Summary of Amirah LeNochri

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  1. There are three reasons for the Rabbinic prohibition to instruct a non-Jew to perform work for a Jew on Shabbat.
  • Asking a non-Jew to do work will cause a laxity in the observance of Shabbat
  • There’s a statement from the prophets which says “Daber Davar” meaning that one’s speech on Shabbat should be different from one’s speech on the weekdays
  • Instructing a non-Jew is halachically considered a form of שליחות (agency) which attributes the actions of the messenger to the sender. [1]
  1. There’s two main sections of Amirah LeNochri, instructing a non-Jew and benefiting from the work of a non-Jew. It’s forbidden to instruct a non-Jew even if one doesn’t receive direct benefit and it’s forbidden to get direct benefit even if one didn’t instruct the non-Jew. [2]

Telling a non-Jew to do work

  1. It’s forbidden to tell a non-Jew to do any action which is forbidden for a Jew to do on Shabbat (Deoritta or Derabbanan). [3]
  2. It’s forbidden to tell a non-Jew to do an action which is forbidden for a Jew to do on Shabbat using a direct command or using an hint which includes a command such as “why didn’t you turn off the light last Shabbat?” (which clear addresses an action). [4]
  3. However, it’s permissible to say to a non-Jew “It’s difficult to sleep with the lights on in the room” because this is a hint which doesn’t include any command or action. [5]
  4. Example of a hint that do include a command are: “Why didn’t you turn off the light last Shabbat”, “Do me a favor, there’s not enough light in the room”, “Anyone who turns off the flame won’t loose”, [6] or “ If you lower the flame, I will reward you for your effort”. [7]
  5. A hint which doesn’t include a command is a statement which only addresses the need for a certain action but doesn’t address the role of the non-Jew in that situation. Examples include: “The alarm is beeping, and we are not permitted to turn it off”, “The lights in the bedroom are on and we are not permitted to shut them”, “It is a shame that the lights are on and electricity is being wasted” [8] “It’s difficult to sleep because of the light in the room”, “It’s a shame that the gas (from a burner) is going to waste”, or “I don’t have enough (ripped) toilet paper”. [9]

Before Shabbat

  1. It’s forbidden to tell a non-Jew before or after Shabbat to do an action (which is forbidden for a Jew to do) on Shabbat. Similarly, it’s forbidden to tell a non-Jew on Shabbat to do an action (which is forbidden for a Jew to do) after Shabbat. [10]
  2. It’s permissible to tell a non-Jew before or after Shabbat to do an action (which is forbidden for a Jew to do) on Shabbat only using a language of a hint including a command. Similarly, it’s permissible to tell a non-Jew on Shabbat to do an action (which is forbidden for a Jew to do) after Shabbat. [11]

Benefiting from an action of a non-Jew

  1. It’s forbidden to get direct benefit even if one didn’t instruct the non-Jew [12] and applies even for other Jews who the forbidden action wasn’t done for. [13]
  2. If a room is so dark that it’s impossible to read in the room at all then it’s forbidden to tell the non-Jew “I can’t read because it’s dark in the room” (a hint without a command) because if the lights are turned on one would receive direct benefit, whereas if there was enough light that it was possible to read even if it was with difficulty then it’s permissible to say “I can’t read because it’s dark in the room” since if the lights are turned on it’s permissible to benefit from the light since an improving one’s ability to do something it’s called direct benefit. [14]
  3. It’s forbidden to receive benefit from the forbidden action of a non-Jew which was done for a Jew on Shabbat and even after Shabbat it’s forbidden to receive benefit from that action until one waits the time it would take to complete that action. [15]
  4. If a Jew asked a non-Jew to turn on a light (even with a hint including a command) on Shabbat (which would be forbidden) it’s forbidden to receive benefit from the light and one would even have to leave the area. [16]
  5. If the non-Jew was going to turn on the light on his own one must protest. If the Jew protested and the non-Jew did it anyway then the Jew may receive benefit from the light. However, if the Jew didn’t protest, it’s forbidden to receive benefit, however, one doesn’t have to leave that area but one may not do an activity which one was unable to do before the light was turned on. [17]
  6. If a non-Jew who cooked food for a Jew or added water to a food that was cooking and there was a concern that it’d burn and not be edible, the food is forbidden (and Muktzeh) until after Shabbat for as long as it takes to cook. [18]
  7. A non-Jew who carried on Shabbat through a public domain (according to halacha) for a Jew, it’s forbidden to benefit from the object on Shabbat, but it’s permissible to be used immediately after Shabbat. [19]
  8. If a non-Jew violated Borer (separating) on Shabbat for a Jew, the Jew may benefit from the food (or objects) on Shabbat. [20]

If done for Jews and non-Jews

  1. If the non-Jew did forbidden work for non-Jews and Jews it depends: (1) if there’s a majority of Jews, equal amount of Jews and non-Jews, unclear which is in the majority, or it’s clear that the non-Jew did it for a Jew or for both Jews and non-Jews, it’s forbidden to benefit from the work of a non-Jew, (2) if there’s a majority of non-Jews or if it’s clear that it was done for himself or another non-Jew, it’s permissible to benefit from the work of the non-Jew if there’s no concern that the non-Jew did or will do extra work for the Jews and there’s no concern of Muktzeh. [21]
  2. If the non-Jew would have done the work whether or not the Jews were there (even if there’s a majority of Jews), it’s permissible to benefit from the work of the non-Jew if there’s no concern that the non-Jew did or will do extra work for the Jews and there’s no concern of Muktzeh. [22]
  3. If a non-Jew lit a light in the stairwell for the apartment building tenetants, if there’s a majority of non-Jews, it’s permissible, if there’s half half or a majority of Jews it’s forbidden to benefit from the light, but one doesn’t have to close one’s eyes while walking thourh. If the non-Jews was a guard and had to turn on the lights whether or not there were Jews there, it’s permissible to benefit from the light. [23]
  4. If one is using a Shabbos elevator one may only get on or off at a floor where other non-Jews are getting on and off. A Baal Nefesh (one is careful for one’s soul) should only use it for mitzvah purposes, and some are strict only to use it for going up and not down. [24]

Indirect benefit

  1. It’s permissible to receive benefit from the work of a non-Jew in any indirect way or if it could have be done in a permissible way. [25]
  2. If a non-Jew opened an envelope or package one may benefit from it. [26]
  3. If a non-Jew opened an electronic door one walk though since it could have been opened manually. [27]

If done his own initiative

  1. If a non-Jew did a forbidden activity for himself or another non-Jew, then if (1) there’s no concern that he did make extra for the Jew and (2) there’s no concern of Muktzeh then it’s permitted to benefit from that activity. However, if one of the two conditions doesn’t apply then it’s forbidden to derive benefit until right after Shabbat. [28]
  2. There’s no concern that the non-Jew will do extra work for the Jew if (1) there’s no extra effort required by the non-Jew in order that many people benefit or (2) the non-Jew doesn’t know the Jew at all. [29]
  3. For example, if a non-Jew turned on the light for himself and it’s evident as he got benefit from the light immediately, then the Jew may receive benefit from the light, however, if a non-Jew heated up hot water for himself then the Jew may not receive benefit from the hot water unless the non-Jew doesn’t know the Jew at all (such as in a coffee house). [30]

A Derabbanan activity

  1. If a non-Jew did a rabbinically (Derabbanan) forbidden activity on Shabbat for a Jew, that Jew and his family may not benefit from the work of the non-Jew until after Shabbat (for the time it would take to be completed), however, other Jews may benefit from it even on Shabbat. [31]
  2. If a non-Jew brought food from outside a Techum that Jew may not benefit from the food, but others may. [32]

Hiring a non-Jew

  1. It’s permissible before Shabbat to pay a non-Jew to do work for a Jew if
    1. there is time for the non-Jew to complete the work before or after Shabbat,
    2. the non-Jew does it for free, or the non-Jew is paid a fixed wage for that job or even if the Jew stipulated they would later agree on a fixed price,
    3. the non-Jew does the work outside the house of the Jew. [33]
  2. It’s permissible to give a non-Jew clothes to wash if it’s given before Shabbat with enough time to be finished before or after Shabbat, there’s a fixed price and it’s not in the Jew’s house. [34]
  3. It’s permissible before Shabbat to hire a non-Jew to do permissible work (which would permissible for a Jew to do) on Shabbat such as cleaning dishes. [35]

House maid

  1. It’s forbidden for a house maid to do any forbidden work (which would be forbidden for a Jew to do) such as washing clothes even if the Jew doesn’t instruct that the maid do it specifically on Shabbat but would benefit that she do it on Shabbat so that she could do other activities during the week. [36]
  2. It’s permissible for a house maid to do a forbidden work (which would be forbidden for a Jew to do) such as washing clothes if (1) the Jew doesn’t instruct that the maid do it specifically on Shabbat and the non-Jew is doing it on Shabbat so that she has more free time for herself during the week and (2) the maid may only do forbidden work in her room (and it’s clear that it’s her room) but not in the rest of the house. [37]

Paying a non-Jew

  1. It’s permissible to pay a non-Jew for work he did in a permissible way on Shabbat however one shouldn’t pay the non-Jew on Shabbat even by just showing him where the money is so that the non-Jew take it. [38]

In a Jewish house

  1. There is a rabbinic enactment that if a non-Jew does work in a Jewish home the Jew must protest because otherwise it appears as though the Jew instructed the non-Jew to do work on Shabbat. [39]

Lending or renting to a non-Jew

  1. One may lend an object (ex. car) to a non-Jew on Friday to borrow as long as the non-Jew removes it from the Jew’s house before Shabbat. [40]
  2. One may not rent an object (ex. car) to a non-Jew on Friday but only on Thursday or earlier unless it’s an object which isn’t used for permissible activity (ex. table). Additionally, one shouldn’t receive payment for the rental on Shabbat specifally but rather only if it’s included in the entire rental. [41]
  3. Whether renting or lending an object which is clearly Jewish to a non-Jew one should stipulate that the non-Jew not use it on Shabbat. For example a truck with a Jewish owner’s name on it should be lent to a non-Jew on condition that it not be used on Shabbat. [42]

Exceptional cases to be lenient

For someone sick

  1. It’s permissible to tell a non-Jew to do an action (which is forbidden for a Jew to do) for the need of someone sick even if it’s not a deathly sickness. Similarly, in places where it’s very cold to the point that it’s painful or if it’s cold and there’s children or elderly people it’s permissible to tell a non-Jew to turn on the heat. [43]
  2. If a non-Jew did forbidden work for a sick person then it’s permissible for all other Jews to benefit from the action of the non-Jew as long as there’s no concern that the non-Jew increased his work or will increase his work for oneself and there’s no concern of Muktzeh. [44]
  3. Therefore if a non-Jew turned on a light for a sick Jew it’s permissible for a Jew to receive benefit. However, if a non-Jew cooked for a sick Jew it’s forbidden for a Jew to benefit from the food as there’s a concern that the non-Jew may increase the cooking for the healthy Jew. Additionally, if a non-Jew picked fruit for a sick Jew it’s forbidden for a healthy Jew on Shabbat because fruit that’s picked on Shabbat is Muktzeh. [45]

To save Sefarim

  1. It’s permissible to tell a non-Jew to do an action (which is forbidden for a Jew to do) in order to save Sefarim from being ruined or burnt. [46]

For a big loss

  1. It’s permissible to tell a non-Jew to do an action (which is forbidden for a Jew to do) in order to prevent a big loss only using a hint including a command. [47]

Carrying

  1. It’s permissible according to Ashkenazim to ask a non-Jew to carry on Shabbat even through a public domain (according to halacha) if there’s a great need or if it’s needed for a meal of Shabbat. Nonetheless, one shouldn’t hand it directly to the non-Jew or take ti directly from the non-Jew rather put it down in between. [48]

To violate a Derabbanan

  1. For the need of someone somewhat sick, a big loss, a great need, a mitzvah need, or for unexpected guests it’s permissible to ask (even directly) a non-Jew to do a rabbinically (Derabbanan) forbidden action. [49]
  2. It’s permissible to ask a non-Jew to set the time on a clock if the clock was working if there’s a Mitzvah need such as having it set to know what time is Davening or a Torah shuir. [50]

To remove a obstacle

  1. It’s permissible to ask a non-Jew to remove a obstacle for many people (even if it involves a Melacha Deoritta if the non-Jew can’t do it with only a Derabbanan). [51]
  2. It’s permissible to ask a non-Jew to tie an eruv string that fell on Shabbat so that many people don’t carry on Shabbat unintentionally; if it can’t be tied with a bow the non-Jew should tie it with a double knot. [52]

On his own initiative

  1. One may tell a non-Jew to do a permissible activity even if it’s clear that the non-Jew will do a prohibited activity while doing that task unless the non-Jew has in mind that the Jew will benefit directly from the prohibited activity. [53]
  2. It’s permissible to ask a non-Jew to wash dishes even if it’s clear that the non-Jew will use hot water to do so unless the non-Jew knows that the Jew will join in washing the dishes after the non-Jew turns on the hot water. [54]
  3. It’s permissible to ask a non-Jew to get something from a dark room even if it’s clear that he will turn on the lights in order to get that thing. [55]

During Bein HaShemashot

  1. During Bein HaShemashot, between Shekiyah until close to Tzet HaKochavim, it’s permissible to ask a non-Jew to do any forbidden activity on Shabbat if there’s a great need, a need for Shabbat, or a need for a mitzvah. [56]
  2. Therefore, during Bein HaShemashot, one may ask a non-Jew to turn on the lights in the room where one will have the Shabbat meals. [57]

Sources

  1. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat; vol 1, pg 63-4)
  2. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat; vol 1, pg 64), Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:1
  3. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:2
  4. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:5
  5. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:5
  6. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:5-7
  7. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat; vol 1, pg 71)
  8. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat; vol 1, pg 70)
  9. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:5-6
  10. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:2
  11. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:3
  12. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:4
  13. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:44
  14. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:7
  15. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:44
  16. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:46
  17. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:46
  18. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:47
  19. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:51
  20. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:52
  21. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:60
  22. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:60
  23. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:61
  24. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:64
  25. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:68
  26. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:69
  27. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:65
  28. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:55
  29. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:56
  30. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:57-8
  31. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:72
  32. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:73
  33. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:28
  34. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:29
  35. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:34
  36. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:35
  37. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:35
  38. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:33
  39. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:36
  40. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:41
  41. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:41-2
  42. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:41
  43. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:11
  44. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:53
  45. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:54
  46. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:12
  47. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:13
  48. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:51
  49. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:14
  50. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:19
  51. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:23
  52. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:23
  53. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:24
  54. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:24
  55. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:26
  56. S”A 261:1, Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:27
  57. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:27