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 Shemini

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

The only problem that need be considered is whether it is similar to asking a gentile to make a purchase on Shabbos. We have already learnt [1] that one may hand money to a gentile before Shabbos and request the purchase of a certain product, provided that one does not request it be purchased on Shabbos and there is an opportunity to buy it on a weekday, and that the gentile is rewarded for the action.

A vending machine can be compared to such a case, being that one is not telling a gentile to purchase an item on Shabbos. [2]

What if the machine only operates on Shabbos?

I still think that it would be permitted because the product is being purchased by the gentile solely for his own purpose, unlike the previous case where the item is being purchased for the Jews sake. Although the Jew will be making a profit on Shabbos, that in itself is not a crime. Seeing that a transaction is being made on Shabbos, i.e. the Jew is collecting money on Shabbos and transferring ownership of the bought item on Shabbos, Rav Yitzchak Weisz ztzl in the lays down certain provisions and a rav must be asked.

Does that mean that one may own a store and have gentiles operating the store on Shabbos?

No, a store is far more complicated for various reasons. To name a few: a Jew is paying gentiles to work for him; a Jew is telling a gentile to do melacha for him; besides that there is also an element of chilul Hashem. There are many factors involved with a Jewish-owned store or a Jewish-gentile partnership and a competent rav must be asked whether it is permitted to operate on Shabbos.

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

If the machine is positioned in a solely Jewish area or building it is far more complicated and it might not be correct to permit the machine to operate on Shabbos. However if the machine is used by Jews and gentiles alike and there is ample time to use the machine before or after Shabbos, there may be sufficient leeway to rely on one to permit the machine to operate on Shabbos, [3] but again, a rav must be consulted.

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

We find a machlokes amongst the poskim as to whether this is permitted. Some poskim say that the machine is being operated for the gentiles own benefit and the Jew is not involved in any way in the melachos. Other poskim say that since melachos are being performed inside the Jews house, and when that happens one must usually prevent and protest against it, one cannot permit setting up such a machine before Shabbos. [4] As usual in such a case a competent halachik authority must be asked.

Is it permitted for a Jew in Israel to phone a gentile in the USA when it is no longer Shabbos in Israel but it is still Shabbos in the USA?

The majority of the poskim permit it as the Jew is not violating the Shabbos and as far as the Jew is concerned the Shabbos is already out. [5] One could argue and say that since in the gentiles location it is still Shabbos and one is telling a gentile to desecrate the Shabbos but this is not so because the reasons prohibiting " do not apply. For example: one reason is because if a Jew tells a gentile to violate the Shabbos, the Jew may do the same. This does not apply in this case because it is not Shabbos for the Jew and the Jews Shabbos will not be violated at any point.

Another is because telling him is a violation of Shabbos speech. This does not apply either because it is not Shabbos for the Jew.

[1] Simon 307:4.

[2] See the SSK 29:28 and footnote 71.

[3] See the SSK 29:28 and footnote 70 in the name of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztzl.

[4] See the Piskei Tshuvos simon 252:7 and footnotes 19-20.

[5] SS:K 31:26 and Piskei Tshuvos 344:2 footnote 7.

Food For Thought

Under what circumstances may I ask a gentile to do a melacha for an ill person?

When may I have a gentile violate the Shabbos for the sake of a mitzvah?

Is the gentile permitted to turn on the lights in shul before davening? What about the air-conditioning?

It happened that a gentile mistakenly removed the cholent from the stove on Friday night and turned off the gas. When it was realized that the food was for the morrow the fire was subsequently relit and the food returned. May it be eaten?

Answers coming next week.

Vort on the Parsha

The possuk says 'lehavdil bein hatameh u'bein hatahor' which Rashi says that the possuk is pointing out the hairsbreadth difference between the slaughtering of half of the trachea (which is 'tameh') and the majority (which is 'tahor').

Rav Sternbuch shlita carries this further saying that many concepts in Yiddishkeit will be holy when done in a certain way and totally impure when slightly altered.

He relates a story involving Rav Chaim of Brisk who once prevented a certain person from delivering an ethical drasha in shul. Rav Chaim perceived that the persons inner self was not as pure looking as his outward appearance appeared to be and hence did not want him to speak to the public.

This person accosted Rav Chaim saying that he merely mentions ethical ideas and does not engage in thoughts of his own, so what can be wrong with him speaking to the public. Rav Chaim replied that even kosher meat when cooked in a treif pot becomes treif.

Rav Chaim understood that there was something slightly wrong with the persons outlook on yiddishkeit, which prevented him from being and worthy of speaking to the public.

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.