Why is it forbidden to instruct a
gentile to perform a melacha for me on Shabbos and Yom Tov?
following is a synopsis of various opinions although, not
all the opinions are halacha. The point of the
exercise is to familiarize ourselves with the diverse
opinions at hand.
- The S’mag
cites the Mechilta that says
ëì îìàëä ìà éòùä áäí (Sh’mos
12:16), where éòùä is
pronounced ye’aseh, which means melacha
shall not be performed, implying that melacha may
not be performed even by others. Indeed the Mechilta
explicates this possuk saying you shall not, your
friend shall not and a gentile shall not perform your
initially understands that the Mechilta teaches that
it is ossur mid’oraisso to allow
a gentile to perform your melacha on Shabbos and Yom
Tov, however, if the gentile was handed the melacha
before Shabbos to do in his own home it is permitted.
S’mag concludes that possibly the d’rasha from
the possuk is only an asmachta (a d’rabanan
that bases itself on a possuk), because if it were a
d’oraisso, how could Chazal permit the
gentile to perform my melacha in his home.
on this possuk cites the Mechilta verbatim,
implying that it is a d’oraisso, but the Ramban
and the Da’as Z’keinim learn that it is only an
– The Rambam writes
“one may not instruct a gentile to perform a melacha
for us, even though a gentile does not have to keep Shabbos
and even when one instructed the gentile before Shabbos and
even when one does not need the product until after Shabbos.
This prohibition is of rabbinical origin so that Shabbos
will not be unimportant in people’s eyes, which will cause
people to personally do melachos”.
that instructing a gentile to perform melacha is
says that the reason one may not instruct a gentile to
perform an issur is because of
åãáø ãáø, one may not speak
weekday matters. When instructing a gentile to perform an
issur, for example, “switch on the lights” one is
communicating about a forbidden act.
presents another very interesting reason. He says that the
gentile is the Jew’s shaliach,
so when the gentile performs a melacha on the Jew’s
behalf, it is as if the Jew performs the melacha.
is a famous halachic statement that
àéï ùìéçåú ìòëå"î – (a
gentile cannot be a shaliach) so how can Rashi
write that there is? The Shulchan Aruch HaRav writes
that l’chumra we say éù
According to this reason, it is ossur to allow a
gentile to perform melacha on your behalf even when
not directed by a Jew and in certain cases the Jew must
prevent the gentile from doing the melacha and
Shulchan Aruch HaRav adds that instructing a gentile to
perform melacha after Shabbos does not involve
sh’lichus, it involves îîöåà
çôöê åãáø ãáø (speaking that which is not permitted
Avnei Nezer writes
Instructing a gentile on Shabbos to perform a melacha
after Shabbos, is a problem of negative speech (åãáø
ãáø) but not a problem of sh’lichus.
Instructing a gentile prior to Shabbos to perform a
melacha on Shabbos is not a problem of negative
speech, because it is not said on Shabbos, but is a
problem of sh’lichus, because when the gentile
performs the melacha on Shabbos he is doing it on
Instructing on Shabbos to do the melacha on
Shabbos involves both problems.
What about benefiting from a
gentile’s melacha when the Jew was not aware that the
gentile was doing something for the Jew?
aspect is benefiting from melacha done for a Jew.
Even when a gentile performed a melacha for a Jew
without the Jew’s knowledge, the Jew may not benefit from
that melacha when the benefit derived is direct.
gentile turned on a light for a Jew, the Jew may not do
anything in that room that he could not do before. It is
impossible to read in a dark room and thus one may not
read in the room after the gentile turned on the light.
gentile sees a Jew making his way slowly and with
difficulty down a dark staircase and subsequently turns
on the light. It would appear that the Jew may not hurry
down the stairs, because he is taking advantage of the
gentile heats a plate of soup for a Jew, the Jew may not
drink it hot,
because it cannot be drunk cold. If the gentile heated
schnitzel for the Jew, since it is eaten cold it may be
What if one is sitting wrapped in a
coat in a cold room and a gentile turns on the heating (b’issur),
may one remove the coat?
yes, because it is something he could have done without the
heating. It seems to be an indirect benefit not a direct
one, unlike light in a room, which is more direct.