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 Tazria/Metzora

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

The gemora Shabbos 129a states that one may ask a gentile to fulfill the needs of an ill person on Shabbos. The ill person in the gemora is defined as a 'choleh she'ain bo sakana' which is a person who is either bedridden, [1] or has pain that causes one’s entire body to ache [2] such as a migraine. In either case one may ask a gentile to violate issurei d’oraisso [3] for the sake of the ill person.

The Rambam (2:10) adds that one may instruct a gentile to cook and bake for an ill person. In other words, the gentile may do anything necessary for the recuperation of the ill person.

This does not mean that a gentile may perform any task for an ill person. The Mishna Berura writes [4] that the gentile may only violate the Shabbos to bring relief during Shabbos and not after Shabbos. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztz”l [5] however adds that if by violating the Shabbos, the recuperation will be faster, even though the il person will only benefit from the Shabbos violation after Shabbos, one may ask the gentile to violate the Shabbos.

  • For example, a gentile may drive to the pharmacy in order to purchase medication and carry it through a reshus harabim and bring it to the ill person. If the medication is only required after Shabbos and it will not make a difference if the medication is purchased on Shabbos or after Shabbos, the gentile may only purchase it after Shabbos. If however, the pharmacy is say six hours away and it is important that the ill person be administered the medication earlier, the gentile may violate the Shabbos even though the ill person will only benefit from the medication after Shabbos.

Can you present a few examples of the above halacha?

A gentile [6] may cook a hot meal for an ill person if there is no other hot food available and it is necessary for the ill person’s recuperation. Obviously this is not a blank heter to have a gentile bake and cook at whim for the ill person, rather only when necessary, such as for a woman after birth (within 30 days of the birth) who needs hot food etc.

  • A gentile may turn on the lights in order to treat an ill person and turn off the lights to enable the ill person to sleep.
  • A gentile may write a prescription if needed on Shabbos.
  • A gentile may turn on the heating system for an ill person and in the summer, when the heat is disturbing the ill person, a gentile may turn on the air-conditioning.

Rav Sternbuch shlita added that if one knows before Shabbos that certain things will be needed, one should instruct a gentile to prepare them before Shabbos.

How ill must a person be to permit 'amiras ha'kum' - telling a gentile to violate the Shabbos?

We previously defined the severity of a person’s illness that would permit 'amiras ha'kum' . A person who is less ill then that, which is defined as a ‘slight illness’, or one has a discomforting pain that does not paralyze one’s body nor does it cause one to be bedridden, is not considered a 'choleh she'ain bo sakana' and a gentile may not be told to violate the Shabbos with an issur d’oraisso.

However, one may request a gentile to violate an issur d’rabanan for the sake of such a person. [7]

What is the source to permit this?

The Rambam writes (6:9-10) that one may ask a gentile to violate the Shabbos with a sh’vus (an issur d’rabanan) [8] when a slight illness is involved.

What is the Rambam’s source?

The gemora Eiruvin 67b says that a gentile may bring water via a rabbinical domain on Shabbos for the sake of a b’ris. The Maggid Mishne explains that the water was merely used to relieve the baby’s pain and nevertheless it is permitted. Other Rishonim however learn that it is a local heter for a b’ris, because the actual b’ris can be done on Shabbos and therefore other violations were permitted by Chazal relating to the b’ris, but in other instances Chazal never permitted anything. The Maggid Mishne concludes that the halacha is in accordance with the Rambam, and as mentioned, that is the p’sak of the Shulchan Aruch.

The problem is that one must be well versed in the intricacies of Hilchos Shabbos in order to know whether an action is an issur d’oraisso or a d’rabanan, and therefore when a doubt arises a Rav must be asked.

[1] Mechaber in simon 328:17.

[2] Rama ibid.

[3] Biblical violations.

[4] Simon 328:46 in the name of the M”A.

[5] SS”K chapter 33 footnote 13.

[6] See the SS”K chapter 30:11.

[7] Simon 307:5.

[8] A rabbinical prohibition.

Food For Thought

May a gentile be told to violate a rabbinical violation even for the sake of a slight ache or pain?

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 (14:44) that Hashem will cause leprosy to grow on the walls of the houses and the Midrash says that the additional benefit of dismantling the walls will be to find the treasures hidden by the gentiles who dwelled there.

The commentators ask why should a person be rewarded for speaking Lashon harah by finding a treasure? The Aruch HaShulchan answers [1] that it is to show the Jew that Hashem does not punish for the sake of being cruel and harsh - rather His purpose is for us to improve our ways. Therefore even though one might sin and will have to destroy part of one’s house, one should know that Hashem loves him and the consequence of improving one’s ways will be a reward.


[1] Adapted from the îůěçď âáĺä.

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.