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Ordering packages with express delivery to arrive on shabbos


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Kislev 7, 5780
Can I order something on Amazon when it tells me that its gonna arrive on shabbos? I’m asking because Amazon usually gives you the option to have slightly slower delivery (so it will come on Sunday) And before you order, you can select which day you want the item to arrive on and Amazon guarantees delivery on/by that day. Also, with 1 or 2 days express shipping, you know for a fact that goyim are working over the entire weekend to deliver your package. (It’s not like you’re just dropping a letter in the mail, you’re requesting for the package to be delivered on shabbos). Wouldn’t this same issue come up if you order an item with express shipping and its supposed to arrive Sunday? (For example, if you order an item late on Friday right before shabbos?) My understanding is that often times the item is being shipped from across the country, which could make it physically impossible to deliver within the time constraints without working on shabbos.
ב"ה Shalom Package delivery was already around in the time of the Gemara and the Gemara specifically speaks about giving a package to a non- Jew before Shabbat. (Shabbat 19 a) The Gemara says that if the payment was made before Shabbat, even just before Shabbat (according to the Rambam , רמב"ם הלכות שבת פרק ו הלכה כ and Shulchan Aruch (שולחן ערוך אורח חיים הלכות שבת סימן רמז סעיף א then he may give it to the non-Jew for delivery . Since, once the money was given, the non-Jew is working on his own behalf to do things as he wishes. This is the principle which applies when throwing something in the mail box even just before Shabbat, which is allowed and this is the custom in all Jewish communities abroad. However, the above Shulchan Aruch then follows in the next clause, "as long as he doesn't tell the non-Jew" to do it on Shabbat." In Piskei Teshuvot, (247:2) a clear deduction is made from the Shulchan Aruch, that any delivery service which obligates itself that the package will get to its destination at a specific time, and it's inevitable that they must work on Shabbat to do so, then it is forbidden to order such a delivery, because it is like you are telling them to work on Shabbat. It seems that these were your conclusions as well. So when you're requesting for the package to be delivered on Shabbat or there is no choice other than they work on Shabbat it is forbidden to do so, unless in a difficult situation where there will be great money loss or for the sake of someone ill who needs medicine, we can rely upon more lenient opinions (Chavot Yair 53) which say that one may tell one non-Jew who then tells another non-Jew to do a job which will be done on Shabbat. The same would apply here, when one person is working in an office and then hands over your delivery to a delivery service. All the best
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