely would have assured them just as they assured amir l'akum (arranging to have a goy do things for you on Shabbos).  Because, R' Moshe reasoned, by setting timers to start and stop things on Shabbos, your Shabbos experience can be made not much different than during the week; just like having a goy work for you.  (I personally found it interesting that of all the reasons given for the issur of amira l'akum, R' Moshe felt so strongly about the main reason that he was confident that Chazal would have applied the same issur to time clocks.)  The one exception is time clocks for lights (though R' Moshe was personally makpid on that also, so R' Fuerst is, so I am), because there once could argue the purpose is kavod Shabbos.

Any who... let's say that doesn't bother you.  So you might be wondering what would be the problem with setting your fancy new dishwasher to start at 1:00AM on Saturday morning.  That way you load the dishes (haphazardly, so as not to run afoul of borer) after the evening s'uda, go to bed, and you have sparkling clean dishes for the Shabbos day s'uda.  R' Fuerst said in his fascinating Sunday morning shiur that there are three problems, one of which can be argued way; but your still left with two strikes and you're out.

The easy problem is "avsha milsa" -- having noisy equipment running on Shabbos is an issur d'rabanan so people don't think you are doing something sneaky.  This is the one that can arguably be argued away, because modern dishwashers are so quiet.  Certainly quieter than the kids, and you are allowed to have them around.

Second problem is molid.  We are going to assume that there is no issue with heating the water, as you can arrange to have the water heated before Shabbos, but the problem occurs when that hot water hits your greasy plates.  That hot water will melt the grease and convert it from a solid to a liquid.  ("nolad" is the passive term, ie, what new thing has been created; "molid" is the active term, ie, causing the new thing to be created)  Putting greasy plates into a pan of hot water is not a problem, because the grease mixes with the hot, soapy water as it is being produced; similarly to the way ice melts in a glass of water, juice, or soda (which is not good for you, you shouldn't drink so much, especially the diet stuff; just saying).  Someone in the shiur suggested using cold water that won't melt the grease.  R' Fuerst said that even if the Torah will let you do that, your wife won't let you use those dishes the next day.  (R' Fuerst is very practical.)

The third problem is really the nail in the coffin, though.  R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach notes that it's not just the timer that is causing the dishwasher to run, it's also closing the door -- which is done on Shabbos itself.  Even though the timer is set before Shabbos, the door is closed (after opening it to put in the dirty dishes) on Shabbos; so it is a ma'aseh Shabbos that actually gets the dishwasher running.  Bummer.

So, as long as you set the timer before Shabbos (not like R' Moshe and there certainly are meikilim) and use cold water (which your wife won't allow, but does save on electricity) and keep the door closed from before Shabbos (as R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach notes is required) and have a modern, quiet dishwasher; then you are good to go.

It won't do anything practical but allow you to say you found a way to run the dishwasher on Shabbos.  An ego is an important thing to waste.

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