shabbos candles

The Shabbos Weekly
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

shabbos candles

Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Based on the Shiurim Given by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita

developed from the Chabura of the
Pirchei Shoshanim Shulchan Aruch Learning Project

These Halachos were shown by Rabbi Ostroff to
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita


Questions for the Week of Parshas Tzav

May one permit a gentile to vacuum the carpet on Shabbos?

In the previous shiur we learnt that a gentile may find a convenient way to carry out a request provided that the request can be carried out in a permitted manner. Based on that, we learnt that a gentile may use a dishwasher to wash dishes, as the dishes could be washed in a permitted manner.

Accordingly it would then seem that a gentile may use a vacuum cleaner to clean the carpets because similarly, it can be done in a permitted manner.

Before we answer the question we must briefly explain the issue of cleaning carpets on Shabbos.

The Rama [1] writes that one may not shake a garment on Shabbos in order to remove the dust thereon. The Mishna Berura [2] explains that the halacha is referring to dust absorbed into the garment and not to dust lying on top of the garment. The Mechaber, [3] on the other hand, says that one may not shake dew from a garment and does not prohibit the shaking of dust.

The Mishna Berura says [4] that one may permit a gentile to dust ones clothing (relying on the Mechaber) especially when dusty clothes will cause embarrassment.

So up to this point it seems that vacuuming should be permitted by a gentile?

There is another issue involved called making noise.

The Rama [5] deals with the following issue: a person would fill the container of a water mill with wheat and the mill would then grind the wheat automatically. The Rama says that one may not fill the container close to Shabbos because the grinding may be heard outside and people might think that one was grinding on Shabbos.

The Rama continues that it is permitted though to wind a grandfather clock before Shabbos even though the ticking (and the chimes) will be heard on Shabbos as it is known that one winds a clock before Shabbos and the noise emitting from the clock is due to the initial winding.

The Mishna Berura [6] adds that it is prohibited to wind the clock on Shabbos and one may not ask a gentile to wind it either.

Accordingly, we would say that the gentile may not vacuum the carpet as it can be heard outside and people will suspect one of violating the Shabbos.

Does this prohibition apply to Sephardim as well?

The basis for this question is that the Mechaber [7] permits operating the mill before Shabbos and is not concerned with 'ivsha milsa'. [8] Accordingly it would seem that the Sephardim who follow the Mechaber may permit a gentile to use a vacuum cleaner when the carpet could be cleaned bheter. The problem is however that a vacuum cleans far better than one can with ones hands and therefore it may be forbidden for a gentile to use a vacuum. One should ask ones rav for a psak in this matter.

May I hand money to a gentile before Shabbos with instructions to purchase something for me without specifying that I want it bought on Shabbos?

The Shulchan Aruch writes [9] that one may hand money to a gentile with instructions to make a purchase, provided that the request does not specify making the purchase on Shabbos. The Mishna Berura [10] cites the poskim saying that this only applies when the gentile is being paid for working, in which case it is considered as if it is being done for the gentiles own benefit to receive his pay. If the gentile is not paid or rewarded for working, when making the purchase on Shabbos,  we view it as if it is work being done for the Jew - and is forbidden.

Another stipulation is that it is possible to make this purchase on a day other than Shabbos. [11] If, for example, the purchase can only be made on Shabbos, or the only time you ask the gentile to make the purchase is Shabbos, then even without requesting that it be bought on Shabbos, it is prohibited. This would be similar to telling him to make the purchase on Shabbos.

[1] Simon 302:1.

[2] MB simon 302:5.

[3] Simon 302:1.

[4] MB simon 302:6.

[5] Rama simon 252:5.

[6] MB simon 252:50.

[7] Simon 252:5.

[8] The machlokes between the Mechaber and the Rama is based on a machlokes in the gemora Shabbos 18a between Raba and Rav Yosef. (The Vilna Gaon writes that the Beer HaGolah who annotates the Mechaber as following Raba is incorrect, because the Mechaber is like Rav Yosef and the Rama is like Raba.

[9] Simon 307:4.

[10] MB simon 307:14.

[11] MB simon 307:15.

Food For Thought

May I set up a self operated coin machine before Shabbos knowing that gentiles will probably use it on Shabbos?

What if there is a possibility that Jews will use the vending machine on Shabbos?

What about leaving a fax machine on or an answer phone to accept orders on Shabbos?

Is one permitted to set up ones computer to automatically bid for an item on Shabbos?

Answers coming next week.

Vort for the Chag

In the Hagaddah it is stated that Hashem calculated the time of the redemption and he redeemed us earlier than planned.

The story goes that R Yitzchak Blazer ztzl, the Rav of Petersburg held a meeting with the wealthy men of the town. One of them asked the Rav, Do you believe that Moshiach can come today? The Rav replied, of course! The man continued saying  that Chazal said that Moshiach will not come as long as people have money and since we here are all wealthy people how can he come today?

The Rav countered that even if a prophet would say that the Moshiach will not come today or tomorrow, he is not to be believed.

But to reply to your question the answer is that when Moshe Rabeinu said to the Bnei Yisroel that Hashem is going to redeem you from Egypt, they also had a kushiya. Hashem had said that they would be in Egypt for 400 years. The answer to them was ' , Hashem made the right calculations and redeemed them. In your case too, Hashem will make and figure out the right calculations and bring Moshiach.

For a printed version, click here.


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Note:  The purpose of this series is intended solely for the clarification of the topics discussed and not to render halachic decisions. It is intended to heighten everyone's awareness of important practical questions which do arise on this topic.  One must consult with a proper halachic authority in order to receive p'sak.