Taking Care of Hashem’s Children Bnei Melachim Provides Much-Needed Support for Widows and Orphans

Past Articles:

By: Rabbi Daniel D. Levy



                      Are there exceptions in which
               Amirah Le’nochri is permitted
               with regards to a Torah violation?

There are six basic situations in which it is halachically permitted
for a Jew to instruct a non-Jew to perform a forbidden activity for him on Shabbat:

1.Mitzvah De’rabim– Some authorities allow it for the purpose of enabling a large group to perform a mitzvah. (See question 8).

2.For the purpose of settling the land of Eretz Yisrael. For example, when purchasing land in Israel from a non-Jew, one may ask a different non-Jew to write and sign the sale contract on Shabbat and disclose the money’s location so that the seller may take it from there.

3.Pesik Resheh:A situation in which the non-Jew’s action will unintentionally cause a forbidden act to be committed. For example, one may ask a non-Jew to open the refrigerator door, even though this will cause the light to go on, which is forbidden.

4.On Erev Shabbat(Friday evening) during Bein Hashemashot(the period that falls between sundown and nightfall.) During this time:

A.One may ask a non-Jew to turn on the stove for the purpose of warming previously cooked food for the Shabbat meal.

B.One may ask a non-Jew to perform a mitzvah (For example, on Sukkot during Bein Hashemashot, a Jew can ask a non-Jew to fix his sukkah.)

C.One may ask a non-Jew to perform an action that will prevent a substantial financial loss or assist him in a case of dire need – for example, lighting a yartzheitcandle or activating an alarm system to protect against theft.

5.In the case of a non life-threatening illness. For example, one make ask a non-Jew to boil hot water for someone who is bedridden on Shabbat due to a cold or the flu.

6.In order to rescue Torah books from destruction.




               May one derive benefit from melachah
               performed by a non-Jew on Shabbat?
               For example, may he enjoy food that
               a non-Jew has warmed up for him?

Even when a non-Jew graciously offers to do a melachah(forbidden activity) for a Jew on Shabbat, it is still prohibited to derive benefit from it under normal circumstances. To ensure that the sanctity of Shabbat wouldn’t be violated, the sages forbade deriving benefit “bechdai sheyeasu” – during theduration of time normally needed for the given melachah to be performed (Shulhan Aruch O,C,325;6+10). For example, if a Jew’s housekeeper turned the hot water urn on Shabbat, the boiled water may not be used by any Jew on Shabbat. This prohibition extendseven to Motzei Shabbat, until after the period of time required to boil the water.



               What are the exceptions in which
               Amirah L’enochri is permitted with
               regards to a rabbinic prohibition?

It states in the Shulhan Aruch Orach Chaim(O.C. 307:5) that one may explicitly ask a non-Jew to perform an act prohibited by the Rabbis in any of the following situations:

To alleviate mild discomfort or a minor ailment. For example, one can ask a non-Jew to turn on a fan or air conditioner if the heat is causing him considerable (but not slight) discomfort, even though it poses no threat to his health. Likewise, one may also ask a non-Jew to place antibacterial cream, or a bandage pretreated with antibacterial cream, on his wound without smearing it to alleviate the pain.

To prevent a substantial financial loss or to assist him in cases of dire need. For example, a Jew can ask a non-Jew to turn off an electrical appliance if its running continuously will damage the motor.

To facilitate the performance of a mitzvah. For example, one can ask a housekeeper to travel to a neighbor to bring over linens for the hosting of guests, or bread for the Shabbat meal, even though she will be carrying the items through a kamilit, not a public domain.

To maintain “kavod habriyot”–human dignity. For this purpose, one may ask a non-Jew to unclog a drain that omits a foul odor, or trap a mouse seen in the house that causes the family much anxiety.



               May one ask a non-Jew to lower his
               electric warmer to prevent the Shabbat
               food from burning?

If this specific hot dish is the main dish of the Shabbat meal and is in danger of burning or becoming inedible, one may ask a non-Jew to lower the heat, since his doing so is not a violation from the Torah. However if the hot dish is not in danger of burning completely, or if the hot food is only a side dish, one may not ask a non-Jew to lower the heat.



               May one leave a package for a pick-up
               service such as UPS to collect on Shabbat,
               if the delivery will occur after Shabbat?

No. Doing so is forbidden, since it gives the mistaken impression that one specifically asked the carrier to come on Shabbat. Likewise, one may not mail a guaranteed overnight delivery on Friday afternoon, as this is akin to specifically asking a non-Jew to transport the mail on Shabbat, which is forbidden. (See question 9).



               May one make arrangements with
               a non-Jewish housekeeper before Shabbat,
               asking her to come on Shabbat in order
               to clean up after Shabbat?

If this request doesn’t entail her doing melachahand is intended strictly for the purposes of kavod Shabbat, then it is permitted. However, any cleaning that entails melachah, or is necessary so that the house will be clean for Motzei Shabbat is forbidden (just as preparing on Shabbat for after Shabbat is forbidden).



               May a Jew who is in the hospital ask
               a non-Jew to call his relatives on Shabbat
               to assure them that he is doing well?

Generally speaking, a patient may not have a non-Jew phone his family to update them on his condition. If, however, the patient is in critical condition, or has very anxious relatives for whom the uncertainty about his health will cause great distress throughout Shabbat, he may have a non-Jew call the family and leave a message on their answering machine or with their housekeeper (Nishmat Shabbat 52). One may not ask a non-Jew to notify the family that a woman has given birth to a baby boy or girl, as doingso serves no medical purpose. (Nishmat Shabbat 55).



               May one ask a non-Jew to turn on the
               lights in a synagogue to enable a large
               group of people to perform a mitzvah?

The Ben Ish Hai and Hidaforbid this, even for the sake of a mitzvah, whereas Hacham Ovadiahpermits it under extenuating circumstances, in order to facilitate the performance of a mitzvah by a large group. (Ramah O.C. Siman 276:2). In such cases, a competent rabbinic authority should be consulted. If possible, the Jew should not directly ask the non-Jew to perform a melachahsuch as turning on the lights in the synagogue. Rather, he should ask a non-Jew to ask another non-Jew to perform the desired act. The synagogue committee must install a Shabbat clock that will turn the lights onand off automatically, so that they will not have to rely on this leniency.




                      May one derive benefit from regular
               mail that is delivered on Shabbat?

If one specifically ordered an item to be delivered on Shabbat, he is in violation of halachah. If one ordered something online for delivery on a weekday, but the delivery service mistakenly brought it on Shabbat, a competent halachic authority should be consulted. If one didn’t intend for the items to be delivered on Shabbat, and the items the postman delivered are not muktzeha Jew may make use of them. However, if the items were situated beyond the techum(radius of 2000 cubits) around one’s city when Shabbat began, he should preferably refrain from even touching the item until after Shabbat, even if it is not muktzeh. Lastly, one may not derive benefit from mail brought by a neighbor on Shabbat.




                 In what basic ways do the halachot of
                what one maytell a non-Jew on Yom Tov
                differ from what he he may tell him
                on Shabbat?

In general, anything that’s forbidden to do, or to tell a non-Jew to do on Shabbat is likewise forbidden on Yom Tov, except for when cooking and carrying are permitted actions on both days of Yom Tov(Beit Yosef O.C:495). In these situations, one may tell a non-Jew to cook or carry on Yom Tov. One may instruct a non-Jew to turn an oven on during Yom Tovif, prior to Yom Tov, he forgot to turn it on. Similarly, if one’s lights turned off inadvertently during the Yom Tovmeal or if his sechachfell down in the sukkah, one may instruct the non-Jew to turn the lights back on or fix the sechach. This constitutes a “shevut deshvut bemakom mitzvah”(a rabbinic prohibition on top of another rabbinic prohibition in place of a mitzvah) about which the Rabbis are more lenient. (Yabiah Omer vol. 2:26).