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 Achrei Mos/Kedoshim

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

In earlier shiurim we learned that one may request a gentile to ‘violate’ the Shabbos and perform melachos d’oraisso for the health and medical needs of a 'choleh she'ain bo sakana', [1] and the gentile may ‘violate’ rabbinical prohibitions for the sake of a slightly ill person.

However, a person who is suffering from a slight ache or minor pain is not considered as being ill and a gentile may not be requested to violate any prohibitions in such instances. [2] Chazal did not permit the violation of any issurim under such circumstances.

Is it possible to be a bit more specific?

It is difficult to draw the fine line between one who is slightly ill and one who has a minor ache or pain. It would be fairly safe to say though, that a light headache or a very mild sore throat does not permit having a gentile violate anything at all. In such cases there is another issue that involves the administration of medication. Even if one is permitted to request a gentile to violate an issur d’rabanan, it must be understood how one is to administer the medication being that only one who is defined as a 'choleh she'ain bo sakana' (bedridden or sick) may have medication. B’ezras Hashem, when we learn about medication on Shabbos we will deal with this question.

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

The question should be ‘is it permitted to request a gentile to violate an issur for the sake of a mitzvah’? The answer is not so simple.

We find a big machlokes between the Rishonim on the following issue: we know that there is a mitzvah to perform a B’ris Milah on an 8-day-old baby even on Shabbos. What happens if the mohel realizes before the B’ris that he forgot the knife at home? Is he permitted to request a gentile to perform a melacha d’oraisso and bring the knife to the baby’s house through a reshus harabim (a public domain)?

Most Rishonim [3] learn that although one may perform the actual B’ris on Shabbos, one may not instruct a gentile to violate an issur d’oraisso for the sake of the B’ris, only an issur d’rabanan.

Accordingly a gentile may not sharpen the knife but a gentile is permitted to fetch a knife and carry it through a karmelis (a rabbinic domain).

However the Ba’al Halachos Gedolos learns that one may request a gentile to violate even an issur d’oraisso for the sake of the B’ris.

What is the halacha?

The Mechaber writes that one may request a gentile to violate an issur d’rabanan for the Milah but not issurei d’oraisso. [4]

The Mishna Berura writes [5] that it is preferred that a gentile carry the knife through a rabbinical domain to where the baby is, than to take the baby through the rabbinical domain (where there is no eiruv), because one will have to return the baby to his house thereby violating the Shabbos twice, whereas the knife can remain where it is until after Shabbos.

The Rama however writes ‘see above in simon 307’. In simon 307:5 the Rama writes that there are opinions who hold that one may request a gentile to violate an issur d’oraisso for the sake of a mitzvah. That opinion belongs to the Ba’al Ha’Itur and it is compatible with the Ba’al Halachos we mentioned.

The Mishna Berura writes [6] that many poskim Achronim [7] argue with the Rama and do not permit one to request a gentile to violate an issur d’oraisso for the sake of a mitzvah. He continues saying that when there is no other option, [8] one has what to rely on to request a gentile to violate an issur d’oraisso for the sake of a Milah especially if it only involves carrying the knife in the street, if the street is not a reshus harabim d’oraisso. Be”H we will learn what the definition if a reshus harabim is.


The purpose of these shiurim is not to pasken, as these issues are complicated and when the occasion arises a competent rav must be consulted with. It is our purpose to merely present the various issues involved.

[1] See the previous sheet for the definition of a 'choleh she'ain bo sakana' .

[2] Mechaber in simon 328:1 and M”B 3.

[3] Namely the Rif (Shabbos 56a), the Rosh (perek 19:2, Rambam (Milah 2:9) cited in the Bais Yosef in simon 331.

[4] We are obviously not referring to cases where the baby’s life is endangered and he needs being taken to hospital. We are referring to the preparation stage such as fetching the knife, sharpening it, turning on the lights etc.

[5] Simon 331:20.

[6] Simon 331:22.

[7] See the M”B simon 276:24.

[8] The Bi’ur Halacha writes in the name of the K’sav Sofer that when a knife needs to be sharpened, if one can locate another knife one may not sharpen it, even if the 2nd mohel refuses to lend his knife to the 1st mohel.

Food For Thought

Do we compare other mitzvos to a B’ris Milah as far as instructing a gentile is concerned?

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

In parshas Kedoshim we find many mitvos that deal with fellow man. One of the more difficult ones is the mitzvah of 'lo sitor' - do not bear a grudge against your fellow Jew because of something done to you.

The Chofetz Chaim wished to aid us in this task and gave the following parable: You are looking for Ya’akov and you are told that he is one of the people in a group. You approach the group and to the first person you accost you ask him whether he is Ya’akov. No, he replies, he is Reuven. You approach the next person and he replies that he is Shimon. Is there any reason to be upset with Reuven and Shimon for not being Ya’akov? Obviously not, they are not the people being sought and there is nobody to blame for that.

So too, says the Chofetz Chaim, when you ask your friend to lend you an item and he refuses, there is no point being angry with him. If Hashem had wanted him to lend you the item he would have lent it to you. If he does not lend it to you it is because Hashem decreed that he is not the one and therefore there is no cause for anger.

If one would go through life with such an outlook the world would be a lovely place to live in.

For a printed version, click here.


One may receive and distribute these weekly shiurim by calling or writing: Office 99 Rechov Bayit Vegan, Yerushalayim,
Phone Numbers:U.S. and Canada 732-370-3344 Israel 972-3-616-6340
 South Africa 2711-728-4275 England 44161-792-2492 Australia 61-296835626 Switzerland 01141430288
e-mail:, or, weekly sponsorships are available as well. 

If you would like to send a question to Rav Ostroff, you can write to him at

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.