Shalom, I run a business of selling various items on ebay. I typically sell the items in a buy-it-now format, where the buyer can purchase immediately (not an auction). Is it permitted to leave the item on ebay over shabbos? Thank you
Firstly, Happy Chanuka and sorry for the delay but important questions such as yours require thorough preparation. There are a number of issues which must be addressed. Is it considered doing business on Shabbat? Is it considered being paid for something done on shababt? Also there is the issue of "lifnei iver" לפני עיוור of possible causing a stumbling block for somebody else to sin. According to Rav Akiva Eiger zt"l if someone starts an acquisition before Shabbat which is completed on Shabbat it comes under the Rabbinical prohibition of doing business on Shabbat. However, the Chazon Ish and others disagreed with Rav Akiva Eiger zt"l , that the completion of the acquisition("chalut Hakinyan") without the actual act of transferring ownership on Shabbat (masseh hakinyan) is not forbidden on Shabbat. (See also שו"ת מהרש"ג [ח"ב או"ח סי' קי"ז] ושו"ת אבני ישפה או"ח סי' נ ) The Maharshag states in the case of a vending machine which is similar to the case of ebay, that even according to Rav Akiva Eiger it would be permitted since it was not made up in advance that the actual acquisition will take place on Shabbat. In regard to the issue of "schar Shabbat" making money on Shabbat, according to Rav Eliezer Ben Porat(שו"ת נועם אליעזר סי' ג) it also doesn't apply. Since what chazal forbade was being paid for actual work on Shabbat. On ebay the person is paying for a product not for work done, since you are not actually selling on Shabbat. Furthermore, according to Rav Eliezer Ben Porat(שו"ת נועם אליעזר סי' ג) the prohibition of "lifnei iver"= לפני עיוור of causing somebody else to sin because of your actions also doesn't apply. This is because that we are only commanded to prevent sin from someone who would accidently sin but not for a "mumar" who would sin in any case. The conclusion, therefore of Rav Ben-Porat that this form of sale is permitted on Shabbat, since by following the letter of the law there is no prohibition being done. However, he does say that he who refrains from such action is praiseworthy. However, since my answer to you will be seen by many others I decided to discuss the issue with Rabbi Yaacov Ariel Shlit"a, the chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan and one of the prominent Rabbonim who answer on the Hebrew counterpart of this website. His opinion is that to do so on an Israeli website would be totally forbidden being not much different than keeping a store open on Shabbat since it is considered "lifnei Iver". On the other hand, on a site where most of the buyers are not Jewish such as ebay one would not have to remove the ad from the site for Shabbat. However, in his opinion there is still the problem of receiving money on Shabbat. The only way then to receive the money is then if you were to be paid "B'havla'ah", meaning that you would receive your money with together something else which was not sold on Shabbat. Furthermore, I wish to suggest that today there are programs available today which through the IP of the user identify his location. If the location is in area where it is still Shabbat it prevents the entry to the site. If applicable it would save a lot of Halachic problems of Shabbat.