Transactions on Shabbat
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Generally it is forbidden to do any form of business on Shabbat for a number of reasons. Firstly it is considered a violation of dealing with business activities and not Shabbat activities. Secondly there is a prohibition lest one come to write on Shabbat. Other transactions such as gifts or making something ownerless are similarly connected to this general prohibition, however, they aren't identical as is described below.
- It is forbidden to buy, sell, give rent, and take rent on Shabbat applying both to the buyer and seller.
- Some say that it is permitted to sell Chametz to a non-Jew before Shabbat so that the sale is effective on Shabbat as is done when Erev Pesach falls out on Shabbat.
- Generally one may not give gifts on Shabbat because it is similar to buying and selling on Shabbat. Under certain conditions it is permitted as is described below.
- It is permitted to give gifts on Shabbat if the gift is needed for the purposes of Shabbat.
- One is allowed to give a gift of food which is going to be used on Shabbat.
- The practice of the Shul administration to give a present to a Bar mitzvah boy on Shabbat has what to rely on. However it’s better to do a kinyan before Shabbat by giving it to someone who will pick it up and say “I’m acquiring it for so and so as a gift”.
- Someone from the diaspora visiting Israel for Yom Tov can give a gift on the second day of Yom Tov to an Israeli keeping only one day. However, the Jew from the diaspora may not accept a gift from an Israeli on the second day of Yom Tov.
- There is a major dispute in the rishonim whether it is permitted to make something ownerless on Shabbat or Yom Tov. Some say that it is forbidden since it is similar to buying and selling, while others argue that it isn't similar to buying and selling since it is the removal of ownership. The bottom line is that most hold that if it is necessary it is permitted to make something ownerless on Shabbat or Yom Tov.
Acquiring Lost or Ownerless Objects
- It is permitted to acquire something that was previously ownerless on Shabbat as long as it isn't muktzeh.
Buying Food on Shabbat or Yom Tov
- Generally it is forbidden to buy bread that a non-Jew baked on Shabbat or Yom Tov.  Either way, it is forbidden to pay for the bread on Shabbat or Yom Tov. It is also forbidden to pay in advance of Shabbat or Yom Tov since the non-Jew is baking the bread for you. It would be permitted to give them an item for collateral and then pay after Shabbat or Yom Tov.
- Rashi Beitzah 37a s.v. Mishum
- The Mishna (Beitzah 36b) states that one may perform Kiddushin or designate an item as Hekdesh on Shabbat. The Gemara (37a) explains that these activities were forbidden because of the prohibition of doing business (Mekach UMemkar) on Shabbat. Rashi 37a s.v. Mishum offers two reasons to forbid business on Shabbat. Firstly, it should be prohibited based on “Memsoh Chefsecha VeDaber Davar” in Yishayahu 58:13, which is understood by chazal to mean that one should refrain from engaging or speaking about weekday activities on Shabbat. Secondly, doing business on Shabbat is forbidden as a rabbinic enactment lest one come to write down the details of the transaction. The Ramban (Vayikra 23:24) explains that this rabbinic prohibition of doing business on Shabbat is essentially based on the biblical mitzvah of “Shabaton” which refers to resting on Shabbat.
- Har Tzvi 1:127 explains that even though the sale is going to be effective on Shabbat and seems to be a problem according to Rabbi Akiva Eiger responsa 159 it should be permitted since the prohibition of a sale on Shabbat is essentially upon the buyer and not seller. Therefore, since the buyer is a non-Jew it is permitted to sell him the Chametz before Shabbat so that the sale is effective on Shabbat. Also the sale of chametz isn't a sale that will lead to writing since it is entirely to avoid any prohibition and not for business purposes.
- Mishna Brurah 306:34, Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 29:31, Yalkut Yosef (306:67, Shabbat v. 2 p. 158).
- The Mordechai (Betzah 2:676) writes that one should not give a gift on Yom Tov unless it’s for a mitzvah like a lulav and etrog. The Bet Yosef 527 quotes this and explains that it’s forbidden since it’s similar to doing business on Shabbat. The Chida in Birkei Yosef 306:7 holds it’s forbidden and supports this from the opinion of the Ramban, Rashba, Ritva (Ketubot 7a), and Magen Avraham 306:15. Bet Meir (Even HaEzer 45e) argues that the gemara Beitzah 14b, Rif, Rambam, Tur and S”A imply that it is permitted unless it is similar to kedushin. Sh”t Binyan Shlomo 17 writes that a gift from hand to hand is permitted based on Rashbam (Bava Batra 156b). Sefer HaMakneh (similar to Tosfot Shabbat 3a) says the prohibition is only on the recipient but it’s not allowed for the giver to cause the recipient to sin. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 29:29 writes that the prohibition applies both to the recipient as well as the giver. Yalkut Yosef concludes, if one received a present on Shabbat and there’s no Tzorech Shabbat, one should have in mind not to acquire it until after Shabbat.
- The Mishna Brurah 306:33 and 323:34 writes that one is allowed to give a gift on Shabbat if it is needed for Shabbat purposes (Tzorech Shabbat). Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 29:31 agrees.
- Shulchan Aruch HaRav 306:15 allows a gift of food which is for the need of Shabbat.
- Yalkut Yosef 306:26, Sh”t Yechave Daat 3:21, Rav Yitzchak Yosef (Motzei Shabbat Vayikra 5781 min 4). Magen Avraham 206:15 challenges the practice to give gifts to a groom on Shabbat but leaves the matter unresolved. Eliyah Raba 306:19 argues that it’s permitted because of Simchat Chatan VeKala and Kavod Torah. The Chatam Sofer agrees. Thus, Yalkut Yosef concludes if the Bar Mitzvah boy gives a Dvar Torah to the community, the community can give him a gift to encourage him to continue learning. Additionally, they usually give is Sifrei Kodesh which can be read on Shabbat. Preferably, Sh”t Yehuda Yaleh Asad O”C 83 and Sh”t Seridei Esh 2:26 advise that the recipient should have in mind not to acquire the gift until after Shabbat. Sh”t Hillel Omer 197, Sh”t Bet Avi O”C 31, Sh”t Kapei Aharon Epstein 59 say the Gabai of the shul can give the gift to someone else before Shabbat with a kinyan on behalf of the bar mitzvah boy.
- Betzel Hachachma 3:123
- Ramban Pesachim 4b
- Meiri (Magen Avot ch. 18)
- Kaf HaChayim on Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 246:47:1 writes that the Pri Chadash 434 holds like the Ramban that hefker is forbidden on Shabbat, while the Birkei Yosef 246:4 and Teshuva Mahava 238 are lenient.
- Aruch Hashulchan 339:22 based on Beitzah 12b and Bava Metsia 9a. Rabbi Akiva Eiger (Magen Avraham 339:6) leaves this question unresolved.
- Reason to forbid: The Rabbenu Tam forbade buying bread from a non-Jew that was baked on Shabbat. A few reasons are presented: 1) Muktzeh: Perhaps the grain was ground up on Yom Tov and the grain was muktzeh beforehand since it wasn’t edible. Even if they were edible they aren’t as edible as the bread is when it is finished, which is nolad. This is the reason of the Tur 325:4, Sefer Hatrumah (no. 247), Bach 325:2. The Sefer Hatrumah (no. 248) compares the muktzeh to dried figs and dates which even Rabbi Shimon agrees to. 2) We’re concerned that the Jew will do a melacha on his own. This is the reason of the Hagahot Ashuri (Beitzah 3:17). Alternatively, we’re concerned that a Jew will ask the non-Jew to bake for him. Even though usually if a non-Jew does melacha for himself or the majority of the town, which if it is non-Jewish, it is permitted to benefit from his work, perhaps food is different. This is the svara of the Sefer Hatrumah and Hagahot Ashri.
- Those who hold it is forbidden: Rabbenu Tam (cited by Rosh Beitzah 3:17), Ri and Ravyah (cited by Hagahot Ashri Beitzah 3:17), and Rashba (responsa 1:709).
- Reason to permit: The Rosh (Beitzah 3:17) argues that really it is permitted to buy bread from a non-Jew that was baked on Yom Tov. In terms of benefitting from the melacha it is only permitted if the non-Jew did the melacha for himself or for a majority of the town which is non-Jewish. In terms of muktzeh, on Shabbat it could be an issue unless it is edible, but on Yom Tov it should be permitted since it is possible to roast the grain and eat it as such. Furthermore, it isn’t muktzeh since it is possible for a person to complete the melacha (similar to Beitzah 27a).
- Those who hold it is permitted: Rosh Beitzah 3:17, Maggid Mishna (Yom Tov 6:3), Rabbenu Yechiel (cited by Tosfot Avoda Zara 66b s.v. amar), and Rav Yehuda Sirleon (cited by Hagahot Ashuri).
- Halacha: Shulchan Aruch 325:4 concludes that on Shabbat one should not buy bread baked on Shabbat by a non-Jew for himself or a majority of the town who is non-Jewish unless there is a need of a mitzvah. The Mishna Brurah 325:19 writes that it is forbidden because the grain was muktzeh, the product is nolad, or there’s a concern that you’ll will ask the non-Jew to bake for him. However, for Yom Tov, the Shulchan Aruch 517:1 writes that it is permitted to buy bread that a non-Jew baked bread on Yom Tov for himself or for the majority of the town which is non-Jewish. The Mishna Brurah 517:4 explains that the issue of muktzeh don’t apply since a Jew could eat the eat roasted or bake the flour. Yet, the Mishna Brurah 517:6 cites the Chaye Adam who is strict unless there is a great need. Ish Matzliach 517:2 writes that Sephardim hold like Shulchan Aruch.
- Shulchan Aruch 500:1
- Rama 325:4
- Mishna Brurah 517:5