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SHABBAT GOY
Rabbi Monique Susskind Goldberg

Question


Dear Rabbi,

It states in the Shulchan Aruch, that a Jew must not ask a non-Jew to do work for him on Shabbas. However, a Jew is allowed to hire a non-Jew to do work or business for him as long as he does not specify that it be done on Shabbat and does not benefit from it being done How then can an Orthodox Shul or Orthodox household employ a Shabbas goy? It seems to me to be forbidden. Could you explain with citations in English?

Thank You

Answer

First of all, the law states explicitly that as a general principle we may not ask a non-Jew to do anything on Shabbat that we may not do ourselves. (see for instance Maimonides, Mishne Torah, Hil. Shabbat 24:1).
There are exceptions to this rule in the following cases:
-Illness or emergencies
-Lighting a fire in cold weather
- Relieving an animal from pain
- If the act is done by a non-Jew for his own purpose, a Jew may benefit from it.

There is another category of work that is allowed by Jewish Law to ask a non-Jew to do, and those are the Rabbinical interdictions. For instance carrying an object in the public domain. For the sake of accomplishing a mitzvah (a commandment) one is allowed to ask a non-Jew to do a "work" that is a Rabbinical interdiction.

In the past people have stretched those exceptions and use "Shabbes Goy" to do all kind of forbidden work in the house, but with modern automatic devices it has become unnecessary.

Besides this point, some authorities gave a general principle that if the non-Jew is independent, is paid for the job as a whole, and is not specifically told to work on Shabbat, he may do his work.
An employee of a house or a synagogue who is assigned specific duties on Shabbat as part of his total responsibilities also comes under this category.

I hope things are clearer now for you.

 

 
 
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Copyright 2009 The Schechter Institutes, Inc.
Box 3566, P.O.Box 8500, Philadelphia, PA, 19178-3566, tel: 1-866-830-3321
schechter@thelapingroup.com
Jerusalem Campus:
4 Avraham Granot St., Jerusalem, Israel, 91160, tel: 972-747-800-600,
pr@schechter.ac.il, www.schechter.edu