Benefiting from a Violation of Shabbat

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This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.

If a Jew does a melacha on Shabbat there is a rabbinic prohibition to benefit from his actions. Some of the factors that are relevant to the ramifications of that prohibition are whether it was done intentionally, whether the violation of Shabbat was biblical, and for whom it was done. Also, if a non-Jew does a melacha there is a prohibition to benefit from his actions. That is discussed on the Amirah Lenochri page. Asking, encouraging, or aiding a Jew to do melacha is forbidden and the details are discussed on the Amirah Leyisrael page. There the idea of asking another Jew to do something which you are stringent not to do but others are lenient is addressed.

A Non-Observant Jew

  1. If a Jew does a melacha intentionally neither him or any other Jew may benefit from his actions on Shabbat. Others may benefit from it immediately after Shabbat but he may not benefit from it forever.[1] Even those for whom he did the melacha are considered like others for whom it is permitted after Shabbat.[2]
  2. It is permitted to benefit from an action of a non-observant Jew on Shabbat if one doesn't get a direct benefit from the melacha.[3]
    1. If a non-observant Jew turned on a light in the room one doesn't have to leave the room but one shouldn't read by that light if one couldn't read beforehand.[4]
    2. One doesn't have to leave one's house in order not to benefit from a violation of Shabbat.[5]
    3. If it was possible to read and then a Jew turned on the lights so it is easier to read, there is an opinion who permits benefitting from the light, while most poskim forbid it.[6]
    4. If someone mistakenly separated in a forbidden way on Shabbat (Borer) it is permitted to benefit from it since it could have been done in a permitted fashion.[7]
    5. One can benefit from an item that was transported through a public domain in a car or train by a Jew if the melacha was done by mistake.[8]
  3. One can buy a product of a Jewish company even if it violates Shabbat since the majority of its products are made during the week and if one doesn't know when the products one is buying were made one can rely on majority. Someone who is strict will be blessed.[9]
  4. If a Jew turned off the light on Shabbat intentionally it is nonetheless permissible to sleep in that room since one isn't directly benefitting from the transgression of Shabbat.[10]
  5. If a Jew carried a key through the street to open a house or shul it is forbidden to enter that house or shul on Shabbat unless they lock it again and ask a non-Jew to open it.[11]
  6. If a Jew drove food to an army base and thereby carried it through a public thoroughfare, some permit benefitting from it on Shabbat since the food is unchanged. Obviously, the army must avoid this since it involves transgression of Shabbat.[12]
  7. If a Jew walked through an electric door on Shabbat one may not follow them since it is considered benefitting from a Jew's transgression of Shabbat.[13]
  8. Someone who was brought up non-religious and now did teshuva doesn't need to worry about benefitting from everything in his house that he fixed over the years.[14]

Non-observant Jew

  1. If a non-observant Jew violates Shabbat consistently every week there is a large dispute whether others may benefit from the melacha even after Shabbat. For example, if a Jewish restaurant is open every week the food is forbidden for everyone.[15]
  2. Some poskim are stricter regarding a non-observant Jew who violates Shabbat every week. They forbid benefitting from his melacha for everyone even after Shabbat. According to that view it is forbidden to buy products from a company that runs on Shabbat. Even though he doesn't know if the product he's buying was made on Shabbat or not, he may not rely on a majority since it is considered kavuah. However, he may buy products in at a store. Once it left the company and entered into new hands he may rely on a majority of the products being produced not on Shabbat during the week.[16]
  3. According to the strict view, poskim offer suggestions as to why it is permissible to use the streets or trains in Israel since the streets were paved and train tracks laid even on Shabbat. However, they are strict not to benefit from a private house that was constructed on Shabbat.[17]

Something that is a Dispute

  1. One may benefit from the actions of a Jew who does something which is a dispute whether it is permitted on Shabbat.[18]
  2. If there is a doubt if a forbidden melacha occurred, there is a dispute if he's allowed to benefit from it.[19]
  3. If a person mistakenly heated up food on a blech without the conditions of hachzara, such as if they took food from the refrigerator Shabbat morning and put it on the blech, the food is permitted since it is a dispute if that's permitted initially.[20]

Reheating Food

  1. After the fact if a person asked a non-Jew to reheat food for him the food is permitted.[21]

Smell, Sight, or Noise

  1. It is forbidden to benefit from something that was produced on Shabbat as a result of a Jew violating Shabbat even if that only entails smelling, seeing, or listen to that production.[22] For example, it is forbidden to listen to the radio to see a internet or television production on Shabbat that Jews produced on Shabbat.[23] There are other issues involved with listening to the radio or watching the internet or television on Shabbat (Zilzul Shabbat).
  2. Similarly, a recording that was created by a Jew on Shabbat is forbidden from benefit.[24]


  1. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 318:1
  2. Magen Avraham 318:2 initially extends the category of the one who did the melacha to include for whom he did the melacha for. The intention was for them to all directly benefit from the melacha, therefore, the penalty applies to them. However, he notes that the Bet Yosef disagrees and holds that only for nullifying something prohibited are those for whom it was nullified considered like the transgressor himself, however, for Shabbat they are not because there's no concern he is going to continually violate Shabbat for others. Therefore, the Mishna Brurah 318:5, Kaf Hachayim on Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 318:12, and Yalkut Yosef 318:6 all permit others to benefit from the violation of Shabbat right after Shabbat.
  3. Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 1:34:7 introduction based on Shulchan Aruch O.C. 257:1
  4. Hilchot Sava (Rav Zecharya Ben Shlomo 5748 p. 179)
  5. Igrot Moshe OC 1:123 writes that if a Jew turned on the heat in the apartment building in violation of Shabbat one doesn't have to leave one's apartment. His reasoning is that since benefiting from a violation of Shabbat is only rabbinic and one can't avoid it, it is permitted to benefit from if there's a need that would prevent a person from avoiding it (see Pesachim 26a with Rashi s.v. ein and Tosfot s.v. vtisbara). Hilchot Sava (Rav Zecharya Ben Shlomo 5748 p. 179) agrees.
  6. Orot Hahalacha 42:11 is lenient. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in Minchat Shlomo 1:5 is strict. He distinguishes between amirah lnochri and benefitting from a Jew's melacha. Not benefitting from the melacha of a non-Jew is a gezerah that one might ask them to do it for you another time. When it isn't direct benefit it could be permitted. However, benefitting from a Jew's melacha is forbidden as a consequence of the transgression and so it is forbidden to benefit in any manner. Igrot moshe EH 4:62:3 and Orchot Shabbat v. 3 p. 32 are also strict.
  7. Orot Hahalacha 42:12
  8. Orot Hahalacha 42:8, Halacha Brurah (Afiya Ubishul Otzrot Yosef 2)
  9. Yalkut Yosef Haanah Memaaseh Shabbat fnt. 89-91 writes that if the majority of the products of the company are made during the week and one is buying and doesn't know when it was produced one can rely on majority. Even though some say that it isn't considered nullified if at one point a Jew, even a non-frum one, was aware of the difference between the products made on Shabbat and those that weren't (Chazon Ish YD 37:13), Rav Ovadia (Yabia Omer YD 6:24) is lenient.
  10. Mishneh Halachot 6:78, Yalkut Yosef 318:42 (Shabbat 5753 v. 3 p. 73)
  11. Igrot Moshe OC 2:77
  12. Chazon Ovadia v. 4 p. 427 based on the Rabbenu Yonah. He cites Kovetz Teshuvot 2:24:3 and Shevet Halevi 3:35 as supports. See Tzitz Eliezer 13:48:5.
  13. Byom Hashabbat 32:18 based on Rav Elyashiv's ruling that it is forbidden to benefit from the contents of a bottle if it was opened by a Jew in a forbidden way, unless there was a permitted way to access it as well.
  14. Rav Chaim Kanievsky (Derech Sicha v. 2 p. 277), Shevet Halevi 8:62. They explain that if he was a tinok she'nishba (a child brought up among those who don't know about Torah) then he is considered as though he violated Shabbat unintentionally. Even if he isn't a tinok she'nishba, still he might not have been aware of the particular melachot he violated and thought that they were allowed. Also, he can rely on the Gra who paskens like Rabbi Meir.
  15. Kaf Hachayim on Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 318:12 cites the Ketav Sofer OC 50 who holds that only if someone violates Shabbat once do we say that it is permitted for others, however, if he does it every week then the product is forbidden for everyone even after Shabbat. Yalkut Yosef 318:6 is strict. Har Tzvi OC 180 seems to disagree with the Ketav Sofer.
  16. Rav Nissim Karelitz (Chut Shani v. 2 p. 41)
  17. Rav Nissim Karelitz (Chut Shani v. 2 p. 47) suggests that those who built the streets, trains, and bridges on Shabbat don't have the ability to make it forbidden for the masses. The concept he is referring to is ein adam oser dvar sheino shelo (Avoda Zara 53b).
  18. Mishna Brurah 318:2, Leviat Chen n. 43. Rav Ovadia Yosef in Meor Lyisrael Shabbat 38a asks why we're not strict based on the principle that dvar sheyesh lo matirin is forbidden whenever there is a safek derabbanan. He answers that the Pri Chadash 497:3 writes that we're only strict about a doubt and not if there's dispute in the poskim. Also, he cited the Mordechai beitzah ch. 3 that if there's no chazaka of isur we can be lenient about a doubt. Lastly he cited Zayit Ranan 2:5 who said that there's no dvar sheyesh lo matirin for the penalty of maaseh Shabbat which isn't as serious a regular rabbinic prohibition. Rav Elyashiv (Kovetz Teshuvot 2:24) quotes this Zayit Ranan as well approvingly. Orchot Shabbos v. 3 p. 26 quotes both of Rav Ovadia's answers. Halacha Brurah (318 p. 56) challenges this zayit ranan since it is against the poskim in Rama OC 318:9, YD 102:4, and Mishna Brurah 318:5 who apply dvar sheyesh lo matirin to maaseh Shabbat. He answers that Zayit Ranan could distinguish between a mixture and a safek if the melacha ever happened.
  19. Safek maaseh Shabbos depends on whether maaseh Shabbos is considered a dvar sheyesh lo matirin. Rav Elyashiv (Kovetz Teshuvot 2:24) holds like Zayit Raanan 2:5 who holds that it isn't a dvar sheyesh lo matirin since it is only a penalty and not a formal gezera (decree). However, others disagree with this approach and consider maaseh Shabbos to be like dvar sheyesh lo matirin (see Mishna Brurah 318:5). Orchot Shabbat v. 3 p. 26 quotes two opinions about this question. Chut Shani (Shabbat v. 2 p. 40) is lenient like Rav Elyashiv.
  20. Orchot Shabbat v. 3 p. 48 25:52:4, Torat Dovid 3:295
  21. Rama 253:1, Mishna Brurah 253:34. Biur Halacha 253:5 s.v. lehachem writes that in a case of need some even allow this initially. Chazon Ish 37:21 s.v. vnireh forbids.
  22. Pesachim 26a clarifies that benefitting from something forbidden including smelling, seeing, or listening. Seeing and listening are only rabbinic, while smelling is considered biblical. The gemara applies this principle only to benefitting from hekdesh, sanctified property. Nonetheless, the rishonim apply it to avoda zara and other prohibitions as well. Yabia Omer 6:34 culls a list of these rishonim: Rabbenu Yerucham 17:5, Isur Vheter 39:33, Ran Nedarim 35b, and Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 142:15.
  23. Yabia Omer OC 6:34
  24. Az Nidbaru 6:18, Mishneh Halachot 7:55
Category Topic
Mitzvot of Shabbat
Kiddush Levana - Enjoying Shabbat - Fourth meal of Shabbat - Havdalah - Having a meal on Friday - In the Spirit of Shabbat - Kiddush - Lighting Shabbat Candles - Making Early Shabbat - Making one hundred Brachot on Shabbat - Preparing foods on Shabbat - Preparing for Shabbat - Shenayim Mikrah - Kavod Shabbat - Shabbos Davening - Seudat Shabbat - Seudat Shelishit - Lechem Mishneh - Motzei Shabbat - When Does Shabbat Start?
Restrictions of Shabbat
Allowing Carrying Using an Eruv Chatzerot - Animals on Shabbat - Asking a Jew to work on Shabbat - Asking a non-Jew to work on Shabbat (Amirah LeNochri) - Benefiting from a Violation of Shabbat (Maaseh Shabbat) - Books, notebooks, and papers - Brushing Teeth on Shabbat - Building a structure on Shabbat (Boneh) - Carrying on Shabbat - Cleaning the dishes - Cleaning and Folding Garments on Shabbat - Clearing the table - Cooking (Ofeh and Bishul) - Cosmetics on Shabbat - Dancing and clapping on Shabbat - Electricity on Shabbat - Eruv Chatzerot - Eruvin - Games on Shabbat - Getting dressed on Shabbat - Giving birth on Shabbat - Grinding (Tochen) - Handling objects on Shabbat (Muktzeh) - Infants on Shabbat - Introduction to the Modern Eruv - Kneading (Lash) - Mail on Shabbat - Medicine on Shabbat (Refuah on Shabbat) - Melacha That Begins Before Shabbat - Opening bottles and containers (Boneh) - Plants on Shabbat (Zoreah) - Preparing for after Shabbat (Hachana) - Reading on Shabbat (Daber Davar) - Recreation on Shabbat - Sechirut Reshut - Separating mixtures (Borer) - Squeezing fruits (Sechita) - Speaking on Shabbat (Daber Davar) - Taking a cruise over Shabbat - Taking measurements on Shabbat - Techum - Transactions on Shabbat - Transportation on Shabbat - Going to and Staying in the Hospital on Shabbat - Wages on Shabbat (Sachar Shabbat) - Washing one’s body on Shabbat
Introduction to Melechet Machshevet - Marbeh Bshiurim - Plowing - Planting - Harvesting - Gathering - Threshing - Winnowing - Separating - Grinding - Sifting - Kneading - Baking and Cooking - Shearing - Laundering - Combing - Dyeing - Spinning - Mounting warp threads - Making two loops - Weaving - Unraveling fabric - Tying - Untying - Gluing, taping, or stapling - Ripping - Trapping - Slaughtering - Skinning - Tanning - Smoothing - Scoring - Cutting precisely - Writing - Erasing - Building - Demolishing - Completing a vessel - Extinguishing a flame - Kindling a fire - Carrying