Asking a Jew to Work on Shabbat
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This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
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- 1 Prohibition
- 2 Children
- 3 Practical cases
- 3.1 Asking them to do something you hold is forbidden
- 3.2 If They Did It on Their Own Initiative
- 3.3 If One Accepted Shabbat Early
- 3.4 Yom Tov Sheni
- 3.5 Inviting a non-Observant Guest who may Drive
- 3.6 Asking a non-Observant Jew to do something for you after Shabbat before Havdala
- 3.7 Giving Directions to a Non-observant Jewish Driver
- 3.8 Standing in Front of a Non-observant Jewish Driver
- 4 Sources
- Just as observant Jews do not violate Shabbat, they equally have a responsibility to prevent other Jews from violating Shabbat when it is in their control. Asking a Jew to do work is a more serious transgression than asking a non-Jew, as it causes someone who is obligated to keep Shabbat to violate it. By asking a fellow Jew to violate Shabbat, the requester violates "Lifnei Iver lo Titen Michshal" - the issur forbidding a Jew to cause another Jew to violate a law he is obligated in.
- One should make sure neighbors that one may sometimes ask favors from on Shabbat are in fact not Jewish and not merely not religious Jews.
- see Hitorirut Teshuva 1:134
Asking them to do something you hold is forbidden
- Someone who holds that it’s forbidden to do a certain activity on Shabbat may not ask another Jew who holds that it’s permissible to do that activity on Shabbat. However, some say that if one is only strict based on the minhag of his Rabbis or father one may ask someone who holds it’s permissible. 
- It is forbidden to have one's young child do any violation of Shabbat such as turning on a light. 
- If a child turns on a light on his own and for his own benefit, there's room to be lenient to benefit from that violation of Shabbat. 
- A Sephardi can ask an Ashkenazi to ask a non-Jew to turn on a light or do another melacha in the case of a great need of a mitzvah for a lot of people since for Ashkenazim it is permitted.
If They Did It on Their Own Initiative
- If someone who holds something is permitted does that activity on his own initiative for someone who holds it is forbidden, some permit benefitting from it, while others forbid.
If One Accepted Shabbat Early
Yom Tov Sheni
- For whether someone holding two days of Yom Tov can ask a Jew who is only keep one day to do work for him, see [an Israeli to do work on Yom Tov Sheni]
Inviting a non-Observant Guest who may Drive
- There is a big discussion amongst the poskim if one may invite a guest for Shabbat who is going to drive to get there or back.
Asking a non-Observant Jew to do something for you after Shabbat before Havdala
- There is a discussion amongst the poskim if one can take a taxi or bus after Shabbat with a driver who didn't recite havdala.
Giving Directions to a Non-observant Jewish Driver
- This issue becomes extremely complex because while one does not want to encourage driving on Shabbat, one also does not one to be rude and cause the driver to drive more unnecessarily looking for his destination. In such a situation, it advised to respond "It is Shabbat and one may not drive on Shabbat. However, so as to minimize your Shabbat transgression, the shortest route is as follows..."
Standing in Front of a Non-observant Jewish Driver
- Many poskim advise not walking in front of a Jewish driver on Shabbat since causing them to slow down or speed up for you is causing them to violate Shabbat on your behalf.
- 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat; vol 1, pg 91, footnote 354)
- Radvaz 4:258 explains that there should be a problem of Amira LiYisrael, which should be no more allowed than asking a non-Jew.
- see Gemara 150a and Ritva 150a "may shna..."
- The 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 1, pg 93) writes that it’s forbidden to ask a fellow Jew to open a can or bottle for him on Shabbat if the one requesting holds that one is forbidden to do so. He supports this with Sh”t Igrot Moshe 4:119:5.
Many poskim also forbid including Tal Imrati (18:11, pg 190) quoting Chacham Ben Tzion Abba Shaul, Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat, vol 3, pg 217-9) quoting Rav Ovadyah Yosef, Banim Chavivim (Siman 18, pg 91) quoting Rabbi Eliezer Waldenburg (from Meor HaShabbat (vol 1, Peninei HaMeor pg 552)) and Rav Chaim Kanievsky (from Meor HaShabbat (vol 2, pg 77)). Rav Yisrael Belsky in Shulchan HaLevi (vol 1, Birur Halacha 10, pg 339) also rules stringently and gives four reasons.
- (1) Shelichut LeDvar Avierah. In the Gemara Bava Metsia 10b there is a dispute between Ravina and Rami Bar Chama regarding Shaliach LeDvar Avierah. Ravina holds that there’s only Ein Shaliach LeDvar Avierah when the one being sent is obligated in that prohibition, while Rami Bar Chama says that there’s Ein Shaliach LeDvar Avierah whenever the one being sent has the ability to choose to do it or not. The Rama C”M 182:1 rules like Ravina and so if the one being sent isn’t obligated then there is Shelichut. Rav Belsky concludes that since the one being sent follows a Rabbi who holds it’s permissible to open a bottle he’s considered not obligated in that prohibition and there would be Shelichut. Thus, if he is asked by someone who doesn’t open bottles on Shabbat there would be a Deoritta violation of Shabbat.
- (2) Lifnei Iver. Rav Belsky writes that since the opinion of those who hold it is forbidden is that it is forbidden for all Jews it would be forbidden to ask another Jew because of Lifnei Iver.
- (3) Amirah LeYisrael. He quotes the Radvaz 4:258 who forbids Amirah LeYisrael because it should be no better than Amirah LeNochri.
- (4) Degrading one’s friend. By asking one’s friend to do something which one holds is forbidden is treating him like a Shabbos goy or a less important Jew.
- Rav Belsky concludes that it’s forbidden to ask him to open the bottle and it would be just as forbidden to ask him to open it for himself to drink because all the reasons apply except (perhaps) the first one. Though, he agrees that if the one who holds it is permissible opened it for himself it is permissible for others to benefit from the contents of the bottle.
- Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Meor HaShabbat (Peninei HaMoer 3:8)) rules that if the one requesting holds it’s forbidden based on his ruling, then, it’s forbidden to ask someone who holds it’s permitted to do it for him, however, if the one requesting is only strict because of the minhag of his Rabbis or father, then it’s permitted to ask someone else to do that act.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter (OU Kosher Webcast, min 18-19) rules that this is a biblical violation of Shabbat.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter (OU Kosher Webcast, min 18-19) says that there's room to be lenient since the child is like mitasek and if he did it for himself then it's not forbidden from benefit like a non-Jew who did work for himself.
- Rav Yitzchak Yosef (Motzei Shabbat Shalach 5778 min 30) permitted a Sephardi to ask an Ashkenazi to ask a non-Jew to do a melacha on Shabbat for a great need of a mitzvah for a lot of people because the Rama 276 is lenient and there's no issue of amirah leyisrael. His proof was 263:17. He added that one should explain it to the Ashkenazi so that he isn't offended. This is the final opinion of Rav Ovadia Yosef on the topic, but originally he was more strict. For example, in Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat v. 3, 5753 edition, p. 216) he says it is forbidden for Sephardi to ask Ashkenazi to return to hotplate liquids that were cooked and still warm but aren't still yad soledet bo. But in the back pp. 462, he says that his father changed his mind (see Yabia Omer 9:49). Similarly, in Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat v. 1-4, 5773 edition p. 106, 276:14) permits a Sephardi to ask a Ashkenazi to ask a non-Jew to do a melacha for a tzorech mitzvah since Ashkenazim hold that's permitted and Sephardim don't. See further Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat v. 1-2, 5771 edition, pp. 216-220).
- Dor Hamelaktim v. 1 p. 535-6 quotes Yalkut Yosef v. 3 p. 219 and Torat Hamelachot (Ofeh n. 252 s.v. vheneh) as holding it is permitted if the person does it on his own initiative for the one who holds it is forbidden. However, Orchot Shabbat v. 3 p. 29 is strict. His teshuva siman 19 discusses it at length. See Igrot Moshe 4:119:5.
- Yalkut Yosef 261:3. Mishna Brurah 263:64 says that this is permitted but adds that if it is close to sunset, one should be stringent since most Jews probably accepted shabbat at that point. Rashba Shabbat 151A “Amar R’ yehuda” quotes that since the gemara allows you to ask a Jew to watch fruit which is outside of your techum, since it is inside of his, that Tosfot hold that a Jew who accepted Shabbat before sunset can ask a Jew who didn’t yet, to do work for him even though he can’t do it for himself. Ritva there agrees. Chatam Sofer Shabbat 151a writes that the Ran on the Rif 64b disagrees and rejects the proof. S”A 263:17 writes that yesh omrim that somebody who accepted shabbat early can ask his friend to do work for him. Rama there adds that one can surely benefit from that melacha after the fact. In Darchei Moshe 263:8 he adds that this would be true even according to the Rama. Taz 263:3 is lenient and says that the Ran didn't necessarily disagree, he was just rejected the proof brought by the Rashba. Magen Avraham 263:33 is lenient as well.
- Rav Moshe Shternbuch (Teshuvot Vihanhagot 1:358) is lenient since you are trying to cause the person to refrain from sinning in the long term by inviting them to take part in a religious shabbat experience. He adds that it cannot be a problem of lifnei iver if your intentions are to help the person. However, he adds some stipulations: 1. to avoid chilul Hashem, make sure they park at a distance from your home. 2. One should make sure to warn them of the severity of Shabbat desecration and the sweetness of its observance. see also Minchat Shlomo 2:4:10, Sh"t Rivevot Ephraim 7:402 and Umekarev Biyemin 16.
- Rav Osher Weiss says that as long as you make clear to them that they may stay over for Shabbat and encourage them to do so, it would be permissible and perhaps even encouraged if this is the only way to encourage others towards keeping mitzvot. see link for lengthy discussion of the issue
- Rav Moshe Feinstein (Iggerot Moshe OC 1:99) in addressing inviting people to come to shul if they're going to drive, forbade doing so because one is in effect inciting the person to drive, which is a biblical violation of meisit, even worse than the rabbinic prohibition of misayea biydei ovrei aveira, assisting in a sin. He says that this problem would apply even if the issue of lifnei iver doesn't. Rav Yaakov Ariel in Biohala shel torah 5:22 rules leniently, and thinks that to say that it is meisit was just an exaggeration to emphasize the severity. see also Sh"t Shevet Halevi 8:165:6; 8:256:2 where Rav Vosner forbids a mohel from performing a circumcision on Shabbat if he is concerned there will be a desecration of shabbat with the arrival of guests. see also Sheeilat Shlomo 4:109
- According to Tzitz Eliezer 6:3 you can invite guests if they can walk over as long as they don't tell you specifically that they plan to drive.
- Rav Yisrael Yaakov Fischer (Even Yisrael 8:25) was lenient. His logic was that the purpose of havdala is to separate between kodesh and chol, but once a person already did melacha before havdala it is already chol for him and he is no longer obligated in havdala. Thus it would be permitted for a person to benefit from his melacha because it is not called chilul Shabbat anymore.
- Tzitz Eliezer 12:37 suggests that you greet the driver with a shavua tov and hopefully the driver will respond shavua tov , and thereby fulfill his torah obligation of havdala. Shemirat Shabbat Kihilchita 58: note 31 disagreed and says this wouldn’t work and only shabbat shalom would potentially work to fulfill kiddish but shavua tov wouldn’t work for havdala.
- Teshuvot Vihanhagot 1:161 writes that once a Jew has performed melacha he may continue to perform melacha for you even before havdala. Rav Shternbuch also raises the argument that the only reason melacha is prohibited in the first place is so that you wouldn’t forget to say havdala, which wouldn’t apply to someone who doesn’t plan on saying it anyway.
- For clarification see Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz
- 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, v. 1). Dor Hamelaktim v. 2 p. 1450 quotes Rav Shlomo Zalman (Meor Hashabbat v. 1 p. 491) and Rav Elyashiv (Shvut Yitzchak v. 17 p. 73) as holding this opinion. See, however, Yalkut Yosef Shabbat v. 2 p. 180 who disagrees.
- Dor Hamelaktim v. 2 p. 1449 cites Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 29:71 and Rivevot Efraim 6:194:2 as strict against Rav Elyashiv (Shvut Yitzchak v. 17 p. 75).