permitted to ask a non-Jew to turn on the heating?
We find that Chazal took meticulous care with
regards to childrens health. Since cold weather can be detrimental to their health, Chazal
permitted a non-Jew to turn on the heating on Shabbos in cold countries. 1
Accordingly, there is no problem to have a non-Jew switch on the central heating (when it
was not preset with a time switch), because children require heat to remain healthy.
In certain cold conditions, Chazal even permit a
non-Jew to turn the heating on for the benefit of adults, because, as Chazal say:
everyone is considered sick when it concerns cold weather.
Is there a difference between a bonfire
and central heating?
As mentioned last week, one light caters for many, and
therefore when a non-Jew turns a light on for himself, a Jew may benefit from it. However
some hold 2 that a bonfire is different, because the more people warming
themselves around a bonfire the more wood is needed to make it bigger, and therefore if a
non-Jew makes a bonfire for himself one is forbidden to sit by it (according to this
opinion) lest he adds wood for the sake of the Jew.
This, of course, does not apply to a central heating
system. A central heating is similar to a light, and if a non-Jew turned it on for himself
or for children, adults may benefit from it as well.
If a non-Jew turned on the heating when
it was prohibited to do so, what is one supposed to do?
The Rama 3 says that one does not have to
leave the house if a non-Jew turned on a light or the heating, but nevertheless the Jew is
forbidden to do anything he could not have done before. That means that if he could not
read beforehand, because of poor reading light, he may not read now either. He may not
warm himself in front of the fire, yet he may remove his sweater he was wearing due to the
cold, just as he may walk in his house at a quicker pace than he could have, before the
non-Jew turned on the light.
How would this apply to a building with
a central heating system joined by Jews and non-Jews?
In extremely cold weather, or when children dwell in the
flat, there is no problem whatsoever.
If the majority of the residents are non-Jews, we say that
the non-Jew has intention for the majority, and is permitted. Even when the majority are
Jews, the Mishna Berura says 4 that one is permitted to hire the non-Jew
for the entire winter season to turn on the heating when it is cold (which might be
detrimental to ones health), and if he turns it on when it is not so cold, it is
considered as if he did it on his own accord, and as mentioned above, one does not have to
leave the apartment.
 Simon 276:5
 Simon 276:1
 Ibid. If the Jew instructed the non-Jew to turn on the heating when he was forbidden
to do so, the MB 13 says that Jew would have to leave his house.
 Simon 276:45
Food For Thought
May one hang a wet raincoat on a
Does it make a difference whether it
got wet from the rain or if it fell into a puddle?
If a sock landed inside the washing
bowl, what is its status?
How is one supposed to wipe up a mess
on the floor on Shabbos?
Vort On The Parsha
One, who steals and sells a lamb, must pay four
times its value, and one who steals and sells an ox, must pay five times its value.
R Simcha Zissel of Kelm pointed out that when the
lamb thief carried the lamb on his shoulders, he was somewhat degraded and ridiculed by
others, and the Torah duly reduced his monetary punishment. Whereas in the case of the ox
thief there was no degradation, and hence no lessening of his punishment.
All the more so when one overcomes an evil urge through
difficult inner conflict, or performs a mitzvah against all odds, his reward will be far
greater than the basic reward for fulfilling the mitzvah.