Benefiting from a Violation of Shabbat
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 as 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
- If a non-observant 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 can't benefit from it forever.
- 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.
- 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.
- One doesn't have to leave one's house in order not to benefit from a violation of Shabbat.
- 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.
- 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.
- An item that was transported through a public domain in a car or train by a Jew one can benefit from it if the melacha was done by mistake.
- 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.
- If a Jew turned off the light on Shabbat intentionally it is nonetheless to sleep in that room since one isn't directly benefitting from the transgression of Shabbat.
- 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.
- If a Jew drove food to an army based 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.
- 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.
Something that is a Dispute
- One may benefit from his actions of a Jew who does something which is a dispute whether it is permitted on Shabbat on Shabbat.
- 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.
- After the fact if a person asked a non-Jew to reheat food for him the food is permitted.
Smell, Sight, or Noise
- 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. For example, it is forbidden to listen to the radio to see a internet or television production on Shabbat that Jews produced on Shabbat. There are other issues involved with listening to the radio or watching the internet or television on Shabbat (Zilzul Shabbat).
- Shulchan Aruch O.C. 318:1
- Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 1:34:7 introduction based on Shulchan Aruch O.C. 257:1
- Hilchot Sava (Rav Zecharya Ben Shlomo 5748 p. 179)
- 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.
- 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.
- Orot Hahalacha 42:12
- Orot Hahalacha 42:8, Halacha Brurah (Afiya Ubishul Otzrot Yosef 2)
- 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.
- Mishneh Halachot 6:78, Yalkut Yosef 318:42 (Shabbat 5753 v. 3 p. 73)
- Igrot Moshe OC 2:77
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Orchot Shabbat v. 3 p. 48 25:52:4, Torat Dovid 3:295
- 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.
- 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.
- Yabia Omer OC 6:34