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Gifts driven on Shabbat


Rabbi David Sperling

Tishrei 30, 5772
A man drives his car to me on Shabbat and brings me his gift of fruit. I did not approve or ask him to visit my home; he did it by his own will. Furthermore, the kosher food in question was not involved in any cooking violations on Shabbat. The only clear violation is the driving. What is the status of the fruit? Can I eat this, or does the fact that it comes from a Shabbat violator and handled on Shabbat bring a safek? Does accepting it create a michshol? Is the fruit demai now, and not fixable until after Shabbat? Thank you and shalom.
Shalom, The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Haim 318,1) rules that benefiting from Shabbat desecration depends on three factors - 1) whether the sinner was "mayzid" (=wanton), or "shogeg" (=accidental); 2) whether we want to benefit on Shabbat itself or after Shabbat; and 3) if it is the sinner themselves benefiting, or someone else. There are also differences based on whether the sin is from the Torah or Rabbinic, or whether it is a definite sin or one that has doubts surrounding it. So, in your case it would apear that we have a "mayzid" sin (I'm assuming that the Jew in question knew that driving on Shabbat is forbidden), that is from the Torah, without any doubt - so the law is that the sinner themselves may never benefit from the sin, whilst others may do so after the Shabbat is over, but not on Shabbat itself. However, there are two factors that make your case more complicated. Firstly, the sin of driving is not an essential part of the fruit. Unlike baking a cake on Shabbat, where eating the cake is certainly direct benefit from the sin of cooking, here the sin of driving the fruit did not change the fruit in any way. This is a topic of debate amongst both the Rishonim and later day Rabbis, as to whether one can be more lenient in such a case. Even though there are grounds to rule leniently in times of need, in your case, where there doesn't seem to be a great need, I believe one should not look for leniencies, and still forbid the fruit until after Shabbat. This is especially true as the driving was such a wanton sin. The second factor to take into consideration (as you hinted in your question) is whether accepting the fruit and eating it, even after Shabbat (without the driver, as he is forbidden to eat it, and you may not offer him any) will be a stumbling block for the future. Will this create the impression that the Shabbat is not dear to religious Jews? That we are happy to "use" non-religious Jews to do our Shabbat driving for us? Will your guest learn from this to act the same way next time? If so then there are major grounds for not accepting, or eating the fruit (Responsa of the K'tav Sofer). However this factor differs greatly in each situation and must be judged on a case-by-case basis. In conclusion - the basic halachic answer to your question is that the fruit is permitted to all, except the driver himself, immediately after Shabbat. If this will be a desecration of Hashem, or a stumbling block for the Shabbat then the gift should (politely) not be accepted ("Thank you so much for the lovely thought, but you understand that we keep Shabbat and can't accept gifts driven to us on Shabbat"). A side note :- Driving the fruit on Shabbat cannot change its status in relation to trumah and ma'aser - if it was acceptable before Shabbat it is still alright - but if it needed to have the trumah etc taken then you are correct that this cannot be done on Shabbat, regardless of the driving. Blessings, D. Sperling.
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