Thursday, November 17, 2011

Entering a hotel room with an electronic key


May I have a non-Jew open my hotel room with an electronic key on Shabbat?

Most authorities rule that use of such a key violates at least rabbinic law, and so one may not tell a non-Jew to use it on Shabbat. Further, one may not benefit directly from melachah performed by a non-Jew on Shabbat. However, leniencies are offered for a case of need:

• I may tell the concierge, upon checking in, that this service is required in order to make my stay possible. When he makes the arrangement, it is with his own good in mind.

• If a non-Jewish hotel employee opens my door on his own, without any instruction, I may enter the room if necessary. This is because my benefit is considered 'indirect', and because the employee does it with his own good in mind. Some suggest actually keeping a gift for the hotel employee in the room and telling him you have something for him [without actually requesting he open the door], so that he opens the door for his own benefit.

Note that the hotel key itself may be considered "muktzeh", and should not be handled by the Jew.

(Beer Moshe 6:Kuntrus Electric 19; Melachim Omnayich pg. 575)

Have a great day,

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