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    Throughout the year, and especially during the summer, many
    of our readers travel and stay at hotels/motels for Shabbos. There
    are many halachic questions that arise when going to a hotel/
    motel these days. Ari Hirsch from The Country Vues sat down
    with Rabbi Elefant from the OU to discuss many questions that
    arise & try to answer many of the most popular questions.

    Walking in the door- Can one
    use the electronic automatic
    front door when going into a
    hotel/motel on Shabbos?
    No. You’re not allowed to use
    a door with an electronic eye
    because you’re causing it to
    open. A similar example that
    people should pay attention to
    is if they’re walking by a house
    that has a motion detector, such
    as when you walk by the house it
    causes the lights to go on. That’s
    also something that somebody
    should be careful about. The
    same thing with going into a
    hotel. Certainly, hotels that are
    doing kosher programs should
    disarm one door before Shabbos
    so that you can walk in and out
    through the regular door on
    Shabbos or Yom tov. If you’re
    in a hotel that doesn’t have that,
    you should wait until somebody
    non-Jewish is either entering
    or exiting the hotel and when
    that person is either entering or
    exiting the hotel, you follow them
    so that you do not cause the door
    to open or close. It’s still not ideal
    because it’s going to close when
    you’re finished walking through
    since you’re following behind
    someone. However, if it’s in a
    place where you have no other
    option, that’s what you should do.

    If one has a reservation at a
    hotel or motel & is running

    late on Erev Shabbos & you
    pull up within the 18 minutes
    of Shabbos, are you allowed
    to check in on Shabbos at that
    What I would recommend is that
    if somebody is running so late and
    he sees that they’re only going to
    arrive in the hotel when they can’t
    write, they should call the hotel
    before they arrive, give them their
    information so that the hotel has
    the credit card or whatever else
    is necessary to check in. Since
    the hotel will at that point have
    whatever is necessary to check in,
    they don’t have to give anything
    to the hotel. If the hotel wants to
    see the exact credit card or the
    exact license, then bring it to the
    person sitting at the desk and let
    them take it out of your wallet and
    put it back in your wallet. This

    way you won’t touch something
    which is muktzah.

    When one gets to their room,
    they find out that they only
    have electronic door openers,
    as opposed to keys, what should
    one do then?
    That’s a huge issue in general. You
    obviously can’t enter or exit a room
    that you can only enter or exit with
    an electronic key on Shabbos. If
    you’re staying in a hotel like that,
    put a magnet or a piece of tape on

    the lock. Your room is essentially
    open the entire Shabbos and
    you’re not opening or closing
    your door really. Many hotels
    have a magnet or tape prepared
    for this situation. Obviously, the
    downside with doing so is that
    your room is open and it’s easy for
    someone to enter and exit your
    room; that’s the responsibility you
    take. I was in such a hotel not long
    ago for a conference and the hotel
    had a setup like I just described
    where they put some sort of a
    magnet on the door. The door
    looks locked, but it’s really not
    locked; all you need to do is open
    the knob and get in and out of the
    door. The hotel made us sign a
    waiver because we were in a room
    that we chose to leave unlocked,
    so if something were to happen,
    we would be held liable. What I
    tell people is this is not a halachic
    recommendation, this is a practical
    recommendation. Any money or
    jewelry that you have should be
    put into a safe before Shabbos.
    Any jewelry that your wife wants
    to wear on Shabbos should be
    worn all the time, unless you’re
    in the room obviously. There
    are people who give a non-Jew
    their electronic key and have the
    non-Jew open and close the door.
    The OU does not agree with that.
    First of all, it means that you’re
    carrying the key and we consider
    that key muktzah. Additionally,

    you’re not allowed to ask a non-
    Jew to do melacha, to do work on

    Shabbos on your behalf. If you’re
    not allowed to open the door on
    Shabbos with that electronic key,
    then you’re not allowed to ask a
    non-Jew to do it on your behalf.
    We will not give supervision to

    a hotel that uses such a system;
    we consider that unacceptable.
    Therefore, I cannot recommend
    that as an approach on how to
    work with electronic keys, rather
    the only thing I recommend is, as
    I said, leaving the door open in a
    way that you don’t need to use the
    electronic lock on Shabbos.

    One gets into their hotel/motel
    room and there is a refrigerator.
    Can the refrigerator be used
    and if it can, does it need to be
    A refrigerator can be used. If
    there is food residue in the

    refrigerator, you should clean
    it. I would imagine that most
    refrigerators in a hotel room are
    clean and therefore you don’t
    have to do anything as far as
    the refrigerator is concerned.
    The issue, however, is if there’s
    a light in the refrigerator, as it’s
    no different than the refrigerator
    that we have at home. If there’s a
    light in the refrigerator, you have
    to make sure if you’re going to be
    in the room over Shabbos that the
    light is somehow disabled and

    that you won’t have a problem on
    Shabbos with that light.

    Can one use the microwave that
    is in the hotel/motel room?
    I recommend that if somebody
    wants to use a microwave in their
    hotel room they should make sure
    that the microwave is completely
    clean. Once the microwave is
    completely clean, everything they
    put in the microwave to warm
    up should be double wrapped.
    Obviously, do not cover it with
    aluminum because you may blow
    up the whole hotel doing that, but
    double wrap it in saran wrap or
    wax paper. If somebody wants to
    kasher the microwave, first make
    sure it’s completely clean. Then
    put a cup of water or a bowl of
    water into it and let it boil to a
    degree that everything inside the
    microwave gets steamed up. After
    you’ve done that, move that bowl
    or cup from the place that it was
    and repeat the process so that the
    spot can also be kashered.

    Many hotels/motels have
    liquid soaps and shampoos
    in their rooms. Going into
    Shabbos, you open them
    up, but then the cleaning
    service clears out the ones
    that are opened and put in
    new, unopened ones. Are
    you allowed to open them on
    No, you can’t open it up on
    Shabbos. You’re not allowed
    to open soaps or shampoos on
    Shabbos. You have to make sure
    that it’s opened before Shabbos.
    Of course one should only use
    liquid soap on Shabbos.

    Is one allowed to have room
    service clean your room on
    You’re not asking them to clean
    the room on Shabbos. They’re not
    doing it because you asked them
    to do it. Since you aren’t the one
    that asked them to do it, there’s
    no problem. It would only be an
    issue if you were the one to ask
    them, but you didn’t ask them.

    You’re in a Non-Jewish hotel
    for a conference and there’s live
    music in the lobby on Shabbos.
    Are you allowed to sit down in
    the lobby and enjoy the music
    on Shabbos?
    Yes. Again, they’re not playing
    that music for you, so it’s not a
    problem. It would be different if
    a Jewish group took over the hotel
    for the whole Shabbos, but I don’t
    believe that that’s the case we’re
    talking about here. If a Jewish
    group took over the hotel for the
    whole Shabbos, that’s something
    that you should consider.

    Many hotels/motels have
    complimentary breakfasts
    included. A lot of these places
    have juices but they don’t have

    hechsherim written down
    anywhere. Are you allowed to
    have orange juice or apple juice?
    Or do you have to make sure
    that there’s a hechsher?
    Plain orange juice and plain apple
    juice are generally kosher and I
    don’t see a reason why somebody
    would not be able to drink either
    of those.

    If a hotel/motel makes you
    check out on Shabbos afternoon
    because they don’t have space
    for you for Motzei Shabbos/
    Sunday, are you allowed to check
    out without doing anything?
    Sometimes you just give them
    the key and walk away. Is that
    Yes, that’s permissible. Again, the
    key is muktzah, in many cases, but
    walking out is not a problem. This is
    a much more complicated question
    than it sounds like; if you’re leaving
    your room on Shabbos what are
    you taking along with you as you
    leave your room? If you’re taking
    muktzah items with you when you
    leave your room, then you have an
    issue. If you’re not carrying out
    muktzah items with you, then I
    don’t see an issue.